23 May 2016 

The project continues to advance at a steady pace and is starting to look 'finished'. The floors have been perfectly leveled throughout the apartment in preparation for flooring. A company flew in from Alabama to level the floors! 

All wet rooms have been treated for water proofing and sound proofing, and the underfloor heating (heat mats) have been laid out in the master bathroom. Bathroom walls have been primed and the bathrooms are starting to get tiled.

 In addition, all the walls have been primed for level 5 finish, giving the apartment a polished look. Like all great things, beauty comes from within - the key to a beautiful renovation is to be exacting on all details throughout the construction process. 

The timber flooring has also arrived on site and will be laid out over the following days... More soon!

Bathrooms are starting to look complete, with underfloor heating laid out, all wet proofing done and tiling complete 

All walls have been primed and floors are level 

Zero blemishes on the primed walls, prior to painting to ensure a Level 5 Quality finish. 


4 May 2016 

A Level 5 Quality finish is the ultimate goal for homeowners seeking to remain in their homes for a long time. It refers to perfect, plum and even walls which can be scrutinized up-close to reveal absolutely no blemishes.

This week was the beginning of the process to complete a Level 5 Quality finish in this property. Note that this level of finish isn't necessarily the most expensive option. Sometimes, pre-war apartments are easily transformed into Level 5. 

Key steps this week were the installation of waterproofing and cement boards in wet rooms, the walls were primed, and corners were taped.

Taping is very meticulous yet necessary as it protects all the junctions in the walls, in preparation for skim coating. 

Sheetrock installed - the apartment has more rooms now 

Sheetrock installed - the apartment has more rooms now 

James is seen taping the ceiling in a wet room 

20 April 2016

After the infrastructure has been set up in the fabric of the building, it's time for the sheetrock go up. This week on site was spent finalizing electrical requirements for the apartment's lighting and completing other behind-the scenes plumbing tasks prior to sheetrock installation.  

Once installed, the sheetrock transforms the space into a very rough version of the final layout. 

The apartment is starting to take shape!  

One last look at the insides of the project 

The team installs sheet rock

6 April 2016

Having good ceiling lighting in an apartment is very important for many New Yorkers. This week, work on site revolved around setting up the infrastructure to install ambient lighting, which requires dropping the ceiling throughout the apartment. Lowering the ceilings is very labor intensive and requires a high degree of precision. Here's an insight into the process:

Step 1: The layout of the ceilings is prepared according to the architect's plan

Step 2: Holes are drilled and cleaned out to install bolts which are fastened with epoxy. These bolts will hold the new channel structure so it's important it's done properly so they can hold weight 

Step 3: Clips are fastened to the mounting, using the "v" wiring which is made to measure, on site. Once this is completed, the laser is used to match the wiring with the clips, to make sure the structure has been fastened at the right height

Step 4: When the structure has been mounted and measured to be level, the sheet rock can applied.


Components of the ceiling's structure showing the Channel, V wire, bolt, and several clips 


Channel structure close up showing the "v" wires 


The "v" wires are measured so they are the right size  


The laser is used to double check the structure is level 


The electrics team helps prep the ceiling for the new lighting structure


Fancy doughnuts sent by the client, which were very well received! 

24 March 2016

The focus of this week has been on plumbing including the installation of new piping throughout the apartment. The new piping is black and contrasts with the darker, original older pipes. New piping is required for all the new outlets that connect to the new appliances in the laundry-room, bathrooms and kitchen.  


The grids show the inner workings of the apartment's plumbing structure 


This section shows the pipes going into the laundry room


New pipes are always black or copper and clean. This is a good example. 

16 March 2016

The framing stage has continued - this week, the construction team is still focused on reinforcing the fabric of the apartment. Timber framing for the doors has continued successfully and progress has been made with the creation of the central foyer for the new main entrance. The apartment's internal intercom has also been installed as you will see in the pictures below. 

More materials have arrived on site, which will be used to build the structure for the recessed ceiling lights. This type of lights will give the owners more flexibility and a better atmosphere throughout the apartment. 

On a refreshing note, the construction team is happy as "Doughnut Wednesday" has been officially instituted on site - our clients are generously sending doughnuts for the team on a weekly basis. 

A bit of sweetness builds a good team spirit in the building!

Timber framing for doors 

New Foyer entrance

Intercom wiring has been installed, to make communications easier in the aparment

Ceiling materials which will help create the basis for better lighting

All permits should be easy to see on building sites 

07 March 2016

The framing stage has begun and the construction crew is busy building the new fabric for this apartment combination. Framing is very straight forward - it's the stage that determines the new structure for the new layout of an apartment combination or a gut renovation.

During the framing stage, the new structure is welded onto the walls and care has to be taken to ensure that it's compliant with fire regulations. In this instance, some of the new walls that are being put up are for sound proofing purposes from neighbor to neighbor.

It's essential framing its done right. This week, images speak louder than words!

Framing materials and installation in what was previously the kitchen

Structure for the new walls 

Structure for the new walls 

Framing installation in action 

Drawings are the reference point at all times, the dots indicate framing instructions

Wall and doors framing 

Wall and doors framing 

Welding the frames 


01 March 2016 

The first inspection of the project was completed and now materials have arrived on site, to commence the framing stage. Inspections are carried out by a Bolster architect when projects are of a certain size, to monitor progress vs. finances. Progress in big projects is marked by construction milestones such as demolition. 

At Bolster we say that it's impossible to x-ray a building as there are often surprises when you tear through a building's fabric. This is specifically the case in New York City's pre-war apartments and Brownstones. This conversion was not an exception as we found some pipes that couldn't be moved near what will be the main entrance. Our clients decided, in collaboration with the architect, to change the original plans and modify their foyer. During a construction process, it's very important that clients have a team they trust, so they can adapt to the challenges a building may present. 

And finally, a bit of trivia. The old lady that lived in the apartment we are expanding into had a collection of hundreds of Tab Soda six packs. Hundreds, literally. Tabs were popular in the 60's and 70's and were a competitor of Pepsi and Coca Cola. Email customerservice@bolster.us if you want one! 

Materials have arrived to commence framing. 

The Bolster contractor and the architect figure out a code-abiding solution for the main foyer. 

A happy trooper. 

What would happen if you drank a 40 year old soda? I guess we don't want to know.. 


21 Feb 2016

Demolition is complete and it's now easy to see what the final layout will be. A duct suction pump has been installed to ensure that all dust is managed properly and is kept out of neighboring properties. The last thing one needs during a renovation is the neighbor's apartment covered in one inch of construction dust (true story)!.

Plastic sheets provide added protection and help keep different areas of the building site tidy.

The parquet floors have been torn out and so this week has been stripped back to it's bare bones.  

The Bolster contractor's crew have also set up an on-site office to make operations run smoothly - see below what the site's HQ looks like!  


Unwanted construction dust is blown out of the apartment building through the duct. 


It's best to shut off certain areas of the building site, to keep the space tidy

  The desk in the site office was built out of an old door and kitchen cabinets. 


The desk in the site office was built out of an old door and kitchen cabinets. 


The on-site selfie

10 Feb 2016

Demolition has begun. Say goodbye to 1990's interiors and hello to a bigger, better use of space!

Take note of how clean and tidy demolition can be. This is essential in any New York City co-op as the building’s alteration agreement will hold the homeowner legally responsible for any damage done to the property and they may lose their security deposit or incur a property damage lawsuit from a neighbor. So for example, Bolster contractors always close of all vents in an apartment before doing demo to protect the neighbors' apartments from becoming engulfed in dust.

05 Feb 2016

This week work began on this exciting UWS apartment combination. The family's existing two bedroom apartment (itself the combination of a one bedroom apartment and studio) will be joined to an adjacent one bedroom apartment, through a long connecting wall. The final area will be 1970 square feet.

Following Bolster's Fair Pricing Method, Bolster contractor Aaron Borenstein was able to save the homeowners around $65,000 in direct costs from the next best bidder and lock-in their construction costs with our Financial Guarantee.

Demolitions will commence Monday, and so, on this post we present the before pictures, which will be a striking contrast to the Level 5 Quality finish (the highest possible). 


This image shows the perspective of the back wall which will be torn down to connect the apartment. 


This is a frontal view of the connecting room 

  View from the connecting wall of the one bedroom apartment


View from the connecting wall of the one bedroom apartment

  Original family kitchen 


Original family kitchen 


Original family kitchen's cabinetry 

Square footage: 1970

Quality grade: Mid-High

Budget range: $750K to $1M

Started: January 2016

Due: August 2016

Status: ❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚❚

About: Bolster is combining two one-bedroom apartments and a studio apartment in a mid century co-op, into a single 1970 square foot 4 bedroom apartment. Located in the heart of the city, the renovated apartment will have a state of the art kitchen, a level 5 quality finish and custom millwork throughout. 

Homeowners: Eric and Allie, a Manhattan based professional couple, with a young family. They want to modernize and grow their existing living space. 

Team: Bolster Contractor Aaron Borenstein of Home Evolutions and Bolster Architect Agustin Ayuso of Ayuso Architecture.