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.

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Forward to the Past

Posted by Steve on Sun, 10/13/2013 - 2:31pm


My very first DIY project at Brooklyn Row House was wiring the place for CAT5 ethernet. I decided to do this even before I had an inkling of what I intended to do with the place, or even where my office, bedroom and computers would eventually be located. In retrospect, if I'd guessed back then I would have been dead wrong.

Streaming media was still pretty much of a pipe dream in 1999 but I knew it was coming Real Soon and I wanted to be ready for it. I needed a wire soffit between the three floors for cables so I installed fourteen feet of 3" EMT tubing between the basement ceiling and a second floor closet. Through this I pulled six sixty-foot CAT5 cables, four lengths of four-pair phone wire, a pair of coax cables (my satellite TV at the time required one for each LUN) and a bunch of twisted-pair bell wire for a future wired alarm system. It fit but, suffice to say, I probably should have gone with 4" EMT.

The coax, phone and alarm wires were eventually enabled but a funny thing happened with the CAT5. I never used it. Their tails remain coiled, labeled and attached to nothing. What happened? Wireless got better. While wifi was definitely slower than wired ethernet, it served my needs so I tacitly abandoned my plans for ethernet ports in every room (along with beer taps and air compressor ports on every floor... seriously, I half considered those as well).


What will $11 mil get me in Brooklyn?

Posted by Steve on Fri, 05/03/2013 - 2:18pm


It's a question that probably doesn't get asked very often, but here's an answer ready for it: the locally revered landmark "Gingerbread House" at 8820 Narrows Avenue in Bay Ridge, about a mile south of Brooklyn Row House.  Not for nothing but this is a bargain compared to the unanswered 2009 asking price of $12 million.  Nevertheless, it's quite a bit more than the "under $1 milliion" that the current owners paid for it in 1985, which should give an indication of property valuations in this neck of Brooklyn over the past 20 years.

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/piece-brooklyn-storybo...
 


Guess what I found hibernating under my kitchen extension?

Posted by Steve on Sun, 02/03/2013 - 12:28pm


I've posted a few articles about Brooklyn wildlife here over the years.  Now I apparently have one of them as a roomate.

Last week I broke a tile on my bathroom vanity and decided that today was a good day to fix it.  I keep my spare tiles in a barely heated shed under my kitchen extension.

As soon as I opened the door to the shed and the gamey smell hit my nose I knew that something wild was living in there.  I assumed it was a feral cat or two until I saw a bunch of straw nesting material falling out of a large bag of potting soil.  Cats don't do that so I picked up a lawn torch, gently opened the bag and look what I found.  Petey Possum!

I wasn't all that surprised by this because I see possums late at night at least once a week.  The dogs have become so accustomed to them that I can tell from their reaction when they've picked up the scent a hundred feet away.  They're fairly aromatic animals.

Not sure what to do here.  On the one hand, I'm not going to do what one of my neighbors did and kill him.  Any wild animal that manages to survive on the streets of Brooklyn has my profound respect.  My concern with the nesting material however is that this is really Penelope Possum and that she's about to bring more of these critters  into the world.  Whatever, I need to replace the missing brick in the side of the extension in the spring.

Local lore says that opossums took a foothold in Brooklyn about seven years ago when some genius at one of the Brooklyn community boards thought they would be an excellent solution to keeping the rat population in check.  They're very versatile animals and aren't shy about killing prey, including rats.  Problem is, that same versatility means that they're happy to live on the same garbage as rats.  So the rats survived, the possums survived and here we are.

Possums are fearsome looking animals but they're actually pretty passive towards larger animals, hence the "playing possum" thing.  I rummaged around in the extension for about five minutes looking for my tile and its only reaction was an occasional hiss.
 


BrooklynRowHouse updated

Posted by Steve on Tue, 12/25/2012 - 12:07pm
House: 


While there have been no home improvements to talk about lately at BrooklynRowHouse, mostly due to a terrific trip to Europe this summer followed by a broken ankle I suffered in a motorcycle accident in early fall, the site has undergone a major upgrade to Drupal 7.  While the site looks substantially the same as the old one, it's an entirely new theme/templating system (Omega) which it is claimed degrades better on pads and smartphones.


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