New York City
Washington DC Metro
Northern New Jersey
open house planner
manhattan condo market index
shop for a broker
submit your listings
why sign up?
Become an Insider
post your listings
Considering buying a 1st floor duplex in a new construction condo and wanted some advice from anyone who has owned or lived in one before. The basement level has a full window that looks into a stairway coming down from street level, so the good news is that no one can reach the windos on the 1st floor from the sidewalk. There's a kind of open Mote(sp?) infront of the building. My main concern is the possibilty of insects and even rodents in a basement unit. Not sure if the garbage area will be in the basement although I don't know where else it would go in an 8 unit walkup. Also, concerned with flooding in heavy rain, although in Astoria I'm pretty sure the ground water level is far below the surface. Heat and A/C could be an issue too. Any help would be appreciated.
Trade-offs you need to be prepared to accept:
1) No matter how clean you are, you will probably have at least one or two minor bug or rodent infestations per year. If you run screaming at the sight of a cockroach or can't deal with mousetraps, move on.
2) If you like to open your windows, move on. You will get trash/smoke, etc. smells.
3) If you're an especially light sleeper, move on. In the city, there are always fire engines, etc., and eventually a screaming drunk person will stop in front of your window at 3 a.m.
4) Every tenant and visitor of the building will be walking past your apartment, and you'll be hearing the noise of the front door opening and closing. (Above all else, this is the one that bothered me.)
5) Your heating bills are likely to be higher, especially if the bedrooms are in the basement. On the other hand, your a/c bills could very well be much lower.
There are a lot of benefits, mainly much lower price per square foot. At this stage of my life, I'd consider a first floor rear apartment if it had a yard/patio, but I'd never do first floor front again except if the front room adjacent to the street and common entry was a room I'd use rarely (e.g., not a living room or bedroom).
Agree with Iad and would add a couple more as I have lived in exactly that setup but it was a rear apartment and had a yard/patio.
1. No light
2. Subway/train noise. My building was on a side street near the Metro North section that runs underground on Park Ave. Every 10-15 minutes....whoosh!
3. I found the overall layout of my duplex to be a drag after a while. Up and down those stairs everyday.
Again, you'll get a better price per square foot but what's the value?
Another consideration is who will clean that moat when the inevitable trash accumulates.
here are some more issues yet unmentioned.
1) is there a laundry room in the basement of your building? the sound of multiple machines buzzing and bumping, along with the constant neighbor foot traffic down there.
2) is there a storage in the basement of your building? another source of traffic in your domain.
3) you don't seem to take the vermin issue very seriously. i urge you to take it very very seriously. think you't a tough new yorker not afraid of a little roach problem? how about bigass city rats running around the basement part of your apartment?
4) you say the building garbadge may be in the basement, outside your door, which is bad enough. i am here to tell you that the building garbadge will probably actually be placed in cans outside of your window. like, right outside your window.
5) just don't do it.
@lucillebluth: Insects and Rodents are my main concern. The building is on a quiet side street in Astoria so I'm not so worried about noise and smells. The water table is pretty far below ground as I understand but still worry that a heavy rain could cause flooding. There is storage in the basement but no laundry in the building (wonder whose brillaint idea that was). It's a walkup building with extremely low common charges, that's appealing to me.
The building does have a duplex in the back with the entire private backyard but it's priced $80k more. I think if I had an extra $80k to spend I wouldn't be looking at a 1st fl duplex to begin with.
If insects and rodents are your main concern, I would definitely find out where the trash will be kept, both inside the unit and outside the unit. I might also take some time to find out what power the board will have to relocate the trash area. You do not want the building's trash stored in the "moat."
In our building, the trash receptacles are millimeters away from the first floor duplex's bedroom windows. If I went to an open house for this unit, I wouldn't even make it in the door. Once I saw the placement of the trash receptacles, I'd keep on walking.
If you're still considering the unit, find out what their plan is for pest control. Our exterminator says that if you can keep the vermin out of the basement, you'll pretty much not have a problem in the building.
Definitely consider flooding. Check the flooring. Is the carpet new? Or is it a tile floor? If it's an old wood floor, chances are it hasn't flooded. Not lately anyway.
Good news is flood insurance is pretty low compared to homeowners, and they actually pay their claims.
Also, snow. How hard is it to get out when the moat is full of snow? How far is it from the street, and will the snow plows toss snow in the moat?
i do - have been here in a condo duplex for a few years. love it! it's like a house but the advantages of a condo in terms of no maintenance. no bugs, no rodents - very clean building. people live in brownstones or brownstone apts on ground floors, it's fine! you can always rodent proof your apt if you're worried when you move in - just hire a professional, and your condo will probably have a monthly pest control guy come - ours does.
@wisco is it a 1st floor duplex with the bedroom area in the basement?
I am an owner of a 1st floor and cellar condo duplex in Harlem- in the front of the building. It's a 5 year old building and I am the original owner of the apartment. Flooding, insects/rodents, noise, privacy and safety were all on my list of concerns prior to purchasing. After 5 years, my initial concerns haven't been much of an issue. I do keep my apartment extremely clean to not tempt the insect/rodent issue- but some of my upstairs neighbors have reported issues of rodents (although I have heard most of them don't keep their apartments very clean). While I don't have a moat in front of my building there are architectural barriers to separate my apartment from the street- so I don't have issues with trash or security. Outside noise hasn't been a huge source of problems- although it would be easy enough to soundproof the windows if it was. I do hear a lot more noise in the entry hall of the building than anyone else in the building- but it doesn't bother me enough to soundproof the door and wall.
I use the bedroom on the ground floor rather than the cellar space, but I have used it on occasion when family comes to visit. I considered using the cellar space as my bedroom, but honestly I prefer to use it as a recreation room (which is really what it is zoned for anyway). I ususally use the space in the cellar for entertaining. I can host a large party down there without it feeling cramped and I like the fact that I have a bathroom on each floor.
I know ground floor and cellar or basement spaces don't have the same number of buyers as a higher floor does- but I am so much happier in my space than had I purchased a generic apartment in the floors above me.
i own a first floor apartment facing inside in a gramercy coop..it is honestly a pleasure, huge space, no rodents/bugs and dead quiet, unless you are paying for a high floor apartment, there is minimal difference between the 1st and 5th floor