a tale of two architects, part 2


my architect anjie cho and her drafter measuring and taking notes to draw up the official renovation plans for the apartment

you know what’s really exciting? standing in your soon to be apartment with a real, licensed architect, and talking through the official “plans” for renovation. after the disaster that was my first interaction with an “architect” you could say i was a little weary of moving forward. B had quoted me $3k, all in, to draw up the plans, hire an expeditor, and get everything submitted to both the management company and the city. that number sounded REAL GOOD to me.

but then he went all donald trump on me and basically said, “YOU’RE FIRED (as a client)!” and that was that. it was on to plan B (or, actually, plan A). in this case, A stands for anjie cho, another name my contractor gave me after B fell through. unlike B, who i quickly learned wasn’t even a licensed architect (holy shit new york city what kind of place are you?!), anjie is the real deal.

and guess what?! SHE’S A WOMAN! hell yes. no dicks around here (literally and figuratively). my initial interactions with anjie were so painless, i could barely believe they were happening. i emailed her on memorial day while on the train back from massachusetts. i figured i’d hear from her later in the week, once she was back in my office, but gave my phone number just in case.

to my surprise (and delight!), anjie called about 15 minutes after receiving my email, and proceeded to fill me in on a few things:

  1. she’d heard of B. he was a well-known character in the lower east side real estate game. he got the job done, but he wasn’t exactly above board, if you know what i mean. in fact, he wasn’t even a licensed architect. WTF?
  2. real architects cost more than $3k. anjie’s fees, along with her expeditor, were going to put me around double that. but that was the cost to have things done right, and most importantly, by the book (aka the law).
  3. if i didn’t do things by the book, i could risk legal issues when i went to sell the grand apartment later on. HELLO, danger zone, nice to meet you…NOT.
  4. the first step in this process was the management company. they were the ones who decided whether or not city approval was required. and if it wasn’t, i’d save a hefty chunk of change.

it was basically like being baptized. unlike B, who had literally told me nothing and given me nothing, anjie filled a sista in. BIG TIME. she made me feel like i could understand the process, and that she’d help me through it–and that she would do it in a way that would ensure i wasn’t getting screwed. because who wants to get screwed by a guy who’s not even licensed? NOT ME.

anjie was such a breath of fresh air that i basically said YOLO to the increase in price and resolved myself to find some cheaper lighting fixtures and maybe give up my fancy bathroom tile. or at least, to find some freelance work to make up the difference (holla if you need a writer, friends!).

did i want to pay double the original quote? definitely not. but do i want it done right, and only done once? YOU BET. i won’t be able to confidently say this until i’m on the other side, but my gut tells me that when things are suspiciously cheap, it generally means there’s some under the table BS going on. and when things are on par with industry standards, price-wise (and i should note here that i got multiple quotes beyond anjie’s and she was by far the most reasonable, and the one i liked the most), there’s usually a reason for it. it means you’re getting good work done by good people who know their shit. given that i do not know my shit at all, i need someone who does.

so i signed the contract, handed over my deposit, and we GOT TO WORK. well, really, anjie got to work. i just let her into the building.

tomorrow, the fruits of her labors (and my super high level design plan, eeep!).



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