@BrooklynRowHouse

In January 1999, I said goodbye to my downtown loft and moved into an old row house.  While I got it at a terrific price, it took almost a year to close the deal.  Sellers were dying, powers of attorney were dying, people were falling off roofs and my mortgage commitment was days away from expiring.  It was a fitting prologue to the story.

I liked the style of the house but the initial attraction was the attached garage for my bikes. Almost every house on the street, except this one, was well cared for.  The neighborhood was quiet and there was a pretty park at the end of the block, not that I would have time to actually visit it over the next few years.

The house had great bones but suffered from decades of neglect.  I questioned whether or not I had bitten off more than I could chew.  This wouldn't be a rip-and-replace for one thing.  In my youth, I had worked on gut rehabs, which were essentially new construction. My prior home was a 5000 square foot factory space that I'd converted into a residential loft.  I'd designed and built a couple of commercial recording studios.  I had some cabinet and furniture making experience. But I wasn't really sure what to do with an old house, except what I saw on TV.

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Recent posts

“Together they will tackle the renovation of this $6 million, 25,000 square foot Spanish finca and olive grove on the magical island of Ibiza!” Seriously? “The Week” just did a takedown of home reality shows, specifically the very popular House Hunters International. I like this show a lot but mainly for the same reason that I enjoy spending hours watching drivers view videos of trains in the Austrian Alps and ambulances in Amersfoort, Netherlands and Lisbon trams. I love offbeat POV videos with international scenery. I’m not new to the house renovation grind. I’m also a fairly well-traveled person. But no way would I take on projects like some that these shows portray.  That’s okay because I know that these shows are theater and about as truthful as a Trump denial...
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Posted 17 weeks 2 days ago.

If you tackle a house renovation you’re going to acquire tools.  Lots and lots of tools. Some of them will get worked to death and replaced.  Others might only be used for one project then put away never to be touched again, such as was the case with the Makita framing nailer I bought on eBay to build my fences. In the former category is my table saw.  I dispatched my original Ryobi contractor saw to an early grave. I burned out the motor while slicing up some pressure-treated 4x4s barely two years after I got it. I had it fixed under warranty, then delivered to its new owner...
 read more at @BrooklynRowHouse


Posted 18 weeks 4 days ago.

For those who’ve followed my home renovation blog over the past 14 years, you know I’m a computer nerd with some nerdy obsessions. Like home automation. Early in this blog in fact, I talked about how cool my new X10 home automation setup was. Subsequent articles were less flattering, like The Night of the Flashing Lights, when I came home one evening to see all the lights in my house — outside and in — flashing at two second intervals. And my neighbors not knowing whether to call the police, the fire department or an exorcist. And when a power surge blew out half the devices...
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Posted 19 weeks 12 hours ago.

Not the house, the site.  Brooklynrowhouse.com has been running on the Drupal content management system since 2006. But that version(v6)  was really old and was essentially pre-mobile. Google Analytics was giving me grief about the mobile issues.  What really closed the deal for WordPress is that the upgrade path for Drupal has always been painfully steep...
 read more at @BrooklynRowHouse


Posted 19 weeks 3 days ago.

This is an old story but one I should have blogged about three years ago.  I'm kind of surprised it never made it to BrooklynRowHouse. Maybe I was worried about a lawsuit at the time because it involves a very large home improvement supply company, Andersen.  This isn't a knock on the Andersen product -- well, it sort of is -- but a complaint about one of their local franchisees for Renewal by Andersen, a home improvement contracting offshoot, operating in the 631 area code (Long Island). It may be completely unique to this particular franchisee too and for all I know Andersen may have kicked them to the curb by now, and deservedly so. But they're ringing doorbells once again in my Brooklyn neighborhood so beware...
 read more at @BrooklynRowHouse


Posted 1 year 12 weeks ago.

This is an old story but one I should have blogged about three years ago. I’m kind of surprised it never made it to BrooklynRowHouse. Maybe I was worried about a lawsuit at the time because it involves a very large home improvement supply company, Andersen. This isn’t a knock on the Andersen product — well, it sort of is — but a complaint about one of their local franchisees for Renewal by Andersen, a home improvement contracting offshoot, operating in the 631 area code (Long Island). It may be completely unique to this particular franchisee too and for all I know Andersen may have kicked them to the curb by now, and deservedly so. But they’re once again ringing doorbells in my Brooklyn neighborhood so beware...
 read more at @BrooklynRowHouse


Posted 1 year 12 weeks ago.

It's possibly the first crowd-sourced criminal investigation in history leading to federal indictments. Last February, Time/Life war correspondent, Ed Barnes, texted me about a neighborhood blog in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, called Pardon Me For Asking, run by a blogger, Katia Kelly. Katia's blog isn't much different than mine, with the exception that she updates hers a helluva lot more frequently than I do mine. For quite some time Ed had been working the international angles on Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's ex-campaign manager. He focused on Manafort's involvement in the corrupt Ukrainian presidential campaign of big-time embezzler, Viktor Yanukovych, which resulted in corruption charges against Manafort  in the Ukraine...
 read more at @BrooklynRowHouse


Posted 2 years 2 weeks ago.

It’s possibly the first crowd-sourced criminal investigation in history leading to federal indictments and convictions. Last February, a friend of mine, former Time/Life war correspondent, Ed Barnes, texted me about a neighborhood blog in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, called Pardon Me For Asking, run by a blogger, Katia Kelly. Katia’s blog isn’t much different than mine, with the exception that she updates hers a helluva lot more frequently than I do mine. For quite some time Ed had been working the international angles on Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s ex-campaign manager. Ed focused on Manafort’s involvement in the corrupt Ukrainian presidential campaign of big-time embezzler, Viktor Yanukovych, which resulted in corruption and embezzlement charges against Manafort in the Ukraine...
 read more at @BrooklynRowHouse


Posted 2 years 2 weeks ago.

The NJ Tool Show is an annual event that my tool-nut friend and I eagerly anticipate all year. We get to see all the latest innovations in shop tools, from programmable laser cutters that sliced with such precision that they could duplicate a business card in 6 point type in a piece of oak veneer to shade tree inventions that seemed to have no practical use at all. It’s tool porn, no doubt about it. At one of the shows, maybe 2001, I ducked outside into the freezing January weather to grab a smoke — a habit I’m glad to say I kicked many years ago. Outside I met a district rep for a well-known German power tool maker. We chatted about the show and I expressed surprise not to see either Home Depot or Lowes in attendance. After all, both were huge tool retailers in the NYC area...
 read more at @BrooklynRowHouse


Posted 4 years 18 weeks ago.

The NJ Tool Show is an annual event that my tool-nut friend and I eagerly anticipate all year. We get to see all the latest innovations in shop tools, from programmable laser cutters that sliced with such precision that they could duplicate a business card in 6 point type in a piece of oak veneer to shade tree inventions that seemed to have no practical use at all.  It's tool porn, no doubt about it. At one of the shows, maybe 2001, I ducked outside into the freezing January weather to grab a smoke -- a habit I'm glad to say I kicked many years ago. Outside I met a district rep for a well-known German power tool maker. We chatted about the show and I expressed surprise not to see either Home Depot or Lowes in attendance. After all, both were huge tool retailers in the NYC area...
 read more at @BrooklynRowHouse


Posted 4 years 18 weeks ago.