Sunday, February 24, 2008

Maintenance Costs

The Times is running and article today about the increase in maintenance costs over the past five years. While the increase has been significant, they argue that real estate values have increased faster, and therefore maintenance is now a smaller proportion of monthly expenses than it once was.

This is all good and fine. What I find interesting is the claim that a co-op only controls ~15% of its expenses, and is dependent on outside forces for the other ~85% (ie fuel, water, etc). While these types of costs are much harder to have an impact on directly, there are easy steps which can be taken. Low flow shower heads, more water efficient toilets, or even gray water systems can be installed.

These might not be low cost up front investments, and it's interesting to consider how this could be implemented, but it does show that if a building pulls together and acts collectively, even these ~85% of costs can be influenced.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Virtual Doorman

The advantages of a doorman are clear, but in may cases they're just not worth the expense. This NYT article looks at an interesting alternative.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Social Network - in an Apartment Building?

It's been hard trying to find interesting ways to enhance the co-op experience, but the other day I stumbled across the idea of using a white-label social network to create a sense of community within and around a building.

Having spent the last 6 months living in a co-op, I've only gotten to know one or two of my neighbors. This is partially the result of having different work hours from most people around me and not running into anyone in the lobby or the elevator. Getting to know the people in the neighboring apartments is a very necessary first step if a sense of community is ever going to come through, and that is vital if any sort of other communal goals are to be considered. A online social network is time independent (eliminating my problem), and can facilitate meeting your neighbors.

On the positive side, a social network would be a great way for a management company to push information to residents (rather than the note under the door, which many currently rely on). Also, a localized social network of this kind would facilitate a sharing of information of surrounding businesses (know a good dry cleaner that you'd recommend - great. if we all use it we can get a discount - even better. get the dry cleaner to advertise to a very targeted audience and use the revenue to reduce maintenance - ideal).

On the negative side, do I really want to know that the person living above me is a scorpio and enjoys ballet? Do I want the woman living in the apartment across from me to know even more about my life than she sees through my window?

If you want to try it out, Ning could be helpful, or try the TechCrunch featured site LifeAt.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Communal living

Last week I wrote about the idea of shared internet in a co-op, and did a google search on the topic only to realize there's no information out there. So, while I don't think I'll fill that void single handedly, I am going to try and pull some information together on this blog as well as document my own experience.

Hopefully, I can shed some light on the New York co-op environment, and maybe remind one or two people that cooperative living is actually more than just co-habitating a building, and actually should encompass sharing of various costs and services.