As one of the premier high rise buildings in the City, the 1700 E. 56th Street building has very high standards. Originally built to exacting specifications, it now strives through its Board of Directors to uphold its high level of construction by requiring new work in the individual units to conform to its guidelines, as set down by its architectural advisers.
This may cause some consternation with new residents, as they may not be used to this level of oversight and architectural control when it comes to work that’s entirely within their own units.
Per Loseth, who is the principal of Loseth Construction Company, may be of service in this regard in shepherding a project through the building approval process, and also in managing the construction process itself. He draws on over thirty years of residential and commercial construction experience, is a 20-year resident of the building, and has facilitated the approval process, and managed construction for a number of units.
Even though the approval process is complicated, it’s entirely rational and well thought out. Here are the documents ( in 1700 Building parlance called “the construction package”) needed for approval for an average project that goes beyond just painting and carpeting:
The 1700 Building “construction package”:
- A ”Scope of Work” statement that outlines and enumerates the items to be worked on.
- A signed contract between the unit owner and the contractor.
- Rider #1: Contractor’s agreement to abide by the stated building rules.
- Rider #2: Unit owner and contractor agree to floor covering guidelines.
- Certificates of Insurance for liability and workmen’s compensation from the contractor, naming the building as co-insured.
- A floor plan drawn up to show the areas being worked on and the extent of the work.
- List of contractors’ and subcontractors’ names and contact numbers.
- Start and finish date of project, if approved.
- Written notices to all unit owners on floor above and below the unit about the work and the time frame. To be given 48 hours prior to the work starting.
- Photographs of the underlayment as installed, if new flooring is to be installed.
- Review by outside architect if walls are removed, units combined, entry door is moved, plumbing or electrical are removed or relocated.
- Copy of city building permit, if needed.
- Specifications for all new materials, fixtures, and appliances to be installed.
These documents are to be submitted in electronic form at least 4 weeks prior to the Board meeting where the project is to be reviewed. The Board normally meets once a month, except for in the summer months.
Here are the things that Per will help you with if you decide to seek his help:
Pre-planning Phase: Early on, in consultation with the building engineer, Per will share his knowledge of the “immovables” inside the walls. If you are planning to do any work that relocates walls, or relocates kitchen cabinets, or plumbing fixtures, these must be taken into account, and will greatly influence the design of your remodeling. These “immovables” are (1) the building structural concrete columns, which cannot be moved for obvious reasons, (2) the building plumbing pipes, which also service apartments above and below your unit, and (3) the building telephone and cable TV wires, which are carried in large conduits inside the walls in several locations. Electrical switches and outlets can be moved, so that’s not a major consideration.
Planning Phase: Having figured out what can and cannot be done in your unit, Per will help you figure out what you want to do, working within your budget, and will give you some rough cost estimates of various remodeling possibilities. Having done that, the next step would be to execute a “scope of work” with any required drawings and specifications. The more exact you can make the specifications, the more accurate your bids will be in the next stage, which is to get estimates from contractors. If you are remodeling your kitchen, for instance, it would be helpful to have a plan drawn up showing the sizes and location of the kitchen cabinets and the appliances. At this stage it is not essential to know the name brand of the cabinets, the appliances, or the accessories; you can simply work with allowances. In other words, for instance, you can state that the kitchen cabinets will have a cost not to exceed $X. If the cabinets cost less than the allowance, you will be due a credit, if more, it will be added to the contract amount. You can do the same for all the major items.
Selection of Contractor: Having a written “Scope of Work” in hand, you can now start conversations with general contractors. It is very helpful to limit your selection to contractors who have previously done work in the 1700 building, as there are some conditions in the building that are unique. The contractors you consider must also have a current City of Chicago contractor’s license, carry liability insurance, and also workman’s compensation insurance.
If you consult with several contractors, it is important they they all bid on exactly the same specifications. All contractors will have their own preferences as to materials and methods they like to use, but if you allow them to alter the specs at this point, you will have massive confusion. If you change your mind about a certain spec during the bid process, you can always alter it after you have decided on a contractor.
Approval of the”Construction Package”: Having selected a contractor, you will now execute a contract, which will be submitted to the 1700 Board together with all of the other documents enumerated above. If all goes well, approval should be gained within a month from the submission of the construction package.
The Construction Period: Per is also available to manage the construction as the owner’s representative. As such he can do the following:
- Inspect the construction site and the outside corridor on a daily basis.
- Make sure the contractor and the subs follow the building rules.
- Submit weekly progress reports to the owner.
- Handle periodic requests for payments by the general contractor and subcontractors.
- Approve partial and final waivers of lien.
- Supervise construction to make sure it conforms to drawings and specifications.
Selection of Materials: Per is also available on an hourly basis to aid in the selection of materials such as kitchen cabinets, counter tops, flooring, paint colors, bathroom fixtures, and appliances.