Help me plan a kitchen renovation in Brooklyn.
April 17, 2013 4:41 AM   Subscribe

I just bought a 1 bedroom co-op in Brooklyn. I want to gut the kitchen. I have 30k. Is this possible? Can you recommend an architect? Share your story?

The kitchen is in terrible shape, and the only thing worth saving is the stove. I definitely need all new everything. I know what I want, but I don't know if it's plausible with my budget. I know how to research material costs, but I have no idea what to expect to spend on labor, permits, the architect's fee, etc. It is not possible for me to DIY anything, so I can't use that as a cost-saving measure.

I also don't know how long anything should take. I close in June, and I'd like to do everything before I move in. Is it realistic to think construction could start in June if I haven't even hired an architect yet?

Have you renovated an apartment in NYC? Could you share what you did, how much it cost, and how long it took?

Can you recommend an architect? I need someone who can work within a budget and is a good designer. I have lots of ideas, but I need someone can translate them into a real space.

Any advice is welcome.
posted by (Over) Thinking to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite has been doing a very awesome kitchen renovation series over the past few weeks that breaks down exactly how to renovate a kitchen at a variety of pricepoints. I'd browse through their archives,and the recent kitchen tours as they do occasionally highlight really good NYC specific resources.

links on random words... that's what I get for trying to link on phone>
posted by larthegreat at 4:51 AM on April 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

You need an interior designer, not an architect, preferably one that specializes in kitchens. (I don't know of anyone in your area, sorry.)

Your timeline and budget seem reasonable, but beware: everything will take twice as long and be twice as expensive as you think.
posted by Specklet at 5:13 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, you need a kitchen designer which is a specialized subspecies with training and experience in both functional architecture and interior design.

Start your online questing with "kitchen designer" and not "architect" or "interior designer" and you'll do much, much better.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:30 AM on April 17, 2013

IKEA seems to offer services like this. They appear to offer everything you need: design, materials, and installation. Other big box stores that do this kind of thing are Lowe's and Home Depot. You need a kitchen designer.

It might also be worth it to have an account on Angie's List.
posted by mareli at 5:33 AM on April 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

One good place to start might be the co-op board. You will need their permission to renovate anyway, and they may be able to point you to designers and contractors that others in the building have used successfully.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 5:55 AM on April 17, 2013

As others have said, you do not need an Archetect, you just need a kitchen designer. Ikea, Home Depot and Lowes will all have these folks on staff, and if you buy the stuff with them, they can install it for you.

I've rehabbed 2 kitchens so I will tell you some things you need to know.

1. First, get with your Co-Op board and get their permission to do the re-hab. Understand what the rules and regs are regarding the hours you can do the work, if there are special elevators/parking your subs need to use, etc.

2. While you're there, ask the Co-Op if anyone else in your building has done a kitchen reno and if they have any recommendations.

3. I have never replaced cabinetry. In my old condo, I removed the doors and had new ones built. In my current house we painted the doors and the boxes, and put fingertip moulding around the edges of our flat-front doors. It's very pretty and total cost of the project was about $100 for paint, hardware, the trim and glue. Cheap and cheerful.

4. Sears Outlet will have amazing deals on appliances. Get the ones with the huge flaw, those are there because they're ugly (and get the flaw on the side that goes against the wall.) The pretty ones, those were reconditioned, you don't want them.

5. For all intents and purposes, your budget is $20,000. You'll need that $10,000 buffer because everything ends up costing more.

6. Let the professionals do the measuring.

7. No building has perfectly plumb and square walls.

8. On your contract with your Contractor, be sure to write TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE and to have a drop-dead date when the work needs to be done. So if you want them there the day after closing, and you want the work completed by July 15, then it needs to be in the contract.

It doesn't have to be traumatic, it can be fun.

Also, the labor is pretty much the same no matter what materials you use, so pick the nicest materials you can afford, you're not going to save a shitload of money choosing ceramic tile instead of travertine. So get what you really want.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:00 AM on April 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: My understanding is that per NYC I need either an architect or a kitchen designer + expediter because I'll be opening up the walls and therefore need permits. Do you think going the designer + expediter route is better than finding an architect?

Also, the 30k budget doesn't include my buffer which I have set aside separately. The co-op board knows about the renovation plans and is very relaxed.
posted by (Over) Thinking at 6:14 AM on April 17, 2013

Call the borrough and ask them about local ordinances and permits. Also, get your Co-Op permission in writing (just to be on the safe side). If the borrough says you don't need an architect, a General Contractor can handle it.

Here is the NYC.Gov page for the Department of Buildings, they have a weekly seminar where you can meet with folks and discuss your questions with them.

You can interview General Contractors and ask them about pulling permits, etc. Archetects are VERY expensive and for a simple reno (yes, even removing a non-load bearing wall is simple) it's overkill.

Don't assume...KNOW!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:22 AM on April 17, 2013

Hey!! I was you a couple years ago!

If you're at all amenable to an Ikea kitchen, you should absolutely look into the The Kitchen Couple. They did a fantastic job with our Brooklyn coop apartment's kitchen, they have contractors they work with, and it all came in at exactly how much they'd quoted us for.

Their website's Flash so they don't update it often enough, but they have lots of more recent photos on their Facebook page.

Memail me if you have any specific questions! Bonnie was a great lady and fantastic to work with.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:26 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

We're at the tail end of a multi-month condo remodel in a multi-story building in Seattle. We worked with an architect we liked (it was a total gut job) BUT quickly learned that--particularly in a space like an older multi-story building--it was the contractor who saved our day. There were multiple points along the way where the architect's plan simply wouldn't work and we had to make a decision on the fly based on what we found in the walls or (this killed me) an appliance with official "dimensions" that were incorrect in real life.

So as others have said, I'd skip the architect expense if possible and give your money to the person who's going to do the build out.
posted by donovan at 6:36 AM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in the process of doing just this (albeit in an alcove studio in a Brooklyn coop), with a similar budget. I'm just finalizing with my architect to submit to the board, DOB, and Landmarks. (I'm in an historical district, and so Landmarks gets to have a say, too.)

I would start by talking with your super and co-op board (and if applicable, the building's managing agent). They will know what procedures you will need to follow to get board approval, and may have recommendations of architects, expedititers, and/or contractors who have done work in the building before.

In all likelihood you will need an architect if you will be opening the walls and needing to get permits. MeMail me if you want some more details.
posted by andrewraff at 8:42 AM on April 17, 2013

I'm not familiar with New York building codes, but an interior designer or kitchen designer will probably be able to pull any necessary permits. (I am an interior designer in Oregon and have done so.)

I would not recommend hiring only a contractor, as suggested above. You really do need a designer if you want to end up with a kitchen you can actually use.
posted by Specklet at 11:09 AM on April 17, 2013

Response by poster: Note: I am planning to move both the sink and the stove.

Also, thank you so much to everyone who has commented. Keep them coming!
posted by (Over) Thinking at 11:26 AM on April 17, 2013

You need an architect, even if you use IKEA elements, which is also a good idea. I am an architect, and very recently redesigned my kitchen, which was great - I am happy every day. But it cost about 50.000 dollars. Yours is probably smaller than mine because New York, and as an architect, I am crazy-ambitious. But kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive parts of your home.
Since I moved away from NYC 15 years ago, my friends are either bankrupt or too famous (expensive). But I googled NY kitchen and found this. Here you can find a style you like and and someone to contact. Do that. Most architects are really open to negotiation, specially if you are honest and have clear goals. Look for someone who has good relations to local contractors, and who have a reputation for working within the budget.
posted by mumimor at 2:45 PM on April 17, 2013

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