Townhouse renovation costs – Manhattan vs Brooklyn

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Topic: Townhouse renovation costs – Manhattan vs Brooklyn

General Contractors February 25, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Townhouse renovation costs – Manhattan vs Brooklyn

Hi, I am evaluating a near-gut renovation for a townhouse in Manhattan (all new mechanicals including wiring, HVaC, plumbing, a rear extension, new windows, doors, staircases, new kitchen and bathrooms, and reconfiguration of interior rooms, etc).

In general, Manhattan based professionals are indicating $500-600/sf costs, while Brooklyn based professionals are more in the ~$300/sf range.

I assume there is nothing intrinsic that causes Manhattan to be more expensive for townhouse construction projects, and is is a function of less price-conscious clientele?

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Yes, my guess is that you’re right that the Manhattan contractor’s you’re talking to are used to working for clients with deeper pockets.  But there are two other important factors that may be at play here:
First is the quality of their finished work.  If the guys you’re talking to from Manhattan do ‘perfect’ work, and those from Brooklyn do 85% perfect work, then that could account for much of the difference as well….15% increase in quality does not equal only a 15% increase in costs.
If any of your bidders work does not meet your expectations on quality, don’t hire them.  Some owners hire a contractor expecting a contractor to be able to raise his quality level if he’s closely monitored, but it’s not that simple and it never turns out well.

Second is how they’re set up.  Do the Manhattan guys have office space, a secretary, and back of house staff, while the Brooklyn guys work from a home office and do all ordering/requisitions themselves?  That makes a bid difference in their operating costs.

Good luck with the project!

James Cleary Architecture

A likely source of the discrepancy is high end versus pretty nice.

Unless the fixures etc are spelled out in exact detail, it isn’t apples to apples.

Oftentimes in Manhattan, we have to drop a crew off with a truck, versus the crew can park in front of the job in Brooklyn. That’s an extra mouth to feed, and the item you need is never with you, it’s always at the shop.

In Jersey we show up with a fully stocked truck (HVAC), or even pull a trailer with more equipment.

If these details are, in your case spelled out, then I am stumped.

As Bruce mentioned the level of finishes should have a big role in your final figure. We’ve completed many manhattan gut renovations and depending on mechanical specs and finishes they have ranged anywhere between 250-600/sf. The 250-300 range would get you nice…300-400 would get you very nice and 400 and above starts to get you whatever you desire. In my opinion you should be able to get this done for between 300-450 unless you are using extremely high end finishes.

….and if you were doing the same work in Atlanta it would be 1/3 of the Brooklyn costs. There is a serious “wall street inflation” penalty for getting GC work completed in NY.

I was given a bid on a project recently for $120k and the GC didnt even bat an eyelid when i gave him my response.

At the end of the day you can pony up and pay the $600sqf or you can spend the time to find realistic workmen who arent taking you for a sucker. Your choice. Basically a lot of people in manhattan couldn’t change a fuse let alone give you a rough quote on rewiring an apartment with new BX……so if you arent prepared to do the research then you deserve to get ripped off.

I was given a price of approximately $200/sg ft for dry and $400/sg ft for wet gut reno. I seem to recall the difference between wet and dry reno on Brownstoner awhile back but can’t seem to find that discussion. Does this sound accurate?

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