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What ever happened to small houses?
Old 07-31-2004, 11:49 AM   #1
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What ever happened to small houses?

I've been living in apartments for... well, since I moved out from the parent's place, but I'm learning that all it takes is one lousy neighbor sharing walls to sour you to apartment living.


What ever happened to small ranch houses? They've all but vanished in this neck of the woods. Everything seems to look like a big box with a few windows. Kinda ugly and you are about three inches from your neighbor's house.

Maybe I'll just wait for the impending real estate crash
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 07-31-2004, 03:33 PM   #2
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

Seems to depend on where you are. In my area (central NJ) there are plenty of older homes (say 1960 and earlier) that are modestly sized. However, anything built in the last 20 years is typically enormous (by my standards, anyway), often built right up the minimum setback required for zoning. Blech, no accounting for taste. If you are in an area where the housing stock is mostly recently built, you won't have much choice for a smaller dwelling other than a townhouse.

We had a nice pre-war condo a couple of years ago, but finally sold out because we wanted out of the city and a family of 6 (including 4 kids under the age of 7) moved into the apartment above us. You can imagine how many shouting matches we had with those *(^%%&$!. Still can't understand how the landlord could have allowed that in a 2 BR apartment.
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 07-31-2004, 03:36 PM   #3
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

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What ever happened to small ranch houses?
In some areas, they've become desirable (again). Especially those designed by architects like Eichler.

Or you can buy a modular home. These are made using the same standards and techniques as traditional stick-built homes, but they tend to be simple ranchers for the most part. Costs are lower than stick-built (about $60/sq ft). And they're overbuilt so they can survive transportation via truck, which also could help during an earthquake, for example.

For some reason, modular construction never really caught on here. Other countries are a bit more progressive than we are, and you can find some cool modernistic modular designs like these:

http://www.livemodern.com/Members/Ma...sitems/qseries
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 07-31-2004, 05:23 PM   #4
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

1400 sq ft - 1100 prior to 2001 - called a fish camp. When we worked added 16 miles to the daily commute. Location,location,location - once again - older developments built in the 60's early 70's maybe 1800-2400 sq ft. ranch type. 90's probably 3000 sq ft min. multi story ? type. One hour drive to the boonies - mobile home and 'mfg homes'. Actually a few mobile home/RV combo parks within a half hour drive from where I used to work. And for those with boundless energy - fixer upper shotguns, and camelbacks in neighborhoods attempting renewal.
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 07-31-2004, 05:40 PM   #5
 
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

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What ever happened to small ranch houses? *They've all but vanished in this neck of the woods. *Everything seems to look like a big box with a few windows. *Kinda ugly and you are about three inches from your neighbor's house.
The same thing that happened to 2 wheel drive 1/2 ton pickup trucks! - Now it's huge 4x4 off road vehicles that are never off the road. They are in my way all the time and I can't see around them
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-01-2004, 09:21 AM   #6
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

Quote:

The same thing that happened to 2 wheel drive 1/2 ton pickup trucks! - Now it's huge 4x4 off road vehicles that are never off the road. They are in my way all the time and I can't see around them
Last year we had a nasty snowstorm around here, and all the guys in their 4x4s thought they could drive as normal. The tow-truck drivers made a mint; they even said that the most common car they were towing were 4wds.

Meanwhile my Saturn with all-season tires got to work and back
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-02-2004, 11:36 AM   #7
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

Whakamole,

I ask myself that question all the time. We have 1500+ ranch, and its plenty big. It's just a bigger mortgage payment, and more house to clean, as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to keep up with my neighbor's house payment. Or anything else for that matter.

Big houses - whatever blows your hair back, I guess

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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-02-2004, 11:51 AM   #8
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

I just downsized to 1670 sq feet for the 3 of us. Actually once my kids move out, I won't need that much space and will probably downsize again.

Plus I'll want the equity to live on so I can ER.
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-02-2004, 01:51 PM   #9
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

About 8 years ago we downsized from a fancy house on the beach to moving into one of my husband's apartments. The property taxes had skyrocked because the neighborhood is so desireable and we just couldn't justify the expenses that came with living in the house. After we made the move was when we started to really be able to sock away money.

On the down side, the buyer of our old house recently sold it for nearly three times what he paid us for it. So it would have been a good "investment". Nevertheless, I don't think we would have accummulated as much if we had stayed there and sold now. Plus every year it might have become more difficult to give up the lifestyle.

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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-02-2004, 03:09 PM   #10
 
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

Our house (primary residence) on the water is around 1000 sf. Our condo in Texas is also around 1000 sf.
We have found this size more than adequate once
we divested ourselves of unnecessary "stuff", and of course all costs of ownership go down. The dogs
(4) are a problem, but they are mostly "outside"
dogs. Really, for us 1000 sf seems perfect.

John Galt
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-02-2004, 08:38 PM   #11
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

I have the great fortune of owning a small 3-br Victorian, c. 1880, in a town full of giant historic homes and (lately) McMansions.

The lawn guy came by to disuss the price of Bobcat work and topsoil. He said he is called to many of the McMansions to put in a real lawn (as opposed to the patch of weeds left by the developers), and when he goes inside, as often as not the house is only half furnished!

These houses are selling from $350K - 800K. What are these morons THINKING?? They apologize to him; they just bought the house, don't have enough money to buy furniture. Honestly, what absurdity. (Did they remember they also have to landscape the big lawn, heat and cool the big house, maintain the mechanicals, and CLEAN the damn thing?

Not for me.

Anne
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-02-2004, 10:20 PM   #12
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

Speaking of turf, a few days ago I heard that a local Seattle company is now installing astroturf (top-grade astroturf but still) in yards! Pretty sad.
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-03-2004, 09:36 AM   #13
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

Yeah my old mcmansion looked a little sparse at first, as I had moved from a 1000 sq foot SF bay area home into it. The 1000 SF home was just about perfect. Funny how a generation or two ago raised six kids in 1200 sq foot homes but today a couple thinks a 3000 sq foot home is 'confining'.

First memory of the mcmansion I recall...pouring myself a glass of water in the kitchen downstairs and then realizing after I got all the way upstairs to the master suite that I had forgotten it and had to go "all the way back down there" to get it. A trip to the kitchen in my old house was about six steps. In the new house, it was an expedition that possibly called for some beef jerky, trail mix, and a sleeping bag.
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-03-2004, 09:52 AM   #14
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

And your poor little Roomba could probably barely keep up!

I still think the biggest downside of those huge houses is all the CLEANING.

Of course, having more space around everything (sofas not stuck up against the wall, etc.) does make some cleaning easier. At least, that's my excuse here in this small house!

Anne
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-03-2004, 06:26 PM   #15
 
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

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One tiny bathroom. (My mother never did figure out why her rose bush kept dying.).
Gee - only took me about 2 seconds. Been there done that!
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-04-2004, 06:26 AM   #16
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

I need to send my husband to hang out with your guys. He's all about the McMansion. We're at 3200 sq ft right now (1/2 of that is finished basement) and we have no kids. He's already talking about expanding. I think we have twice the room we need, even after adding a couple of kids. We have 22 acres...send them outside to play!
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-04-2004, 07:31 AM   #17
 
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

Hello yelnad! My ex. was enraptured with big showy houses. In my BSD (Big Spender Days) I went along, no problem. Part of the lifestyle. Now, we have our nice little 1000 sf cottage and our nice 1000 sf
condo (no mortgages on either), and I haven't done a lick of work since 1998. My ex. and her husband both work full time
and are supporting one of the biggest houses in town.
Now, if that's what makes you happy, then I'm happy for
you. It's all behind me though. In fact, to be totally honest, even the work to keep this place "up to
standards" has become a burden. Selling it and living year round in the condo looks awfully good, except for all those cursed dogs

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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-04-2004, 09:06 AM   #18
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

Anne - the roomba was irreplaceable in that house, as the entire downstairs was hardwood floors, and thats roombas specialty. I had two sets of housekeepers that came on alternate weeks until I ER'ed, when I kept merely one set that came every other week for a year.

I hate housework.

I actually had three rooms that I had closed the doors on and two of them had hardly been opened the last 2 years I lived there.

Jarhead - Part of my growing up was living with my aunt and uncle for a couple of years...six kids plus me, and the aunt and uncle in a house about 1500 sq feet. Can you say bunk beds? It LOOKED like a marine barracks. And I'm an inch or two taller than you! One bathroom as well. The "half bath" out back did get a lot of use in the warmer weather months. In the winter, there was a great deal of knocking on the door.

As far as mcmansion desire...well...I think its all about making yourself feel like "somethin'". The bigger car, the bigger house, the rolex watch. You want to make a "statement" without saying anything I guess.

My "statement" is that I wont shovel money into this stuff anymore, because its not necessary. I've had a few friends say "Your old house was pretty nice...", to which I respond "yeah, but I wont have to work ever again and THIS house is pretty nice too". The look on their face says "point taken".
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-04-2004, 09:20 AM   #19
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

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I still think the biggest downside of those huge houses is all the CLEANING.
Anne
Agree! I also don't like housework (which I still do however because right now, it's not really much work). We live in 750 sqft condo which is enough space for us (no kids, no pets). We are considering of selling the condo and move into a detached small house in few years. However, I am not very thrilled of that plan (thinking of even more house maintenance work to do). If I only live by myself, a small condo is a way to go (min fuss, min work).

Jane
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?
Old 08-04-2004, 10:42 AM   #20
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Re: What ever happened to small houses?

One of my many inventions is an automatic duster. It's basically a boom-box/vacuum combination. Low-frequency vibrations send the dust flying and a powerful vaccum then sucks it out of the air. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to make it pet-safe. I lost my canary during the testing phase.
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