The Hard Truth About Soft Costs for Co-op and Condo Boards

Many co-op and condo boards tackling capital projects are finding themselves caught in a perfect storm: as city regulations have become more stringent, the demand for scaffolding and sidewalk sheds has risen, while the cost of that protective equipment has also risen thanks to high insurance costs, inflation and simple laws of supply and demand. The result: in a small but growing number of cases, the cost of protective sheds and scaffolding — the so-called soft costs — are surpassing the cost of the work itself.

“This market is ripe for the scaffolding industry,” says Chris Alker, the vice president of building operations at the property management company AKAM. “The rules have shifted to make inspections more stringent, and the fines are so high that people who might have just paid the fines in the past are now doing the work. So there’s more demand, but there’s only so much material to go around. Then there’s insurance. It all adds up.”

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