Favorite element: The original ceiling beams and the funky staircase that his friend designed.
Motto: “If you are considering doing this, think twice. Really.”
We had a chance to visit our friend over on 22nd street today, and almost conclude the house tours we started last fall.
What's going on?
This beautiful, but much in need of work, townhouse has been a lot of work for our friend. His original plans of buying it, fixing it up, and selling the apartments individually has fallen through as he ran into the incredible costs and red tape associated with updating an old building to current codes. It simply takes more money than he ever expected.
"When someone said it would take 30k to rewire this building, they had no idea what they were talking about." he says, "The price is more like 20k per apartment."
"If you are considering taking on a building to renovate and create an investment for yourself, think twice. It can be done, but if this is not your profession, it will take a bigger toll than you anticipate, both in terms of time and money."
As a friend in the trade told him, "In this busiess, you're going to be fucked ten times. You were lucky, you only got fucked a few times."
Here are his tips:
- On reclaimed wood - It's great to use and looks better, but don't be fooled. It will cost you as much if not more to use as new stuff, since fitting it and making it work is always much more a job.
- On lighting design - Definitely think hard about your lighting design and hire a designer if you can. Lighting and electrical outlet placement makes a huge daily difference in your home that you will appreciate more and more with time.
- On old buildings - Don't think they are "better" or that they were built by "craftsmen." His building is 1855 and built just as shoddily as many things today. Many things in the original shell had to be fixed and straight lines are few and far between. "Those guys were just as interested in taking their lunch brake in 1855 as they are now."
- Lendy Electric - This was a great resource for all his electrical needs. You need to know what you want and not be naieve, but they are helpful, fast and have everything. Go upstairs.
- Contractor Juan Corona (646.479.9707) - Juan saved the day. When he had to fire his first contractor, Juan came in and did everything really well. His prices are fair and he is totally trustworthy.
- Gringer - They suck. Lost paperwork, lost order... took time, created headache's. Not recommended.
- Casablanca Fans - They are the best. Though they cost 10%-15% more, they are totally worth it. They are quiet, solidly made and the best looking.
- Ikea Kitchen Cabinets & Wood Counters - Awesome. Super cheap and nice looking. He bought the least expensive and loves them. Note: when you assemble them, glue them as well as screwing them together so they don't vibrate and last longer.
- Charles Malloy (Electrician) (213.926.2044) - Charles is brilliant, not cheap and talks A LOT, but he is an amazing resource and highly recommended. His specialty is working on very high end, complicated jobs, but he does smaller stuff. Works with Woodlawn Electric as well.
- Avi's Metal Dimensions (Good Welder) (718.486.5434) - Having a good welder was key as there was so much metalwork in this job. Avi was excellent and is part of the Williamsburg welder mafia. Be careful, however, stay smart with these guys and you won't be "taken to the cleaners."