| Manhattan High End Residential Construction|
by Colleen Barry-Sleicher
Manhattan High End Residential Construction Information for brownstone, apartment, condominium and coop owners and Building coop boards planning renovations in New York City's exclusive cooperative and condominium buildings and Brownstones
Brownstones have been a part of New York City since 1800’s. NYC cooperative and coop buildings are designated as either pre or post war buildings referencing WWII. Think of renovations in these buildings as dealing with squared off areas, whether it is a section of one floor or a vertical section of a building having more than one floor in a single residence.
Pre War Buildings
In Pre War buildings walls are made of gypsum block along with metal lath or steel studs. The floors and ceilings tend to be very thick.
Post War Buildings
Gypsum block was used in 1960’s buildings, plaster in 1970’s, and sheetrock up to present. These buildings are made up of plaster, cement and steel. Since theses materials are very dense and less flexible than prewar buildings they tend to transmit sound. Often soundproofing is needed under floors.
Difference in building materials
Many of luxury buildings in NYC were built prior to 1960. There have been many innovations in construction since. Metallurgy has contributed many new products in building and building maintenance. For example copper water pipe and Synthetic rubber. The use of lead or lead containing products is now prohibited. Paint may not be stripped with heat or dry sanding. Chemical strippers can be used because old paint does not go into air. Plaster walls and ceilings will probably require a thin plaster layer (skim coat) to be applied to make surface smooth. This will seal any lead containing paint layers in place. Asbestos was used in plaster, floor tile and many other products in buildings prior to 1979. Now, a certified removal company must perform any asbestos removal.
Property owners will be required to put in time during planning stage. It is important to research and feel comfortable with designer. You must be on same page or you will never get look you want. When selecting a designer, keep in mind a project can grow beyond skill level of designer. Interview several designers. Prior experience and knowledge will determine their suitability for any project. Any delay in selecting or approving layouts, drawings, work items or materials will cause delays that will cause more delays. One missing detail or purchase item may delay huge blocks of work.
Architects and Designers
Interior designers are trained in architectural design as well as soft goods selection. Often a design firm has Architectural designers working for them. Architects are more involved in methods of construction. Aspects of project such as electrical device location and type, air conditioning, plumbing fixtures, walls and ceilings, architectural woodwork are of more interest to architect. The importance of good planning with architect and designer influences project progress. For example, bathroom fixtures may have an impact on how tile work is installed. Doorway dimensions will determine light switch location.
All contractors performing work on a private NYC residence must be licensed by NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) as a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC). Plumbers and Electricians are licensed by NYC Department of Buildings. Architects are licensed by State. Decorators and Interior designers are not required to be licensed.
Prepare a detailed plan of what you want accomplished before interviewing contractors. A complete project specification must be developed for a contractor to prepare a realistic estimate of time, materials and cost for home improvement project. Do not change plan as you speak to different contractors. You will not be getting an “apples to apples” quotation. The contractor with higher price may be including an aspect of project you did not make clear to another contractor. Project specifications that are incomplete are a roadmap for disaster.
When choosing a contractor homeowner should consider general knowledge, existing customer projects, references and reputation. The homeowner might consider using services of a contractor referral agency. The referral agency offers homeowner a pool of contractors who have been screened and matched to a particular project. Selecting a contractor who is inexpensive, inexperienced and in over his head can only lead to disappointment.
There are two variables that determine final cost of each project. “Core Work”, walls, floors, ceilings and everything that is behind these surfaces and “Finish Work”, moldings, trim, final skim plaster coat, marble, tile, and cabinetry. Quality of workmanship and level of finish will vary between different contractors. Core Work, behind scenes, construction cost are often similar from contractor to contractor. The cost of Finish Work will be determined by how much you are willing to spend and skills of contractor performing this work. This finish work will have widest variance in pricing and final appearance of renovation. Finish materials such as stone and woodworking will have quality price differences.
Decorating FrugallyWritten by Rachel Paul
The trend these days is to discover extremely innovative ways to decorate interiors on a budget. The tips provided below are just a few of many ways one can inexpensively achieve a truly original look for a room.
Borders on a wall are an elegant way to change look of a room. The easiest way to do this is to paint two parallel lines either at eye level or about a foot above floor. Deciding on what motifs or designs to paint or stencil between these two lines will depend entirely on who occupants of room are. For example, if it is a child’s room then you could dip child’s hands in paint and make hand prints between lines at regular intervals. I am yet to find a kid who doesn’t enjoy this activity thoroughly! Also, kids love to display their school art projects on their bedroom walls. Try hanging up these projects on their room walls and watch their eyes light up!
Another option for border design is block printing using vegetables or fruits. Capsicum, okra and apples when cut in half horizontally, dipped in paint and stamped onto surface produce readymade floral designs. String beans can be used to print tiny leaf designs. Use your imagination to cut up a design on potatoes or carrots. Then use this as a homemade stencil to reproduce design.
Here is another great way to add design to your walls. Choose any old toy car or truck in your child’s toy basket, dip wheels into paint and roll it along surface to create parallel lines; or you could zigzag them for a cute effect!
Step outside for a walk. Pick up a few leaves that appeal to you. Now dip leaf surface into paint and press it onto wall to create a naturally stenciled leaf design.
For a genuine work of art, try this. Dip an old toothbrush into paint. Hold brush close to surface you would like to produce this effect on. Now pull back bristles and release them gently so that a fine spray effect is produced on desired surface. Test out spray action on a piece of paper before trying it on a wall. Sponge painting is another surface painting method to create special effects inexpensively. Sponged-on designs actually let you personalize your space with minimum effort, cost and time. All you need is a plain wall, some cheap acrylic paint, a sponge and lots of enthusiasm! If you can’t afford expensive sea sponges, then don’t fret yet, there is help. Just get any old/new sponge, randomly pinch out pieces so you get an uneven plucked out effect. Now hold this piece of ‘personal art’ comfortably in your hand and dip it into paint. Then dab paint-soaked portion onto a scrap of paper, just to get excess paint out. Proceed to applying sponge onto wall at regular intervals. Stand back and view your artwork before touching up design. Have fun!