I'm renovating my co-op, and I'm thinking of taking out a radiator in my living room to free up wall space, especially since my apartment is always hot. How would I go about doing this? Would it affect the property values?
Given the frigid temperatures battering New York City this winter, it’s hard to believe that you'd want to remove a heating element. But you’re certainly not the first New Yorker to take this step, and it’s not a huge job, so long as you get the building’s permission and keep the radiator to reinstall if needed, our experts say.
“I would recommend that the shareholder speak with the managing agent before doing any work,” says real estate attorney Dean Roberts of Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus. “It is likely that the radiator would be deemed a common element, i.e. property of the cooperative and not the shareholder. Second, removing the radiator would undoubtedly affect the building's overall steam heating system as it is based on pressure, and removing the radiator will affect that.”
If it’s not too late, include the radiator removal as part of the renovation proposal you submit to the co-op board. Indeed, your building’s alteration guidelines may specifically address radiators, notes property manager Thomas Usztoke of Douglas Elliman Property Management, and the board may have addressed a similar issue in the past. “Start by asking your resident manager about what others have done with similar ideas,” Usztoke says.
Then, store the radiator so that you can put it back if you or a future buyer wants it reinstalled, our experts recommend. If you keep the radiator on hand, you shouldn’t see any (or very little) impact on property values or the sales process. “I’ve sold co-op apartments where this has been done, and it hasn’t hampered the sale, mainly because the short pipe leading to the radiator remains in place, and is ‘capped,’ making it very straightforward to reinstall the radiator if desired,” says Gordon Roberts, a broker at Sotheby's International Realty. Lastly, he says, "have the radiator removal and pipe capping done by a licensed and insured plumber."
Virginia Smith is an associate editor at BrickUnderground.com, the online survival guide to finding a NYC apartment and living happily ever after. To see more expert answers or to ask a real estate question, click here.