Time Thief

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Aging of the housing stock

NPR ran this story last week about tear-downs in Chicago and it reminded me of a post I've been meaning to write.

Here in Perfect Village, we've seen the same thing as told in the NPR story. People building gigantic bohemoths that do nothing for the neighborhood. Sometimes they are teardowns replaced with well-designed (by McMansion standards) palaces. Sometimes they look like an apartment building was dropped on top of a poor, unassuming Cape. In either case, they tend to be BIG.

It has gotten so out of hand that the Village recently modified the permit process. Residents now must submit a full site plan and construction documents for any project that includes creating new structures or adding on to existing. They've also added new lot coverage and height guidelines. Somehow, the city managed to halt the construction of one out-of-control home until after they could enact the new rules. Good idea I suppose, but it complicates my plans to build a garden shed. Site plan? Drawn to scale? From me? I don't think so.

Anyway......with an eye towards helping the post-war housing stock grow old gracefully, the Mid-America Regional Council has published an Idea Book to help owners in "First Suburbs" update their homes to modern standards.

Now, I can't say whether they present good ideas or not. MARC charges for their book. This is something I don't understand at all. If their mission is education and beautification, shouldn't they make it easy to access? From what I can see, similar organizations across the country provide their plan books free-of-charge via web download. (See the 'Plan Books from Other Communities' section here you lucky Minnesotans.)

I can only hope that their suggestions allow for updating the homes while remaining true to some of the neighborhood roots. Unfortunately, that probably comes down to the execution and you can't publish a plan book for that. Whilst my internal debate about what to do with The Kitchen rages on, I'll keep my $10 (on principle) and stick to trolling the open houses for more remodeling ideas.


  • Great points. That, my friend, is a really important point. Unless you’re a contractor, it’s hard to make sure you don’t get ripped off when you bring in a remodeler to fix up your home. What do you do if you’re cost conscious about a remodeling project, but don’t know what to do?One great way to get pricing on projects like this is to submit your project inquiry into one of the companies that helps match you with qualified remodeling contractors. For example, at Remodeling In Town.com you can submit your project info for free, and then lots of contractors can see the project. They have this technology that makes sure the contractors who can actually do your job can then contact you to give you an estimate. I think it’s pretty cool cuz you can save money once you get a bunch of quotes, ya know?

    By Blogger senthil, at 9:18 PM  

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