How can I add an outdoor terrace to my co-op—and raise my apartment's value?

QUESTION:

My co-op's living room has a wall of windows that look out onto a large roof, which is the top of a lower wing of our building. (The roof is parapet walled four feet high, typical NYC gravel, and has some vent fans, etc.) I'd like to turn one of the windows into a door and build out a deck, with an enclosing fence along one side, and the existing roof enclosing the rest. I think this could be readily anchored without harming the existing roof or interfering with its functions, and would significantly boost the apartment's value. Is this viable at all? If so, what's the best way to approach the neighbors and the board, and is there a way to know how much it will raise my apartment's value?

ANSWER:

A new deck would most definitely raise your apartment’s value, but you’re going to face a lot of obstacles bringing your idea to fruition, say our experts.

“Send the managing agent a written request for the board to consider the concept of terracing a portion of the existing roof for your sole and exclusive use at its next directors meeting,” suggests Thomas Usztoke, vice president of Douglas Elliman Property Management. “The response should gauge whether the board would even entertain such a concept.”

The board will likely have a number of concerns and questions, says Jeff Reich, an attorney with Schwarz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas LLP, including. but not limited to, “the ability of the existing roof to handle recreational use, the privacy of neighboring apartments, and potential noise issues.” The process of building your deck could potentially involve reinforcing the rooftop below, altering the setup of existing vents, and updating the waterproofing as well, notes David Yum, an architect who works with Bolster. It’s also likely the board will require you to shoulder all the costs associated with your requests (permit applications, appraisal, etc.), says Usztoke, even if the proposal is ultimately rejected by the Department of Buildings.

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