Restoring a house

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Home Renovation November 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Restoring a house

My husband and I are photographers living in Brooklyn and recently started to think about moving to the area. We love the idea of buying a house with good bones that needs to be restored so we can make it look exactly how we want. A couple of questions – what areas would you recommend looking in? Are there any sites or posts about people who have renovated houses? Would love to get an idea of how long things took and how much was spent just to get some rough figures.


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There are a great deal of photographers who have moved to Newburgh recently. You’ll be in good company. There is literally a ton of wealth on this blog that can answer all your questions. This is the only site about the City of Newburgh that chronicles everything that is happening. I share renovation stories when the owners are willing to share. So if you move to Newburgh, please share your story with Newburgh Restoration! Very rarely has anyone shared the costs of their renovation. You can find homeowner stories in the following topics (drop down option just above blog posts):
Home Renovation Adventures
Meet a Newburgher

As far as good areas to buy, your efforts will be more rewarding if you pick an area that is already seeing concentration of other residents doing the same thing. I would say these are the places to start with:
The Heights (they have a good neighborhood association)
-Anything near Washington’s HQ
-Liberty Street (especially near WHQ) or Broadway
– Montgomery, Grand, Liberty Streets (MGL)
– Colonial Terraces
– Washington St, Ann St, Spring, E. Parmenter
– Anything near waterfront with a view
– Chambers in between Broadway and 1st
Quality Row
-Dubois St in front of Downing Park

As far as the cost of renovations go, there are 3 types of properties in Newburgh 1)those that are vacant and need gut renovations 2)those that are habitable, you can live in it as you do work 3)turn key. Most of these houses are over 100 years old. So unless it was recently renovated you can count on work needing to be done. Location and condition determine price. It also depends how much of the work you are willing to do yourself. Let me know if you have more questions.

Hi welcome

I restored my home it was a complete Reno. I bought my home using a 203k loan this loan which is regulated through hud gives you the money to purchase and renovate your home all with one loan. Wells Fargo and Bank of America do offer this type of loan. It took approx 4 months to complete the Reno. Also with this loan you can convert a home that was split up into apartments back to a one family or take a building with apartments and renovate as well. Their is a process to it to make sure the work is getting done the require you to have a hud inspector who will come to the property and document & take pictures of the progress. You can take a look at my home online 21 johnes st Newburgh to see the end results…best of luck

I agree with Cher’s comments. There are several ways to approach this question. A lot of the cost depends on how much work you are willing and capable of doing yourselves and what level you buy at. We renovated a house on Grand Street with a combination of our work and the work of others. We hired people to do things like updating the electric, refinishing the floors and renovating a bathroom, but I learned from a friend how to repair plaster correctly myself, stripped and repainted the radiators, stripped and painted the moldings and painted the rooms. It took me about 6 weeks to do each room (perfectionist). It also helped that my husband and myself are both architect/designers. Ours had been a halfway house with about 10 smokers living in it (1990’s). When we moved in with our two small children, there was rat poison spread all over the house. It took three weeks and several dumpsters just to clean it enough to live in. It was pretty depressing. We refinished the floors in the bedrooms first and that somehow made it bearable. The kitchen was so disgusting that we ripped it out and I cooked on a hot plate in the dining room for a year until we could afford to build our dream kitchen. The garden was also a sea of weeds and poison ivy and it took a day to cut up the plastic turf in the yard. In the end it was a 6 year project but if we had had money to invest in it up front, it could have been finished in a year. Since most of the city is registered as a historic district, you can also look into doing a restoration for historic tax credits on most of the buildings. It’s a long involved process, but if you go that route, don’t start working until you have researched it. It’s run through the state parks department, and there are several people in town that have experience with the process. Another option that Cher didn’t mention, is buying something that has an apartment that you could rent out or live in while having the house worked on and then rent out. Some of those houses are legal two families, and if you are dealing with a 3-4,000 sq foot house or larger as many of them are, it could help offset some of the cost. Good luck with your search. It sounds like you are doing your research.

DC15 – There are a lot of great answers posted above and this site has an amazing list of assets, links and references, so I’ll just chip in with my own 2¢ – It will take a lot of blood, sweat and tears but the journey will be worth every step. Hope you jump in and enjoy the ride…

Check out the northeast end around Mount St.Mary college and Downing park, i.e. City Terrace North has a few vacant homes and recent buyers have been renovating. The area is mostly owner occupied and still within walking distance to the ‘scene’. There are a lot of vacant houses for sale that do not have a sign on the lawn. A historic district has restorations guidelines to be met, which can be costly, i.e. a slate roof versus a ‘like kind’ alternative. I live one street off the historic district although my house is dated 1934. I had to replace the slate roof just after moving in. I special ordered fiberglass shingles and had a local installer do the job. I chose to use copper flashing as well. This alternative paid for a new gas boiler. So, there’s a trade off. Cost? It cost x times more to add an electrical receptacle in an interior plaster or brick wall (my exterior walls are two layers of brick). An old bathroom floor may require removing several inches of mortar to run new pipes. Replacing a section of woodwork to match existing requires custom milling. I have an architectural design & construction background with access to equipment and knowledge so I’m not the typical diy. Point being, I saved $’s as I would not have been able to afford myself. That said, old house renovations require care of distinct aspects so you’ll be pressed to find an experienced mechanic, literally a dying breed. In my experience they don’t advertise either so ‘word of mouth’ is the way to go. Fwiw, don’t be shy about taking on the grunt work and asking for a cash discount. It may be out of vogue, but you want to develop a relationship with your renovator. It’ll be worth every penny…’quality remains long after the price is forgotten’. As professionals you can appreciate that and Newburgh needs to start raising the bar. Take care.

Hi Avaughnpr,
I am wondering who you used as a contractor for your FHA 203K and what you thought of them. My wife and I are interested in buying a house through this program in the area and we will be needing a great contractor.


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