The people and companies on this page come with strong recommendations. I used to have a broader list but I realized it wasn’t fair to recommend someone unless I have gone to completion on a project with them and would definitely use them again.

Real Estate Lawyers

  • Bernd Allen – – (212) 353-0040 x234 – our real estate lawyer (since ’98) – can’t say enough good stuff about him – DECADES of experience, well known and well respected, tough when he needs to be

Insurance Agents

  • David Bodanski – – (212) 561-8990 x201 – knows creative ways to insure shells (can save you THOUSANDS)


  • Michael Stein @ Wells Fargo – – coordinated our loan, highly recommended

Suppliers, Subcontractors, etc.

  • Paul’s Plumbing Supply – 128 Greenpoint Ave, Greenpoint – 718-389-2873 – ask for Paul. They can get just about anything and their prices are as good or better than anyone else.
  • Grant Supplies – 39-15 21st Street, Long Island City – when they ask if you have an account, just say you’re a cash account – pretty much the lowest prices you’ll find on electrical supplies/fixtures – they also carry plumbing (but I prefer Paul’s for plumbing).
  • Smart Electrical / Robert Okuniewski – 646-637-3813 – the electrician who fixed things for us when we fired our first electrician.
  • ABC Shower Door – Good prices, good quality for glass shower enclosures (hint: get the colorless starphire glass)
  • BRP Spray Foam Insulation – Someone else said they had problems with them, but they were great with us – and your energy costs will be really low.
  • Marino Tile – Yonkers & Astoria (we always went to Yonkers) – very helpful staff – we bought a lot of Laticrete products from them. Not sure how competitive their prices are, but they’re not unreasonable.
  • Tiles By Kia – 35-53 Steinway Street, Long Island City – good selection of tile, nice staff, good prices
  • Italian Tile NYC – 1958 Coney Island Ave, Brooklyn – 718-336-8453 – great prices, good selection (though a long lead time on mosaics)

14 thoughts on “Recommendations

  1. Hi Jay!

    HUGE fan of your site. Am on pins and needles ever since you’ve gotten so busy! Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

    Was wondering if you could recommend a split duct system contractor/maintenance person. We have someone who’s not great and we’d love to see if there are better alternatives out there. We have a Fujitsu Halcyon system.

    Thank you!


    • Jessica,

      Our system is a Mitsubishi system, not Fujitsu. People tend to work on one or the other, not both (though apparently they’re practically the same equipment). Plus our person also fits the “not great” description. They did a rather fundamental mistake which led to us not having A/C for over a month… But when push came to shove they did what they needed to do to get it fixed.

    • Talk to Irv @ Drimmer’s in Brooklyn. You’ll get lower prices there than anywhere. Just realize Drimmer’s is not open on Saturday, and they close early on Friday. But Sundays are a good time to visit them.

  2. Hi,
    Great Blog. Thanks for all the information you provide. Could you give some insight on Property Taxes in Harlem. They seem to be all over the place $3500 – $20,000 1-4 Family. What are the chances of getting a lower tax rate with a change of C of O once purchased ie from a 4 family to a 1-3 Family.

    • Property taxes in Harlem have a lot to do with the history of the building – >4 families pay roughly 6.5x what 1-3 family pay for the same valuation. When you see really low taxes it’s often because of the City’s “transitional assessed value” which limits the amount your taxes can go up in any year, but >4 family goes up faster faster than 1-3 family. Improvements to the building will result in higher taxes. A well-maintained building that’s never had a major renovation (that DOB/DOF is aware of) will have the lowest taxes. So renovation that converts from >4 family to 1-3 family will balance the discount for 1-3 family with the increased value of the building. Unfortunately, improvements are not capped by transitional assessed value. But even at the higher assessments the taxes may be lower after conversion to 1-3 family.

  3. Hey Jay, I remember you recommended a locksmith somewhere in the blog, but I can’t find it now. Am I remembering incorrectly that you had a company you had used before and stand by now? I’d gladly receive that recommendation. And can you release the lock on your front door from the intercom system even though your front door is thick and salvaged?

    • Sorry, no locksmith recommendations. Locksmiths are a weird lot these days…

      The ones with store fronts in Harlem spend so much time with people buying $5 and $10 locks for bedrooms (it’s just sad people feel the need for that), that they don’t know how to handle a person who’s shopping for solutions that will probably run into the hundreds of dollars.

      And it seems many locksmiths have given up their storefronts completely and just operate out of vans – but with them there’s the trust issue… Can you really trust someone you may not be able to find a week later?

  4. Hi Jay
    Such a great site!
    Would you happen to have an expediter that you would recommend who is familiar with Harlem and brownstones?

  5. I am a mechanical engineer and just want to compliment you for so clearly explaining the myriad of heating, plumbing, and air conditioning issues involved in this type of project.

  6. Wow! great list. I bought a co-op at Murray Hill 2011 and now looking for a investment townhouse. need good lone, lawyers. impressed your knowledge which make me be very interested in using your list’s people. Thank you.

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