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What Can I Customize?


Not much—at least, not anymore. Buyers in the late nineties and early aughts would regularly order their apartments raw, to be fitted out as they wished. (Spaces at celebrity architect Richard Meier’s 176 Perry Street were delivered unfinished, for instance.) Essentially no developers want to do that today. Nor are they usually willing to customize the space—open up a layout, upgrade cabinetry, expand a bathroom—the way they once might have. “It’s just an inefficient way to build,” explains developer Kenneth Horn. “It slows the construction process down tremendously.” Agrees broker Aaron Goed, who’s marketing a Chelsea project right now, “It can be a nightmare. The oversight that it takes—with multiple apartments, and someone wants a wall moved, and someone wants a different sink—it’s just impossible to track.” It also can chip away at profits, because fixtures can no longer be bought in bulk. If you want to move walls around significantly, even the offering plan itself may need adjustments, which would in turn have to be approved by the New York State attorney general’s office. In short, if you want something special, it is—as silly as this sounds—more practical for you to buy a finished apartment, then tear it all apart again. That said, our experts noted that exceptions are occasionally made for very large purchases of big-game property or combined apartments, where the deal is so big it’s worth the trouble.


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