Year: 2008

More old pictures of my house!

 NYC is an old city, at least by US standards, and has a lot of old buildings. My previous dwelling was a loft on lower Broadway in Manhattan, in a converted paper goods factory. It was built in the 1870s and the factory allegedly made cardboard boxes for the military during WW1 and WW2 before going out of business in the mid-1970s. Because there are so many old buildings, people want to see what their residences looked like “back then”.  NYC’s Department of Records & Information Services, a/k/a DORIS, has a huge archive of old NYC photos including tax photos …

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No Night for Dog Walkers

It’s treacherous out there. After two wet snows since Friday and a day in the upper thirties, the temps crashed after sundown, almost instantly freezing any standing water on the sidewalk and stoops. It’s nights like this that I wish I hadn’t housebroken my dogs so well. They’d sooner cut their own throats than mess in the house. Worse, I can’t even push them out the door to do their business in the back yard. They just sit by the back door looking miserable. It’s also nights like this that I’d like to see public flogging of thoughtless home and …

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Man, I love technology!

Karen and I gave each other new T-Mobile G1 wireless phones for Christmas this week. My old (2002) ATT Nokia accidentally drowned when I dropped it in the sink a few days ago. Since I was fed up with ATT’s relentless price gouging and had planned to fire them as my wireless provider anyway it was off to Costco to seal the deal with T-Mobile and this cool phone I’d been reading about. For those who don’t read the techie consumer fan sites like EnGadget.com the G1 is sorta like T-Mobile’s answer to the iPhone but with a major twist. …

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Dreaming of a (non)White Christmas

Judging by how prolific they’ve become in recent years a lot of people seem to like white Christmas lights. I know I’m gonna get mail about this. I’m not real big on Christmas. I need to be coaxed (okay, dragged and beaten) into something resembling yuletide spirit. For me, white mini-lights just don’t cut it. They have the holiday charm of a corporate office park or a South Beach mojito bar, and about as much comfort and joy as my 60-watt desk lamp. They don’t say Christmas to me. They say, “Co-op Sales Office: Suite 300”. White Christmas lights tell …

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Back from Nantucket

As we do every year, Karen and I packed up the dogs and headed off to Nantucket for Christmas Stroll. It’s a tedious trip involving 6.5 hours of boring driving and 2.5 hours of even more boring sailing. With stops and check-in at the Hyannis Steamship terminal, we generally leave Brooklyn at 8am and arrive at Karen’s house near town in Nantucket around 6pm. Or about the same time it would take to leave NY and check into a hotel in Moscow. If it wasn’t for this annual break from my work schedule, my Christmas spirit would last as long …

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Cops and Robbers

So we’re experiencing a sudden crime wave in my peaceful ‘hood. Nobody’s said WHY this is happening but according to The Brooklyn Paper: During a 28-day period starting on Sept. 5, crooks broke into 39 residences in Bay Ridge — an increase of more than 60 percent compared to the same four-week periods in 2007 and 2006, when there were 24 and 21 burglaries respectively. Yikes! But I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. A few months ago, a junkie broke into a house a few blocks from here. Even though the place had central station, it was a …

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The Return of Tony Manero

You forty and fifty-somethings will undoubtedly remember the 1977 anthemic film about the disco era, Saturday Night Fever. What you may not know is that it put my neighborhood on the map. “Fever” was about the disco days and the lives of several blue collar kids in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I love talking with my neighbors about those days. They say the movie was an accurate depiction of what life was like here, at least for the disco heads. In 1977, I was a hardcore jazz poser at Berklee College of Music in Boston so I missed it all, geographically, …

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The Death of the CFL

I’m really getting fed up with the false lifetime claims of Compact Fluorescent Lighting manufacturers. On average, I’ve been seeing these bulbs fail at half their published life spans. Maybe we need a class action suit to force companies to publish the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) hours for these bulbs in the real world. The issue isn’t with fluorescent technology. In my last home, an industrial loft that was previously a paper bag factory, I took possession of two dozen large fluorescent ceiling fixtures. I could tell from the dust on those bulbs that they were already years old. …

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I found my original C of O!

NYC didn’t start requiring habitable buildings to have a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) until 1938. Since my house was built in 1906… actually the city recently re-evaluated its records and moved this back to 1901 so I guess I’ve gotta change my banner here… it was very possible it didn’t have a CO. Even though NYC law requires either a valid CO certificate or a “Letter of No Objection” from the Dept of Buildings to be submitted at closing, I never saw one. A housing court judge was quoted as saying, “it is more likely that you will see a …

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So how DO you sell a home in this environment?

Especially an expensive luxury condo that hasn’t been built yet? Especially when it’s NYC and the building isn’t located in Manhattan or fashionable downtown Brooklyn? Especially when the land under it used to be one of the most polluted areas in the city? The media’s fascination with Sarah Palin continues. My friend saw this from the ferry a couple of days ago. It’s a new building being constructed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Developer Jeff Levine of Douglaston Development Corp. hung a seven-story banner from a tower under construction in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg area before the Vice Presidential debate. The idea was by …

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Welcome to Brooklyn Row House

This blog is about the challenges of renovating an old (1903) Brooklyn, New York row house.

My last major renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You’ll find other completed home improvement projects in the Projects submenu at the top of this page.

I’m not a professional builder and don’t pretend to be. I’m just an experienced amateur raised in a family of committed DIYers. I try to closely follow local and national building codes but don’t mistake anything on this site to be professional or even accurate advice! Your mileage may and definitely will vary.

This is the third iteration of BrooklynRowHouse.com, from scratch-built to Drupal and now Wordpress. I hope you enjoy your time here.