Individualism Through Renovation

I still remember when my wife and I were shopping for our first house.  After spending some time at a friend’s house we would be in the car driving back to our apartment discussing what we liked about their house and what we didn’t like.  How much is too much space?  How big of a yard do we really need?  What kind of finishes would look great?  Can we deal with a master bedroom that faces north and would be the coldest room in the house?

The one thing that we completely agreed on was that most of the new developer-built homes offered on the market were not really us.  They always seem to have a Disney-esque feel about them, with their perfectly manicured yards, the ornate neo-traditional trim everywhere, and what we felt was a vanilla interior that wreaked of beige and off-beige.  We knew even if we were the first people to live in a particular house we would do some kind of renovation to it in order to give the home some of our personality.

There’s an article in Architectural Record about a condominium project where some of the new residents of the building were modifying the new construction to better fuse their personalities into their new abode.  I can definitely sympathize with these people.  The top three rules in real estate are location, location, and location, and that is the driving force for most people selecting a new home.  You can find the perfect new home but if it’s not what you consider to be an acceptable location (i.e. close proximity to work, within the right school district, close to family, not far away enough from family) then more likely than not you’ll by-pass the opportunity to purchase the home.

This article also mentions how a project in New York consisted of empty boxes and essentially allowed the buyers of the new condo units to bring in their own architects and interior designers to create a customized space.  This strategy of creating empty boxes would help developers save money constructing homes that didn’t have to be finished, and home buyers would be able to save money by not having to pay for finishes and other items that would be removed anyways.

The empty box home allows a more inexpensive option for home buyers, a way to reduce waste created through renovation, create a way for builders and developers to save money constructing a house, and the ability for your home to be more attuned with your lifestyle.


2 thoughts on “Individualism Through Renovation

  1. Mile High Pixie

    Dude, I’m loving this! I put this site on my blogroll–my apologies for taking so long to find the site. Or maybe you sent me a link and I forgot because I’m a goober.

    Anyway, you make a good point about making a place your own. My hubby and I as architects had a slightly different slant on the house search: when we looked for condos seven years ago, we looked for a place that aesthetically was “close enough” to our tastes. We looked for things that worked pretty well with our modernist sensibilities (our condo now looks like Mies van der Rohe threw up in it) and also looked like they’d been worked on recently. We preferred to make changes mostly through superficial means; since we spend all our days remodeling other buildings, we really didn’t feel like coming home and doing yet more remodeling. (Yet we’re putting in a sound wall this Friday between our bedroom and the neighbor’s living room.)

  2. Eric Post author

    When we were looking for a house instead of looking for something that was close to our preferred style we looked for the blank slate. We found something that definitely needed work, so we felt like we saved some money that way. The owner told us he could put in some extra work to make the bathroom look a little more presentable and we begged him not to.


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