NYC Renovation Chronicles

NYC Renovation Chronicles: Seriously blinged-out apartment features (and how you can copy them)

By Yoel Borgenicht  | February 15, 2012 - 7:35AM

As a contractor working in New York City, I get to see a lot of extravagant homes and furnishings where price is not a concern.

Below is a list of some eye-popping projects I have worked on, and some more cost effective options for us mere mortals.

1. Private elevator 

If you have a duplex penthouse and the steps to the roof deck are becoming a bit too much of a schlep, you simply install a residential elevator.  But it doesn't come cheap--approximately $100,000 for the engineering, shaft construction, equipment and city inspections. In this particular instance, the elevator we installed was used primarily to bring up bags of ice for drinks.

For mere mortals: An electric or even pulley-operated dumbwaiter will do a great job bringing laundry or other items to a different floor, and they cost a fraction of the price of a private elevator. Expect to pay $5,000 and up.

2. Swimming pool

If you have several hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around and an 19th century townhouse mansion, why not install a swimming pool in your cellar? In one townhouse we worked in, the owner installed a jacuzzi too.

For mere mortals: Install a jacuzzi bathtub or walk in shower with massaging jets in your bathroom. A project like this requires a NYC licensed general contractor and licensed plumber. Expect to pay $10,000 and up. 

3. Skylights

In New York, natural light is a precious commodity. If you are lucky enough to be on the top floor of your building, you can install skylights to flood your home with light. Framing skylights in concrete or wood roofs requires specialized skill and detailed drawings.

For one of our clients, we just installed a custom-fabricated $40,000 skylight that is so strong her kids can safely walk across its flat surface.

For mere mortals: You can purchase light tunnel skylights, which bring in light through a tubular shaft but are smaller and cheaper than skylights. One quality firm that sells them is Velux

Due to its small size, it can be inserted between roof beams without re-framing them, but it also brings in less light than a standard-sized skylight.

Make sure the contractor you hire is certified by the specific skylight manufacturer. You do not want an amateur installing any type of skylight due to the structural nature of the work. Expect to pay $2,500 and up for the skylight and installation.

4. One-piece stone toilet

We recently installed a handmade Italian one-piece granite toilet for our client’s master bathroom. The cost of the toilet, shipping and installation was $50,000. (It was a true work of art, and made our client feel like he was sitting on a throne).

For mere mortals: Standard toilets from Home Depot start at $88 and work fine. If you want a fancy toilet but do not have limitless funds, try a wall hung toilet, which looks chic and is easy to clean underneath (because it doesn't touch the floor) or one piece toilet from $200 and up. Make sure you use a licensed NYC plumber for the toilet installation to avoid any costly leaks. Usually the installation will cost somewhere around $250.

Yoel Borgenicht is the president of King Rose Construction, specializing in residential and commercial renovations in the New York City metro area.

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