So last year, Mr. Hark and Mr. Larivee, who works in digital marketing, sold their condo and moved to a four-bedroom house, also in West Orange. They now have to mow their lawn and shovel their driveway when it snows, but when they had a drainage problem in the backyard, they got to choose their contractor and schedule the job based on when it made the most financial sense for them.
In theory, the cost of building-wide improvements should be less in a condo because it is spread out across dozens of residents, and the sheer scale of the project could lower the overall price. But it does not always work out that way. Condo board members are volunteers who may not be skilled negotiators or knowledgeable about construction. They may take the first bid they get, or agree to more work than is necessary. If complications increase the cost of the job, residents won’t necessarily know. “This is one of the potential downsides of a condo or co-op scheme,” said Eric D. Sherman, a real estate lawyer and partner in the New York office of Pryor Cashman. “Lots of the time, boards are under the gun. They’re not paid for their efforts, they take the first bid from the first contractor that they see and they say, ‘sign me up.’”
Sussex County Habitat for Humanity offers a Home Repair Program that performs repair services to help low-income homeowners impacted by age, disability and family circumstances reclaim their homes with pride and dignity. Volunteer teams work to improve the condition of homes by painting, landscaping, and performing minor repairs at minimal costs to homeowners who would otherwise be unable to complete home repairs on their own. In addition, SCHFH now offers home repair and renovation services on a larger scale that aim to alleviate critical health, life and safely issues. Able-bodied homeowners are asked to work alongside the volunteers in a cooperative effort.