Q: A building inspector tells me that the cornice of my brownstone is about to break off and clobber someone. Accidental deaths are not my bag, but neither is a stripped façade. Who can replace architectural details?
A: You’re not alone: Many houses have lost details to time or unfortunate “modernization” over the years. Today’s restorers can turn to B&B Sheetmetal (25-40 50th Avenue, Long Island City; 718-433-2501). B&B president Bob Baschnagel III, whose family has been in the business since 1901, says that it takes two to three weeks to reproduce a cornice. Prices vary: “Without attachments”—that is, extraneous details and moldings—“we can do a twenty-foot piece for $1,500. With attachments, it can go up to $20,000.”
Many brownstone owners opt not for stamped steel but for fiberglass. Mario Noto, the owner of Architectural Molded Composites (10-06 38th Avenue, Long Island City; 718-937-1977) explains that “it’s light and strong” and can last for 150 years. The cost varies from $25 to $40 per square foot; Noto says that most jobs are about 100 square feet, with corners adding $2,500 or so. “We replicated a sculpture for the Paramount Building’s façade using an eight-by-ten photo,” he says. "If we could do that, then nothing is impossible.”