he Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

Lobby renovations can be a long and arduous process, even when things go smoothly. As a building property manager, you play a crucial role in ensuring the project goes smoothly and efficiently – with minimal disruptions to the residents.

We Get It: You Already Have A Ton Of Responsibilities

If you’re a property manager of a condo or co-op building, you have a lot of responsibilities and have to attend endless meetings. You’re likely in charge of overseeing day-to-day operations including ensuring the building is safe and secure, managing budgets and finances, enforcing building rules and regulations, and of course, communicating with the residents and board, and handling complaints.

When a building you manage is ready for lobby renovations, your work can get doubly intense. I’m the president and founder of Sygrove Associates Design Group, a New York City interior design firm that specializes in co-op and condo lobby renovations. A good relationship with the property manager is crucial to the successful completion of a project. Your participation is the key to ensure projects go smoothly, meet their budget guidelines, and result in spaces that the residents love coming home to.

In a perfect world, you would be able to follow all the tips I outline below; but the world isn’t perfect. The following tips will make the project less stressful before, during, and afterward.

he Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

The Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

As a building’s property manager, you are an essential part of a lobby renovation project. In fact, you’re the glue that connects the board, the designer team, and all the contractors and subcontractors. Here’s how to be a key contributor to the success of the project – without going nuts!

1. Be The CFO On The Project

Every purchase order, and there will be many, requires either payment in full or a deposit, so you’ll need to make sure all accounts are current and in order to avoid disruptions in the project schedule (and unhappy residents!).

  • Make sure all designer and outside consultant fee payments are expedited – until they say, “Go!”, contractors can’t begin their work.
  • Get approval from the Board on payment applications within the timeframe agreed upon in the contracts. It is your responsibility to submit and track the approvals and payments so contractors and vendors are paid in a timely manner. (This is critical to a happy project!)
  • Reconcile project expenses with the design team. As the Property Manager you should request a cost spreadsheet for the project costs – both contracting and purchasing of soft goods like furniture and fabric. Then, add any costs from outside consultants such as an expeditor, engineer, lighting designer, etc.

2. Attend The Meetings

We’ve done hundreds of lobby renovations and with every one, we ask the property manager to attend project meetings from the design phase, through to the construction phase, and finally, when punch lists are reviewed at the end.
It’s important that you develop a close working relationship with the design team and contractors, because you hold the key to a lot of what they need to start and complete the job:

  • You have the overall building schedule for other projects that may be going on simultaneously such as replacing the boiler or other mech systems, landscaping, and emergency work.
  • You hold a very important position – the “ambassador” of the building. Which means you’re the first person that interfaces with buyers. You answer their questions, provide recent building board minutes and financials, organize move-ins and move-outs, arrange for certificates of insurance, and direct them to the sales and transfers department.
  • You have a handle on what the residents want, need, and expect: personnel, shareholder, and unit holder relations.
  • You must inform the design team and contractors of the building’s safety protocols and make sure they follow them.
  • You need to understand the financials of the project – such as which payments are required, and when to submit them.
  • You’re in charge of ordering asbestos and lead testing, if your locality requires either of them. If any issues are discovered, you need to inform the renovation team ASAP.
he Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

3. Be Communication Central

Good communication goes a long way to eliminate surprises during the course of the project and reduces the amount of calls and texts from curious (or irritated) residents. You should be in contact with:

  • Design Team & Contractor: We recommend you attend as many input meetings as possible from the beginning to the end of the project.
  • Insurance Company & Attorney: Be on top of your policies in case you need to provide proof of insurance and certificates of insurance. It is important to have a working relationship with the building’s attorney, as well.
  • Board & Residents: You’ll also need to be in contact with the Board to keep them informed of milestones in the project, such as:
    • When contractors will be in the building and what they’ll be doing.
    • When materials will be delivered to the building and where they’ll be stored.
    • What to expect during construction, especially disruptions that can impact their everyday lives such as access changes when floors are being replaced, if the route to the elevator will be temporarily changed, etc.
    • How things are going – residents love to know when they’ll see big changes and are typically very interested in the entire process.

4. Be A Facilitator

As the building’s property manager, it’s your duty to manage the vast amount of paperwork that’s involved in the lobby renovation project, as well. This includes:

  • If the project needs to be filed with your city’s building department or other local municipality, let the design and construction team know if you want them to use a specific code consultant and/or building department expeditor.
  • Getting Board approvals on required paperwork for project filing when necessary.
  • Keep everything organized and within easy access to protect the Board from having to deal with disputes.
  • Provide the building’s legal names. Buildings are typically referred to by their address or name (if they have one), but that does not mean those are their actual legal names, so it is important that this information is verified and correct before submitting to the DOB.
  • Make sure you get all required Board member signatures on documents that must be filed with your township and municipality.
  • Facilitate contact between the building’s attorney and the contractors’ attorney.
  • File all necessary work applications at your local department of buildings.
  • Coordinate all work with a design professional in your area – interior designer or architect.
  • Obtain asbestos abatement reports, if required in your area.
The Property Manager’s Guide to Lobby Renovations

I hope the Property Manager’s Guide To Lobby Renovations is a tool that makes your job a little bit easier.

About Sygrove Associates Design Group

We’re based in New York City and are hired by condo and co-op Boards around the country. If you manage a building that’s in the process of interviewing shared space designers, we may be able to help. We are the most sought-after interior designers in our field and have hundreds glowing reviews to prove it. With us, the project is always on schedule and on budget.

When buildings want to transform their worn and outdated lobbies and hallways into warm and welcoming spaces that residents love to come home to – they choose Sygrove!

Marilyn Sygrove
Founder & President
Sygrove Associates Design Group

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