Airbnb Hosting Pros & Cons

House photo by Jaclyn Warren, horse photo via State Library of Queensland via Flickr

It’s no secret that many Brooklynites rent out their homes to travelers via Airbnb and other short-stay home-sharing sites. One Brownstoner reader is wondering if opening up their home to strangers is worth it.

peaceout writes:

Curious to hear experiences, recommendations, advice from those who are Airbnb hosts. We are considering converting the lower level of our house (has a separate entrance) for guests.

Should this reader hop on the Airbnb wagon? Share your thoughts in the original post.

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House Heating Costs in Brooklyn

A Brownstoner reader wants to know how much it costs for heat and hot water in a Brooklyn house.

futurelandlord writes:

My husband and I are looking to buy a brownstone or limestone via FHA loan. We’re trying to figure out what our “hidden” costs besides our mortgage will be. Can anyone give me a little insight as to how much they pay for heat/hot water for the whole place?

I know gas and electricity are generally charged separately. Also, when buying is there anything we should be looking out for as far as boilers, water heaters, etc.?

Several readers have compared notes on their heating and water bills — where does yours stand? Share your thoughts in the original post.

Need a professional opinion? Try Brownstoner Service Pros.

Damages From Neighbors Renovation

Brownstone photo by Mary Hautman

A Brownstoner reader is seeing some damaging effects from a next-door renovation.

mjn11226 writes:

I live in a row house in the North Slope. There is a serious gut/renovation project going on next door, complete with new beams, floors, staircases, etc.

My second and third floors are showing some damage. It looks as though the walls and the floors have begun to separate up to 1/2 inch in some spots. This is new, as I just redid my floors before the construction and did not have this problem. Of course, I am concerned that a ton of dust is getting in from next door. But I am also alarmed about the separation.

Any advice about repairs, safety, recourse with the contractor and owner next door?

Among commenters’ suggestions have been documenting everything and talking to the contractor — what else should they do here? Share your thoughts over in the original post.

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DIY Chandelier in Rental Apartment

Man photo by Sutha Kamal via Flickr; chandelier photo via Lindsey Adelman

A crafty Brownstoner reader wants to install a DIY chandelier that requires special electrical work.

essais writes:

I live in a rental and I would like to install a chandelier in the living room. I made the Lindsey Adelman DIY chandelier. I plan to have a licensed electrician install the fixture. However, after reading through some blog posts and comments about the fixture, it seems like some people would be hesitant to install the fixture in a rental because if it’s not a UL listed lighting fixture, it negates the insurance on the building. If you were a landlord, would you be hesitant to let your tenant install a DIY light fixture even if an electrician installed it?

Has your tenant ever asked to do something like this? Did you let them? Share your thoughts in the original post.

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Joint Property Ownership to Sole

Photo by Sam Hood via Flickr

A Brownstoner reader who bought property with their father is wondering whether it makes more sense to switch it from joint to sole ownership as Dad ages.

stickerhappy writes:

My dad and I bought a multifamily property together a number of year ago, so we jointly own it. As he has gotten older, we started talking about transferring ownership to me as the sole owner.

What is the process and tax implications for going from joint ownership to sole ownership?
Is this a complicated legal process?

Alternately, from a tax and legal standpoint, does it make more sense just to leave it as-is and I would take over sole ownership in the case he passes away?

Have you changed ownership of your home from joint to sole? What was the process like? Share your thoughts in the original post.

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Exposed Brick Pros and Cons

Brick photo via Wikimedia Commons; illustration via Internet Archive Book Images via Flickr

A Brownstoner reader is looking for advice regarding exposing brick in their house.

zekedancin writes:

After reading many older posts, I am aware that many on this forum don’t think brick should be exposed…but it looks so good!

I would love to have at least some exposed brick in our house. Are there ways to safely do a section of a wall for aesthetics?

Some commenters have warned of possible issues to keep in mind — like losing heat and hearing more noise from neighbors — but what do you think? Would you advise going for the exposed brick? Share your thoughts in the original post.

Need a professional opinion? Try Brownstoner Service Pros.

Bathroom Vents for Interior Bathrooms

Man photo by Sutha Kamal via Flickr; bathroom photo via Internet Archive Book Images via Flickr

A Brownstoner reader has two windowless interior bathrooms and is looking for a better venting solution.

kms_bklyn writes:

Our two story wood frame house has two bathrooms, one on each floor. They are stacked on top of each other. They are in the interior of the house and don’t have windows, though in the past they had windows that opened onto an air shaft, but the windows have since been removed, sheetrocked, and tiled over.

Each bathroom has a ceiling vent/fan, but I don’t think they do much good (nor am I sure where they vent to). What do others do to vent interior bathrooms? Put the windows back in? New fan that vents to the air shaft or cockloft or roof?

How have you successfully vented your interior bathrooms? Share your advice in the original post.

Need a professional opinion? Try Brownstoner Service Pros.

From Université de Caen Basse-Normandie via Flickr

Photo via Université de Caen Basse-Normandie via Flickr

A Brownstoner reader is having a hard time removing a stale smell from a tenant who smoked in a bedroom for several years.

photochic1124 writes:

I had a subletter that smoked in a bedroom for a few years. He vacated a year ago and despite my efforts, the room still smells a little. Not like cigarettes per say just kind of stale.
I’ve repainted, replaced the mattress, aired it out for countless days. I suspect the smell is in the floorboards (only because it’s the most logical thing left). I covered it in baking soda and let it sit for 2 days. It helped a little. I’m going to try it again but was hoping there was a trick I didn’t know. I’m looking for DIY solutions if at all possible.

Have you had success getting stale smells out of your home? What worked? Share your thoughts in the original post.

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A Brownstoner reader is planning a kitchen renovation and is wondering about permitting options.

I am planning a kitchen renovation, but it’s essentially a replacement of the existing kitchen with some minor changes in layout. If my calculations are correct, I can pull it off without changing any of the plumbing or gas rough-in locations.

However, there will be some changes to electrical rough-ins, as I want to add undercabinet lighting, garbage disposal, and an island.

Would it be possible to just hire an electrician to do the electrical work and not have to go through the madness that is an ALT-2 permit with engineer/architect and GC?

If I end up going the ALT-2 route, is it possible/legal for a homeowner to pull their own permit? Everything I have read says that a licensed contractor must pull the permit, but I intend to do the non-electrical and non-plumbing work myself (nothing structural, just cabinets, tops, painting, tile, flooring, etc.) What are my options?

Have you done a similar kitchen reno? How did you handle the permitting? Share your thoughts in the original post.

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Apartment Resale Value Without Bathtub

Photo via Internet Archive Book Images via Flickr

A Brownstoner reader would like to replace their studio apartment’s bathtub with a shower, but has concerns about the resale value.

ollicup writes:

I live in a co-op studio in Kensington, and the bathroom is pretty cramped. I’m considering remodeling the bathroom, and I was wondering what would happen to the resale value of the apartment if I removed the tub, which takes up some space. It’s not an aesthetically pleasing tub, but it’s the only bathroom (and consequentially only tub) in the apartment.

I realize not many people who have small children would consider a studio, so it might not be “needed.” I’d like to replace it with a more spacious shower, but maybe it’s worth it to keep?

So, should it stay or should it go?

Commenters suggest that since it’s a studio, the owner should be in the clear to give up the tub. But what do you think? Share your thoughts in the original post.

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Condo Conversion

Photo by Brownstoner, illustration from The British Library via Flickr

A Brownstoner reader purchased all three units in a condo building, and they want to convert it to a single-owner building.

nycuser123 writes:

I purchased a 3 unit building….that was actually three condos. So I own all the condos of the building and control the condo board etc. This type of structure makes it difficult to find favorable financing and for that reason I want to reconvert to a standard single owner building. How do I do that? Who do I contact?

What’s the next step here? Share your thoughts in the original post.

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Interior Painting Costs for Apartment

Caption: Photo by Cade Martin and Dawn Arlotta for USCDCP

Is it really worth hiring someone to paint your apartment? Brownstoner reader benoit asks:

How much would be the cost to paint an apartment, 1 bedroom of 850 square feet with five rooms?

Commenters say it will vary wildly, but most guess it’ll be in the $4,000 range. Does that sound within reason to you? Is it worth it to do it yourself instead? Share your experience in the original post.

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