Many of the residential buildings in Harlem and throughout upper Manhattan are historic but also in need of upgrades and updates. It’s important to spare no expense when we’re talking about habitability and safety issues, but how does an association board decide where to prioritize their resources when making cosmetic or system upgrades?
There are a couple of things you need to know. First, you don’t need to dive deep into debt to update your building. If the property is well-maintained and in good condition, a few cost-effective upgrades will go a long way. Second, if you’re willing to make improvements towards energy efficiency, there may be tax breaks, benefits, and other incentives available from the city.
Here are some of the upgrades we highly recommend as professional association property managers in Harlem.
HVAC Upgrades in Harlem Residential Buildings
A great place to invest some money is the HVAC system. Heating and cooling your Harlem building is perhaps one of the most expensive bills for your community in general and for individual homeowners.
Your HVAC equipment upgrade will improve the overall performance of the building. With modern air conditioning and heating functions, you can expect better control over temperature and humidity, and your building will consume less energy. Satisfaction among residents goes up, and your operating costs go down.
Before you decide where you need the biggest overhaul in your HVAC, check out:
- Temperature set points on heating and cooling systems. Adjust them if necessary because if a thermostat is too high or too low, you’ll lose energy efficiency.
- Investing in a routine HVAC service. If you have your boiler tuned up and inspected annually, you’ll increase the life of your unit and keep repair costs and service calls down.
- Improvements you can make in insulation. Sometimes, with better caulking and weather stripping, you can keep the cold air out in the winter and the warm, muggy air out in the summer.
Improve Interior and Exterior Lighting
Lighting upgrades are typically an extremely cost-effective renovation, especially in Harlem’s older residential buildings. Better lighting in the common areas will help residents feel safer and more comfortable. Lighting in hallways, lobbies, elevators, and stairwells typically stays on longer than the lights in each individual unit. You need to upgrade here when the lights begin to fail, flicker, or use up too much electricity.
Exterior lighting is also important, especially in terms of homeowner safety. Parking areas as well as sidewalks, alleys, and courtyards should be well-lit when it’s dark.
LED lights are some of the most cost-effective lights you can install. Check out some of the incentive programs from Con Edison in New York. Some buildings and owners may be eligible to receive free LED bulbs for their own homes.
Going Green: Upgrades with Less Waste
New laws aimed to curb climate change are impacting the upgrades that Harlem community associations are required to make. You’ll have to prioritize any of these that are legally mandated.
The good news is that typically those upgrades that are required are likely going to be the most cost-effective for your community. The energy savings will pay for any work that you need to do. Plus, you can find rebates that often help these improvements pay for themselves. Many of them even cover your upfront costs.
If you’d like to talk about the best way to make upgrades and improvements in your Harlem residential building, please contact us.
Harlem Property Management is the authority on co-op and condo building management in Upper Manhattan and a member of the Real Estate Board of New York. We specialize in managing condos, co-ops, and multi-family buildings up to 99 units.