ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Renovate a Townhouse in Brooklyn Volume 1 Edition 7

Updated on August 10, 2020

Hurry Up and Take Your Time

Soon after becoming homeowners of a rather large old, Brooklyn brownstone townhouse, Hubbie and I were anxious to start work. We were prepared to wait for the famously slow Landmarks Preservation and Department of Buildings approvals processes. But, being the new owners of 112-year old single-family house in LPG was too delicious to believe, and we wanted to know what portion of the work we could begin ourselves.

As it turns out, there’s plenty.

It’s a good idea to start by making a house secure. Hubbie and I won't occupy the property for another four to six months, so it’s important that the house be completely secure. The first tradesman to service the house was a locksmith who replaced the tumblers on all of the exterior doors and reconfigured the basement lock. Hubbie and also installed curtains in eight of the windows and put a lamp on a timer to turn on when the sun goes down. In a new house, in any house, it’s all about safety and being sealed from the outside.

Another matter of security was reigning in the wildly overgrown front yard. There, in the spread of lumpy dirt and copious weeds, we discovered a generous portion of plants and bushes that had escaped our attention The yard itself measures 15 by 15 feet, and it gets a good amount of sun. There are a dozen hostas and a flower that resembles Echinacea, along with a red rose plant, a pink hydrangea, and a series of stout sturdy bushes to block the view from the sidewalk. The weeds have to go, but the other plants cant stay.

Once we had the house sealed and the front yard under control, Hubbie and decided to take a stab at cleaning the place. We bought a box of contractor bags, put on the civilian equivalent of a haz-mat suit, and started throwing things away.

Here is a partial inventory of what we found:

28 air fresheners

2 brooms and 2 dustpans, broken

3 walking canes

8 oversized radiator-covers, all sticky

1 severed baby-doll head inside the crawl space

Various colors of half-eaten crayons

Approximately 2 cups of hairpins, barrettes and hair accessories

1 rusted scythe

A pitchfork and a shovel from circa 1920

Half a dozen cans of paint and wood enamel

Straws, newspapers and take-out menus stuffed behind the radiators

100 pounds of dirt (approx.)

When Hubbie and I first looked at the house there had been some mystery concerning the floors in the basement.

“Is that a dirt floor down there?” I asked Hubbie one evening late in summer.

It seems unlikely that a functioning house in the middle of New York City could have dirt floors, but in our search through the boroughs we had seen houses without roofs, sub-floors or back walls, so the idea of a dirt floor was not entirely far-fetched.

With our “haz-mat” suits fully sealed, we headed down the stairs to the dark basement space to start in our clean up. What we found was something of a revelation.

The floors of the basement are not made of dirt-they in fact are composed of durable and high-quality concrete that is covered in a seemingly endless quantity of dirt so fine and so abundant that only a series of dusting, sweeping and mopping episodes will not even begin to make an impact. Beyond that, it seems that a prior owner attempted to do some work in the basement that consisted primarily of purchasing and partially mixing what added up to about eight 50-pound bags of cement. In the end, it seems that the owner did not get much further than spilling most of the dry cement all over the floors such that what appeared to be a dirt-floor was actually a cement floor covered in copious amounts of super fine, unrelenting inches thick, dust.

Ditto for the floors and even the walls upstairs.

The good news is that little damage was done to the house and a little can’t hurt. Even if it’s a lot.

The other thing that Hubbie and I discovered, is that we have more space than we realized. As it turns out, tucked in the back of the basement is an entire 400-square foot room with a standard ceiling and three windows facing the back yard. We can use the room as a home gym and not even have to sweat the fact that we have to cancel our gym memberships in order to afford the mortgage, at least for the time being. In all, we have almost 3,000 square feet of livable space, far more than we set out looking for, but enough that we can create a space that meets each and every one of our needs.

After outlays of great amounts of cash and even greater degrees of anxiety, our expediter informed us that we had received the Landmarks Preservation Commission approval on the first of the month.

Now, on to the DOB.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)