A New Elevator: The Nuts and Bolts
By TERI KARUSH ROGERS
Published: November 21, 2008
UNDER a new city building code taking effect next year, elevators will undergo far more stringent inspections than in the past. Now is a good time for buildings with older elevators to consider modernizing.
An elevator’s useful life is 20 to 25 years. Typically, the first step in the updating process is to hire an elevator consultant to evaluate its condition, write the plans and specifications, analyze bids and manage the project.
In a six-story building, a standard elevator modernization (frequently involving replacement of the cab rather than remodeling it) costs about $100,000, including consultant fees, said Joseph Caracappa, an elevator consultant who is the vice president of the Sierra Consulting Group in Manhasset, L.I.
A project in a 6- to 12-story building generally costs around $125,000, while anything taller will require roughly $150,000 to $175,000.
Mr. Caracappa, who consulted on my building’s project, said that these figures assume that some components won’t need changing. Our 89-year-old drum-hoisted elevator, being well past its sell-by date, needed everything, which is why our job cost substantially more. Also, we spent about $20,000 on the interior finishes, on the higher side of a range from $7,500 to $30,000.
Many buildings prefer summer work, when residents are often away at least part of the time. The typical lead time is six months from the hiring of a consultant to the day the job begins.
Projects take from 8 to 12 weeks, Mr. Caracappa said, depending on the height of the building, the components being retained, and the desired aesthetics.
Buildings with a single elevator — “the worst-case scenario,” Mr. Caracappa said — often insist that the contractor pay a penalty of $500 to $1,000 for every day behind schedule. But buildings may also give a bonus for early completion. Overtime can get the job done faster. (We paid $4,000 to $5,000 for every week trimmed.)
Owners and boards have no obligation to find alternate housing for inconvenienced or disabled residents, said Steven R. Wagner, a real estate lawyer at Wagner Davis in Manhattan. But they must make “reasonable accommodations.”
“Part of the consideration of whether something is reasonable is the cost,” Mr. Wagner said. “Others include the duration of the work, the options available to the residents and landlord, and the effect the accommodation may have on other residents.”
Speaking from personal experience, I strongly advise single-elevator buildings not to economize on porter service. Arrange for daily coverage from early morning to late evening, with deference paid to the needs of residents of higher floors, the physically challenged and those with young children.
-Published in The New York Times