Gut Renovations In New York City 101

Deciding to completely gut renovate your NYC home requires serious consideration and expertise. We're here to help.

May 24, 2022


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Gut Renovations In New York City 101

Contemplating a gut renovation for your apartment, condo, loft or brownstone in New York City? The following guide breaks down the intricacies of this full-scale renovation approach.

Table of contents

Not all renovations are alike. Smaller renovations or remodels involve design or interior adjustments, while gut renovations either require taking all rooms being renovated down to their studs and/or touching every inch of the home for a total overhaul of the space.

For the full details on gut renovations, we’ve outlined the entire process below, providing expectations for timelines, costs and recommendations for the most efficient gut renovation approach. 

Kitchen from gut renovation of landmarked townhome in Manhattan. View full renovation before and after.

[#Involved]What Is Involved In A Gut Renovation In NYC?[#Involved] 

PLANNING & PREP | Architectural Drawing and DOB Filings

Gut renovations require architectural plans to be approved by the building reviewing architect along with the NYC Dept of Buildings. As a full service design-build firm, we take on all architectural planning and filings with our award winning in-house design team and architects.

PLANNING & PREP | Interior Design 

By tearing everything down to studs and rebuilding to their exact specifications, there’s a completely clean slate when considering interior design for a gut renovation. In condos and lofts, an industrial or contemporary design style offers a clean and minimalist approach. In brownstones or townhomes, a Bohemian or mid-century modern interior design can accentuate the historic elements of the space. Understanding the design direction of a gut renovation is essential to having an environment conducive to cohesive material choices. 

To avoid interior design inconsistencies, take a top-down approach to design decisions. Decide the overarching interior design approach first, then make all other room-specific choices en masse for blended consistency. Find inspiration from these Interior Design Trends In 2023

Alternate view kitchen from landmarked Manhattan townhouse gut renovation.

PLANNING & PREP | Permits & Inspections

The following permits and tests must be handled prior to any gut renovation in New York City.  As a full-service design-build firm, we handle all these necessities for our clients. 

Asbestos Test

Testing for asbestos in the early planning stages of a gut renovation is not only smart planning but often required in order to file architectural plans. As part of this process we plan for any added effort required for removal or see if there are workaround cost saving measures that can leave the asbestos undisturbed. By law, if work disturbs the asbestos, mitigation is required and bringing in an asbestos remediation company for asbestos removal and air quality monitoring is likely needed. However if preliminary tests confirm asbestos won’t be disturbed during the work, we’ll plan to avoid the area and issue altogether.

Electrical Test 

There are two main reasons electrical tests are required before an NYC apartment gut renovation. The first is to confirm there’s no cloth wiring, which was common in the 40’s/50’s and will not pass inspection. The second is to ensure the electrical capacity of the apartment can handle the proposed electrical load requirements of the renovation - which isn’t always the case in older buildings. 

Plumbing Inspection

Required if gut renovation touches plumbing, such as the kitchen or bathroom.  

Building, Electrical, and Plumbing Permits from Department Of Building

Navigating management companies, co-op boards, and city agencies can be a cumbersome process. This includes the production and filing of all architectural plans along with obtaining all building, plumbing, and electrical permits, all prior to the renovation. At times this also includes handling all landmarked related approvals. 

Also consider approval processes with your building management company and co-op board.

Alteration Agreement

Apartment renovations of any kind in New York are required to satisfy their respective building’s alteration agreement prior to commencing the project. For more info, read NYC Alteration Agreements: Everything You Need To Know

Landmark Applications via Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC)

A landmark approval will be needed only if the property is designated a landmark or on a landmarked street. 

Kitchen from gut renovation of pre-war apartment on the Upper West Side. View full renovation before and after.

PLANNING & PREP | Material Selection + Procurement

The most hands-on aspect of any gut renovation is finding materials to bring the chosen interior design style to life. That entails paint color, accent walls, flooring style, mouldings, fixtures, countertops, and more. As a full-service design-build firm we take on the design, sourcing, and procurement of every permanent fixture in your home.

PLANNING & PREP | Design Renders

After materials have been sourced, we create life-like digital renderings of what the completed space will look like. This includes every aspect of the design, down to the cabinet color and hardware. These high-end renderings provide a visual accompaniment to the blueprint that guides construction.


  • Demolition Phase
  • Initial Inspections
  • Framing & Rough Carpentry
  • Electrical & Plumbing
  • Finish Carpentry & Fixtures
  • Final Inspections & Walk-Through
Lower-level living area and entryway from gut renovation of Manhattan townhouse.

[#Common]Common Questions About Gut Renovations In NYC[#Common]

How Long Does A Gut Renovation In New York City Take? 

Each apartment renovation timeline looks different. On average, clients looking for a gut renovation can expect timelines similar to these:  

Renovation Timeline | Planning & Prep

If the gut renovation doesn’t require building additional rooms or significantly restructuring the apartment, the planning process takes approximately 90-120 days.

A common factor that extends the planning phase is whether the proposed gut renovation takes place in a landmarked building or whether the renovation requires architectural plans. In this scenario, the plans must first be submitted to the building's reviewing architect for approval.  

Renovation Timeline | Construction & Build 

Every gut reno is different and the respective timelines are impacted by the scope, site conditions and building rules. Normally, a gut renovation of an average-sized apartment renovation takes 5-7 months although timelines can vary based on the specific factors. 

What Is The Difference Between A Gut Renovation And A Basic Renovation Or Remodel? 

The main difference between a basic renovation or remodel and a full gut renovation is that gutting an apartment, brownstone, loft, etc typically requires tearing down the full or partial interior to the framing and reconfiguring the floor-plan. A basic renovation or remodel usually suggests more cosmetic updates on a smaller scale. 

What Is The Cost Of A Gut Renovation In NYC?

We're often asked 'how much does a gut renovation cost'? While there are numerous variables to consider, we've found the average cost for a gut renovation in NYC is $250 to $300 per square foot (including labor and mid-range materials), while higher end gut renovations run around $400 to $600 per square foot and all the way to $800 per square foot for extremely custom, luxury renovations. Expect to pay around $600,000 to $850,00 to gut renovate an 1,800 square foot condo with mid-range materials. 

Is A Complete Gut Renovation In NYC Worth The Cost?

If budget isn’t an issue and immediate turnaround is not of the essence, the short answer is yes. The value added to your home or apartment will warrant the cost and time of a full gut renovation. 

If looking to resell the home in the near future, buyers will be enticed to know the space in pristine shape at face value and the internal elements of the property are secure for decades to come. If looking to make the space a forever home, the ability to fully personalize the space and provide indefinite structural security is beyond a price tag. 

Main bathroom from gut renovation of Brooklyn brownstone in Bed-Stuy. View full renovation before and after.

[#Unexpected]Unexpected Costs Of A Gut Renovation In NYC[#Unexpected]

Beyond base costs for a gut renovation in NYC, these extraneous variables below - such as inspection surprises, delays and incorrect procedures - may significantly add to the total cost of a gut renovation in NYC. 


As mentioned above, without pulling proper permits up front in the gut process, the city’s Department Of Buildings can implement a stop-order to halt a renovation immediately. This often results in having to remove all completed work and start from scratch - which has variable cost implications of significant proportion.  

Asbestos Removal 

The national average cost for asbestos removal is approximately $2,000. In NYC, expect that price to be on the low end, due to the complexities of older buildings. There are also added costs associated with disposing of asbestos, but quality asbestos removal firms include that in their total price. 


If outdated cloth wiring is found during the electrical inspection of a full gut renovation, NYC building code requires a full electrical update. Per Sweeten, the cost to replace the electrical during a New York City renovation is roughly $15,000, which includes demolition, permits, labor, materials, construction, and painting. The size of the home and extent of work also create cost variability. 

Galvanized & Corroded Plumbing

If the plumber finds galvanized and corroded pipes upon their inspection, Sweeten says expect to pay an additional $5,000 for them to run new lines for a sink, toilet, and bathtub. 

Improper Framing 

Thanks to the dated nature of most NYC properties, updated framing is often required during full gut renovations. HomeAdvisor suggests the cost to fix framing ranges around $2,000, but expect higher costs for bigger properties and more complicated issues. 

Home Away From Home

One oft-forgotten expense is the cost of living elsewhere during the renovation. Smaller renovations allow owners to stay home while work is done, but full gut renovations typically require finding different residence during the process. Unless an aunt and uncle have an extra room open for extended stay, consider additional costs for room and board during the full extent of a gut renovation. 

Late Fees

If the property being renovated is in a condo or co-op, there may be a stipulated end date for the renovation. If the date isn’t met, there could be late fees imposed by the condo association. 

Kitchen from gut renovation of Brooklyn brownstone in Bed-Stuy.

[#Benefits]Benefits of Working with Gallery KBNY for Gut Renovations[#Benefits]

Thanks to our all-inclusive, full-service design-build approach, partnering with Gallery KBNY will make life much easier when initiating and completing a full gut renovation. 

Streamlined Communication

With so many moving parts during a gut renovation, effective communication is essential to a successful end result. Since design-build firms have all parties involved under one roof, communication between design and construction is seamless and leaves minimal project management for clients. 

Extensive Planning To Avoid Unexpected Costs/Delays

With a full-service team of design and construction professionals experienced in the complexities of NYC renovations, design-build firms make change orders and mid-project budget adjustments much less likely.

Board Approval And Permit Pros

We take on the responsibility of handling all red tape involved in a gut renovation, at no additional cost. This includes reviewing and satisfying a condo board’s alteration agreement, filing all relevant architectural plans with the Department Of Buildings, and procurement of all necessary permits. We also handle all LPC approvals and requirements.

Dining area and kitchen from Upper West Side pre-war apartment gut renovation.


While gut renovations in NYC may require a significant amount of investment mentally and monetarily, these extensive home rehabs offer owners the utmost personalization and peak property value. 

Considering a gut renovation in NYC? Work with Gallery and rest easy knowing we plan, design, and execute all of our NYC home renovations with client care front and center. To see for yourself, explore more of our work, or contact us to set-up your initial consultation and see why our New York City apartment renovation and remodeling services are the most mindful choice when considering a residential renovation in Manhattan or Brooklyn.

Chief Revenue Officer

Alex Ushyarov

Alex Ushyarov is the Chief Revenue Officer of Gallery KBNY, a full service design-build firm specializing in the design and interior renovation of apartments, townhomes, and lofts in NYC. Recognizing the importance of differentiation in a competitive industry, Alex has developed a clear and compelling brand identity for the company. Through meticulous market analysis and a deep understanding of customer needs, he has honed the firm's unique value proposition, highlighting its ability to deliver innovative, sustainable, and high-quality design-build solutions.




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