New York City is known for having some of the most impressive architecture in the world, and many of its buildings—whether considered landmarks or just those that people call home—incorporate a vast array of building materials into both their facades and interiors.
Sometimes it seems general contractors are as easy to find as taxis around the city—the yellow pages are full of advertisements. But while they may have the experience and know-how to work with common materials such as plaster and hardwood, there are many buildings in New York that utilize more specialized or luxury materials—and those materials may require maintenance or repair from someone who specializes in their care. For these situations, a skilled workman or someone with a specialized knowledge of the material is necessary.
The pool of tradesmen specializing in unusual materials is dwindling as these exotic materials become more rare and expensive—and thus used less frequently in new construction and renovation projects. Workers who work with things like brownstone, wrought iron, exotic marbles, and carved limestone are hard to come by these days, even in a city like New York. So when buildings decide they want work done with these materials, it’s not the easiest thing to find the person most qualified.
Qualified Applicants Need Apply
When it comes to exotic materials, those in the know are aware of how thin the line is between restoration and ruining something.
“You need special knowledge to take care of certain metals like statuary bronze,” says Lina Gottesman of Altus Metal & Marble in Manhattan. “That does require special care and someone can destroy it in five minutes if they don’t know how to handle it.”