Alteration Reviews: Enhancing Building Integrity and Compliance

June 14, 2023

In the realm of real estate, alteration projects pose significant challenges for building owners and property managers. Ensuring compliance with regulations, safeguarding building systems, and maintaining high design standards are critical to the overall well-being of any structure. In this blog post, we explore HLZAE’s Alteration Review services and shed light on the expertise of our team in managing and coordinating these complex processes.

HLZAE is hired by the building itself, serving as a reliable and expert intermediary between individual unit owners and the building’s board. Our primary responsibility is to ensure that the proposed modifications will preserve the building’s integrity by holding the unit owner and their consultants to a higher standard for the building’s future life no matter how minor or major of a project that is proposed. The purpose of the reviews is to provide comments on how the proposed work may negatively impact the existing building structure, building systems and to ensure that work proposed complies with the regulations of the Alteration Agreement, the requirements of the DOB and/or LPC and any other governing agencies.

When a unit owner intends to renovate their apartment, they first consult their building’s property manager (PM) regarding the next steps. Depending on the extent of the scope of work, the unit owner engages a licensed professional (registered architect or professional engineer), interior designer and/or contractor, to create drawings and a detailed scope of work letter. Subsequently, the PM contacts HLZAE to initiate the alteration review process.

Upon receiving the review request, the appropriate review fee (simple, single, or full) is determined by the Alteration Review Manager and approved by property management during the beginning stages. Upon confirmation, our Alteration Review Manager coordinates all relevant parties and assigns the reviewer(s) based on the proposed scope of work. As a multi-disciplinary company, we provide comprehensive reviews which may include a reviewer from each department within the company which includes members from our architectural, structural, fenestration, mechanical, electrical and/or plumbing departments. Once the review team is internally decided upon, HLZAE begins reviewing the plans submitted by the unit owner’s professional. Each review is turned around within seven business days from the day the submission was received. When complete, the review is sent to the Property Manager to review. After the property manager reviews, he/she sends the response directly to the unit owner and their team.

After receiving the review document, the unit owner’s team must compile a comprehensive, item-by-item response with the applicable drawings, calculations, cut sheets and shop drawings specific to the project’s scope within the submission. This stage can potentially take weeks, depending on the complexity of the alterations. The response is then submitted to the PM and subsequently forwarded to HLZAE for the second review. Most of the reviews are completed within three to four rounds of submissions. The length of the review process relates to the level of detail provided to HLZAE to review – the more detailed and comprehensive the submission is, the less time and submissions will be required. To streamline the process and encourage effective communication, HLZAE often arranges a phone call between HLZAE, the unit owner, and their architect after the first review which is included within our basic alteration review fees.

Throughout the entire process, our team carefully reviews all responses, ensuring that the scope of work remains consistent. However, it is worth noting that HLZAE only proceeds with beginning the review once all the requested information within our response letter is provided in one comprehensive package, maintaining a consistent seven-business day turnaround time on our end. Additionally, site visits can be arranged for an additional hourly fee. These site inspections typically occur upon completion of demolition, firestopping, partition wall framing, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing rough-ins, and waterproofing. In some cases, a final inspection also occurs when all the finishes are installed, and the walls are closed as well to verify that the proposed plans are followed accordingly. Upon completion of the alteration project, the Department of Buildings (DOB) inspector conducts final inspections and unit owners receive a letter of completion.

The alteration review services provided by HLZAE play a vital role in ensuring the integrity, compliance, and overall well-being of buildings undergoing alteration projects. We do our due diligence to catch potential problems before they happen. The Board sets the rules, we enforce the rules, and the shareholders must comply with the rules.

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