Every day, I see listing descriptions for Hoboken condos that say things like this:
- Gourmet Kitchen
- Chef’s Kitchen
- Kitchen Boasts High-End Appliances
- Open Kitchen Plan
What exactly is a “gourmet kitchen“? Also, how does a kitchen (or any other room) boast? It really irks me when agents write that a room “boasts” of something. Rooms can’t talk.
Zillow posted an interesting piece on what really makes a kitchen ‘gourmet’. I thought it would be interesting to run down a little checklist that maybe agents could refer to when deciding if a kitchen is really ‘a chef’s or gourmet kitchen’.
Professional Grade Appliances – we’re talking Viking, Wolfe, Electrolux, and Jade, not GE Profile.
Surfaces Matter - Counters that don’t burn, stain, scratch or discolor. Chefs are able to put a hot pot down on a stone counter top or roll out chilled dough on marble.
Storage Made for Cooking – pots and pans in easy reach, lazy susans in corner cabs, pull-out pantries, purpose-built cabinets with roll-out shelves and built-in spice racks, a good knife rack and a place for your cook books.
Easy Clean Up – A restaurant-style sprayer on a double and extra-deep sink, double-drawer dishwashers.
Open Floor Plan – with a big island and plenty of work surface. A kitchen that can accommodate two cooks.
If a kitchen doesn’t have the bulk of these features, it is simply not a “Chef’s Kitchen” no matter what the listing says. Granted, Hoboken condos are smaller than suburban homes. Yet I see so few kitchens in Hoboken that even have a nice backsplash and under-counter lighting. Most condos have the lower-end contractor grade appliances that came with the unit years ago. Few have any sort of special cabinetry to make storage easy. Now–if you really want to upgrade your kitchen, even a small one, these items can make a huge difference. Not only will your time spent cooking be more enjoyable and efficient but your property value will be increased as your home will truly stand out from the crowd.
Yes, that would be as in Nathan Turoff, of the same Turoff family as the Turoff Realty Team.
Currently 4 Comments »|
Interesting question from a reader:
For new construction in large buildings, is value enhanced for differentiating one unit from the others by installing or upgrading things like a kitchen backsplash, new flooring and getting rid of “Broadway” lighting?
My answer – absolutely!
I’m shocked at how few new construction units even have a backsplash in the kitchen. Most are just sheetrock waiting to be splattered with water and grease. I’m stunned that builders are still putting “Broadway” bulbs in a bathroom and then have the nerve to call it a ‘luxury’ condo. I’m amazed that every kitchen in Toll Brothers units are basically identical – same old cabinets, in the same color, with the same countertops and knobs.
Make it your own! Those upgrades are a relatively small cost to an individual purchaser but leaving them out of hundreds or thousands of units adds up to a huge savings to a builder like Toll.
Here are some very simple guidelines I would suggest if you are going to make changes.
- Stick to neutrals. If you think you want to sell at some point, you want your home to appeal to a wide audience. Going for a really quirky style may put your stamp of personality on your property but may be a turn-off to future buyers. One of the biggest mistakes I see sellers make is refusing to repaint their homes a neutral color. Paint is extremely cheap and color has an enormous influence on people.
- Stick to classics. What’s à la mode today may look extremely dated in 5 years. Pick a style that will endure, not the latest fad. Those counter-mounted vessel sinks looked new a few years ago, now they are starting to look silly. I’ve yet to turn on the water in one without having it splash all over me.
- Stick to quality. Better to pay a bit more now for something well made than skimp and end up with wear and tear in the near future. Not only that, better brands will stand behind their product. I just hung up with Kohler because the hot water faucet in my sink was leaking. They are sending me a new one, for free.
Another area where you can get huge bang for your buck is in improved lighting. If you can install recessed ceiling lighting or, at least, decent ceiling surface-mounted fixtures, do it. Beyond that, though, if you do some research on lighting or go to a good lighting store, you can learn about ambient and accent lighting which really makes a difference in the feel of a space.
Similarly, most new condos in Hoboken offer a slab of mirror over a sink and call that a finished bath. Go to Restoration Hardware, Waterworks or Simon’s in the city and get a good quality mirror, lights, sconces and matching accessories. Other small touches that make a big difference include light switch and socket covers, door knobs, closet shelves and organizers, window treatments and, my favorite new addition to my home – a really cool thermostat that learns when you’re home and when your not and then self-adjusts. Or you can just do it with your phone.
Currently 2 Comments »|
We frequently receive inquiries about residential renovations–from sellers looking to increase the curb appeal of their homes as well as from recent buyers hoping to make improvements that will enable their house or apartment to function better and feel like “home”.
Always eager to serve, I am introducing a new HREN feature: The Home Improvement Series, in which I will discuss many facets of the renovation process, viewed through the lens of the real estate market here in Hoboken. What are buyers looking for? Where is money well spent? What clever solutions have I seen in my travels?
Working with me on this series will be my brother-in-law–the most recent addition to the Turoff Team–who has spent almost 20 years working as a residential architectural designer and project manager. He will contribute practical advice and technical know-how along with some of his spectacular design talent (to use his words…).
Between the two of us, we have plenty to say, but if you have any questions on the topic, don’t hesitate to submit them, and we will try to assist you.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Question 1: I am planning some “cosmetic” renovations to my Hoboken Condo. Do I need a permit?
As with so much in this life, one person’s idea of a minor task might strike someone else as a substantial project, and while you know what you mean when you say “cosmetic”, there are specific guidelines defining what scope of work can be undertaken without a permit. Hoboken residents are governed in this arena by the city’s Construction Code Office which, in turn, administers and enforces the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code. When you plug “cosmetic renovation” into the Universal Code Jargon Translator, the phrase that pops out is “Ordinary Maintenance”–the tasks that any homeowner can undertake in the course of maintaining their home.
Alteration to the number or configuration of rooms will always require a permit. While some minor alterations to walls can be considered “ordinary maintenance”, it is a good idea to check with an architect or contractor before you start swinging your hammer. No modification of any structural wall or element is allowed without a permit, and the extent to which non-structural walls can be altered without a permit varies from case to case.
Any work that involves any change to the path of Egress–the emergency escape route from your home–requires a permit. This includes any change to the dimensions or configuration of the hallways or stairs, any change to the configuration of the home’s entry doors or egress windows–windows that lead out to fire escapes, fire ladders etc.
Within these parameters, however, there is a fair amount of work that can be considered “cosmetic” renovation work, largely related to interior finishes–painting, installation of ornamental trim, re-finishing floors, replacement of doors–and minor plumbing and electrical work: repairs and replacement of faucets, bathroom fixtures, electrical fixtures, receptacles,etc.
Beware the “Slippery Slope”
One phenomenon that you will encounter in any contemplation of “minor” construction projects is the “slippery slope”. Yes–replacing the water controls in your shower is “ordinary maintenance” under the NJ UCC. But any changes to “piping arrangements–the hot- and cold-water pipes inside the walls–is not. You can replace your old shower handles and valves with new ones without a permit, but if you decide that you want to add a hand-held shower–great for washing the dog–and a second shower head–for a romantic shower a deux–and maybe a rain head and a couple of body jets, you will need to re-work the plumbing pipes in your shower, and the code requires you get a permit. Plumbing and Electrical tasks are the most likely to lead you down a slippery slope and for that reason–and for safety’s sake–I encourage you to engage the services of a licensed plumber or electrician for all but the most basic tasks. A professional will know when your goal involves work that will take you out of the realm of ‘ordinary maintenance’ and into the Permit Zone.
In coming installments, we will take a look at these “ordinary maintenance” tasks in greater detail and look at some of the ways you can “renovate” your home, one small step at a time.
Currently 16 Comments »|