White and red fully furnished livingroom set after luxury condo renovation

CMS Photography/Chad Spencer

With the recent boom in the real estate market, we have seen an influx of condominium and penthouse renovations. While starting a luxury condo renovation can be exciting, there are many questions that arise and knowing just where to start can save time and costs. This is the first of three articles designed to help our readers understand the nuances of condominium renovation.

Working in a condominium is a vastly different experience when compared to building a new home. Our team has done them all, from full renovations which include removing all interior partitions, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to more cosmetic facelifts dealing mostly with finishes. Having worked in Sarasota’s most prestigious condominium buildings such as the Ritz Tower Residences, Ritz Residences, Ritz Beach Club, En Provence, L’ Ambiance, and Bellasera, we’d like to share some of our experiences and the key takeaways to a successful renovation, no matter how big or small.

“…knowing just where to start can save time and costs.”

How to Assemble the Right Team for a Successful Condominium Renovation

As with any project the right team, in conjunction with, complete and accurate construction documents are vital. Prepare by assembling a competent and professional team experienced in luxury condo renovation. Below are some of the key components of proper preparation:

  • As built plans:

    • “As builts” are plans from the original construction of the building and any renovation to your unit since. These will provide the locations of important components such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing, load bearing walls and columns amongst other pertinent information. This is a key component of any renovation. Without accurate as builts a new survey and plan will need to be drawn up to depict existing conditions.
  • Architect:

    • Depending on the extent of the renovation, an architect may need to be engaged. For extensive renovations we recommend it; on minor cosmetic renovations you may only wish to engage a draughts person or engineer.
  • Interior Designer:

    • A good interior designer is a key part of any successful project. It is important to have one engaged early and to make as many of your selections as possible, if not all, prior to the project’s start. Condominium renovations move very quickly and delays in decisions will mean delays and costs for the project. On a side note, be mindful of furniture sizes versus sizes of elevators. Craning furniture and construction materials up to your unit is typically an option but can add more expense to your bottom line.
  • Builder

    • Your builder is going to be pivotal in the success of your project. Their experience working in condominiums and keeping building management and other owners happy is going to critical. There are far too many nuances of working in multi-unit buildings to get into in this blog, but I will give a couple of quick examples:
      • Post tension slabs: Many of the buildings we work in have these. Essentially, these are floor systems with big structural cables running from one side of the building to the other. They have about 33,000 of pounds of tension on them. Even something as minor as screwing something to the floor could cause a serious issue. If it were to knick one of these cables, it could cause it to completely fail and blow out of the side of a building. We often x-ray slabs to locate these cables and avoid them.
      • Elevators: It may seem like an afterthought but ordering most materials in a way that they can fit up in elevators is key. More than likely there will be a couple crane lifts throughout the project and organizing these for maximum efficiency is critical to the project timeline and cost.
      • Relationship with building management: These relationships can make or break a project. The building manager is the buffer between residents and the contractor and a good relationship will help create a smooth project.
White and orange fully furnished livingroom set after luxury condo renovation