If you have inherited a brownstone in Bed-Stuy, then you understand the temptation to sell. There are agents who advertise finder's fees of twenty thousand dollars to people if they are able to find a family willing to sell their home. However, you don't have to sell, take the money, and flee Brooklyn. Many families are staying in the neighborhood. If you have decided to stay, you should consider restoring the brownstone to its full glory.
This article will focus on the major areas on the exterior of the brownstone that you should address.
The most obvious area in need of repair on most brownstones is the stoop. The steps have gone through wear and tears for decades. In some cases money might have been tight and repairs would have been shoddy. So, you are going to have to deal with bad patchwork cement, uneven steps, cracks, and layers of old paint.
You should definitely have the old, bad patchwork removed and the steps patched with new cement. If the steps are in terrible shape, then you should consider having them completely resurfaced. This is a major undertaking, requiring jackhammers and precision chisels. However, it will ensure that the steps look amazing. The steps will be resurfaced with a Portland cement mixture and then painted with an appropriate stucco red paint.
Strip and Repaint
The facade of your home should also be stripped of old paint and repainted. It does not need to be resurfaced with fresh Portland cement and lime unless the facade has begun to seriously flake. A new resurfacing is very expensive. Most homes will work well with new paint. Make sure and hire a crew that has worked with historic brownstones before. They will understand how to pressure clean the paint off and not destroy the underlying facade.
If your brownstone is on a landmark block, then you will have to abide with the city's regulations on paint. However, even if you are on a non-landmark block, it's probably best to avoid crazy colors and keep it traditional (stucco red is a great choice).
Cornice and Corbel Repair
One area that you want to pay special attention to is the cornice and corbel features of the house. These are the intricate, exterior features that make the home visually striking. You might be able to have a plaster fix them up with spot work. However, if they are seriously damaged, you might need to have new ones fabricated and installed. In the case of corbels, it's important to make sure that they are in good shape since they are not just decorative; they are also load-bearing structures. Contact a brownstone repair specialist for more information.