home improvement

Renovation of a circa 1903 Brooklyn Row House

Posted by Steve on Fri, 09/15/2006 - 11:00am

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

My last renovation project was the master bedroom, most of which is about finish carpentry. You can follow the progress here (or backwards in time if you prefer). You'll find other completed home improvement projects in the Renovation Photos in the navigation above.

Beware door-to-door scammers

Posted by Steve on Mon, 08/27/2018 - 7:23pm

This is an old story but one I should have blogged about three years ago.  I'm kind of surprised it never made it to BrooklynRowHouse. Maybe I was worried about a lawsuit at the time because it involves a very large home improvement supply company, Andersen.  This isn't a knock on the Andersen product -- well, it sort of is -- but a complaint about one of their local franchisees for Renewal by Andersen, a home improvement contracting offshoot, operating in the 631 area code (Long Island).

It may be completely unique to this particular franchisee too and for all I know Andersen may have kicked them to the curb by now, and deservedly so. But they're ringing doorbells once again in my Brooklyn neighborhood so beware. I just unloaded on the kid-with-clipboard who after hearing my tale cluelessly remarked, "But I just do windows, not doors" and kept pushing for a sale.

Extreme Renovations

Posted by Steve on Sat, 12/15/2012 - 12:43pm

If you're one of those homeowners who looks disapprovingly at renovations which destroy the period character of the building, you're gonna need a defebrilator after reading this story.


18th-century French chateau razed ‘by mistake’ by builders while owner was away

PARIS — Residents of a sleepy French village in Bordeaux have been left dumbfounded after discovering their local 18th-century chateau was completely bulldozed “by mistake.”

The mayor’s office in Yvrac said Wednesday that workers who were hired to renovate the grand 13,000-square-meter (140,000-square-foot) manor and raze a small building on the same estate in southwest France mixed them up.

“The Chateau de Bellevue was Yvrac’s pride and joy,” said former owner Juliette Marmie. “The whole village is in shock. How can this construction firm make such a mistake?”

Local media reported that the construction company misunderstood the renovation plans of the current owner, Russian businessman Dmitry Stroskin, to clean up the manor and restore it to its former baroque glory.

Stroskin was away when the calamity occurred and returned home to discover his chateau, a local treasure boasting a grand hall that could host some 200 people, as well as a sweeping stone staircase — was nothing but rubble.

“I’m in shock ...I understand the turmoil of the community,” local media quoted Stroskin as saying. He told them he plans to build an exact replica of lost manor on the site.

Another story here: http://rt.com/art-and-culture/news/chateau-bellevue-accidentally-destroyed-076/

From the Brooklyn Row House mail sack...

Posted by Steve on Thu, 03/15/2012 - 1:01pm

I received an email today from a producer of a new home show looking for volunteers with a troublesome room in their house that they want renovated... for free!   A prerequisite is that you must own your place and be within 35 miles of NYC.  You can read the rest in the boilerplate below:

"Wow, I've always wanted to renovate an old house!"

Posted by Steve on Sun, 09/07/2008 - 8:41pm

The popularity of home improvement shows demonstrates that people are fascinated by the idea of taking something old and beat up and making it new again. But as anyone who has undertaken a large scale home renovation knows, the reality of doing it yourself lives on another planet from the romantic, everything-works-the-first-time impression that these shows portray.

A Case of the Mightaswells

Posted by Steve on Mon, 06/25/2007 - 1:55pm

If you own home in progress, whether you're a DIYer or someone who calls a contractor to change the lightbulbs, you know the syndrome.

"As long as I'm updating the kitchen, I might as well make it larger."

"As long as I'm pouring a new basement floor, I might as well replace all the old plumbing underneath. And then I might as well rough out for another full bath. Then I might as well build it."

"As long as I'm opening up the wall, I might as well add a central vacuum system, split-unit air conditioning and a new 50a riser to the second floor. And a whole house beer tap!"

You think I'm making this stuff up? That's me, folks! Well, except for the beer tap but, believe me, I came very close to doing it. And compressor outlets on every floor too.

Anyway, the mightaswells struck this weekend when I decided I needed to sand and add a coat of Danish oil to the ipe table I made for the living room deck a couple of years ago.

Karen found the wrought iron base in one of her dumpster dives and gave it to me. I picked up some ipe at Dykes and made the top. Unfortunately, I found that ipe and marine urethane don't play well together. Maybe it's the oils in the wood, maybe it's because I sanded it down to too fine a grit, but it was all flaking off.

One Dog Night

Posted by Steve on Wed, 02/28/2007 - 1:35am

After a long day at the terminal, like today, every so often, like tonight, I get the overwhelming urge to head downstairs to the shop, turn on my noisy dust collector and even more raucous bench tools and finish off some project, like the radiator grill for the bedroom reno.

However, this being a row house on a quiet block that pretty much blacks out by 10:30pm, I'd get lynched. I even turn off my motorcycle engine and coast the wrong way down the street to my garage rather than rouse the neighbors, and I have street legal pipes on my bikes.

But it wasn't always this way ["...always this way", "...this way" -insert dreamy, way-back transition music]

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