Author Topic: A tale of two apartments: DIY advice sought  (Read 3079 times)

naners

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A tale of two apartments: DIY advice sought
« on: September 26, 2013, 09:04:45 AM »
In my area of Brooklyn NY, there are co-op apartments for sale within my price range. What I find quite striking is how much less a "fixer-upper" is worth compared to a renovated apartment:

Exhibit A: tinyurl.com/lgu8xol

Exhibit B: tinyurl.com/lobgagm

These are basically the same apartment*. What I'd like your opinion on, DIY'ers, is how much work/money it would take to turn the dumpy apartment into the renovated apartment. I have minimal DIY experience but willing to learn. Let's assume the floors in the main part of the apartment don't need to be redone, so the main things are a complete reno of the kitchen and bathroom. How much time and money are we looking at for an Ikea/Home Depot type renovation? How much would I be able to do myself?

Thanks!

* Yes, there could be other differences, but let's assume for the sake of argument that it's the same apartment.

SunshineGirl

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Re: A tale of two apartments: DIY advice sought
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2013, 09:15:27 AM »
Wow, that second (cheaper) one is a huge opportunity! Assuming all else being equal (which it's not - the second one is 100 SF smaller, if nothing else) -- you could improve the apartment to match the other one for well under 20K. I didn't include the furniture and decor, which is a big part of the look of  the other one. 

cynthia1848

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Re: A tale of two apartments: DIY advice sought
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2013, 09:55:10 AM »
However, NYC co-ops may have very strict rules about construction in the apartments.  Limited hours, all contractors have to be approved, all work has to be approved, etc.  Plus hassles for parking, dumpsters, etc. for the construction debris.  All of that can drive the cost of renovations WAY up.  I would ask friends who have renovated in co-ops (or find people online who have) to find out what the actual costs would be.

naners

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Re: A tale of two apartments: DIY advice sought
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2013, 09:57:11 AM »
SunshineGirl: I actually think they might be the same size; the unrenovated one is for sale by owner, and I'm not sure they've measured it carefully, vs. the first one for sale by an agent.

Cynthia, great points. I'll ask around about that, and especially about DIY rules.

nybeccaboo

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Re: A tale of two apartments: DIY advice sought
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2013, 08:26:44 PM »
I'll add my 2 cents as well.  Chances are the apartments are the same square footage. Not sure which one is the accurate size, but in my building all the apartments in the A, B, C, etc lines are identical.  Like Cynthia said, co-ops are usually more restrictive and you'll need to use licensed contractors (major DIY is not allowed.)  That being said, many co-ops use a management company to manage the building and can have great recommendations for approved contractors. You'll probably pay a 'premium' compared to other cities since it's NYC and contractors know they can charge more, but given the size of the apartment, the total cost shouldn't be too bad, unless you go crazy with top of the line everything. Plus, you might only need to renovate the kitchen and bath (the hardwood floors look pretty good, at least in the pictures).

A few things to consider, though, when looking at any apartment. What's the view like from the windows? Sounds crazy, but I made sure to have a street view so that no one could build and block my view. I'm glad I did because there's a new building going up next door and apartments down the hall are losing their bathroom window (the new building is probably 5 inches away from ours). Also, think of what floor the apartment is on. Lower levels might get a lot of street noise (I'm on the 4th floor and the noise isn't bad, at least for me.) If there's a power outage or elevator renovation, how are you at walking up many flights of stairs with groceries? The 7th floor wouldn't be too bad, but I have friends who didn't think of that and bought 20th floor apartments. They weren't happy when Sandy hit and had no power.

Hope that helps! :-)

naners

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Re: A tale of two apartments: DIY advice sought
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2013, 09:05:28 AM »
Whoops - Becca, I just PM'd you to ask for your opinion on this very topic! Should have checked the forum post first, thanks for the insight :)

lhamo

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Re: A tale of two apartments: DIY advice sought
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2013, 05:32:06 PM »
That apartment has really good bones -- the alcove makes it almost like a one bedroom.  Kitchen is a bit small/boxed in, but not that bad for NYC.

Demo and debris removal is going to be a hassle.  Tiling is really easy to learn if you know someone who knows how to do it.  When we lived in NYC our downstairs neighbor was a contractor and he taught my DH how to patch plaster/tape and finish drywall and lay tile in a couple of afternoons.  DH then fixed/painted most of the walls in our apartment and put in a new tile area behind the tub over the course of a few weeks.  We didn't really do any demo/removal, though. 

Try to get a copy of the co-op bylaws and the board minutes so you can see what they require in terms of construction, and whether there have been big issues with people complaining about renovation noise, dirt, etc.  Dealing with the people around you can be the biggest hassle of any renovation.

That 7th floor unit is really nice, and shows what yours could look like with a bit of work.  I'm partial to top floor units -- no feet stomping over your head.  7th floor is walk-up-able, too.  we live on the 30th floor in our Beijing building and Im always afraid the elevator/power might go out some day.