Your Most Burning Real Estate and Renovation Questions of the Year

Photo illustration by Barbara Eldredge



    Not sure whether you should put in an offer on a brownstone with un-permitted repairs? Don’t know how to explain to your 8-year-old why that couple next door is making those funny noises?

    Chances are someone else in Brooklyn or beyond has been in a similar situation, and that’s what the Brownstoner Forum is here for. Every day our readers are answering one another’s questions. Read on for the issues that got the most attention in 2015.

    Buying House Without Permits

    Photo illustration by Barbara Eldredge

    10. Should I put in an offer on a house for which no permits were filed?
    Brownstoner reader brown2013 started negotiations to buy a townhouse, only to discover that none of the home’s repairs or updates — including facade repair, roofing, electrical work, and wiring — had been permitted. “How would you negotiate this with the seller?” they asked. Read more in the original post.


    9. What should I do about my noisy neighbor and his new girlfriend?
    What happens when your 8-year-old starts asking about the strange noises coming from next door? That’s what one Brownstoner reader who emailed in wanted to know. What advice did others have for this uncomfortable situation? Read the original post to find out.

    asbestos pipe

    Photo via Pro Abatement

    8. What does it cost to remove asbestos?
    Brownstoner reader katdov bought a small Brooklyn brownstone that came with a small amount of asbestos in the cellar. Turns out, it’s not cheap to get rid of it. In the original post, find out how much other Brooklynites paid in a similar situation.

    NYC Fence on Property Line -- Which Way Should It Face?

    Photo illustration by Barbara Eldredge

    7. Who gets the pretty side of the fence?
    Brownstoner reader Shyguy installed a new fence this year, but ran into some drama when a neighbor complained that the “pretty” side wasn’t facing them. Most commenters were feeling sorry for the guy and his cranky new neighbors — read more in the original post.

    Is it Better to Sell a House in the Spring?

    Man photo by Sutha Kamal via Flickr. Photo illustration by Barbara Eldredge

    6. Should I pull my house to sell in the spring market?
    After a disappointing offer, Brownstoner reader hkhouselove was considering taking their house off the market and saving it for the spring instead. Many chimed in to the original post to give their $0.02, saying they shouldn’t let emotions get in the way and be insulted by low offers.

    swing arm light vanity

    5. Are there affordable vanity lights for my medicine cabinet?
    Who wants to spend $900 on vanity lights? Definitely not Brownstoner reader ps158, who back in March was having trouble finding something that would fit, but that also cost less than $150 per light. Suggestions ranged from Lowe’s to IKEA — see them all in the original post.

    steam radiator

    Photo via Wikimedia Commons

    4. Why is my steam radiator loud and spitting water?
    Brownstoner reader AussieBen returned from traveling to find a steam radiator making sounds like a washing machine and spitting out rusty water. Fellow readers had quite a bit of detailed advice to share. Read their suggestions over in the original post.

    Home Renovation First Steps -- Brooklyn Gut Reno

    3. What questions should prospective homebuyers ask before putting in an offer?

    A Brownstoner reader’s friend wanted to put in an offer on a house that seemed too good to be true, so she asked the Forum, “What questions can they ask the brokers or what advice can any of your provide prior to them making an offer?” Some commenters suggested a title search and inspections, but others said all is probably just fine. Read all the advice over in the original post.

    NYC work permit

    2. I’m at risk of losing my life savings in a home because of DOB issues. What are a homeowner’s rights in regards to the DOB?
    A reader was unable to obtain proper permits for a renovation, partially due to a clerical error on the Department of Buildings’ part. “Is there a way to file a complaint against the way the DOB has handled the situation?” asked workerb in May. This led to a pile-on of readers who’ve dealt with permitting issues — read on, for their suggestions.


    1. Has your contractor thrown a tantrum and quit in the middle of a job?
    Because one Brownstoner reader’s has — in the midst of a gut renovation. Some commenters thought it was the original poster‘s fault, while others blamed money. What’s your take?

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