Case Studies

Carolyn Reagan – Turning a Lemon into a Pot of Gold

Carolyn contacted us not too long after purchasing her new apartment in the Upper Eastside. Aside from its nice location, a penthouse off of Park Avenue, the apartment had a number of unusual and interesting features – among others an uncommon space distribution, a built-in greenhouse and a terrace. Unfortunately, the number of problems far outnumbered the attractive features.

The apartment had been poorly renovated 8 to 10 years earlier. The design was not functional or attractive, and the craftsmanship and materials used were poor. To make matters worse, the greenhouse, which had significant water damages from an old roof that had not been properly repaired and continued to leak, had been added to the apartment in the late sixties and never properly filed with the Department of buildings. The apartment had poor space distribution, very limited closet space and to make things worse the Master Bedroom had no window.

The Building Management and the Board had had so many problems with the previous apartment owner that they were non-committal and extremely cautious about Carolyn’s intentions to renovate. All in all, the apartment was a challenge.
We first worked with the architects and Carolyn in preparing a good case for Management and the Board by presenting legitimate reasons for the renovation work being proposed, offering proof of the existing conditions, promptly answering all their questions and complying with their requests. We continued to provide technical and management support during the various revisions and inquiries until all the necessary applications and approvals were obtained.

With the approvals in place and the renovation scope of work ready, we proceeded to execute our work. We started by elaborating a timeline that would allow us to coordinate our work with concurrent building roof and façade repairs and other building work that had been triggered by Carolyn’s renovation. Although our major concern was to get Carolyn’s renovation done correctly and on time, it was also critical not to create conflicts with Management and the Board by not interfering with the building exterior work.

What first looked like an overwhelming mountain of problems soon started to transform into a very attractive and rather unusual property with very unique features. Carolyn, who was first able to recognize the potential of her property in spite of the overwhelming technical and logistic issues, was thrilled with the results, the level of details and craftsmanship of our work.

We enlarged the kitchen and closet space throughout the apartment and installed a very stylish kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances. We fully renovated and transformed her bathrooms with completely new plumbing fixtures, a Jacuzzi tub in the Master Bathroom and very attractive tiling work and lighting. We installed a badly needed window in her Master Bedroom, replaced all flimsy doors with tall, solid core, wood panel doors and added a lot of molding details throughout the apartment – far apart to what we had first started with.

The renovation had transformed the functionality and look of the apartment to what Carolyn started referring to as her dream home. Also a very satisfying fact to Carolyn was that a renovation which had cost her 47% of the cost of the apartment ended up more than doubling the value of her property – a great investment!

Margaret and Jim Murphy – Time, Craftsmanship and Details

Jim and Margaret had purchased a large apartment in the Upper Eastside of Manhattan, in a nice building located between Madison and Fifth Avenue. It is a three-bedroom apartment, with three bathrooms, an office, a family room, a large kitchen and a large living room/dining room area. They contacted us because they wanted to renovate their new place before moving in with their two children and time was of the essence because the apartment they were living at had already been sold.

To complicate matters, their new building had strict house rules and Jim and Margaret had in the past had bad renovation experiences with unprofessional renovation contractors. They were extremely concerned and nervous about who they were going to work with and what kind of bad experience they were going to be exposed to. Time was not their only concern; they wanted reassurance about quality of work and attention to details. There were also some technical complications; the apartment which had originated from the combination of three smaller apartments had three electrical panels instead of one.

In order to satisfy the project time requirements and avoid any conflict of schedule that may derail the already aggressive timetable we started by first drafting a comprehensive timeline together with the interior designer and the owner. That allowed us to coordinate all the necessary trades and materials delivery time and have reasonable certainty of when the project would be completely ready and the clients to move into their renovated apartment – without unpleasant surprises.

Elaborating and properly managing the timeline provided the necessary reassurance that Jim and Margaret needed to feel more comfortable about the deadline. It also allowed us to allocate the necessary time to resolve the electrical wiring complications and leave enough time for the finishing details – we knew the interior designer had an elaborate tile work and painting scheme in mind.

The project not only was finished in time for Jim and Margaret to move in with their two children, but the quality of our work in combination with the level of details achieved, was what provided them with the greatest satisfaction.

Clara and Carl Lexington – Restoring a Brown Stone to Its Old Glory and More

Clara, Carl and their 3-year old son purchased a townhouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The building had previously been owned by a gentleman known in the area as “the butcher.” The reason for his name was because he would purchase beautiful brownstones and “chop” them into several apartments. While doing that he would destroy most of the original wood details that made these buildings so grand and attractive, plus he used substandard materials. Clara and Carl were very happy with their purchase, but their objective was to restore the building interior to its original single property occupancy status and bring back many of its original wood details.

This project presented the challenge of restoring a building that had been poorly renovated and reconfigured into three separate apartments with a limited budget. The first step was to demolish most of the “butcher’s” work and some subsequent alterations. The building interior was then reconfigured back to its original single family design while recovering whatever original details were found underneath the alterations.

All electrical wiring, electrical components, plumbing and plumbing fixtures were newly installed. The old heating system was replaced by a new and more efficient heat ventilation and air conditioning equipment with air filtration and humidification system – essential for maintaining air quality and humidity at optimal levels. The original woodwork details of ceiling crown moldings, elaborated window and door casing, and baseboards were reproduced and installed.

The HVAC system had been designed to use existing wall cavities and minimal soffit space to run the necessary ducts; always a challenge in brownstones because of their narrow configuration. We also fabricated and installed a grant kitchen with a large peninsula and island with soapstone countertops, very nice and extensive cabinetry work and top-of-the-line kitchen appliances, plumbing and light fixtures.

All the bathrooms had new plumbing fixtures with properly designed tile work and beautiful custom cabinetry – the Master Bathroom included an elegantly designed steam shower system. We also installed a central audiovisual system allowing Clara and Carl to tailor entertainment throughout the home to their individual tastes. Last but not least we provided the building with a lovely living room fireplace with a restored antique mantel.

In the rear yard of the property we demolished a concrete slab that occupied the entire yard and planted grass. We fabricated and installed a raised metal deck with Brazilian Ipe wood decking and Ipe covered hand rails with a staircase to the yard. We installed an exterior French door to provide access to the rear yard deck from the Kitchen area. We also demolished the concrete slab occupying the entire front of the building and divided the space by installing a traditional cobblestone patio in one half of the space and grass in the other half.