Rental Apartment Gets Flipped in New York City

With years of experience in real estate, Tom Bencivengo knew exactly what he was looking for when he purchased a multi-family apartment building in the hip Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. He wanted a space that was in need of repair.

The first unit to get a gut remodel was a one-bedroom apartment on the first floor of the building. While Tom had no trouble renting out this remodeled apartment, the original space was in bad shape. "Nothing was worth saving," he says.

Tom Bencivengo stands in the bedroom of his newly renovated rental unit.

We found dog bones in the wall — weird.
Tom found that budgeting for his first renovation was difficult, due to surprises he uncovered during the project. For starters, many of the floor joists were rotting and had to be replaced.

Tom completed the entire remodel of the rental unit for about $35,000. "This was my first renovation project, so there were a lot of things I missed budget-wise at first, and it was hard to anticipate costs on things like the bathroom," says Tom.

The biggest surprise from his first remodel may have been discovering everything costs more than you think "We also found dog bones in the wall — weird," says Tom. Another unexpected surprise was finding many of the floor joists were rotting and had to be replaced.


The Scope of the Remodel Project

As Tom put it, this apartment got "the works."

  • Expose the brick wall behind the old drywall
  • Gut the ceiling and walls
  • Add new insulation and drywall
  • Install new appliances
  • Remove the flooring down to the subfloor
  • Install new hardwood floor
  • Add new cabinets in kitchen
  • Install tilework and fixtures in bathroom

The remodel transformed the unit from a dark railroad layout to a light-filled, open apartment. And first impressions are everything in the rental world.

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