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Case Study: NYC Post-War Full Gut Renovation and Apartment Combination

How a growing family saved time and money and created the spacious, modern apartment of their dreams without moving out of the Post-War NYC building they loved


The Challenge: Finding a reasonably priced apartment with a layout that could accommodate their growing family’s needs.

When we met Talia and Liron, Talia was pregnant with their third child. They lived in a smaller apartment at the time, and space was already tight and about to get even tighter.

Our clients wanted to resolve this issue before the baby’s due date and were actively looking for an apartment to accommodate their family’s needs. However, they didn’t like the layouts of any of the larger apartments they had checked out.

Then they came across two apartments in their own building that hadn’t been renovated since before the 1950s - a smaller one with 1 bedroom, 1 bath and a larger 2 bedroom, 1 bath.

Talia and Liron realized that combining and renovating these two apartments would be the perfect, in-budget solution for them. Plus, they’d have the custom layout they always dreamed of for their growing family.

The biggest challenge was closing the deal on the apartments on time while making sure we started the renovation before Talia’s due date.

NYC Apartment Combination and Full Gut Renovation - Vergara Homes

Or at least we thought that was the biggest challenge. During the demolition phase, they realized they wanted to change the layout completely! Talia wanted to switch the locations of the bedrooms and the kitchens (which were on opposite sides of the apartments) to have a spacious eat-in kitchen. The kitchen and the dining room and balcony get sun all day long (south-facing room), and that would be where the family would spend the most time. This was a twist, but Elizabeth got on the case immediately and reworked the layout change within 12 hours. Then she had to refile with the DOB for an amended plan. There was an incremental fee of a few hundred dollars for the client.

Before Pic - NYC Full Gut Apartment Renovation - Vergara Homes

Luckily, the building approved the plan within a week, and then when we went to file with the DOB, we got approval within 2 weeks (which was much faster than usual), it usually takes 4-6 weeks. We didn’t stop the demolition; we demolished the bathrooms, we prepped the balcony, and by the time we got approval, we could start framing the new layout they wanted.

Before and After Full Gut Renovation Apartment Combination - Vergara Homes


The Solution: Designing the new layout with the structural limitations of a post-war building and a professionally project-managed renovation.

When our founder Elizabeth and her team surveyed the two vacant apartments, they realized that the building's original plumbing stacks (risers) could pose a problem to their envisioned layout changes.

The old building had steam pipes running through all the floors in the building, as well as plumbing risers in the middle of the original kitchens that could not be moved. Major overhauls to these systems could mean accidentally cutting off the water supply of the entire building and significant costs and delays to our client.

So we decided to work with what we had: Elizabeth kept their scope and the structural limitations in mind while drawing up plans for the new bedroom locations, kitchen, and bathroom layout, etc., to create a beautiful, spacious new home for the David family.

Floor layout plan for renovated NYC apartment on East 66th Street, Manhattan

The other challenge was getting the review and the approval from the building to review our proposed plan before the family closed on the apartments. Most buildings don’t review plans until the new owners close on the apartment. The reason for this is that there could be a number of reasons why an apartment sale may not go through, and building management agencies wait until the new owners take ownership so that there is a level of commitment that the renovation will happen as planned. But fortunately, since they had been residents of the building for a long time, the building board collaborated with the Vergara Homes team to fast track the review process so we could go ahead with the filing process for permits once we closed.

Legally, we could only file for the permits and begin the renovation work after our clients had completed all the building and city paperwork on their end. The renovation documents need to list the new owners’ names, which wouldn’t be official until the closing.

NYC Full gut renovation and apartment combination - Vergara Homes

The Impact: Significant savings and a new, spacious apartment they loved.

A renovation of this scale can easily take 6-10 months, depending on the building management’s rules and who is reviewing the approvals. However, we were able to complete the project within 5-6 months, and the family was able to move into their new home immediately after the renovation was finished.

If we had waited to file and begin the remodel after the Davids had closed, they would have had to pay more than $20,000 (plus an extra 2 months of waiting) for the cost of 3 apartments’ monthly rent/mortgage, during the building approval process and the DOB filing process.

By fast-tracking the approval process in collaboration with the building board, Vergara Homes was able to save the Davids significant time and money.

And while we love working on a blank slate, we were thrilled to rise to the challenge and combine the two post-war apartments. We created a gorgeous new 3 BR, 2 BR apartment with an expanded living room, an open kitchen that seamlessly gave way to the dining room, and a lovely foyer, as well as living spaces with lots of storage.

Go behind the scenes of how we created a unique layout for the David family by combining two post-war apartments with structural limitations.

We loved this project, and 5 years later, the Davids came back to us to renovate their Long Island home. Here’s a short video with what they said about the process of working with Vergara Homes.


Let’s get all your questions answered. Book a call with the Vergara Homes team by clicking here if you’re ready to transform your home in 2022.


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