For many New Yorkers, a brownstone is the ideal home, not only for its beauty and historic  charm, but also for the potential to expand it into the kind of private, spacious property not typically found in our cramped city. Homeowners Carl and Julia found themselves facing just such an opportunity when they purchased a turn of the century four-story brownstone in a landmarked area of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

“From the moment we stepped into the house we knew it had potential. We have a growing family, plus we want a space where we could easily accommodate visiting friends and relatives,” said Julia, a successful Manhattan jeweler. She was immediately drawn to some of the quaint original details of the house and wants to preserve them as much as possible.

Their vision—to gut renovate and add a two-story addition to the rear of the property—was clear. The question now was how to ensure their investment in a major renovation was a smart one that would add substantial value to their brownstone for years to come.

The couple reached out to Bolster, a New York City based renovation company that uses a proprietary data-driven estimating tool to provide homeowners with an accurate estimate of overall costs. This is no small feat, given that half of the renovation projects in the US go 40% to 200% over budget. Any additional concerns Carl and Julia had were quickly put to rest once they learned about Bolster’s zero-risk guarantee; a financial guarantee of the delivery of their renovation exactly as promised. Basically, any delays or cost overruns are absorbed 100% by Bolster.

“Bolster’s design-build process emphasizes planning and due diligence before breaking ground. Our expert build team, along with our designers, architects and engineers are onboard at the very start of every project. It is all about eliminating inefficiencies and surprises that come with major renovations like this one. Homeowners find that very empowering,” explains Bolster Co-founder Anna Karp.

Pro Tip:

Whether you're renovating a two-bedroom prewar co-op or a 4,000-square-foot brownstone, Bolster guarantees a beautifully designed home renovation risk-free and on-budget. "Expect flawless communication, white-glove service, and absolutely no surprise costs," says Bolster's CEO and co-founder Anna Karp. Ready to start your renovation? Learn more >>

The Bolster pre-estimate came just shy of $2 million at $1,946,439 or $385 per square foot. The entire project will take twelve months to complete.

Here is a laundry list of items that made up Carl and Julia’s brownstone full gut renovation and two-story addition followed by a pre-estimate provided to the couple from the Bolster team.

More space, more value

At 2,800 square feet, the home was already roomy, however once the two-story addition is completed Carl and Julia’s brownstone will boast an additional 580 square feet of living space, bringing the house’s full foot print to an expansive 3,380 square feet. Given that the current median price per square foot in Brooklyn sits at $763, Carl and Julia can expect the value of their home to sit

comfortably at the high end of the market for some time to come.

The Bolster team also guided the homeowners on how to best optimize the layout of the space, prescribing a full gut renovation that would essentially address quirky and  impractical elements of the current layout, like the kitchen that was oddly placed on the third floor and sat right above the bedrooms on the second floor. The new layout would see the Bolster build team relocating the kitchen from the third floor down to the parlor level and expanding it, increasing the size of the dining room, adding a rooftop terrace, and creating a private guest apartment on the garden level. There will also be a full update of the property’s HVAC system and an extensive reconfiguration of the service area in the basement.

“The end result is going to be a beautiful space that’s been carefully thought out and well-designed. They are going to get great use out of this space,” says Chris Amplo, the Bolster build manager responsible for the build phase of the renovation.

On the garden level, the expansion will create a separate apartment, complete with a full kitchen, a large family room, full bathroom and powder room, two bedrooms, and accordion doors that open directly onto the back patio. The installation of a room divider system from Raydoor will allow the homeowners to open and close this part of the house as needed. And even with the addition, the homeowners will still retain some outdoor space, a 600-square-foot backyard will provide coveted green space.

The expansion of the parlor level will further boost the value of the home. The parlor floor plan now includes a large kitchen with a moveable island and new, high-end appliances, as well as a separate dining area with a wet bar for entertaining.

On the second floor, the master suite will undergo a luxurious redesign; outfitted with built-in cabinetry, a spacious walk in closet, vanity with double sinks, and a steam shower with a custom door. The remainder of the space on this level will be made into a study.

The top floor will be devoted to space for the couple’s two children, with a bedroom in front for their son and another in the back for their daughter, plus a shared full bathroom in the hallway. A laundry room with a washer and dryer will also be added.

Finally, additional storage space will be thoughtfully executed  throughout the property will further increasing it’s the value, while making intelligent use of the new square footage and upping the convenience factor for the family.  

Given the heavy lifting done up front, including extensive planning, -it took six months, design, navigating engineering and bureaucratic hurdles, landmarked buildings are notoriously troublesome when it comes to clearances and permits from New York’s Dept of Buildings and Landmarks Preservation Commission. Bolster sorted all of that. Plus armed with Bolster’s zero risk guarantee, Carl and Julia are confident that their renovation will be delivered on time and on budget, and will bare all the hallmarks of ease, comfort and value befitting an elegantly updated Brooklyn brownstone.

The Bolster Smart Renovation Zero-Risk Guarantee

How can a design-build firm guarantee a Zero-Risk renovation?

Bolster has pioneered Smart Renovation. We apply quantitative analysis along with our  proprietary technology solution to identify and quantify the performance risk on every renovation project. The result is a personalized strategic approach to each renovation that allows us to absorb 100% of the homeowner’s risk. Your home will be beautifully designed, and delivered on-time and on-budget.  That is our guarantee.

Smart Renovation & Zero-Risk means that Homeowners are now free to dream.

To start your major home renovation project visit

The Bolster Promise video

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