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My wife and I are going to be doing a DIY refinishing of our staircase, circa 1890, with way too many layers of paint. Looking to find the best way to to keep all the dust we’ll kick up at bay.

Either some prefab construct or any DIYers tips. I am contemplating framing out the space with 1x2s and then sapling in plastic sheathing.

Any suggestions?


There is a 2 family house that is 19×38 on a 19×90 lot. According to property shark the Maximum FAR is 3 and the FAR as built is 1.47 which leaves a lot of FAR left over. Can you extend the building as well as build up? How do I find out? This is not a landmark block.


We are house hunting and seeing a lot of estate sales – usually the verbiage in the listing suggests “bring your contractor” or something along those lines. I really don’t want to do a major renovation at this point – we’re hoping to find something habitable – maybe with a few things that need to be fixed. Can anyone share their experience of not doing a major renovation right off the bat? Is hoping that we’ll be able to repair things as we go too optimistic?


I have reachedbout to four different businesses with absolutely no or limited response to find someone to renovate the exterior of a house my husband and I are in the process of buying. We are in contract and are looking to close in about 2-3 weeks.

Basically I am looking for either siding or brick replacement (depending upon cost) over tin siding that is presently there. I’m also looking to add a cornice on the roof and possibly shutters or cornices on the windows.

I would like to find someone to help us out – and doing a google search and contacting vendors who advertise on brownstoner is not working. Any suggestions on who to go to?

The house is in South Slope.



Without a doubt, it is one of life’s most significant and daunting decisions … to renovate your home. We felt this way when we considered our options for undertaking the project of restoring a 100 year old Brownstone in PLG, Brooklyn.

From reading numerous blogs and innindating myself with advice and feedback from others who had done the same, I have to say I was terrified of choosing the ‘wrong’ contractors.

With much gratitude, I have to say that S&M Construction gave us one of the most positive experiences a professional contractor could. From our initial meeting both Sami and Mike were present, they did a thorough walk through of our home, took notes, listened carefully and most of all, embraced the reality of our budget and encouraged us to make a wish list and they would work with it as realistic as possible. We had a contract, numbers were transparent, when numbers needed to change we communicated and agreed how to move forward and ultimately worked together to renovate and restore a 2700sq ft brownstone.

Mike was on site, every single day, an invaluable addition to any renovation, and managed his guys who all brought specific skills to the project when required. Victor, a licenced electrician was an incredibly detail oriented guy who took care of all of our electrical work, and it was extensive. Our electrical box is meticulous! He also has made return visits to check in on something he installed when a small problem arose- very appreciated!) a highly skilled carpenter who recreated,detailed period built in bookcase doors, a missing closet, recreated with correct period details and beautiful built inns for storage. The tile setter transformed everything he touched and created high end results, which friends who have seen our kitchen comment on the work done- he rendered a beautiful chevron inset over our stove for visual effect.

At times there was miscommunication but Mike always repeated ‘you are the boss and I want you to be happy’. He checked in often on projects to be sure they were understanding our requests and when things were not exactly as hoped, things were stopped and corrected and always managed professionally. He was infinitely patient with us and went out of his way on many occasions to give us more. I think one of the many things I respect about both Mike and Sami was the fact that they valued and appreciated our budget and our money.. that it came from hard work and we wanted to spend it wisely. Sami and Mike sourced out suitable vendors when needed, consistently resulting in us saving money and still attaining a high level product (our air conditioners, our sink, our hardwood flooring just to name a few). Mike has also made a return visit to tweak a few things which is a comfort to know that once money has been exchanged there is an actual relationship there and a connection to the work. Another example of a strong work ethic and integrity.

Our initial schedule was 3 months and as things were added and of course the unexpected factored in (all our sewer lines needed replacement) it was then extended to 5) this included really a top to bottom renovation. We had everything done from a complete wood stripping, floors, new kitchen, new baths, built inns, re-glazing, skim coating, new electrical and plumbing and restoring things that were badly neglected and a new fence. I can’t say enough about the honesty and integrity of S&M construction and am grateful for the positive experience they gave us, but am proud of the work they did. They are a top contractor and some of the remaining few that have pride in their work and value the client that doesn’t have a bottomless budget. We welcome anyone interested in viewing the work they did in transforming our space. Many, many thanks Mike & Sami.

We closed on the house in Williamsburg this week, so we are now looking for a contractor to come give us estimates on removing a couple walls and closets, and enlarging a doorway into the entry. Two of the walls are simply room partitions, horizontal to the room/house. The doorway to enlarge and a partially opened up wall in the rear kitchen are most likely load-bearing or semi-load bearing as they are vertical to the house with matching walls upstairs. All walls are real plaster. There is some minor electrical to be done as well since the walls being removed each have a single light switch and receptacle in them to reroute. No plumbing though. We would like the walls removed, electrical rerouted, debris carted away, and the exposed areas/beams simply sheet-rocked back so we can finish out everything and paint. Would like someone who could take this on quickly as we would like to have it done in the next few weeks although I assume getting the permits for the two structural walls could take a while? The cheaper the better. Any recommendations or any contractors on here looking for work?


We would like to sell a number of surplus fixtures that we did not use in our reno.

We cannot return these because there was a long, long time between taking delivery and finishing the job. These are all great, high-end products, in brand-new condition. We just didn’t use them because we changed the size a bit or got a slightly different model.

We made some costly mistakes during our reno (hence my tag!) but its all fine. And our mistakes can be your chance to pick up some nice stuff for cheap. We don’t mind, we’re glad to get something back and to help out other renovators.

Please email me if you are interested in any or all of these fixtures. All items are available unless I add a comment that it is gone or remove this entirely.

I am willing to entertain all REASONABLE offers.

I am linking to my Craigslist listings for convenience. You can email me the listings.

Blanco Kitchen Sink (Stainless Steel, Undermount):

Dornbracht Shower Trims (2x):

Runtal Radiator (White, Vertical):

Recessed Halogen Lights (24x):



Does anyone use a wall shower head with a clawfoot tub. I love the look but can’t phantom taking baths ALL the time or holding a shower head in hand. I would like to install a shower head off the wall. Does the water get everywhere? Does anyone have this setup and have come across problems?