Looking for help with major home renovation project.

I'm looking for a pointer in the right direction. I plan to renovate my home (which is in Brooklyn, NY). The home has been somewhat neglected for many years and I've decided to take out a home equity loan and completely renovate the house.
Additionally, the home is now currently a legal two family, however I would like to convert it to a legal three family and use some of the rent to pay off the mortgage.
There's one big problem though, I have no idea where to start. Do I call in an architect first? Do I get a GC to look at the house first? Do I get the loan first? The house is owned free and clear, so getting the loan will not be a problem, but maybe I should see how much I could get first? Please post any advice, personal stories that you think would help. Thanks.
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The first thing I would do is find a GC who neighbors have used and you can check out. One that often uses an engineer to check stuff would be a good sign.

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first?
getting
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No One wrote:

First step, go to your local library. Look for some books on remodelling to get ideas. Also look for some books on how to deal with contractors. And finally, get some books to learn how to contract it yourself. These will give you the information you need to effectively deal with this kind of project.
Note on the last one, I'm not saying you should or should not contract it yourself. By learning the process, you are better able to select and interact with a contractor.
You might also want to contact your local building inspection office to confirm you can even make this change.
Chuck
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Start with city hall, and find out if you're even allowed to DO a 3-Unit. Then find out what 3-units in your area are selling for, and get your current building appraised, to find out whether what you're proposing to do makes any economic sense at all. Presumably, you already know what rental rates are in the area. If you want the mortgage to be no more than 80% the current value of the building, and the payments to be no more than the expected rent-income, that gives you a rough idea of your budget, which either a contractor or an architect will want before they can really talk to you, anyway.
After that, whether you want a GC or an architect depends mostly on your own ability and willingness to make, explain, defend, and live with your own design choices.
Where are you planning to live while all this is going on?
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wrote:

In your place, I would start with the building department. What requirements will you have to meet? Is triple occupancy legal in your neighbourhood?
They may be able to help you find other, completed remodels similar to what you're thinking of. Alternatively, you might stroll around the neighbourhood and schmooze. (Amazing what you'll find.)
By that time, you know 1) whether you can do it and 2) whether you'll be adding on to the building or just moving walls around.
Then you're ready for a contractor, designer or architect.
If it's a fairly straightforward remodel, I'd look for a contractor who has a tame engineer available. Be prepared to pay for their time, but it's cheaper than hiring a designer or architect. (My bias is showing here -- I'm a contractor and I work with architects and designers -- my experience is that they can be both extravagent and esoteric. But that's just my experience.)
Ken
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No One wrote:

Architect first? Not at all if you can help it. Let the GC deal with anything that needs to be sent to an architect.
Basically, from my experience, the GC will provide better advice and will have a better handle on costs, so can work in your budget.
The architect we engaged drew a plan which quoted out at THREE times our stated budget. One of the GC's did a re-draw that came in closer to our budget, and the architect ended up using his ideas. All this running around took almost a year. What a waste of time and money for us.
RS
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I agree completely. In my experience architects have no comprehension of cost.
RB
Rob S wrote:

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I guess the responses you've gotten are not from New York City people. In your case, you clearly have to start with an architect or engineer. Most likely zoning isn't a problem, but your construction type might no longer allow for conversion to a 3 family home. Plus the safety requirements for a 3 family (multiple dwelling in NYC) are much higher than on ones and twos. There are many changes that you might have to make to the entire house to allow for its use as a 3 family. An architect/engineer who specializes in this stuff should be able to give you a consult at a reasonable price. You will not get any help from the Buildings Department. They will simply tell you to contact an architect/engineer. Once you know this, you will be in a better position to determine what you want to do.
--
Peace,
BobJ


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BobJ,
Thank you for your response. You are exactly correct. I made the mistake of calling the Buildings Department and was told to contact an architect, just as you noted. Some help! But, how would you recommend that I go about actually FINDING an architect that I can trust? I really don't want to go to the Yellow Pages. Should I ask neighbors whom have had work done? Any web sites that you know of that might help me find an architect in the Brooklyn/NYC area? Thanks much.
-James
On Fri, 09 Jan 2004 15:19:33 GMT, "Marilyn and Bob"

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No One wrote:

There have to be newsgroups local to NYC. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and there is a ba.* hierarchy. Perhaps you could ask there.
--
I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. - Mother Teresa
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Ask neighbors, ask at the local 'real' lumberyards who the local rehab contractors are, and then ask THEM the names of the designers they work with. Building dept, snotty though they are, could probably show you the names of who stamped the plans for projects in your 'hood. Remind them gently that that is all public record. Make friends with one of the blue-hair ladies- they love to show off their expertise.
aem sends...
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We talked to the bank first to get an idea of how much a loan we could get, then sat down with an architect recommended by a builder we knew and liked. My husband (who is an engineer) came up with some initial plans and then we handed them to the architect to complete them. The architect took a very long time so in the meantime, we sat down with a few contractors and got some extremely "ballpark" figures, then went ahead and got the loan (which also took some time.) We just sat on the equity line until the architect finished, then we went ahead with the formal bidding process with three contractors. We wound up going with a different contractor than the one we originally thought we would choose due to scheduling. We waited more than six months for the architect to do his thing, and by then our original builder wasn't going to get ours done before winter. It helps when you sit down with a contractor to know exactly how much money you have and if you already have the financing complete, it might get a builder to put you at the top of the list. One of our contractors basically said when he's trying to schedule his next job, he looks for who has financing complete and plans in hand and is ready to go. The only down side is that interest rates fell and home values rose while we waited (a year and a half from when we got our loan to the actual start of construction). So our equity line could have been larger and with better terms if we had delayed it, but at least it was one part out of the way, because there are so many details and considerations once you start, it can really be overwhelming. -Holly (who is about 90 percent completed on a renovation that was supposed to be done by the end of October....)

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