The Winning Bid

Here’s how much it costs to gut renovate a 1,000-square foot 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom Upper West Side co-op

Share this Article

Margaret (name changed), a successful Manhattan-based executive, had been living in her 1,000-square foot Upper West Side co-op for fifteen years when she decided it was time to renovate. From afar, her two-bedroom, two-bath apartment was in generally good condition, but upon closer inspection, it became clear that many elements of the space were in need of repair: The radiator covers were rusted, for instance, the kitchen cabinet doors and living room cabinets were constantly falling apart, and the paint on the walls was chipping, a series of annoyances that accumulated into major frustration.

Margaret began with a budget of $250,000 in mind, and hired Bolster, a New York City company that has designed a transparent and enjoyable process for area homeowners doing major renovations, to help her determine how best to tackle the upgrades her home needed.  Bolster professionals visited her home and then produced a detailed Cost Report analyzing what it would take to fix all the existing problems, and estimated that the project would cost a minimum of $248,481 ($248 PSF) and a maximum of $323,427 ($323 PSF). 

Margaret opted to do a full gut, treating her entire home to a high-end facelift. She reasoned that she intended to live in her apartment for many years to come and wanted to transform it to better match her classic sense of style. She engaged Bolster Architect Agustin Ayuso to create sketches based on this plan. Then, using Ayuso’s sketches, Bolster contractor Aaron Borenstein supplied a bid of $266,685 ($266 per square foot) to gut renovate the abode. (Click here to view the detailed bid in full.)

Read on to learn more about what will go into Margaret’s home upgrade.

Deciding to take the plunge—and collaborating with the architect and designer

Margaret’s next hurdle was to determine which design direction her project would take. Having already lived in her apartment for 15 years, she had grown to appreciate its existing rectangular, semi-open plan layout. And because the renovation would not be driven by an urgent need, it was challenging to determine where to focus her attention.

We often hesitate before treating ourselves to gifts, but after a series of meetings with Ayuso, Margaret was able to identify construction challenges—like the need for an overhaul of the cabinetry and the plumbing—as well as opportunities for stylish improvements. 

After consulting with Margaret, Ayuso worked on creating a design that would reflect her elegant and understated taste. Rather than changing the floor plan, the architect focused on detailed, luxurious upgrades, and offered suggestions on items like tiles and countertops. After Margaret decided on most of these, she engaged an interior designer to help with a final analysis of the specifications.

The fees for engaging Ayuso will amount to $38,606, which covers his conducting a survey of the property—including taking detailed measurements and photos—creating sketches, revisions, and a schematic design, and overseeing the process of getting approval from Margaret’s co-op board and the Department of Buildings. Furthermore, Ayuso will provide oversight of the project once it’s underway ($5,889), making visits twice a week to ensure everything is built in accordance with his design, making adjustments as needed if requested by the contractor and building management.

Revamping the kitchen and bathrooms

The work will begin with a demolition and removal of kitchen cabinetry, counters, appliances, fixtures, and plaster ($3,500); the plumbing will be removed back to the risers (the pipes that supply the entire building) and new rough plumbing will be installed ($5,500.)

Once that’s completed, the Bolster team will turn to electrical, installing new outlets, switches, and LED lighting ($3,500), cabinetry ($21,000), stone countertops ($4,500), and tile backsplash ($2,300). Margaret has selected luxe, brand-name materials such as the high end line of Kohler, and the same goes for her new appliances: a Gaggenau fridge and Viking stove and range with super white Carrara marble tiles ($9,200); Bolster Co-Founder Anna Karp says that once completed, the kitchen will shine thanks to its bespoke, feminine new look.

The bathrooms will undergo a similar demolition, and installation of new plumbing ($11,500); upgrades will include both soundproofing ($500) and waterproofing ($800) of the shower stall walls and floor. The shower stall will also get high-quality, white Carrara marble tiles ($2,250) and a sliding glass door ($1,600). Supplying and installing new medicine cabinets, vanities, and faucets will amount to $4,250.

Throughout the room, a level 5 finish—that is, multiple layers of spackle, primer, and paint that make for a finish with no visible imperfections—will be applied ($3,000).

A member of the Bolster team on site at Margaret's renovation. 

Determining the woodwork

Margaret selected many of the details herself, choosing to splash out and make the most of her renovation. One of the big-ticket items on the final bid is the cabinetry: In the early stages of planning, Margaret learned that the existing cabinetry, which occupies a large area of the apartment, had deteriorated and needed a complete overhaul. Seeing an opportunity to go beyond a quick fix and change the status quo of her home, she decided to upgrade to higher-quality products.

To this end, the current built-in cabinets will be demolished and removed, and new, custom cabinetry installed in the living area ($24,441) and two bedrooms ($23,305). The shelves will all contain bespoke millwork, built with LED lights to illuminate the books and photographs on display.

Other high-end details include spackling and re-caulking the existing crown moldings, and painting walls white and moldings in a pearl finish ($12,350). A level-5 finish will also be applied throughout the apartment ($6,708).

One area of savings is the flooring: Rather than replace the existing hardwood floors in the kitchen, living room, hallway, and bedrooms which could have cost between $14,000 and $20,000 dollars. Margaret opted to restore them via sanding, staining, and sealing ($6,500).

Nevertheless, this is a luxury renovation, one that Margaret felt confident in pursuing once armed with Bolster’s reliable pricing information about the options available to her.

“She has afforded herself that luxury because she knows we have her back and she thoroughly understands the process,” Bolster’s Karp says.

Every year, New Yorkers waste over $700M following the usual renovation process. Bolster is different, using a scientific approach to match you with the highest-quality professionals and financially guarantee your project is delivered beautifully for a fair price - all at no extra cost.

To start your major home renovation project, visit 

More from Bolster:

More articles in The Winning Bid series 

Here's how much it costs to renovate and expand a house in Hudson Valley, N.Y 

Here's how much it costs to renovate a rooftop terrace in New York City

Why are high-end bathrooms so low-tech? 

Here's how long it takes to gut renovate a three-bedroom apartment in NYC

Should you hire an architect or a contractor first? 

How to find a great contractor in NYC