Who am I, what do I do?

I’ve lived in New York since 1990 and in upper Manhattan since 1998. My partner and I bought a townhouse shell in Harlem in March of 2010 and started renovation on it in March of 2011. I’ve found I love the entire process of looking, buying and renovating so I write up the experience here on the blog.

Work-wise I’m a self-employed web and database guy.

Where did the site name come from?

“Beating upwind” is a sailing term. It’s what you do when you need to get a sailboat to go upwind. Things don’t normally move toward the wind (the wind blows them away). Sailboats are no different and “beating upwind” effectively is one of the hardest things to do in sailing, but it’s one of the most important skills a sailor can have.

It’s said that “gentlemen sailors don’t sail upwind”. The point being that if you’re rich enough, life is easy and you can just wait until the wind changes or get off the boat and pay someone to sail it into the harbor for you. Beating upwind is the activity of those who are driven to accomplish a goal. It’s hard, but if you need to accomplish something by a certain time, it’s what you have to do from time to time.

My life has had it’s share of “beating upwind”. Luckily I’ve had my easier, downwind moments as well. But the times when I’ve pushed through and gotten something done are the moments that have really made me who I am today‚Ķ In New York one of the primary struggles is housing. Finding enough space to be comfortable at a price you can afford is a real challenge‚Ķ So Beating Upwind is dedicated to that objective.

Have a question? Email me…

If you have a question or just want to say hi – feel free to email me – jay@beatingupwind.com

11 thoughts on “About

  1. Jay, as you know I am a huge fan of this blog. Following in your footsteps and buying a place about a year and a half after you… I am reading through everything for at least the second time, I read a lot when we were looking to buy and now that we are about to nail plans for renovations I am reading it all again.

    I wonder if you would add a table of contents. The Categories you include on the top of the blog are helpful, but as things mostly happened in a chronological way, it would be really helpful if you listed the blog topics one by one as they accumulated that way, if someone needs to return to a post it is easier to find as your titles are pretty helpful. It is just a thought as it has been suggested by others that you write a book, here I think if you add a book element it will help the blog.

    But most of all, perhaps rather than reading a book of yours anyone interested in following in your footsteps should consult with you, as I have done and work with you as their agent!!!!!

    Thanks so much for all your generosity with the blog, it is a tremendous resource!

  2. Hi, I came across your website and found the information timely and informative. In a year and a half, I plan to renovate my brownstone by taking out a home equity loan. I am doing the research from now so I can be well informed. Right now, I have no idea where to start. Also, do I need an architect and a contractor or a designer and a contractor?


    PS: I have learned a lot just from reading your blogs. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  3. question
    i have beed reading about the importance of getting the certificate of non harassment but my question is,
    the SRO’s i have been seeing have the certificate of non harassment but no Certificate of occupancy
    what does that mean for me the new buyer?
    how long and how much $ does it take to get 1?
    is it an easy or hard process?
    can i keep the building as is with no CO?

    • Before there were C of O’s there were iCards. They’re just C of O’s by another name and a different format (they’re handwritten and the content varies widely – sometimes there’s even hand drawn floorplans). The iCard for most buildings can be downloaded on the HPD website. The bank doesn’t care which you have.

  4. I am working to create a group of peoples who wanted to invest and buy some of those brownstone in Harlem, and renovate them. I wonder if you could help me find some good one, empty of tenants. Please let me know this is a serious inquire. Thanks JJ

  5. Hi! I just came across your blog via a search for laundry chutes. I really like what you did with the laundry chute. What is that collar/flange and where did you get it? Is that just painted in a gloss black, or did it come that way? Thanks !

  6. Hi Jay,

    I’ve been living on 107th Street and CPW for 9 years and am now looking to buy an investment property in the neighborhood (SoHa, Morningside Heights, Harlem…). I see that you’re not actively in real estate anymore but I was wondering if you’d be willing to let me buy you a cup of coffee and chat about the current market around us.

    • Josh – Other than reading Curbed to keep a general pulse on the real estate market, and occasional casual conversations with friends/neighbors, I haven’t been paying too much attention to the Harlem market. All I really know is that it’s WAY more expensive than when we bought in 2010. I haven’t really kept up with the nuances.

  7. Your Blog is amazing and I’m sad to see that it’s no longer an active blog (I totally get it).
    We recently moved into a rennovated condo on Mt Morris Park and our next dream is to undergo a project like yours. Too bad the prices seem to be moving quickly!!

    I guess my main question is something I know I can research on the blog, but what’s the best way to try to discover great shells at great prices? I know one of the issues you discussed is the difficulty in tracking the lineage of ownership of these homes.

    Anyway, thanks for an amazing resource and it’s nice to be your neighbor.

    -Russell Whalen

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