Asked and AnsweredI am buying a co-op that needs major renovations. The super has offered to do the work at a significant discount. Is that a good idea?
It can be. Supers are one of those unique New York concepts. They live in the building, they know everything about everybody and they can be the best way to get things done on a variety of issues. When a super controls the renovation process in a building (usually with the passive consent of the Board or managing agent), that may be a good thing, if the super actually knows what he’s doing and produces quality work. When a renovation is more complicated, it is not always a good idea to have the super do the work. First of all, if things do not go well, you will have a dispute with someone who basically runs the building. Not a good way to get things started. Secondly, if Building Department filings are required, a super may not be in a position to take care those details and that can become a problem in the future when you go to sell your apartment. When a super fails to get the renovation work in a building, he can be obstructionist when you bring someone else in to do the work. Once you’re on notice that the super has a built in profit center in addition to his daily duties to keep the building running efficiently, it can be a red flag that the super’s primary interest is not the well being of the building and its occupants, but the well being of the super and his family.
You should also bear in mind that co-ops and condos can be very sensitive about building employees doing work for individual unit owners because of liability issues and because the work distracts the employees from their primary obligations. Always proceed with caution when you are about to employ the super, handyman or porter to undertake a repair or replacement of any significance.