Where does the wet over dry rule come from?Architect Elliot Glass was the first one to come up with the wet over dry rule. He became known for being stricter than NYC’s Department of Buildings, and the rules he once instituted in New York are now almost universally seen and followed in alteration agreements.
Why do management companies enforce the wet over dry rule?
The boards of Co-op and condo require owners to follow the wet over dry rule to minimize the risks of water damage. This also reduces the cost of water damage to floors below if a leak occurs. As a result, in most buildings in New York, all the apartment lines will have the same floorplan.
For example, 9A will have the same layout as 10A and so on. The property manager enforces this wet over dry rule through the alteration agreement. This is a document that owners and contractors sign before starting any work on their unit.
From an insurance point standpoint, it is sometimes hard to prove which party is liable for water damage. Insurance companies might not fully cover costs for either the building or individual apartment owners.
Less risk in wet over wet buildings
Can an apartment buyer get approved for an exception to the wet-over-dry rule before purchasing?
No. A buyer should not sign a contract assuming that the Board will pre-approve the renovation plans. This has nothing to do with the wet-over-dry rule. Co-op and condo board members volunteer their time for the benefit of the current owners, not to make prospective buyers happy.
It is too risky to ask a co-op board for such an exception. Indeed coop board meetings have the right to approve any potential buyers. In other words, Coop. Board can reject any purchaser for any reason.
Coop boards do not have to disclose the reason for their choice. And in fact, they and never disclose it for liability reasons.
A co-op board interview tests a buyer’s qualifications. It’s also the opportunity to ask all the uncomfortable questions. If the co-op board thinks a given buyer is a troublemaker, the Board may just reject that buyer.
How to convince a Coop. board to grant an exception regarding the Wet over dry ruleMost management companies advise boards that authorizing wet-over-dry construction is an unnecessary risk. But some boards decide, nonetheless, that it’s a risk worth taking with the proper mitigants. Some management company advisory boards to include a policy in the alteration agreement that should be reviewed and updated annually.
1) Demonstrate strong waterproofing measures
Boards and Management companies are hesitant to approve exceptions to the wet-over-dry rule. However, they sometimes grant special approvals if the renovation includes reliable waterproofing measures and flood alarms. An example is a cement-based flooring in all shower and bathtub areas such as Wonderboard.
We also recommend treated paper behind walls and titles. This prevents moisture from entering walls and floors. We also recommend installing a dishpan to catch water from any potential leaks, just in case.