Pressurized walls and Book-case Dividers
Once again we will be talking about pressurized walls and book-case dividers. For more than a decade those creative arrangements have been systematically used by renters in Manhattan. Their purpose is to create additional bedrooms. Residents who combat Manhattan’s “affordability” conundrum room together. The pressurized wall and the most recently popularized book-case dividers are innovations not due to the whims of modern interior design but rather a pragmatic necessity. Those arrangement’s main purpose is to divide and conquer the already limited space in Manhattans’ flats. For tenants on a budget who do not want to compromise on their favorite area, the option is– find a roommate and share either a flex 2 bedroom or a flex 3 bedroom apartment. This is a viable option especially for the young professionals. Some of them tolerate their habitats as ” the place where I sleep.” Therefore, working long hours in the financial sector, the young professionals demand the conveniences of Manhattan living and proximity to the office. Therefore, flexing the apartment is your best option here in Manhattan. This way you find a flat in the city and divide the cost with someone. A lot of young professionals who move to NYC for the first time, come prepared. They have done their homework , talked to friends who have gone this way before them and prepared all the necessary paperwork for renting in the NYC. They know how the real estate market works in Manhattan, and have paired together with a college buddy or two, ready to find a flex apartment in Manhattan.
However, what you might not know is that the laws and regulations in reference to temporary partitions in NYC have changed. Not all rental buildings in NYC allow full pressurized walls anymore. Actually, finding a building with liberal enough rules to accept such temporary dividers is as common as winning the lottery these days. After the death of a fireman in a fire which took place in a residential building in the Bronx, it was determined that an illegally constructed pressurized wall prevented the timely evacuation which resulted in the fatal accident. Shortly afterwards, the city and the department of State banned the pressurized walls. Unnecessary to say this created a lot of havoc . The residents of an expensive place like NYC were deprived from their only creative way of dealing with apartment cost. On the other hand , the building owners who would not cooperate with the new regulations suffered huge fines. Every once in a while the Department of State (DOS) would randomly select a building to inspect. If an illegal pressurized wall is discovered , the unlawful partition is taken down and the responsible parties violating the code of safety are imposed a penalty.
Difference between walkabout walls, book-case walls, and pressurized walls in NYC
- Pressurized walls- this is the most desired option. The wall is temporary and attached to the caring walls. It can be built for a day, or to be more exact it can be constructed for only a couple of hours. It costs anywhere between $800- $1200 and the tenant is responsible to pay the cost. After the lease term is over, the vendor comes to take the wall down. Technically, you rent the pressurized wall from a third party vendor. Check Wall2Wall walls and partitions which are absolutely legal ; and , make sure you completely understand the obligations and further stipulations which could accrue if you build illegal pressurized wall.
- Book-case walls -This is the second most preferred option. The book-case wall is built of heavy material. It creates additional storage since the opposite side offers depositor space. Unfortunately, the book-case wall does not go all the way to the ceiling, and some models do not have doors.
- Walk about walls- Made of solid material this Z like shaped divider usually comes with a two feet gap on the top and no door. Really creative people compliment the door deficiency and use a curtain instead. The cost of that partition ranges between $1000-$1200. Once again when your contract expires, the third party contractor will come to dismantle the wall.
The alternative- bookcase-wall
One of the pressurized walls alternatives for the anxious roommates is to use a book-case wall. These are book-cases made of solid material which is used to divide the space in the living room and create a somewhat private separate space. However, roommates are not too keen on using those dividers. Many say that since the book-case wall does not go all the way to the ceiling, bad noise isolation remains to be the primary concern. Some innovative tenants deal with the problem creatively . Once they move into the apartment, the gap on the top can be closed off with a plexi-glass panel, or cardboard boxes. Another problem the book-case divider creates is the lack of a door. Technically, the book-case is a piece of furniture, and it can’t have a door.
The Renters are not the only ones who suffer from the new policies. Management companies and private owners have a hard time renting their apartments. Once the prospective tenants realize that pressurized walls are not allowed, they take their business elsewhere. PanAm Equities for instance, one of the biggest landlords in NYC, had a hard time renting their vacant apartments. Experimenting with the idea to not permit temporary dividers of any kind in their luxury buildings in Midtown, PanAm Equities banned the temporary arrangements. However, after a couple of months and three times price reduction , the management realized that nothing would rent those apartments but a miracle. A couple of vendors were permitted again to build temporary partitions in the two bedroom layouts and in less than a week , all of the apartments flew off the shelf. The prospective tenants can chose between two different vendors and decide whether to use a walk-about wall or a sliding door panel divider. The two companies are the living space Inc. and divide your space NY. However, for some a pressurized wall is the only solution and those tough renters would not settle for anything but a real wall that goes to the ceiling and has a door.
This was the case with Maven. He moved from Chicago to New York. He came here to work for one of the biggest accounting companies and left his inexpensive, luxury apartment with downtown views. He quickly realized that NYC couldn’t offer anything similar. It was not easy for him to accept the idea of having to share a flex 2 bedroom apartment with a roommate in order to afford the city living , however, ” the divider must be a pressurized wall”, he declared. And there began the search for the holy pressurized wall.
When we looked at different buildings on the east side, it quickly became clear that Midtown east and Murray Hill could offer a very limited number of options. Maven did not like Waterside plaza, and even though the management company allows full pressurized walls, Maven decided to take his chances and look for another more centrally located place. Therefore, we focused on the West side. Midtown West is known for its luxury residential buildings. In addition to that one can find buildings with more flexible rules which allow the coveted pressurized walls.
First, we looked at a place on 10th avenue. The leasing agent introduced us to the property and right of the bat, she proudly announced that full pressurized walls are allowed. Even though the apartment looked nice at first sight, Maven felt it was boxy and needed more space. Moving from a large 900 sq ft apartment into a 600 sq ft place could be a daunting experience.
Next stop , a luxury tower on 8th avenue. Maven took a good look and from his pocket he pulled out a long check list of requirements such as: Full pressurized walls, spacious layout, floor-to-ceiling windows, and amenities. The check list was covered..
Everything looked good; however, the price was steep. It was no secret that the more centrally located the residential building was located, the pricier the apartments were. My client could not swallow the $500 price increase on top of his budget. Besides a place to sleep , young professionals living in NYC need to entertain as well. So spending all of his money on rent was not a viable option for Naven.
Tf cornerstone with their Behemoth of a rental building on W37th street was our next stop. The luxury property had definitely helped with the gentrification of the area. The community is bustling with more and more young professionals. Experienced brokers know how things work . No matter how adamant against the located the client is, you still take him to see the luxury construction. Eventually, after they see the apartments , they usually proclaim– ” It is not that bad. I can see myself living here.” The architects and interior designers have done a great job. The rental high-rise offers a quality life-style at a reasonable price. For those who share, a full pressurized wall is allowed. We saw a nice apartment with a full pressurized walls already converted. Due to demand , the management would not want to hold the apartment in exchange for an application fee only. They required a full packet with an array of documentation including a bank statement, letter of employment and past year tax returns. Maven was not prepared to act immediately and the moment we walked away, we knew we lost the apartment.
Optimistically, we continued the search. Our final stop for the day was a condo on Broadway and W30′s. A quick peek at the apartment and Maven knew this was his new apartment in Manhattan. Within his budget, the apartment offered an airy layout, full pressurized wall, central location, and low broker fee. Maven filled out the application/ The $500 deposit took the apartment off the market and gave Maven 48 hours to collect the rest of the paperwork.
Whether looking for an apartment with a real pressurized wall, book-case divider, or walk about wall, you should know that the Big Apple has something to offer you. If you need assistance with your real estate search, please feel free to contact us directly. We will love to help you out.