Here’s how much it costs to renovate a prewar 3-bedroom co-op in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

What goes into an extensive renovation of an apartment in a historic New York building—and how much does it cost? We provide an in-depth look at one such project: the renovation of a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom co-op in a turn-of-the-century Cobble Hill limestone building.

The apartment owners, a young professional couple for whom this is their first home, wanted a gut-renovation of the master and hall bath, re-plastering of all walls, new flooring, and custom carpentry before they settled into their new digs. Bolster contractor Aaron Borenstein supplied the winning bid at $223 per square foot, which included everything that went into the project, from materials to insurance to architect fees.

 View a photographic diary of this renovation.

A worker primes the new moldings. 

A worker primes the new moldings. 

Below, Borenstein breaks down the noteworthy aspects of the job, and how, by working with Bolster contractors and architects, you can make your own project go smoothly and transform your space into the home you dream of.

The age of your building matters

If you live in an older building, you may need to anticipate challenges due to structural deficiencies that have arisen over time, as the property naturally settles, Borenstein warns. One such issue has to do with flooring: “Buildings settle and floors settle,” he says. “It may not be just about putting down wood floors—you’ll have to repair the floor below it first.” Installing a mud floor and pan—a sub-surface for tiling—in the Cobble Hill apartment’s master bathroom, and then installing a natural stone tile floor over it, cost $3,210; similar work in the hall bath was $2,247. In the home’s second bedroom, removing old flooring and installing new wood flooring cost $3,317.

Adjusting floors means changing door heights, too; the owners paid $910 to raise the hall bathroom’s doorway by one foot. Furthermore, when renovating an older apartment, you’ll need to inspect for hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos. Before renovation begins, owners need a work permit from the Department of Buildings and have an asbestos inspection conducted—which is where an expeditor, who helps navigate city bureaucracy, comes in. (For this project, expeditor fees came out to $2,500.)

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