By Bill Primavera
Whether you’re planning a simple home improvement job or adding an entire wing to your house, obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy can be a daunting experience. There’s now a local firm that can ease the pain and do all the work for you.
GET MY C.O. is a Pleasantville-based company that opened in January offering a one-stop service to acquiring a Certificate of Occupancy. Run by brothers Michael and Tim Lener and Tim’s wife JoAnn, it boasts the expertise of two architects (Tim and JoAnn) and Michael’s experience as a businessman to get the job done.
“We have a lot of clients who go to the Building Department of their municipalities and find such things as their basement being recorded as finished storage space and not habitable when, in fact, it may have a finished bedroom and bath,” Michael Lener said. “If the Building Department says it’s unfinished, then that is what it is, and they have to go through the whole process of getting a CO.”
In such cases, Tim Lener said drawings must be submitted and a building permit obtained to bring the space up to code. Final town inspections and paperwork are also required. Towns have extra fees, which can run as high as $1,000 per item, he said.
“So if an attic and a basement don’t have COs, it can be costly to the homeowner,” Tim said. “Plus, the town might triple the building fee that should have been paid in the first place.”
Sometimes it’s not worth the effort. One client in Briarcliff Manor decided to rip out the third-floor attic rather than go through the trouble and expense of installing required sprinklers down to the front door. However, a similar case in Pleasantville, where sprinklers were added, increased the value of the home.
Work can be expensive if you include Building Department, architect and electrician and plumber fees.
“It could end up costing $5,000 to legalize a basement space,” Tim said. “What we do is take all these aspects of the process and put them under a one-stop umbrella so that they can make one phone call, rather than talking to maybe five or six people.”
GET MY C.O. also does “detective work,” investigating when construction was done to know which code to go by. In New Castle, half of one client’s large basement was finished in the 1960s. To prove that the work was done under a less restrictive code, the Leners removed electric outlet covers off to expose older wiring.
Then there was a Briarcliff Manor homeowner who wanted to add a shower in the bathroom.
“Although it was just adding a fixture, the town required that she present a drawing and a licensed plumber and electrician to certify that the work was done properly,” Michael Lener said. “We were able to handle everything from the drawing and submission for the building permit to recommending contractors to bring it up to code.”
Tim Lener said the company offers a free 30-minute consultation, which features an assessment of the scope of work and preliminary cost estimates.
“Maybe a project requires only a drawing for a CO, or it can be more involved to bring the space up to code,” he said.
Besides drawings, work includes presenting the application and fee, contractor license and insurance information, scheduling inspections with the town and sometimes a survey. The Leners work on COs for finished basements, decks, porches, bathrooms, converting garages into family rooms and attics.
An inspection with the town will be scheduled to verify that the work was done properly. The application fee is small, about $50, after the building permit is received. The town will issue an inspection report.
Assuming all goes well with the site inspection, GET MY C.O. will then fill out and submit the Certificate of Occupancy application on the owner’s behalf. They will also follow up until the CO is issued.
For more information, call 914-727-0980 or visit www.getmyco.com.
Bill Primavera, while a publicist and journalist, is also a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.