A Timeline for Renovating Your Brownstone

If you are lucky enough to own a New York City Brownstone, you know you have a truly unique piece of history. Brownstones make fabulous homes, but they do come with challenges as well.

Renovations can be complex and time consuming. Being the historic gems they are, there is almost always a lengthy approval process from the Landmark Commission that may take several months. In addition, many of these older buildings will have issues such as outdated plumbing and electrical fixtures that will need to be completely replaced.

If you are planning on renovating a Brownstone, give yourself plenty of time and follow this guide for a rough idea of how long it will take and how best to most effectively and efficiently move through the process.

Step 1: Planning and Estimates

The best way to begin is to hire an experienced architectural firm that specializes in Brownstones. They will know the ins and outs of not only the regulatory hurdles that must be navigated, but the best way to go about the renovation as well.

Plan on about three weeks to get an initial set of plans approved at the very minimum. Most firms will charge a flat fee for an initial sketch of plans.

Step 2: Design

         The next step is to have a thorough design completed. This will take not only an architect, but an engineer as well to make sure that the final result will be a structurally sound building. The most time consuming part of this process will be getting everything approved from the Department of Buildings, which may take close to three to six months.

Step 3: Compliance and Documentation

Many Brownstones are in a landmarked district, so final approval will have to go through the Landmark Commission as well as the Department of Buildings. Depending on the complexity of the renovation, this can be a lengthy process, upwards of six months if hearings are required. Additions, especially if visible from the street, add a layer of complexity as well.

At this point, plans from the construction company doing the work will be finalized as well. Getting everything through compliance with local governments and the plans with the construction company finalized may take as long as six months.

Step 4: Construction

         The actual construction process for a typical NYC Brownstone is also fairly lengthy, perhaps as long as nine to eighteen months. But the good news is, since these plans for renovating buildings have to go through so much strict documentation, the hiccups that are so common in most construction projects are far less likely to happen.

As you can see, the time frame for a full renovation of a Brownstone is well over a year. There are a lot of regulatory hurdles to jump and the construction itself can be time consuming as older fixtures need to be replaced, which is common.

The good news is, once everything is completed, these are some of the best places to live in the city and you will have a unique home for many years to come.

Schedule a call with me here if you have any interest in obtaining a complimentary valuation for your home or buyer consultation.

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Authored by: Stanley Montfort


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About the Author
Since the start of the pandemic, Stanley Montfort has played a crucial role in facilitating over one billion dollars worth of brownstone sales in New York City. He is a recognized expert in the city's brownstone and townhouse market, with extensive experience in both sell-side and buy-side brownstone transactions, thanks to his military and law background.

Stanley honed his real estate skills at Leslie J. Garfield, where he established the Harlem Townhouse Market, and has assisted in numerous co-ownership transactions, including more complicated deals involving SROs, seller financing, negotiating with tenants, and leaving all parties satisfied.

With a vibrant and diversified career spanning the legal, banking, and technology industries, Stanley brings a wealth of experience to help his clients achieve their real estate objectives. He applies innovative marketing strategies, strategic thinking, and utmost professionalism and integrity to every deal. As a savvy negotiator with strong analytical skills, Stanley has successfully navigated even the most challenging real estate deals to deliver the desired results.

Moreover, Stanley provides a personalized and engaging real estate experience marked by complete transparency, data-driven financial decisions, and honest conversations. He strives to earn his clients' trust and is committed to ensuring that their needs are fully understood and executed without compromise.

Originally from New Jersey, Stanley is a graduate of Fordham University, where he earned his JD and Masters in International, Political, Economy, and Development. Whether you are looking to earn top dollar for your property or find your dream home, Stanley is the no-brainer choice to help you achieve your real estate goals.