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Old 05-04-2009, 09:42 PM   #1
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What price hath Aesthetics?


When do you think people will start building homes based on practicality (shelter) rather then on aesthetics?

What percentage of the total cost of a home is due to aesthetics?
(my $250 washing machine washes clothes the same as a $1,000 washer)
(My $3,000 asphalt roof keeps me dry just like a $30,000 slate roof)

If you built a home based on a shelter concept like they started out being, how much do you think you would save?

My next home will be primarily a climate shelter with a practical level of comfort.

The two need to be balanced.

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Old 05-04-2009, 09:45 PM   #2
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What price hath Aesthetics?


People build & buy according to their income

A $3k car gets you around the same as a $300k Lamborghini

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Old 05-04-2009, 09:51 PM   #3
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What price hath Aesthetics?


So I'm assuming CNM Design is more of a meat & three type of company.
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:52 PM   #4
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What price hath Aesthetics?


It's all about what value you, yourself ascribe to this sort of thing. Don't be a hater. Be an appreciator.

I see NO reason to try and excise those items that generate purely emotional reactions "I just love my 200 year old heart of pine floors". That's what makes my house MY HOME.

Also finery and frippery often are the result of hardworking craftsmen (and women) and I would hate to put those folks out of work.
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Old 05-04-2009, 10:23 PM   #5
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What price hath Aesthetics?


That slate roof will most likely last 5 times as long as your asphalt roof. Adjust the future costs for inflation of replacing your shingle roof many times and you will end up roughly at the same number over the life of the roof. Often times the old saying you get what you pay for rings true. There is a big difference between your gripe about paying money solely for aesthetics and paying for quality materials.
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Old 05-04-2009, 11:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ Brickie View Post
That slate roof will most likely last 5 times as long as your asphalt roof. Adjust the future costs for inflation of replacing your shingle roof many times and you will end up roughly at the same number over the life of the roof. Often times the old saying you get what you pay for rings true. There is a big difference between your gripe about paying money solely for aesthetics and paying for quality materials.

I was not griping. I started this topic to invoke thought, not to start WWIII. When I said yours, I did not mean you.
I changed it from yours to a.

Yes you are correct, and if someone offered me a slate roof for $4K I would jump on it. However, how many people live in a house for more than a hundred years? As for ROI, how many people who have slate roofs now, have an upside down mortgage? If I pay $4K for an asphalt roof, I do with the expectation of getting that much use, and plan accordingly.
In the US, the national average as tracked by the National Association of Realtors say, every 7 years a person moves. I am sure that varies from country to country. It varies from region to region in the US as well. My father was a Wildlife biologist for the state of Ohio. From the time I was born till I was out of high school we lived in six different homes. You can’t always count on getting your money back. It’s my opinion there will be a time when practicality will be everything. I’m just trying to get an idea which way the wind is blowing.

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Old 05-05-2009, 04:16 PM   #7
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What price hath Aesthetics?


I did not take anything you wrote personally. Nor did I mean anything I wrote personally toward you. I agreed on the washing machine example not the roof example. If you look at all the tract housing going up, the quality is not there. If you use vinyl siding vs. a brick veneer as an example it would be the same as the roof scenario. Over time the brick will be cheaper but the up front costs are higher. I do understand that most people in this country move around alot. But that has nothing to do with building a house based on shelter vs. aesthetics. If the house was designed on the idea of just shelter it would most likely be ugly, built for little to no maintenance, and built to last many generations. Why not build to last 200+ years if you were not worried the building would go out of style or need updating?
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:37 PM   #8
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What price hath Aesthetics?


Quote:
Originally Posted by CNM Design View Post
When do you think people will start building homes based on practicality (shelter) rather then on aesthetics?

What percentage of the total cost of a home is due to aesthetics?
(my $250 washing machine washes clothes the same as a $1,000 washer)
(My $3,000 asphalt roof keeps me dry just like a $30,000 slate roof)

If you built a home based on a shelter concept like they started out being, how much do you think you would save?

My next home will be primarily a climate shelter with a practical level of comfort.

The two need to be balanced.
Boy, do I ever agree with you. Would you believe there is a basket company, in Dresden I think, that actually weaves baskets that are supposed to resemble Lady Bugs?

What kind of a guy would make his living doing something so frivolous and shallow? Not at all practical.
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:48 PM   #9
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What price hath Aesthetics?


Real architecture and construction combines both elements so that you get both aesthetics, practicality, and durability. "Cheap" is not limited to materials costs, I see much more cheap design, in fact. Cheap in this sense meaning easy. Like this:

EIFS (fake stucco) questions

In this case, the design is poor, i.e. cheap, and the choice of materials is also "cheap", although it is more expensive than better alternatives.

The best way to spend money on building anything is on the time to think it through, refine it on paper, and research possible methods and materials. I much prefer to wad up a piece of paper than I do to tear out a poorly designed wall.
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:15 PM   #10
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What price hath Aesthetics?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Willie T View Post
Boy, do I ever agree with you. Would you believe there is a basket company, in Dresden I think, that actually weaves baskets that are supposed to resemble Lady Bugs?

What kind of a guy would make his living doing something so frivolous and shallow? Not at all practical.
MAN! I WISH I could get one of those jobs!
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Old 05-05-2009, 09:22 PM   #11
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What price hath Aesthetics?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah Frances View Post
MAN! I WISH I could get one of those jobs!
Someone here HAD that job for fifteen years. I think he understands the point of my post.
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:08 PM   #12
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What price hath Aesthetics?


In a given week I could be inspecting everything from trashed out foreclosures selling for $30,000 or $40,000 to new construction selling for $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 or more, that same week I could be interacting with clients who understand virtually nothing about construction and clients who are architects or builders. I see a very wide range of cost of construction quality, and just about the entire spectrum of people purchasing shelter, status or income. And one of the things I've had to learn is hat I absolutely cannot let my own experience and taste dictate how I interpret and report what I see, in fact I think the temptation to do so is one of the major causes of problems in my industry, and of and I've even written a page for my website about why it's important not to let these factors color the way I do my job:

That said, here are a few observations I frequently find that I'm making (to myself):

1) I must have passed several hundred hundred expensive new houses in upscale communities along the shore of Lake Michigan north of Chicago in the last few years, and not one of them has displayed real creativity, or to my eye possessed real architectural distinction.

This is actually quite remarkable; it used to be the case that at least some of the people who had the money to commission custom residential architecture on substantial scale were looking to live in a residence the clearly reflected their personality, or at least the conspicuous consumption of creative architectural talent.

The McMansions that have sprung up around here during the boom however - irrespective of cost - are generally designed in imitation of something else; an English manor house... A French château.... or all too often one of those ridiculous breeds of dogs produced by crossing a dachshund and a wolfhound (or however they are making them).

I call this "when CAD goes bad " - elements from various eras of ostentatious architecture get jammed together like Legos your kid left in the oven: there's a Victorian chimney at one end, a Gothic turret at the other, the two are linked together by what appears to be a Swiss chalet and topped with an eyebrow window below a widow's walk, with the Georgian stables separated from the residence by a French garden graced with acrylic replicas of headless Grecian torsos interspersed with contemporary life-size realistic bronzes of children doing the things the children used to do back in the days when soccer moms were operating ringer washers instead of SUVs.

I guess this shouldn't be surprising, the young couples who bought most of them (on option loans) spent their teenage years and young adulthood learning to be dentists or software architects or investment bankers, and there is no particular reason why they should know good architecture from hideous abomination.

Still, it does give me pause: if this is what they're looking for in their houses, imagine the result when they start specifying the genetic design of their children!

2) People will spend $85,000 on kitchen upgrades, but hesitate to spend $850 to upgrade their insulation from the minimum required to meet the local building code to the amount recommended by the Department of Energy.

3) The relationship of construction cost to construction quality is the best perverse, and more likely nonexistent.

4) Houses are way too complicated, I've been learning about them for 35 years, and I'm still learning significant new things about them every day.

5) Worse, building a properly operating house is getting more and more complicated and unlikely. It's darn near impossible to kill a 100 year old structure constructed using traditional Chicago masonry techniques - you can abuse such a structure for decades without destroying - it but a modern house clad in EIFS requires superhuman perfection in its detailing if it's not to rot from the inside out within a decade or so.
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:22 PM   #13
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And the contractors fire a shot over my bow.

After I retired from the military, I moved back home and needed a job. They were hiring. To me, it was the practical thing to do. Why work at McDonald’s? After a year I was up to $20 an hour. In the 15yrs I was a weaver I was paid piece rate and made over 190,000 baskets and a lot of money. I wove the small baskets, sometimes 14 of the an hour some times only 3 if I had to make some of the big ones. The baskets paid between $3 and $20 each. I made a living off the back of aesthetics. At the same time, in 2000-01 making 40.000 baskets a day, the company had $1 billion in sales. (keep in mind this is a private mom and pop family business) I would bet that 99% were bought in the name of aesthetics. And now, because the Company’s soul being was based on the (frivolous and shallow) apparition of aesthetics, I’m stuck with a $1,200 a month mortgage and no job. First time in 33yrs.

When it comes to aesthetics, I’ve learned my lesson. If I had bought a more practical modest home, I could have banked $7-800 a month or used it on my kids. Chances are, you still have a job and will not fully understand where I am coming from till you lose it. I pray you don’t.

How ever, I do think I understand why this has gotten under the skin of some of you on this forum. Some of you make your living off the back of aesthetics (just like I did), building what Michael Thomas in the last post calls McMansions, and the thought of people moving towards practicality is a direct attack your lively hood.

What’s wrong with building a house that will last over a 100yrs? Lets take Leah Frances and the 206 year old home he is working on, those men were true builders. Would you call his house ugly and maintenance free? What are the chances his great great grandchild 206yrs from now will be looking forward to fixing up one of the homes made in the last 50yrs? I think zero, what do you think? Boy talk about shallow and frivolous jobs.

I think at least half of what I hand crafted, over the normal course of events will still be around after a 100yrs and 5 or 6% after 200. (purely speculation, but I think fare, just based on the laws of statistics)

W T, last night I read some of your post for over an hour trying to get to know you better. It seams to me you are well schooled and knowledgeable in your craft and you are to be commended. I think it would be nothing for you to get on your XP (hope you got it going again, your right, stay away from Vista) and design and build a practical quality home, well balanced with a little aesthetics that will last a 100yrs, even FL. If you like, e-mail me, I have some ideas.

Good luck to all, hope the housing market turns around soon.

Thanks’ for your opinions.

Here is a sample of one of our products. Do you know someone who has one?
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http://www.longaberger.com/ourProducts.aspx
http://www.answers.com/topic/the-longaberger-company


Compare the quality of your work to builders and homes built 200yrs ago, instead of the guy who built the house next door.
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:33 PM   #14
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What price hath Aesthetics?


It was a different world 200 years ago
People want what people want
We bought a much more modest house then what we could afford
We based the mortgage & LIVING expenses on one of our salaries, not both
Our house is from the 50's
It will be 3,000 sq ft once I'm done - originally 1640 sq ft
I like the fact it is different
And Yes, I am renovating a house built in the last 50 years
There are plenty of houses that can & are renovated by homeowners

It's time consuming & costs $$ to meet current code
In many cases it's easier & less expensive to bulldoze the house & build from scratch
That's not a reflection on the builders, it's just a fact
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:40 PM   #15
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I agree with you, Sir. We are all going in the wrong direction. And, honestly, it kills my soul to have built some of the homes I have dutifully produced in the past few years. But chase the dollars we all must.

As you could, no doubt, design your products to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing, made to last years, so could most of us in our own esoteric arenas. But could we sell them? Probably not.

A distinct aspect of quality is that it usually entails the investment of both time and more enduring materials. That's money that we need to recoup in order to remain in business. There just aren't that many Oprahs and Donald Trumps for us to sell to.

I'm afraid only a few homes will ever combine the timelessness of good taste and durability. The rest will be caught in the rush of the grinding wheels of productivity. Would that it weren't so.

And, BTW, the "frivolous and shallow" comment was tongue in cheek... and perhaps a bit too sharp in context. My apologies. I happen to love both baskets and handmade bird houses. I have numerous examples of both around my home. Maybe even one of yours. But most were purchased at a time in my life when I estimate I had somewhere around $ 40,000 a year of extra, disposable income to buy my heart's desires. Today, I could not do the same. I still collect baskets and birdhouses, but these days, I have to hope to find them at yard sales. The buck, or lack of it, has me in its grip. And to tell you the truth, it's rare I see new items of my addiction that I would consider worth the asking prices.

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