New Renovation Blog: We Need More Space!


Welcome to my 5th Avenue renovation in Park Slope. I am absolutely delighted to post my story on Brownstoner, not only because I am an avid “brownstoner” but because I thought that perhaps someone who is starting a renovation project may learn from my good and bad experiences. So where do we begin? I say let’s start from the beginning!

 
My hubby and I bought a three-story townhouse in Park Slope about ten years ago. We live on the top-floor apartment and rent out the other two apartments. After ten years, two kids and a 14-year-old Rottweiler, we both agreed that we may be outgrowing our three-bedroom, one-bath apartment. We wanted to live in a bigger space so that we all could stretch out a bit more and use the bathroom without lining up to do so. Seriously. The question then became: Move to a bigger space or build on top of our existing property?

 
We spoke to a financial advisor, who was passionately against us buying into a market he thought was failing, and he suggested we build up and expand our current real estate. “At the end of the day, you just need more space,” he said. “Why buy another headache when you can just maintain the one headache you have now?” Agreed.

 
In 2002 when we closed on our property, our interest rate was 6.87%. After refinancing in 2012 our rate dropped to 4.25%. Huge difference! And because of that we were able to pull equity from the property to renovate. So now here we are. We are renovators. On a journey of… well… renovation!

 
The current size of our apartment is 1,100 square feet. We plan to create a 500-square-foot fourth-floor addition as well as renovate the entire third floor. Some of the things on our list include making the bathroom larger, removing a partial wall that divides the kitchen and dining space, adding a kitchen island and new appliances, updating the kitchen, adding interior stairs, and building a large terrace. Here are a few shots of the apartment in its “before” state:

Next week I’ll show you a few plans and introduce you to my architects!

6 Comment

  • “We spoke to a financial advisor, who was passionately against us buying into a market he thought was failing, and he suggested we build up and expand our current real estate.”

    failing?

  • All I keep thinking about is how thrilled the bar owners must be with every additional media report of this “controversy.” This is free advertising that other small-business owners would kill for! (“13,000 square-foot beer garden…40 beers on tap…bocce, indoor/outdoor, right off the Prospect Expressway”). Filter out the silly noise about who gets to drink there at which hours and all that’s left is “whoa–13,000 square feet! sounds awesome! looks like a beach club! where is it, exactly? Let’s go!”

    [I wouldn't be surprised if they had pulled this 4 pm switch just to get back in the headlines...]

    Beyond that, it doesn’t matter what anyone really thinks, except in dollars spent at the bar. If the 4 pm policy results in net more happily-paying adult customers, then it’s a good idea and they’ll keep it. If it results in net fewer, then it’s a bad idea and they’ll change it back.

  • mr. b, esther should get the boot if she has camera photo photos again next week.

  • I am looking forward to your decision path. Spoiler Alert — Disappointment ahead.

    We have been waiting since Jun4 to get our initial batch of challenged objections. That after giving up on all of our great ideas.

    You probably have (5) grandfathered situations that will blow up once you try to add what you are proposing, unless you are trying to add “mezzanine” space.

    Do you currently have a cellar to roof top stair? Soon you will.

  • Perhaps I am missing something here, but you seem to exclude the easiest option from your “decision path” (as one of the other commenters called it.) If you have two units that are leased to tenants, why not take over part or all of one of those spaces for your use? You could double your space or add 500 feet (the same as you are adding) with much less cost while still maintaining income. And, your monthly carrying costs are now likely substantially less than what they were when you purchased 10 years ago.

    Unless they are rent-controlled or rent-stabilized tenants, which would significantly complicate matters, why not terminate a lease and create an owner’s duplex? It would be interesting to learn why you didn’t pursue that path.

    While I have not faced a similar decision, the last option I would want to pursue would be an upward expansion. You have to deal with the DoB, two neighbors and a relatively complicated construction.

  • Perhaps I am missing something here, but you seem to exclude the easiest option from your “decision path” (as one of the other commenters called it.) If you have two units that are leased to tenants, why not take over part or all of one of those spaces for your use? You could double your space or add 500 feet (the same as you are adding) with much less cost while still maintaining income. And, your monthly carrying costs are now likely substantially less than what they were when you purchased 10 years ago.

    Unless they are rent-controlled or rent-stabilized tenants, which would significantly complicate matters, why not terminate a lease and create an owner’s duplex? It would be interesting to learn why you didn’t pursue that path.

    While I have not faced a similar decision, the last option I would want to pursue would be an upward expansion. You have to deal with the DoB, two neighbors and a relatively complicated construction.