This post below is in collaboration as a #pellapartner
We lived with our old, drafty, malfunctioning windows for 3 years. Some didn’t close, some didn’t open, and all of them looked horrible. It’s a project we have put off for years, but we recently decided we could wait no longer! Now that our new Pella windows are installed we can’t believe we waited so long! And you know what, it was quick and easy! Ready to replace yours? We’re going to walk you through how to order, what you’ll need, and how to get them installed.
We decided to install Pella windows. We’re very familiar with their products and have installed them in many of our projects. They are beautiful, efficient, and durable. We walked through the process to order them directly on their website and we were shocked how fast and easy it was. It’s definitely the quickest way to get windows onsite and ready to install that we have seen.
What made us decide it was time? You can order most of Pella’s windows directly through their website! All we needed to do was measure our window openings, and then walk through to configure the order online. Even if you have never ordered windows before you can do it! All of the options are thoroughly explained.
So here is how we ordered:
First you’ll choose what type of windows you’re ordering. We are fans of aluminum clad wood windows because you get the beauty of wood on the interior and the durability of aluminum on the exterior. We went with the Lifestyle double-hung series.
The first thing that you will do is fill in your window measurements. You’ll need the height, width, and the jamb depth. The jamb depth comes in 3 standard sizes. We choose the 4-9/16” option.
Pella lets you choose between different insulated glass options that suit the climate where you live. Advanced Low-E might be the most common, but you can choose AdvancedComfort Low-E for northern climates, SunDefense Low-E for warm climates, or Natural Sun Low-E for cold clients.
Now it starts getting fun! The next option you can choose is your finish. We went with a black exterior and a black stained interior. We really like the look of black stained wood. There are many beautiful colors and wood tones you can choose from.
You can also choose to have grilles in the window. We like the character it adds so we choose the cross grill pattern. It really makes the windows look even more beautiful.
Then you choose your hardware and screen options. We went with black to match the finish of our windows.
Replacement windows are made to replace old windows in an existing home. They are designed to be installed in the existing window frame from the inside of the home. This is a less invasive installation because the existing window frame, interior trim, and exterior elements can remain. The existing window opening is measured and the replacement window is installed in the existing frame.
New construction windows are made for newly built homes or for homes where the window frame is being replaced. This is a more invasive project and would usually be in a full gut project if it’s an existing home.
If you’re just replacing your windows then you’ll likely want to get replacement windows.
That’s it! It is as simple as that to order your windows. Only a few weeks later our windows arrived and we were ready to install.
We love doing DIY projects, but we did have some help for our window install. It is definitely a project you can tackle yourself if you are replacing a window or 2, but if you are replacing all of your windows yourself you might want some help! Depending on how big your project is you might even want to leave the ordering up to the professionals to make the project stress-free or you might just need help along the way. The representatives online can answer basic questions or at any point you can decide to work with a local sales representative, just schedule a free in-home consultation and they will take it from there! So it’s nice to know that you have back-up when needed.
After living with old ugly windows for so long we cannot stop looking at our new windows. They have completely transformed our home on the interior and exterior! We thought that it was going to be a difficult process, but ordering them at Pella.com was quick and easy. Now we just need to sit back and enjoy!
Living in a historic brownstone or townhouse in Brooklyn or Manhattan is a dream for many people. The original woodwork, beautiful plaster mouldings, grand staircases, and iconic stoops on tree-lined streets are too much to just to look onto from afar. You might have come to conclusion that the best path to have one of your own is to buy a fixer upper and build your dream home. Seeing the price tag of available listings is pretty straight forward, but what about the renovation? How much does it cost to restore those beautiful 100+ year old original features, build spaces for modern living, and repair the home to last another 100 years? It’s difficult to even understand if the purchase price you’re looking at is feasible for you without understanding the other side of the equation. If you’re ready to start searching for the right place, we can help!
A good place to start is trying to get a handle on exactly how much work is needed. There are 2 basic things you’ll want to understand: What the condition of the place is and how much you’re changing the configuration. If you walk in to view a home, the kitchens and bathrooms are relatively where you want them and it appears to all have been modernized in the last couple of decades, you might be able to get away with a smaller scope cosmetic project. If you walk in and see aging mechanicals, deteriorating plaster, crooked floors, as well as a kitchen on the wrong floor and bathrooms in entirely wrong places, then the most likely scenario is that is that you’re going to be doing a fairly large scope gut renovation. That doesn’t at all mean that the historic features and charm would be removed, but it will take some work to restore it all and integrate it into the modern home with historic charm you’re dreaming of.
We have a secret to tell you. It might be the best piece of advice we have for anyone shopping for a fixer-upper brownstone. When you bounce around from open house to open house you’ll see places that you immediately know will be a huge project: plaster falling off the ceiling, carpet that reeks of cat urine, old dirty bathrooms, and ancient electrical panels. And you’ll see places that look entirely habitable: Freshly painted walls, historic charm in great shape, a kitchen that looks like it was installed within the decade (be it in the wrong place), and the electrical doesn’t look like a fire hazard. With the latter you might think you have hit the jackpot on a place that just needs some walls moved and some TLC. You might think, although the price tag is higher at least it is a smaller renovation. Our word of warning is the project size and cost may not be all that different between them. If your plan includes moving bathrooms, creating a big beautiful primary bathroom and closet, reconfiguring bedrooms, relocating the kitchen to the parlor floor where there is none, and adding a powder room – that is a major reconfiguration. After all of those walls are moved the floors and ceilings will need to be addressed, not to mention that crooked floors will look even more crooked next to all of the new features so those might need to be fixed too. You end up re-doing (or resurfacing) most of the walls, ceilings, and floors. Finally, once the plumber and electrician redo half of what’s there for the new layout, they’ll likely want (or need) to replace it all. There is code as recent as the 2,000’s that everything will need to be brought up to. Oh, and what about HVAC? The point is that although a building may initially look like less work since you feel you could move into it as-is if needed, it might very well be the same scope and cost to make it into your dream home as the place with carpet that reeks of cat urine, ancient electrical panels, and deteriorating plaster. So why pay more for the place that only appears to offer you a smaller scope project.
Since a lot of things go into such a big project, we need a quick way to estimate costs and one of the quickest ways to get a general idea of budget is to use a price per square foot and apply it to the square footage of the home. A price per square foot for the entire house will give you a general idea of the total cost for a renovation and it takes into account that there is a new kitchen, a few bedrooms, several new bathrooms, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC…etc. While it’s not a bad way to generalize the cost of a complete home renovation, it’s really just to give you a quick idea so that you can have an estimation, for instance, if you’re trying to figure out if the fixer-upper you viewed fits your budget including the renovation. Keep in mind that there may be a feature of your renovation that might push the costs up outside of the price per square foot, one big example of that would be adding an addition to the home which comes with many more costs than renovating within the home’s footprint. For something like that you might want to treat it as a separate line item. Ok! So you’ve got it and just want the numbers, we hear you, and we’re here to give them to you!
One last thing, you should know that we do renovations in New York City and the numbers in some of our examples might be more in line with renovating in New York or other big cities. We provided a range so that you can adjust if you live in a place with a lower cost of living. The low end of the range can be used for areas where the cost of living is less and the high end is for areas where the cost of living is higher. That’s true for contractor and labor expenses, but costs for finish items would likely be the same since we get those items from all over the country and world and many of the suppliers we purchase from are national. Ok ok… the numbers!
Total home reno price per square foot budgeting:
• Budget conscious reno with low-cost finishes, little to no structural work, and limited to no configuration changes: $125-$175 psf
• Mid-range reno with mostly basic finishes, some upgrades, some structural work, and some configuration changes: $175-$200 psf
• Mid range reno with nice finishes, some splurges, a fair amount of structural work, and a lot of configuration changes: $200-$275 psf
• High-end renovation with structural work, total configuration change, and high-end finishes: $300-$400 psf
• Super high-end renovation with a name recognition architect, designer, and all high-end best-of-class finishes. $400+ psf
Hopefully you can find yourself in one of those buckets and you can generalize the cost of renovating your fixer upper or existing home! There are a lot of ranges there so if you’re having trouble landing in one, we would suggest that the once in a lifetime dream home you are envisioning is probably in the upper $200’s-lower $300s psf.
If you are adding an addition to the building since there is so much foundation, concrete, steel, and structural work we would estimate that line item at $700-750 psf.
Now, that gives you the hard costs of the renovation but there are other expenses you should take into consideration as well. Depending on the size of your project you will likely need an architect, engineers, and city filings. Those costs can vary depending on the scope you have but you’ll want to budget $35,000-$60,000 (but it could be higher as well). If it’s a larger project and you won’t be living in the home during the process (we highly recommend that you don’t) you’ll want to include carrying costs like the cost of the mortgage, insurance, utility bills, and/or alternative accommodations while the work is being done. These are all soft costs.
Finally, don’t forget to include a 10-15% contingency. There are almost always additional expenses that come up during the renovation. Once walls, floors, and ceilings are opened up it’s quite possible that some repairs may be needed that were not seen before. You also may have to or want to alter a design to account for conditions onsite. These items are called change orders. They can be stressful, so if you have a budget included for them it can make the process much smoother.
Restoring and renovating a historic home can be a perfect path to owning a piece of history. It will have had many owners before you, some who may have arrived at its doorstep in horse and carriage, and it will likely have owners after you. These well-lived homes are often part of a thriving community that we hold dear and being a part of its significant life is something that’s just very special. Happy renovating!
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Our new favorite tradition in our home on Christmas morning is making homemade cinnamon rolls. If your plans have changed this holiday season or you’re just looking for something to make we can’t recommend making these cinnamon rolls enough! Make sure to make some extra frosting… you will thank us later!
Merry Merry and lots of love (and good eats!), Jordan & Barry
Christmas Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from ambitious kitchen
For the Dough:
- ¾ cup warm milk (whole milk or 2% preferred) (110 degrees F)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons quick rise or active yeast (1/4-ounce package yeast)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
- ¼ cup butter, melted (salted or unsalted…. whatever your preference is!)
- 3 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
For the Filling:
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup butter, softened
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Warm milk to around 110 degrees F. You can do this by simply warming some milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Transfer warm milk to the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Add in sugar, egg, egg yolk and melted butter. Mix until well combined. Next stir in flour and salt with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to form.
- Place dough hook on stand mixer and knead dough on medium speed for 8 minutes. Dough should form into a nice ball and be slightly sticky. If it’s TOO sticky (meaning it’s sticking to the bottom of the mixer, add in 2 tablespoons more bread flour.) If you don’t want to use an electric mixer, you can use your hands to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes on a well-floured surface
- Transfer dough ball to a well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel. Allow dough to rise for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size. This may more or less time depending the humidity and temperature in your home.
- After dough has doubled in size, transfer dough to a well-floured surface and roll out into a 14×9 inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over dough, leaving a ¼ inch margin at the far side of the dough.
- In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Use your hands to sprinkle mixture over the buttered dough, then rub the brown sugar mixture into the butter.
- Tightly roll dough up, starting from the 9-inch side and place seam side down making sure to seal the edges of the dough as best you can. You will probably need to cut off about an inch off the ends of the dough as the ends won’t be as full of cinnamon sugar as we’d want it to be.
- Cut into 1 inch sections with a serrated knife or floss. You should get 9 large pieces. YUMMMM!
- Place cinnamon rolls in a greased 9×9 inch baking pan or round 9 inch cake pan. (We lined our sheet pan with parchment paper as well, in case any of the filling ends up leaking out.) Cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel and let rise again for 30-45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap and towel and bake cinnamon rolls for 20-25 minutes or until just slightly golden brown on the edges. You want to underbake them a little so they stay soft in the middle. Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes before frosting. Makes 9 beautiful and delicious cinnamon rolls.
- To make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread over cinnamon rolls and serve immediately. you might want to double this part… just saying Enjoy!
This blog post is sponsored by Home Depot
** GIVEAWAY CLOSED*** Congratulations Gabby Anderson
What’s the smartest thing you can do this Holiday season? Join us in turning your home into a smart home! If you’re like us, your home is a place that you want to feel protected, especially once it’s filled with all those holiday presents! We knew there was an easier way to make our home more connected. So we’re working with Home Depot this holiday season to turn our home into a smart home. From seeing who is at the front door to seeing who is stealing our packages 😫, and of course just playing music and getting recipes in the kitchen, we have some of our favorite items!
And now the best part!? We’re giving away a $500 gift card to Home Depot that you can use to buy any of the items! Winner will be selected via this BLOG POST on Sunday, 12/19. Good luck friends!
Here’s our favorite picks to make our home a smart home this holiday season:
For us, waking up in the morning listening to our favorite jazz song gets us ready for the day! With our google nest mini we ask google to alert us of traffic, play our favorite song, and let us know how to dress for the day according to the weather. All from before we get out of our bed 😄! Meet the 2nd generation Nest Mini, the speaker you control with your voice. Just say “Hey Google” to play your favorite music from Spotify, YouTube Music, and more. It sounds bigger and richer with more power and more bass. Ask your Google Assistant for help, and get the best of weather, news, or almost anything. Hear your personalized schedule, commute, and reminders. Set timers and alarms. And even turn on the lights. Nest Mini is compatible with thousands of smart devices, like lights, thermostats, and locks, from brands you love. It blends right into any room on a coffee table, nightstand, or wall.
We get a lot of packages. And most of the time, we aren’t home to receive them. With our Smart Wi-fi Video doorbell we can communicate with our delivery companies and also see who is at our door anytime we want! The Nest Doorbell is the battery-powered video doorbell that works with any home. See what’s happening at your door from anywhere, and get alerts about important activity, like a visitor or package delivery.1 And because it’s wireless, you can install it yourself. View live HD video, replay video recordings, talk to visitors, and more – all from the Google Home app. The Nest Doorbell (battery) requires a free Google Account and is not compatible with the Nest app or the home.nest.com site.
We always install Nest thermostats in all our renovation projects. They’re sleek, they’re efficient, and now they connect to all our other Google products. We love how everything connects together! Reduce energy use and save on utility costs with the Google Nest 3rd Generation Smart Learning Thermostat. Smart features such as Nest Leaf ensure that your home is at an energy-efficient temperature. It automatically regulates your home’s temperature based on your schedule.
By far one of our favorite new features. Our security was a little wishy-washy. But now with our cam + floodlight we can be greeted to our home with bright light during a dark winter night and we can access the camera history to see anyone that might be entering the home when we aren’t there. Here in New York package theft is a major problem. Having the floor light come on when someone approaches our house has prevented it, and we have the peace of mind knowing that if any of our packages walk off we’ll have it alllll on video! You better believe we have our camera set to capture Santa delivering our presents! Nest Cam with floodlight shines a brighter light on what’s happening at home. The smart security camera detects important activity and knows the difference between people, vehicles, and animals. It automatically turns on the lights and sends you an alert.1 View live HD video, replay video recordings, talk to visitors, and more – all from the Google Home app. Nest Cam with floodlight requires a free Google Account and is not compatible with the Nest app or the home.nest.com site.
We sometimes need a little time to talk to others (and not just each other!). We have our hub station located right next to our kitchen range so we can keep company with Google. Asking google to play our favorite mix on Spotify, or asking google to stream our youtube channel, or even check on who’s at the front door, we have a new friend! And we’re so thankful! Meet Nest Hub 2nd Gen from Google, the smart display that’s the center of your helpful home.1 Stay entertained with shows, videos, and music.2 Control your compatible devices with a tap or with Google Assistant. And wake up easier with a Sunrise Alarm.
We’re away for most of the day. Which means Zuko (our 85 lb. Silver lab) is usually toying around until his dog walker comes. We are so curious to see how Zuko spends most of the day. And now we can! These beautiful (and discreet) indoor cameras are a wonderful way to know what is happening inside our home at any minute. Nest Cam IQ is the best-in-class indoor security camera with crisp HD video and advanced algorithms that can identify when someone’s in your home, alert you, and zoom in on their face.
Our home is more secure and more connected than ever. We feel safer and many of our daily routines have gotten easier.
Now, it’s time to enter your chance to win a $500 Home Depot gift card to get smart for the holidays with smart home devices for you and for gifts for your loved ones! Make sure to check out our instagram post and ENTER in comments below!!
Happy Holidays Friends!
Barry & Jordan
This post is sponsored by Garrett Wade Tools
Tis’ the Holiday Season and this one we hope is going to be very special! If you’re like us, shopping for gifts is always a stressful situation. We’re guilty of being last minute shoppers which always adds an extra layer of stress that can easily be avoided. Most of all, we want the gifts that we get for our friends and family to be unique and useful. This year, we’re ahead of the game and making sure our shopping list is completed on time! Earlier this year we worked with Garrett Wade for our annual Block Clean Up and we told ourselves back in April we had to keep them in mind when it comes to Holiday shopping. Garrett Wade is our secret weapon! Not only do they have the nicest tools for all our DIY friends, but they have a wide array of beauty, lifestyle, home accessories, and games for any age. We truly are in love with everything they have and hope you have fun shopping our holiday gift guide.
Here are some of our favorite items in a gift guide that we’re so excited for this year
For the Cook in You – Items for the kitchen
1,Gourmet knife set- if you’re like us, our cooking knives are dull. These knives are aesthetically beautiful but they’re durable and work amazingly. From cutting onions to cutting cheese. They have a knife set that has serrated and regular blades to make cutting easy!
2. Stoneware Beverage Keg- no matter who comes over we always want a beverage available! This helps us eliminate small batch portions and allows our guests to serve themselves. Super cute to display on our open shelves year long!
For the DIY In You- Tools and Supplies
3. Heavy duty screwdriver set – our screwdrivers have been with us for over 10 years! The wear and tear was a little unbearable so it was time to upgrade with some that will last a lifetime. And who said tools can’t be beautiful!
4. GelDome Flex Knee Pads– call us crazy but this is probably the item we’re most excited for! Our knees will thank us but we promise these will get the most use. For painting, tile work or just household items the knee pads are tremendously helpful to have around home!
5. Leather tool bag– this beautiful bag is designed perfectly and Jordan is excited to have it to bring to all our job sites to store tools for projects or items we need for styling a finished space! It’s also made in the U.S.A
6. Vintage tool box- If you’re like us you have tools laying around the house everywhere. Barry loves a tool box and was very excited when he came across this beautiful vintage tool box. Durable and cute this box will last us a lifetime and we’re excited to store it in our new workroom basement. We can easily bring with us to jobs and we’re hoping we will now know where our hammer is!
For Everyday – Our Favorite personal items
7. Waxed tote bag– Jordan carries a canvas tote with him every single day! You can only imagine with all the dust we are around how incredibly dirty the tote bags are. This bag is beautiful and designed to be indestructible!
8. Small beard Natural Horn Comb- grooming is an important part of everyone’s daily life. And men- you should take care of that facial hair! This comb is perfect for smaller beards and Barry’s excited that Jordan isn’t the only one with a beard brush.
9. Brush (or Jordan’s beard brush)– for those with a thicker beard (Hi Jordan!) or some really great hair (Jordan wishes) this brush is super durable and anyone will feel luxurious using it! Highly recommend for any sex!
Happy Holidays friends! We hope this holiday gift guide helps you find unique gifts your loved ones will love! We hope your shopping adventures are fun and exciting!
Do you have a space in your home that has beat up walls and scuff marks all over the walls? For us, it is our hallway leading down to our renovated speakeasy basement! It’s a space with a lot of traffic. Not only does our 85 lbs. lab love following us down the stairs to do laundry and beating the walls with his tail but its a shared hallway with our tenant (and friend) Kimberly as the hallway leads to her 1 bdrm apartment.
The walls in the space were never touched. We have worked on projects below in our basement, inside her apartment, and obviously our home on the upper two floors. Because of this, the walls were in very poor condition. What do you do with white walls that are in need of a desperate paint job. The solution is easy, we simply use KILZ RESTORATION™ Primer.
(Formerly KILZ MAX) is a new generation water-based primer, sealer and stain blocker offering performance of traditional oil and shellac-based primers. It tackles the toughest stains including heavy water damage, rust, smoke, nicotine, grease, tannin, ink, pencil, felt marker, pet stains and more. KILZ RESTORATION™ Primer also seals persistent pet, food and smoke odors. Use on interior surfaces including drywall, woodwork, plaster, masonry, brick, painted metal, ceramic tile, glass and most other glossy surfaces.
We love using KILZ® not only for our DIY projects, but it’s been our trusted primer for several large renovation projects. KILZ® makes a full range of surface coatings, from primers, to paints and specialty products, that are widely distributed and available at over 30,000 retailers, big and small, both online and off, across the United States and Canada. No matter what product you choose, and no matter what project you’re working on, the KILZ® Brand is trusted by DIYers (like us!) and Professionals alike to deliver excellent, long-lasting results you can be proud of for years to come.
In one short afternoon we took our high-traffic hallway from drab to fab and we were able to transform the space completely with KILZ®. We Top coated the primer with water-based or oil-based paint and it just completely transformed the entire space and feel. We’re so happy Kimberly has a beautiful entryway now to walk into after a long NYC workday.
Every project is worth using KILZ® Primer. Check out all the products HERE !
#ad This post is sponsored by LightStream, but the content and opinions expressed here are our own.
Over the past year that we have all been spending a considerable amount more time at home, many people took a hard look at their space. Some parts of it might be a little tired or not as functional as you would like it to be. With a bit of extra time on your hands you might be dreaming up some renovation possibilities! That’s one of our favorite things to do! Many people hit a dead end on their renovation journey once the dream turns into the reality of the cost. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We needed to create a workspace in our home. Our design samples were occupying our dining table and we really need a dedicated space to store them and spread out to create designs. It’s something that was really going to make our home more functional for us, but it was also going to add more value to our home for the future so we felt like it was worth taking on the purposeful debt.
Investing in improvements to your home can be one of the best financial decisions you can make. Most of the time money spent on smart renovations can easily be recouped from the value it can add to your home. That is purposeful debt because it works for you in the long term.
Anyone who has a mortgage knows that when it comes to your home, debt isn’t always a bad thing. Improving your kitchen, bathroom, work space, or even your backyard can make an impact on your quality of life and enjoyment of your home now and the value of it for many years into the future. So for many taking out a loan for home renovations is a smart choice! LightStream is one of the most uncomplicated ways to fund your renovation, allowing you to focus on the dream and not the financing.
Many people don’t know where to begin or think that applying for a loan will be a long, arduous process. Fortunately LightStream allows you to apply with a simple online process, and you can potentially have
That means you can get started on your renovation with no delay and you will have the freedom to make the dream a reality.
Budget is one of the first conversations we have with our clients and often it is the most important. Everyone has one, and it almost certainly will determine the scope of the project. It was very important for us to create our basement space to be a place that we wanted to work and host clients. There was also a lot we needed to do to make our basement a finished space.
In some situations using smart debt to finance your renovation might even be a better choice than using savings. Renovating your home can be extremely rewarding but it can also be stressful. LightStream’s lending uncomplicated philosophy and ease of use can help relieve the stress and make your renovations dreams a reality.
Through our special link, https://ooh.li/89862ea, any of our readers can receive a .10% APR discount on their loan, if they’re approved. Visit https://ooh.li/89862ea to check your rate and to learn more and apply today.
The weather is changing and we’re coming into the rain and snow season. New York City recently had a record amount of rainfall in one hour during a tropical storm then a week later that record was shattered by a second storm. The amount of water was something our homes and cellars just never had to deal with before. It seemed like half the cellars in Brooklyn and most of Queens were flooded. After the first storm many of us thought, ‘good thing this doesn’t happen often’, but after dealing with almost twice the amount of water only a week later it probably means it’s something we need to be better prepared for. Many people who have never had leaks before had waterfalls in the basements! So now we’re all asking the question, how do I prevent this from happening again?!
Truth be told, it can be difficult to determine where water intrusion is happening, but what you can do is take action to direct water away and try to seal things up as much as possible. Here are some smart precautions you can take.
One of the first things you might want to do is make sure water is going where you want it to and not where you don’t. If water is pooling in your backyard you might want to regrade so that it flows away from the house. You can also add a drain that connects to the sewer line to move water out of the backyard so that it doesn’t flow down to your cellar.
Instead of looking down, look up! Sometimes the issue is on the roof. If water is not draining properly through the gutter spout and into the sewer it might be cascading down the back of your house. That makes it much easier for it to find a way in or just overwhelm the waterproofing.
If you have redirected water away from your house and made sure it is draining properly, it’s time to start waterproofing.
The front and rear access hatch is often where water can leak into your cellar. Some hatch covers are made of plywood and roofing material and don’t do the best job. Consider having a steel hatch door installed. They will cement it into the walls so that it is water tight. If you already have a steel door and it is leaking, check the corners. The concrete can deteriorate in that area and may need to be patched.
If water is coming in through the foundation walls (often this happens in the back but sometimes in the front as well) it could be a big job! As your house settles cracks can form and mortar in the joints can open up. This can allow water to enter. You might also want to check any penetrations of the foundation wall. The sewer pipe, water main, and electrical service come through the wall and may be allowing the water intrusion. You may see wet streaks on the foundations walls or water pooling or marking the floors and walls. Repointing the mortar or sealing up the openings with hydraulic cement may solve the problem. It can be a bit of trial and error.
Usually most water intrusion comes through the back foundation wall since the side walls are mostly shared with another house and the front typically has concrete preventing water from saturating the soil. In the back is where the water has better access to the foundation walls. One of the most effective ways to solve the issue is to excavate the outside all the way to the bottom of the foundation wall, then a waterproof barrier or sealer can be applied to the outside of the wall. This can prevent most water from penetrating the wall.
The slab can also be the problem. Some homes have a rat slab (a very thin layer of concrete poured over the dirt floor.) Moisture could be coming up through it, especially if it’s cracked. A new slab might help your basement feel a bit drier.
No matter how much waterproofing you do, things can change, the house can settle or mortar can continue to deteriorate. Also, even relatively watertight walls can absorb water from the soil outside and then transfer it inside. This can make the air become more humid. Since your cellar is subterranean it’s an area that should be ready to deal with moisture. A dehumidifier will help remove excess basement humidity. Make sure any building materials are mold and mildew resistant. Usually the floor of the cellar is below the sewer line so make sure you have a sump pump that can remove any water that might find its way in.
You may need to try a combination of methods. Redirect water, repoint and seal up cracks, and take further waterproofing precautions if necessary. After two record breaking storms that brought more water than we’ve ever seen before a week apart, one thing for sure is that this is an issue we will need to deal with again in the not so distant future. It’s time to take some action and be as prepared as we can.
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We are so thrilled and proud to share the Gates House with you. It has the more restored original features than any of our projects to date! Many many painstaking hours have gone into fully restoring them. It all takes time! This project has been over a year in the making! BUT it was worth the wait! We are excited for you to see the beautiful white oak floors with a Peruvian walnut inlay, the gorgeous woodwork and stained glass, the restored plaster tapestries, not to mention the custom painted kitchen cabinets and modern bathrooms. It’s truly one for the books! It takes a village to renovate in NYC and we’re very thankful for our wonderful partners, collaborators, and craftsmen who took part in this project. Most importantly, to homeowners Laura & Rebecca and their new born twin girls (yes our second set of twins if you’ve been following along) Welcome home!
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Our favorite room in our home is our vintage inspired guest bathroom, and more specifically, our favorite feature in it is the vintage glass WC door. It’s a project we took on and we just can’t get enough of because we expanded our collection of them to 4 more with our recent speakeasy basement renovation. We’re not done yet! We love the look and would (will) do it again! A lot of folks have asked us where we got it and how to make one, so we wanted to break it down for you.
The secret is if you want a door like this, you’ll likely have to DIY it. There are some vintage glass panel doors like this out there but chances are it won’t be the right size. They are few and far between, but what is readily available are doors that have wood panels in many sizes. We easily found one that was very close to the measurements that we needed.
We could have scoured the local salvage yards for one (Brooklyn folks- Old Iron Architectural is great for doors!), and I’m sure we would have found it, but we decided to get ours from a vintage seller on etsy. They had a large stock of doors that would work for us and the price was right at only about $100. We recommend typing in the size of the door that would work best in the search (either on etsy or ebay) and finding a seller near your home that will deliver.
Once we received the door we needed to alter it. This is the hardest part. It does require some tools and some skills to use them. If that doesn’t sound like you, it is possible to have someone else do this part for you. If you bring it to a local woodworking shop they likely can quickly and inexpensively make the cuts for you. Or you can even ask the seller you get it from if they can do it for you. Our door was very close to the size we needed but it was less than an inch too wide. We trimed it down on each side with a circular saw. Then we cut out the top wooden panel so that it was open for glass. Fortunately, trimming the side of the door also cut off where the old hinges were, but we did need to fill an old hardware hole with wood filler and let it dry overnight.
The next day we sanded it all down to get the old paint off. Finally we added the trim piece to where we cut the wood panel that will eventually hold in the glass. So now we had a door that we cut to the right size, altered for a glass panel at the top, filled and sanded. Now it’s ready for the cosmetic part: glass, paint, and hardware!
We got our vintage chicken wire glass from a store called Olde Good Glass. They have some really amazing vintage and vintage inspired options. We gave them the dimensions and they cut the glass for us, we just had to pick it up! There are many neighborhood glass shops that might also have some great options. Reeded, chicken wire or frosted glass all work really nicely! We nailed one side of the trim piece with finishing nails, installed the glass, and then held it in place by nailing in the other trim piece.
We really wanted our door to pop so we painted it a vibrant forest green called Isle of Pines from Sherwin Williams in our WC but for the basement doors we went with a classic Black (Tricorn Black). We definitely suggest having some fun with the door and making the color pop! I suppose a natural wood door wood be gorgeous too depending on the condition of the door. The hardware needed to feel as though it was always on this vintage door so we got ours from House of Antique hardware. It has a crystal knob and brassy backplate.
Finally, we didn’t want our guests wandering around wondering which door was the bathroom so we stenciled on “WC” in antique looking black and gold letters from House Number Lab. House Number Lab is great because you can completely customize the font and text.
This door is a fun DIY project that we think really makes our guest bathroom special. It wasn’t very expensive but it’s something that brings a little bit of joy into our day. If you do end up making your own door please share it with us! We just can’t get enough of the Vintage Doors!
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