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Front Porch is a real estate company that wants you to know stuff. Really.

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Can I refinance my co-op without getting board approval? Would they even know?

 Your co-op always knows when you refinance, here’s why:
When you buy into a co-op, you buy shares of stock in the corporation that controls the building. The corporation has a right to know who’s holding their stock, so if you pledge it to a bank for a mortgage, the bank makes the co-op sign a piece of paper that we call a “recognition agreement” — or more informally, an “Aztech” since that’s who makes the standard form — saying, “yes, we know buyer XX has pledged their shares over to lender ZZ, and we understand that if buyer XX doesn’t pay his/her mortgage, lender ZZ is going to take possession of those shares of stock, and we’re okay with that.”

If you’ve pledged 50 shares of stock in return for a $100K loan, the board of the co-op (or possibly the managing agent of the co-op, acting for the board) signed a recognition agreement before you closed. If you want to refi and instead pledge your 50 shares of stock for a $120K loan, there’s going to have to be a new recognition agreement that the co-op will have to sign. So they’ll know.

Some (looser) co-op will just sort of blithely sign, but most will make you file an application that they’ll want to approve — and they’ll have fees attached to the process. Sorry.

Posted 11 years, 6 months ago at 8:41 am.

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How do I update a junky and disgusting kitchen floor?

Time Out New York came up with a great solution in the October 16th Home Design issue — install a portable dance floor from SnapLock over it.

It’s essentially tile like Flor tile, but with a little more pop — and, according to TONY, waterproof and thus suitable for a kitchen.

Writer Billie Cohen used SnapLock, which costs $5.99 per square-foot tile, plus $1.99 per linear-foot edging.

Posted 11 years, 10 months ago at 11:33 am.

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How does a new condo price a bathroom?

From a story Lauren Elkies did for The Real Deal. The magazine’s June 2008 issue showcases HJ Development’s 211 East 51st Street, #4D, a 505-square foot condo, and the devleoper was nice enough to price items, which don’t include labor:

Vanity (Polished chrome with a 3/4-inch Bianco Dolomiti marble slab, and custom-made wall-hung medicine cabinet): $4,000

Shower door (Frameless glass with polished chrome towel bar): $3,000

Wall tile, accent (Fireclay 3 by 5s, gray): $2,000

Wall tile, shower (White crackle ceramic tile): $1,600

Floor tile (Marble mosaic tile, Bianco Dolomiti): $1,300

Shower curb (Bianco Dolomiti marble slab, looks about 5″ high): $450

Showerhead (Kohler rain in polished chrome): $400

Sink (Kohler Kathryn undercounter): $350

Toilet (Toto): $330

Sink faucet and handles (Kohler stillness in polished chrome): $280

Robe hook (Vola in polished chrome): $200

Toilet paper holder (Vola in polished chrome): $175

Posted 12 years, 1 month ago at 12:49 pm.

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How does a new condo price a kitchen?

The developer-supplied numbers for 211 East 51st Street, from a story by Lauren Elkies in this month’s Real Deal:

Cabinets (custom-made): $13,000

Refrigerator (Northland stainless steel top mount freezer): $4,200

Oven (Bosch stainless steel electric wall oven): $1,900

Floor tile (honed Limestone): $1,200

Dishwasher (Bosch Integra 800 series): $1,100

Backsplash: Stainless steel metal tile: $1,000

Sink: Franke undermount stainless steel: $950

Cooktop: Bosch stainless-steel four-burner gas cooktop: $900

Posted 12 years, 1 month ago at 12:33 pm.

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We’re designing a breakfast nook, how much space do we need?

Conventionally, you need at least three feet to walk past somebody — but you might want to add a little space in a kitchen, where you might be carrying a hot tray.

Or as the National Kitchen and Bath Association planning guidelines put it: “36 inches to edge past somebody, and 44 inches to walk past.”

For a tabletop that is 30 inches high, you’ll also want to allow an 18-inch deep space for each eater’s knees. You can get away with a little less knee space for high bar stools.
The best way, I think, is to take cardboard or kraft paper and make shapes representing your table and chairs and play with it on the floor.

If you want the full NKBA guidelines, they are here , courtesy of kitchens.com

Posted 12 years, 8 months ago at 11:10 am.

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We want to replace our floor, where do we get hardwood flooring?

I would start with the installer — there is probably someone who your super knows who does most of the floors in your building. To check prices, you could go to a discounter such as Lumber Liquidators (if you’re in NYC) or Floor and Decor Outlet (if you’re in the Sunbelt.)

I am not a big fan of engineered floors because I think they can buckle and scratch easily. Bamboo is favored by many greenies, but it is also soft and prone to dents.

Whatever you pick, make sure it is shipped to your apartment and sits there for a while before installation. This is known as “curing” — the process of bringing the humidity of the wood to the humidity of the installation site — and it will prevent a lot of problems with warping later.

Posted 12 years, 10 months ago at 8:08 am.

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It’s raining inside. How much is it going to cost me to get my roof fixed?

Roofers, like painters, quote their prices in terms of the area to be covered.

The standard measure for a roofer is a “square” — that is equivalent to 100 square feet.
When you are trying to compare on price, you can each roofer how much they charge per square, so that you are comparing apples to apples.

If you want to estimate the size of your roof yourself, check out this website to help you with your measurements.

Usually the roofer’s estimate comes in pretty close. When I had the roof on the beach house done, the estimate given was $250 a square (this is for a 30-year-shingle roof; the red Spanish tiles on my 1920s house were long gone) for $5,250. The job, which included a little bit of work on the garage, turned out to be $5,700.

Posted 13 years ago at 5:04 pm.

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Who cleans Lou Reed’s windows?

You were dying to know, right? An April article in Downtown Express, one of our favorite papers, tells us the answer: Harlem’s own Expert Window Cleaners.

Owner Brent Weingard is a certified , no kidding, window cleaner, and his firm (which unfortunately doesn’t have a web site, they must be out cleaning glass) can be reached at 212/673-3558.

Posted 13 years, 3 months ago at 9:29 am.

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I have a remodeling project I want to do. How do I figure out if it makes financial sense?

In a May 2004 issue of Smart Money, Chris Taylor came up with the greatest phrase: “Upgrade Nation.”

And that’s what we are, buying fancier and fancier homes.

If you’re remodeling, one place to start is to estimate the cost of your project. Go to this estimator site run by HomeTech Information Systems — you can plug in your zip code and your project, and it’ll give you a ballpark figure of what it’s going to cost you.

If you want to know what the payoff is, you might want to look at a “cost vs. value” report — we used to do them at the Post, I think This Old House magazine runs them, and Remodeling certainly does. They will help you drill down below the “kitchens and bathrooms always pay off” rule of thumb.

Happy renovating!

Posted 13 years, 5 months ago at 5:19 pm.

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Can I put window gates on a fire escape window?

Legally, you must put guards on your windows in you have a child under 10 in your apartment . . . but you’re also not supposed to block a fire-escape.

The solution is window gates with a finger latch — you have to push your finger up and in to release the latch, so it takes an adult to do it, but you can work them in the dark, which is important for fire safety.

Two providers to check out: Artie’s Hardware in the Village and Manhattan Gates & Locksmiths at 2449 Broadway (in the Nineties) on the Upper West Side.

Expect to pay $300 and up for a custom-fitted gate, but the peace of mind is worth it.

Posted 13 years, 5 months ago at 5:57 pm.

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