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As we all predicted - houses getting smaller!

Post in 'The Green Room' started by webbie, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Covenant smovenant. A town that's dying isn't going to stop people from living in it, no matter what the neighbors think/do/say.

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  2. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    During the Depression of the 30's many homes and farms simply were abandoned - ghosts on the landscape. Some of those are still barely standing. That same thing may happen to the cheap, gaudy, pretentious McMansions of today built in a suburbia or rural area too far from anything.
  3. Mcbride

    Mcbride New Member

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    Since I need a large shop for work.
    And also planned to build a new house this spring.
    I combined the best of both worlds.
    Its cheaper to build up, than out, plus a house sitting higher has a better view where we plan to build.
    And its also easier and more cost effective to heat.
    So we are building a house, that sits on a full sized shop.
    Added bonus is reducing chance of theft from house during daytime, as I will just be downstairs.
    And from shop at night, as I will be sleeping right above it.
  4. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    My shop is in the basement of our house. One problem we have is dust and odors coming up through the drywall into the living space. I hope you seal your shop really well.
  5. Mcbride

    Mcbride New Member

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    Yes we plan to seal it very well, and also put noise insulation between the two, as the shop can be very loud at times.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That'd be a shame and a waste. I would much rather see them converted to more affordable, multiple family homes.
  7. dougstove

    dougstove Member

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    The problem with converting suburbia or ex-urbia to multi-unit housing is the sprawl.
    By design many of the newer developments were made to be accessible only by personal automobile, with layouts incompatible with public transport.
    Zoning bylaws ensure there is no local employment and no local services.
    NIMBYism by the economic survivors will maintain the artificial separation between work and home.

    Since multi-unit housing would, on average, serve lower income residents, the lack of transport is going to be a big problem.
    I am already reading of rural and semi-rural people unable to take advantage of available jobs because the pay does not cover the commuting costs.
    The real price of oil is going up, ending the use of cheap gas to support dispersed living for lower income people.
    For most of history, ordinary people lived close to their work. I think the 20th century sprawl anomaly is coming to end. Except for those who can telecommute.
  8. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    And most of "those" likely will be in China, India, Africa, etc. where the economics of pay, culture and lifestyle provide a higher profit return to the multi-national employer -- another factor that will bring the sprawl to a forced and abandoned end.
  9. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    Doesn't have anything to do with "a town."

    Restrictive covenants are contracts. All that matters is what the judge thinks. You figure a judge will side with a landlord over a homeowner when the law is on the side of the homeowner? I think it's more likely that the banks that take the properties back eventually sell them at big discounts and the taxpayer supplies the difference. Either that, or the bond holders eat the loss.
  10. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    Homeowners associations won't last long in abandoned developments. Look at what's happening to condo associations. I'm sure no one thought that the grand old houses of yesteryear would be chopped up either.

    It's the human tendency toward self delusion that contributes to bubbles, manias etc.

    I think its much more likely that sprawl will be "repurposed" than abandoned and replaced with Susanka inspired cottages or row houses. I don't buy the pet theory that urban life is somehow more "sustainable".
  11. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    What exactly is happening to condo associations?
  12. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    But how many abandoned developments are there?

    I've seen a lot of developments that were never built out, especially in Florida, but I haven't run across one that's been abandoned. I went and looked at a house recently where the developer had gone bankrupt. The new developer, who bought the entire development out of bankruptcy, put the longest set of restrictive covenants on that I've ever seen. It's more than 20 pages and details things like the type of mailbox post you have to have!

    The thing is though, HOA's don't just disappear. They are made up of the property owners (frequently with the undeveloped lots having more vote than the built), and the only way you can get rid of them is to change the covenants, which usually requires majority vote of a quorum. Maybe the HOA isn't active today, but that doesn't mean it won't rise from the ashes in two years and start enforcing the covenants. The fact that no one has done anything about violations today does not invalidate the covenants tomorrow.

    Sometimes someone with deep pockets will end up winning in a situation like this, just because they're willing to appeal the initial decision and the other party isn't, and you could have those deep pockets on either side -- maybe it's a big developer comes in and buys all the undeveloped lots and takes the individuals who own the carved up units to court. Or it could be a big company that's doing the carving and individuals who want to stop him.

    I think you're exactly right about the grand old houses of the past getting cut up -- that's exactly why people have come up with these types of covenants. Restrictive covenants are a tool that property owners can use to protect property values. You're right that they might choose to not make the effort, but they might.
  13. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    What is really bizarre here is that I live in a rural area, no developments, no covenants, all single family, and most homeowners are private property rights fanatics -- object to ordinances on setbacks, height, road right of ways, emergency access, or anything else, also designed to protect property values as well as safety issues. Then these same homeowners buy a place in FL or AZ in a rubber stamp development, with not only ordinances but also covenants up the kazoo, house color, mailboxes, no parking, landscape, etc. -- can't do a darn thing -- and they say the love it. Maybe the trick is to impose ordinances governing everything, just like a set of highly restrictive covenants, and then we will have happy property owners.

    On the other hand, while possibly intended to protect property values, covenants all are designed to keep out of the development "the wrong kind of people" and promote a certain "culture," and when property values drop, as currently, the covenants are a major impediment to rescuing a gargantuan, unsustainable development, and giving it a chance to morph into something which is reasonable and sustainable, it that is even possible.
  14. Mcbride

    Mcbride New Member

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    I would not ever live where they have restrictions on what I can do.
    I will build what I want, paint it the colour i like, etc.
    So I need not worry about ever living in a subdivision like those mentioned.

    But to each their own.
  15. Nic36

    Nic36 Feeling the Heat

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    I wouldn't say that was bizarre. I would actually say that is the way it should be. If they want to live in a controlled subdivision, that it the best place for them. Those that live in rural areas have moved there so they specifically will not be dictated to. Although, I understand what your saying, typically homeowners in subdivisions with covenants complain about the restrictions and rural landowners complain about their neighbors with two or three junk cars in the yard.

    I fall into neither category, but in between. I live on the edge of the city, inside the city limits. No covenant per se, but some things are not allowed, which I like. No mobile homes are allowed. Existing ones are still allowed to stay, but new ones are not. A neighbor would not be allowed to open a junk yard next to me, just things like that. But, I have great neighbors, and that makes a big difference no matter where you live.
  16. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/07/condo-association-files-bankruptcy.html

    When a buyer defaults on a condo mortgage, the bank is not required to pay association fees and when the mortgage goes through forclosure the leins (unpaid dues) are "stripped" leaving the declining number of paying members of the condo association to pick up the increasing tab.

    Banks are protected to some small degree, condo associations are not.

    I don't know of any abandoned developments, so far. Most of this is purely speculative. The closest thing to abandoned property is the huge "shadow inventory" of property that banks have an interest in but haven't foreclosed because they don't want to face the loss.
  17. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    What I meant to say is that the person who lives in my area and "demands" private property rights, criticizing every ordinance affecting her property, is the same person having the winter home in FL or AZ, living in a development with endless restrictions, and then asserting that development living is great in FL or AZ while local living is taking away private property rights. Perhaps a bit disingenuous and hypocritical?
  18. Nic36

    Nic36 Feeling the Heat

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    Yeah, I had an idea what you were getting at. Yeah, it is hypocritical.....in my opinion. I deal with those types in my job quite often.
  19. jjames

    jjames New Member

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    Part of it is material quality, but part of it is technique.

    I cannot stand gong to he mc-lumber store and looking for a straight, uncrowned, unwarped "2x4". (and should you be successful, you can bet our botttom $ that it isn't seasoned, and it's still pine.

    Go read some Eric Sloane (Reverence for Wood) and you will begin to learn the difference.

    My place was orignially built in 1890 and the timber construction still amazes me.
    The original ceder shingling is still in FAR better shape than the garbage composite board that was used for the 1960's addition.


    Mortise and tenon contruction is going to beat stick framing hands down all day no comparison.

    Somewhere there is a marrying of tehcnology, technique, and archaic wisdom that is the best of all worlds. The problem isn't so much scarcity of reasources as it is wise use of resources. Actually stewardship of resources would be a better term than use.
  20. homieg9999

    homieg9999 New Member

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    Back to the small house stuff:

    If you are interested check out Ross Chapin. My inlaws found his website when looking for ideas on what to build on their property in Maine.

    Also, for Christmas, they received a book about built in furniture. My wife and I borrowed it and looked through it...and got lots of ideas.

    We have a house built in the early 1920's, bungalow style, balloon framing, but materials seem MUCH better than the crap you can get today (at least from home depot and the like). Generally the only time we complain about something being wrong is something the POs did in the remodel approx 10-15 years ago. The house was built right in respect to the chimney - center of house, from basement to roof; so we pull a nice strong draft :). The footprint of the basement is approx. 23x28, as is the first story, and the "finished attic" is quite a bit smaller due to the 6 ridge height (interior). Given our "quaint" and "modest" square footage we have looked to alternative ideas to gain space (i.e. built-ins and recessing things behind walls). We know this is going to limit us if we ever want to move stuff around, but once kids roll around it's going to be even tougher (and we'll have to put in knee wall storage upstairs). One good thing that has come from having a smaller house is that we've had to downsize the amt. of "stuff" we have - especially clothes.

    Please don't take this as complaining - we love our house, and we enjoy the challenge (or at least I do - not so much the Mrs.), and it's much easier to heat/cool than a bigger house would be!

    And after looking at some of your taxes on here...ours seem absurd for the size of our house - but that's because we're in the great state of NEW JERSEY! :p If it wasn't for friends, family, and a decent job (math teacher) we'd be out of here in no time.
  21. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    I was recently in the bowels of an old mill building. The floors were 8" thick, tounge and groove boards straddled 6-8' between 24-36" beams. All pegged, all mortised, and still standing. We would never, ever build this way today because we don't have to. Can you imagine moving a 40' beam into place, or installing an 8" thick floor? Sorry, I'll admit that the old-growth lumber is far superior but they only built with wood of this dimension when you had to saw wood by hand/steam. Post and beam saved time/effort when wood was plentiful yet hard to get. You used mortise and tennon joinery when nails were expensive and 2 days away in town. building box joints with plywood is very strong compared to the amount of wood invested in the structure.

    Of course, if I had my choice I'd rather live in a post+beam house with big beautiful chestnut beams...
  22. homieg9999

    homieg9999 New Member

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    Post and Beam is probably my #1 favorite style. I love the look of the wood and the huge picture windows. It's cool to see the joints too, it's like being able see the suspension in an Ariel Atom - you are watching it work.
  23. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

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    You wanna bet? Do a heat loss calculation and see where the heat is really going, those knee walls are costing you a small fortune. If you had already properly sealed and insulated them, you'd be so sick of those sleazy, ignorant, short sighted contractors from the 20's that you wouldn't be so nostalgic

    I love post and beam frames too, and so do the bats in the attic, which is the only place you'll see it in my place.
  24. homieg9999

    homieg9999 New Member

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    My house was sealed up through an incentive by the gas company - which took care of draft issues (not that I thought it was bad before: went from about 4500 cf/hr to about 2500 cf/hr -(I am pretty sure that unit is per hour, I could be wrong) The house isn't insulated the best, but my gas bill with a new furnace (97% efficient) averages $500 for the year (that was last year w/o the wood stove and before seal up, and a gas stove). That's why when people tell me to buy wood, I tell them it's not worth it, I'll just use my furnace.

    The knee walls could probably be insulated better, but I'm not doing any work up there until we decide what we are doing with the upstairs. We can't decide between putting a full second story on (really don't want to due to cost, tax increase, and work involved), building a dormer on the back side of the roof (not sure of the tax repercussions), or just leaving it the way it is and installing built in dressers for when we have kids to save space (cheapest way to go), and they'll just have to share the upstairs loft area.

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