Brownstone Boys: Water, Water and Water

The deck was put on hold until the water cleared and the holes were water free

Editor’s note: Welcome to the 32nd installment of Brownstone Boys Reno, a reader renovation diary. We’re excited to publish their tale of buying and renovating a brownstone in Bed Stuy. See the first one here. They also blog at

If you were anywhere around New York City in the past two weeks you know the enormous amounts of water that fell from the sky. Torrential downpours almost daily. We have had the place for six months now and this really gave us the opportunity to understand how the place is handling water. I guess we could be annoyed that both skylights (one new one) dripped water. We could have even been annoyed that all of the work in the backyard caused water to back up into the garden apartment. We were, but we’re also thankful that we had the opportunity to understand these issues that need to be fixed before we close up walls and finish the rest of the floors.

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We couldn’t believe the amounts of water that landed in the backyard

Our roof, like most old buildings in the area, has many layers added over the years. We think water may be getting in somewhere and traveling between the layers to the skylight cutouts. We have a specialist addressing the issue and patching what needs to be patched…and ultimately may need to add yet another layer. And more cost. Redoing the roof completely is just not in the budget right now.

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The existing skylight was dripping some water with the storm. We’re praying we don’t need major roof repair

As you know, we demolished a mudroom that was attached to the rear of the building and have been breaking up concrete to dig the holes for the deck footings. Then it rained. A lot. We know we need to regrade the entire area. But we now know that we need to remove more of the old concrete features to allow for better drainage.

Speaking of waterproofing, a lot of work has been done in the bathrooms to prepare for tile installation. We’re keeping the original woodwork around the windows but need to make sure the wood is ready to be in a wet room. We removed the windowsill to water proof before we reinstall. We’re also either going to paint the wood or just put a sealer on it to deal with the the moisture that will be in the room.

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We’re in love with the progress of the guest bathroom. Water ready!

Looking on the bright side of the weather we’ve had to deal with the past few weeks was hard, but we found a few silver linings. At least we didn’t have to water the outdoor plants! Fortunately, it has cleared up and we have our first taste of summer. We headed to the Hamptons for the weekend and we’re looking forward to finally having the deck footings completed now they aren’t 8-foot-deep holes filled with water. We expect the deck to go fast over the next week.

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