Ask Brownstoner


Help! I’m being treated miserably by the real estate broker that is selling us the historic home we are buying in Brooklyn. She calls us up and screams at us on average 3 times a week. Our attorney can’t get her to behave any better and her broker thinks that her behavior is normal. Basically, she just screams and screams at us because we haven’t closed yet–but our closing date in the contract is not supposed to be for many weeks away. Is this grounds for reporting her to the NY State Department of State Division that licenses brokers? What should we do?


A work friend of mine and I are both looking to buy a place in Brooklyn. Seperately neither of us can afford a browstone, however, together we could purchase one ($1.5m range). Does anyone have any experiences purchasing a multi family with someone else — good, bad, etc?

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

– M.E.


Dear Brownstoner,

Like probably everyone who’s done renovation, I am having a pretty much impossible time finding a decent, timely contractor who is affordable. Two months ago I hired a contractor by the name of Randy Blair at the recommendation of Dalila at Smiling realty in Bed Stuy. We signed a contract for renovation of two floors in my house in Bed Stuy, to be finished in 10 weeks. He required me to get all the materials needed for the job up front because he said he wanted to move fast on this project and didn’t want waiting for materials to hold him up.

Within that timeframe, he opened up huge holes in the exterior walls, one for a new window and one for french doors to the backyard- these were left open for two weeks. It rained a few times and damaged the inlaid mahogany wood floors. This is just the beginning: Three weeks after signing the contract, he left for a one month vacation. Before he left he originally told me it would be for two weeks and that he would have a crew working at the house while he was away. Instead, his brother-in-law did two days worth of framing total blaming the no show electrician. It’s been two months and several thousand dollars in supplies and 1/3 the contract price up front–and basically only 1/8 of the work has been done. Help!!! Hiring contractors is such a nightmare! Can anyone help me find a better contractor or give me advice on how to legally deal with the one I hired/get a lawyer to help me deal with this. I can’t afford to float the mortgage while no work is being done. Any advice at this point is desperately needed.


Bedstuy Bedlam


Okay, folks, we’re shooting to move at the end of the month, even though there may still be some odds and ends to finish. We don’t have tons of stuff, but enough that we definitely need three men and a truck (not a van). We’ve used Noah’s Ark a couple of times with widely divergent results. We could really use some suggestions though.


In our ongoing effort to consolidate the most sought-after type of information in the Forum, today we want to know your picks (and pans) in the world of electricians. Please be so kind as to specify what size job you used him (or her) for, where it fell on the price spectrum, as well as any other relevant factors like promptness, cleanliness, politeness. (We’re still trying to squeeze some finishing touches out of ours, so we’re going to withhold comment for a little while longer.)


We would like to start assembling a more comprehensive library of service provider references than the ad hoc feedback that happens in the Forum. To that end, over the next several weeks, we will solicit your feedback on a variety of services that go into building, restoring and maintaining brownstones (and apartments for that matter). We want to hear the names of the companies/individuals you have used (you can stay anonymous), any contact info you have, how they performed, how were they priced, were they on time, pleasant to deal with? Finally, if you can rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best), that would be great too. Hopefully all of this can ultimately result in a comprehensive resource that we can all benefit from.

So we’ll kick it off with General Contractors today. Who wants to go first?


Our kitchen cabinets were installed today, so we’re ready to have the counters cut. As some readers may recall, we bought two large slabs of 2-inch 1 1/2 thick marble that came out of an old theater in the West 40’s at Build It Green NYC a couple of months ago. So now we need a recommendation of someone who can come to the house to create the template, then go pick up the slabs in Queens and finally cut and finish them. Preferably this would all happen next week. Any ideas?