You don’t need to be much of a history buff to appreciate that living in New York City is akin to living inside a great big, bustling museum.
In fact, sometimes all you need to do is simply look up.
This is particularly true in Tribeca, where a significant amount of storage and loft buildings that date as far back as the mid-19thcentury still stand today. These elegant, sturdy structures have come to define the neighborhood, spurring an influx of sophisticated homeowners who want all the history, all the character, but on their own, more contemporary
“The history of a place influences what kinds of spaces that you’ll find there,” says Anna Karp, COO and Co-Founder of Bolster, a smart renovation company. “And that, in turn, influences the kind of renovations that often take place.”
Pre-War Cool, Modern-Day Costs.
Paula and Jeff Reardon had lived in Tribeca for two decades before they enlisted Bolster to partner with them on a $650K gut renovation of their Broadway loft. The design optimized the space by completely reimagining the layout, turning the loft into a two bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a top range kitchen, restored windows, wood floors throughout and new tiling.
“The bulk of the costs came from the building’s infrastructure. The age of the building matters,” says Bolster architect Jessica Wetters, who designed the Reardons’ loft. “This space required extensive plumbing updates and a complete electrical redo.” Construction and labor costs came in at $230,000, while the contractor overhead and profit totalled $116,250.
Size and Scope
Square footage matters too. Everything from the materials to the labor to the insurance scales up with it. Tribeca averages around $350/square foot.
“But there’s still a misconception,“ Jessica says, “that if I choose less expensive tile or flooring then I can get the job in on budget. That just shaves a minimal amount of the price off of the job. If you really want to reduce the cost of the job, you have to reduce the scope of the job.”
The Reardons opted to restore the floors and windows rather than replace them. Not only did the results prove aesthetically revelatory, but the choice allowed them to put the money toward other facets of the budget.
When Location, Location, Location Becomes Access, Access, Access.
Another key variable in the Reardons’ renovation budget involved access to the building and the apartment. Any seasoned New Yorker knows how difficult it can be to simply get groceries delivered. What about moving hundreds of pounds of sheetrock from the curb up four flights?
Just getting the materials to the renovation site can add sizeable labor costs.
“Where do you park? How big is the elevator? Is the apartment on a main street or a side street? It’s not like you can be parked outside and hauling in materials all day,” Jessica says.
Project Management & insurances for the Reardons’ project totalled $69,750, while compliance fees came in at $19,350.
The Bolster Process
“The variables that go into a project like the one in Tribeca are already large. And you add to the complexity when you have different parties coordinating different pieces of the job,” says Anna. “ You need a single entity like Bolster that is responsible and accountable for the success of a project.“
Bolster is the world’s first smart renovation company. We use root cause and quantitative analysis technology to identify, measure, and then quantify the performance risk on every project, allowing us to absorb 100% of that risk so that homeowners like Paula and Jeff Reardon aren’t bogged down by access problems or any other unforeseen issues.
And there will, of course, be unforeseen issues. “There are always surprises in New York City,” Jessica says. While Bolster regularly provides homeowners with a ton of information, Jessica recommends homeowners educate themselves about renovation costs by talking to friends and neighbors. “Sometimes the best source of information is someone in the same building who has renovated recently,” Jessica
In the end it’s not an understatement to say that a homeowner will need a sizable budget to renovate a Tribeca loft. In addition to labor, and various fees, the new fixtures, finishes and appliances that the Reardons’ chose cost $46,500, the architect collected a fee of $80,392. The final total cost for Jeff and Paula’s Tribeca loft came in at $492,740. The Bolster team and our ethos of Smart Renovation ensures that renovation at this scale can be done efficiently on time and on budget. You just need the right process.
Bolster is a data-driven team of experts on a mission to eliminate risk from major home renovations by being radically transparent across everything we do. We hire the industry’s best talent and use a continual improvement process to financially guarantee that your major home renovation is designed and built beautifully, on-time and on-budget. From the first sketch to the final handshake, our homeowners know the cost of every line item and have full visibility into project milestones.