5 ways to care for your renovated home

As your home renovation draws to a close, you may experience feelings of relief and joy at the transformation from the old to the new. Decisions on materials turned out to be good choices, and daily life is now blending and flowing around your new space. The question: How to keep it all looking great for years to come? Here are five ways to care for your new home.

1. Consult manufacturers’ manuals for appliance care

An obvious first step that many homeowners skip. Most appliance manufacturers have a place on their webpage dedicated to manuals or product service and support. A model number will lead you to literature on cleaning and maintenance. Often, a simple Google search is enough. For example, a stainless wine refrigerator requires little attention except for periodically washing off fingerprints. This can be done with water and mild dish soap, then polished with a microfiber cloth dipped in mineral, cooking or olive oil. Note: Clean and polish with the grain. Look closely! Steel has grain just like wood. Here are extra tips:

*Speak with your contractor about how to maintain your equipment.

*Register major appliances with the manufacturer through their website.

*Make sure you know the location of the model numbers for future reference.

2. Safeguard your kitchen countertops

You probably reviewed pros and cons of different materials before you made your final decision of kitchen countertops. Ready to start cooking? Here’s a refresh!

*Quartz countertops, such as Caesarstone, are durable, non-porous and do not need to be annually resealed, but acidic foods or juices can erode the acrylic. This material is also more likely to be damaged by excessive heat than granite, crushed glass or concrete. Treat yourself to trivets.

*Porous natural stones, such as granite and marble, may need to be resealed periodically and are susceptible to stains from oils and acids. Don’t let spilled liquids sit on your stone countertops. Spill? Swipe!

*For laminate or solid-surfacing countertops, cutting boards are mandatory because both of these materials are easily scratched.

3. Tend to your tiles

Bathroom tiles get hazy with soapy residue, while kitchen backsplashes get splattered with oil, and floor tiles experience both! Regular cleaning will prevent the need to muscle through buildup, so break out a mild all-purpose cleaner and some basic cleaning equipment.

*For kitchen backsplash tiles, mix dish liquid with water and rub away the oily residue with a sponge or gentle cloth. White vinegar mixed with warm water is another option. A mild all-purpose cleaner will clean up bath tiles nicely. Mix the solution with water and wipe with a rag, a soft brush or sponge.

*Sweep or vacuum floor tiles of any debris and grit on a regular basis to avoid dulling or scratching the surface. After clearing away large particles, use a mop and bucket with mild soap or detergent and warm water. If you wind up with a hazy film, consider switching up your mop material (sponge to chamois, for example) and/or wipe away the film with a fresh cloth and an all-purpose cleaner.

*Where there is tile, there is grout. To care for your grout, use gentle brushes to scrub it clean. And if your regular tile cleaning routine is not doing the trick on your grout, try a paste of baking soda and water, a mild bleach solution or store-bought grout cleaner. Remember to reseal it periodically.

4. Work with your wood

Refinished or brand new hardwoods can be beautiful foundations for your home. If you are the type of family that takes off your shoes before entering the home, you are off to a great start! Even if not, caring for your floors can be easy with a few simple guidelines.

*Begin with indoor and outdoor welcome mats. Mats placed before and after the threshold of your door are an important first step in maintaining scratch- and stain-free floors even in the winter.

*Area rugs cut down on regular wear and tear of the floors in the areas where they are positioned.

*Little felt stickers (available at any hardware store) do a good job protecting your floors from furniture-driven scratches.

Here are a few rules of thumb when cleaning your floors:

*Sweep or vacuum debris on a regular basis

*Mop with water and a gentle soap and never leave water or other liquids sitting on your hardwoods. Water can eventually penetrate the finish and leave stains in the wood. If you are not sure what cleaner to use on your floors, manufacturers of wood sealants often offer hardwood floor cleaners, such as Minwax® Hardwood Floor Cleaner.

5. Care for your cabinets

Although you likely will not be cleaning your kitchen or bathroom cabinets as often as higher-traffic surfaces (such as shower tiles and cooking countertops), don’t forget about them!  Knobs and pulls can harbor germs and cabinet doors can become grimy over time from moisture and oils in the air. Similarly to hardwood floors, wooden cabinets don’t do well with water or other liquids resting on their surface. Whether you clean your cabinets with soapy water, white vinegar water or mild all-purpose cleaner, remember these vital last steps: wipe away cleaner residue with a wet cloth and dry your cabinets with a towel.


Even the most premeditated renovation can spawn some regrets in the aftermath. And when you’re paying NYC prices, that’s definitely something you want to avoid if you can. Start by asking each of the professionals involved in your project to point out aspects that may bear rethinking.  If you are able to explain why a client’s idea may not be the best, 99 out of 100 times they will appreciate you for it. If you have a contractor that is always a  ‘yes man’, then sometimes it’s a red flag to stay away.” You should also run your plans by a real estate broker, who can point out mistakes that could potentially hurt you upon resale.

According to experts, here are six of the most common faux pas in the world of New York City apartment remodels –

1. Getting rid of the bathtub

If your apartment has just one bath tub, converting it into a walk-in shower may not be the best idea. Walk-in showers are not appealing to those families with children. Where will the baby get a bath? A more logical approach would be removing your shower curtain and adding a glass shower door instead. A glass enclosure gives off the feeling of a walk-in shower.

2. Installing modern flooring in a prewar apartment

If you own a prewar apartment, installing a bamboo floor or another modern alternative could be a mistake when it comes to resale. Although attractive and durable, staying true to the architectural details of the building may be best. If your oak or maple floors are in poor condition and cannot be salvaged, replace them with the same type of wood or something comparable. Stay away from pre-finished, engineered, or other materials like stone or tile either. These could depreciate the overall value of your apartment since many potential buyers are looking for prewar apartments with character and close-to original detailing.

3. Eliminating closets

Removing a closet in order to gain space in a bathroom or bedroom may seem like a good idea, but only if your apartment already has other closets. Often the apartments that are the easiest to live in and sell quickly are those with abundant close space. More living space seems appealing, however, buyers tend to desire storage and closet space. An uncluttered living area will go further than a bedroom with a few extra feet.

4. Ungainly tile

An 18″x 18″ tile in a stylish bathroom in a Home Depot or Lowe’s display (where the bath models may be made for suburbia) doesn’t mean it will work for your city space. Selecting a tile size that’s too large for a small apartment kitchen or bathroom could be a costly and messy error to fix. Buy a few sample tiles and lay them out on your floor to get a sense of scale and proportion. Hiring a designer could also help with selections while steering you in the right direction. He or she will not only suggest the appropriate size and material, but can draw the tile to scale on a floor plan so you can get an idea of what it will look like before the installation.

5. Turning a two-bedroom into a one-bedroom 

One of the most common renovation mistakes committed by New York apartment owners is removing a wall to enlarge a room–but losing a bedroom. It may look great on paper, but in reality, if you give up a room, be prepared to rebuild the wall before putting the apartment on the market, or it will be classified as a one-bedroom instead of a two-bedroom. This could mean two things: a more limited group of potential buyers and a lower asking price.

6. Combine two apartments in one awkward layout

Combining two apartment units may seem like no big deal, but a seamless transition is far from easy. More often than not, combining apartments results in an awkward layout with aspects many buyers will object to, like having to walk through a kitchen to get to the bedrooms, a bathroom in the wrong place, or all of the above and then some. Trying to recoup the investment of the two apartments plus the renovation cost is way more than the market can bear. With that, you also now have a maintenance bill covering two units making a resale almost impossible.


Renovating in NYC


After the countless open houses, deals and negotiations; you have finally found the perfect home. A home where you can envision how you will make this space your own with the perfect Family Room, state-of-the-art chef’s Kitchen and blissful Master Bath. This is all just a simple plan away; or so you think. The key to your renovation is to stay engaged. Be prepared and have back-up plans but also take a step back and have faith and trust the professionals you’ve hired.

The renovation process in NYC is just that; a process. When contemplating a renovation, the first thing you should do is building management to retrieve an Alteration Agreement. This agreement will inform you of any/all rules pertaining to alterations within the building, such as:

1.) Renovation seasons – some buildings only permit construction when the building is more empty; typically during the summer months (July 1-Sept. 1) on a first-come-first-serve basis. The sooner you hire an architect and submit your plans to the board for approval, the better your chances are of moving ahead with your project this season.

2.)  Black-out periods – be mindful of what holidays prohibit work in your building. Account for these days in your schedule as building’s typically have a deadline for completion with a daily fine for every day you are past the substantial date of completion. 

3.) Wet-over-Dry restrictions – if you have plans of relocating your bathroom or kitchen, many buildings prohibit the relocation of such wet rooms above your downstairs neighbor’s living room or bedroom.

4.) Working permits – most apartment renovations in NYC require a work permit. The exception to this rule are ordinary repairs which include cosmetic upgrades (replacing plumbing fixtures or kitchen cabinets in the same locations). Once you intend on demolishing a wall, building a new wall or simply moving your kitchen sink to a different location, you will need a permit. And, if you need a permit, you’ll now need a licensed architect.


The most common way to go about this is by the traditional word-of-mouth. Follow the recommendations of colleagues, friends and family. Once you have hired your architect, hiring your contractor is next. Of course, any recommendation is invaluable; however, architects typically have a list of contractors they like working with. Most buildings will also have a published list of approved contractors those of which who have done frequent work in the building and are familiar with the alteration rules.


In process of hiring your contractor; you may have several contractors who are in possession of your plans in efforts to competitively price out your project. It is very important to have a complete set of architectural drawings and specifications for every aspect of the project before negotiating a contract. Eliminate the possibility of allowances. Allowances in a contract can leave the client susceptible to unpredictable change orders.  In most cases, the terms of the final agreement will be set out in a standard A.I.A. (American Institute of Architects) and your contractor will bill periodically based on the percentage of the of the job completed. Contractors will also submit a construction schedule and conduct weekly site visits to ensure the project progresses according to the schedule. 


Before starting work, you will need secured approval from the co-op/condo board. Providing plans, insurance certificates, licenses etc. must be submitted to the managing agent. Your plans will then be reviewed by another architect retained by the building to ensure they comply with building rules and building code requirements. 


Once you have approval from the board, your architect can file and application with the Department of Buildings for a work permit. For most interior renovations, your permit can be obtained within 24 hours. 


Upon completion of major work, minor fixes such as paint touch-ups are typically required. Nearing completion, a punch-list meeting will be held to point out any items needed finishing by the contractor. Working under permits also require electrical and plumbing inspections before requesting a Certificate of Occupancy (Letter of Completion) from the Department of Buildings. Once you have that document in hand, there’s just one thing left to do: plan the unveiling party

Keyless Entry System via Smartphone

Colors (IG)

Forgetting your keys at home or getting locked out of your apartment will soon be a mundane problem of the past – well, at least if you live in a luxury building. A new keyless entry system is being introduced into a handful of residential buildings across the city, and its success could make riffling through a pesky set of keys totally obsolete, the New York Times reports. Buildings are staring to experiment with apps like  Latch and KISI that allow you to control the lock on your door through a smartphone.

While several office buildings and private homes have already experimented with similar mechanisms, real estate developers have been hesitant to install the technology due to the cost and the security factor, but services like Latch offer several comprehensive features that override some of those concerns.

For instance, there won’t be a need for spare keys anymore. The app will produce a unique code that residents can then share with people to access the apartment – baby sitters, delivery persons, and guests who then input it into an electronic key pad located on the lock. And for the purpose of safety, the owner of the home can revoke access whenever they chose as well.


This touch pad also comes enabled with a camera and thus acts as a keyhole, and what’s more – if you lose or forget your phone somewhere you always have the option of inputting a code into the touch pad or using a physical key.

And the features don’t end there – the same device can also be used as a key for various other amenities in the particular building – gym, pool, storage, etc.

Latch was created by Swedish designer Thomas Meyerhoffer. KISI has already been used by several offices and is now moving into residential territory.

6,000+ New Apartments set for Brooklyn in 2016


Around almost every corner in Brooklyn, a new development is rising to bring more apartments to the city’s most populous borough. So it should come as no surprise that Brooklyn is leading not only New York City, but the rest of the country in the construction of new apartments.

According to Forbes, Brooklyn is expected to gain 6,073 apartments in 2016, which is a nearly unfathomable gain on the 979 apartments that hit the market in the borough this year. And 2017 is already off to a running start, too: 2,001 new apartments are already anticipated. Here’s another mind-boggling number to top all of that off: as of October, the borough’s average rent, minus concessions, was a whopping $3,823.00.

All these new apartments are needed, since existing apartments were 97.4% occupied in October and the demand keeps growing. October’s average effective rent in Brooklyn was 4.8% higher than the October 2014 average. Rental revenue impact was 5.4% more than the year before.

Brooklyn’s apartment surge is just the largest part of a New York-area apartment boom in which 24,575 new units have been identified to come to market next year. The metropolitan division, which includes Jersey City and White Plains in addition to the city, is expected to receive the most new apartments in 2016, surpassing Houston and Dallas, which have traded the top spot since 2013. The New York City area as a whole is expecting nearly 25,000 new apartments in 2016.