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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Farm 12 - Sold (New Catskill Farms Tour Bus and Photo editing software)

It's been a bit crazy around Catskill Farms lately - this is the 3rd weekend I've had to double book appointments, meaning take more than one prospective customer out at a time since there just isn't enough time in a day to accomodate all the 'tour requests' - even got an email the other day from Mike wondering how to make an appointment for one of these 'famous tours'. So anyway, to make a long story short, I'm thinking about buying the above touring vehicle, and outfitting it with a speaker system - 'And here's Pablo's house on the right, and Jeanne's on the left and this old rock wall used to be the foundation of barn, and you see that deer and group of turkeys - I paid them to run across the yard just at the right moment, and that other family that is trailing behind us, well, they are paid actors to inject a sense of urgency into your homebuying process." Lisa always says I belong on the 'short bus', so why not go out a buy one?

Then I bought this cool high end photo manipulation software - so hopefully I can jazz up my photos even more than presently. Below is a radical interpretion I call "Guest Bathroom and John and Wendy's New Farmhouse". Who spiked the kool-aid?

Old School black and white of Farm 12, a house idea that the new owners brought to me - and after literally months of work nailing down the shaker details, and finding the land that matched the house - here we are, literally 6 months from ground-breaking, literally the weekend I told John it would be ready, here we are, just closing the deal this past Thursday.

Farmhouses and larger homes were our bread and butter for the first 4 years - I think I designed and built 14 1800 sq ft farmhouses, barns, art and crafts homes and the like from 2003 to 2007. Now we usually have one going but our bread is buttered more with cottages (1300 sq ft), mini-cottages (980 sq ft), micro-cottages (750 sq ft) and now the Shack series at (400 sq ft).

This home is on 7+ acres, has a seasonal stream, big trees and pretty picture perfect setting.

The thing about our homes is that they are not complex, grandiose, over-the-top marvels of craftsmanship. They are well-built, and they will stand the test of time both from an aesthetic and quality point of view. The genius is in the appreciation and execution of simple ideas - ie, an appreciation of good taste.
In the below photo - a simple entry way with stone flooring, a sliding barn door that segues into the powder room, laundry and double closet, a simply elegant staircase and spindle treatment, and some Jacobean stain to finish it off classically.

A little photo shop trickery below.

And the light that cascades into the dining room like the pearly gates of heaven. Actually, another photo shop effort.

Cathedral ceiling in the kitchen, a ceiling fan and recessed lighting. And the cool rad off to the left.

From the kitchen, past the stairs and peeking into the fireplace room.

Lots of heat in this room with the fireplace and white brick, and two radiators. French doors lead into the library with built in bookshelves.

Great built in with a great window seat with lifting lid for the kids to hide in.

Laundry room area, with the 5 panel doors and black hardware stealing the show.

2 upstairs landing shots - one manipulated, one not. Bead board edge and center planking make up a traditional wainscotting.

And the master bedroom, where the magic happens. The 15 light door leads out to the 2nd floor deck.

Double his and her sinks in the bathroom off the bedroom. I hate the words subdivision, development, bonus room and even master bedroom (made worse by the abbreviation 'MBR') and worst of all, Master Suite.

Great shower with bench.

A little more fun - these doors lead to the kid's rooms, the linen closet and the gst bath, respectively.

These hanging trough sinks have really become popular. I think Albert pioneered the selection.

So there you have it. So far this year we have built and sold Cottage 24, Cottage 2o, Ranch II, Barn II, Micro III, and now Farm 12. Cottage 25 will be coming in for a soft landing here in Mid-June, and Cottage 28 and Ranch III are under construction and spoken for. Cottage 29 just got started and is unspoken for and Farmhouse 14 is sitting, furnished, looking for a date to the dance. We just put some furniture in and boy does it look great.
Just read in the Times that some owners of an expensive 'green building' in lower Manhattan are suing the developer because the 'green' attributes are dubious at best, with no quantitative proof of lower energy costs or improved air quality. I think this is a great development, because if you are out saying 'this house is green', 'this house will pay for itself', 'this house will improve your health', 'this house will save you money' - then the house better be all those things. If someone buys a $400k home over a $325k home because they believe it has long term financial benefits, then that house better perform.
In terms of all the 'green washing' out there - builders and marketers are trying to gain an edge by claiming their homes are green, I'd say watch out. I see a field day for a good attorney, quantitively proving that a lot of these claims are bullshit, leed certified or not. I think a good young attorney could really make his make suing for 'misleading or outright false advertising'.
Our homes - I don't even bother yelling they are green they are so green. With the fantastic spray foam insualtion, salvaged materials, propane boilers, small footprints and efficient build process- I will put our homes head to head with any modular or stick built 'green builder' - the proof, they say, will certainly be in the pudding.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Keep those Doogies Moving -

Our latest and greatest and last ad in the New York Magazine, a 13 week run that I thought was really pretty neat. I mean, we owned it - no one upstate was running ads, and here we were - this itty bitty little red engine pulling out a 13 week 1/2 page ad run.

We are doing a lot of building, and it looks like we will be doing so for the foreseeable future, having just consummated two new deals, as well as probably another big one on the short term horizon.

Here's the pink house - and if you can remember back when they put this pink house wrap up, I bemoaned the fact since now the house was going to be pink until we got the siding up.

In the foreground is the 1998 Rav that I bought when I moved up here in 2002. Drove it for 130,000 miles, Lisa learned how to safely drive in the snow in it (she's from Virginny), -although come to think of it she was one of the few people who could get that car stuck - it was virtually stick free, with it's all-wheel drive, etc... Then Juan, who is back in Guatemala with his kids, bought it from us, and now Job, Juan's protege bought it from him - and it lives on and on. Seriously, nothing like a reliable car to help you get ahead of the game.

Here's Ed, really 'pouring it on' for the camera. His grimace from the weight of the board is a bit overkill in my book. This is the 2nd day of floor laying, and we will finish it up today. That's the good and bad thing about small houses - they go quick, and that means a shorter construction time, but it also means you gotta be on your game in regards to administration - every two days brings a new phase.

The upstate landing with the sheetrock art and wood ceilings. Anytime I can steal a little space from the bedrooms and give a little to the upstairs foyer, I do it - in terms of space give-back, that intangible feedback that sells homes, and inspires buyers (actually one and the same thing) - a little knowledge goes a long way.

Looking into the mbr and the upstairs bath. There's another half bath in this Cottage 28 - a 1300 sq ft 2 bedroom wonder.

And the bedroom, with lots of light, and big high ceilings.

And we are not wasting anytime on Ranch III - a 1200 sq ft 2 bedroom on a concrete slab with radiant heat, super insulation and secret little house spot that fits the home like only a builder with 70 homes under his belt could manage.

We got John coming through the ultra May green with the secondary electric, bringing power to the home so the rest of us can work like gentlemen.

And Rich the plumbing and heating maestro surveying his slab rough in, just about ready to put the piping under air pressure to check for any leakage. His co-worker behind him always runs from the camera, like he's the subject of America's Most Wanted episode.

First the dig, then the footings, then the foundation, then the stone tamped, then the waste and vent lines, then the slab electric outlets, then the insul-tarp, then the slab wire, then the radiant heat and then the slab - and then the frame goes up. Won't be long.

And this 2400 sq ft home that has been in the works on Tuthill Road since last November is reaching the closing table tomorrow. Not much more really needs to be said.

Tito is wrapping up the back porch with his magic painting brush.

And Cottage 25, with the screened porch for bug free dining and cocktails. Rough cut locally harvested porch railings.

Handhewn stair posts, red kitchen, ledgestone wood stove nook.

A bold red kitchen, that really works.
And the room that will serve many purposes I'm sure.

And our newest Cottage, this 960 sq ft pretty cool design is up for grabs - that's right - unspoken for. That's right, unsold. That's right - a cottage for sale.

8 acres in the town of Lumberland, in the hamlet of Barryville. Just another little piece of magic in the middle of nowhere.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Home Owner Peter

We have a lot of accomplished clients - and I'm pretty sure that's the neatest part of the Catskill Farms story. The diversity of our clients. I would shout out a few, but the ones that catch my eye arent' always the ones that the NYTimes would fawn over. I like the young business woman vaulting to the top of the new media world, the communications entreprenuer, the international shipping business owner, the personal assistant to a billionare, the naturalists, the artist, the architect, the researcher, and a host of others serving up their A game in the rough and tumble city. I know the NY Times would love to fawn over over the Broadway music producer, the A-list comedian, the rock star or that amazing builder I keep hearing about, but that's just so easy.

So here's my friend Peter, who retained us to build him a new home in Walton New York. Actually, he stalked us, told us we had to build his home, that we didn't have a choice - even if it was 2 hrs away. So we designed and built his Gothic Cottage last year. James played a big part in the design, and I think's it's where Kevin our architect got his start with us.

Well, anyway, Peter Sorenen likes to design things for Michelle Obama, and here is a link sent to me by Van, partner of Eric, who is a pretty fancy style writer for the NY Times (talk about uncomfortable when I found that out - actually, just kidding, I don't take it personal if the Times writes about the wrong things and while shouting it's the right thing).

Hope you don't mind the shout out, Peter. I mean, you are in the public eye now. I wonder what type of security check he had to go through, and what type of cloth examination was required?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Construction - R - US

Here's my new cow painting, hanging nicely above my type writer collecetion, set against the board and batton walls. The Painting came from an artist Lisa and I really enjoy (I was going to write "Lisa and I's favorite local artist', but the correct grammer got too complicated). We bought it at the River Gallery in Narrowsburg, run by Tony and Barry. It's one of my favorite stores in the region. I'm a pretty picky shopper, but everytime I frickin walk in there, Tony's got something 'right back here' that 'you're gonna love', and the guy is right - I'm always walking out his store with a big painting.

Office taking shape nicely. Interesting material arrangement - board and batton on the rear wall, sheetrock on the right, and corrugated sheet metal on the left. Polished and stained concrete, with radiant heat, a stained wood ceiling, and a Mid-Century Eames chair to nicely complete the room.

Cottage 28 is way past the point of this picture, but I always love the booms, and lifts and stuff that facililate our efforts.

And this is a lovely picture from the rear right angle. It's a little dining room off the kitchen, with tile floors, lots of windows and a cathedral ceiling. It's a great shape. We found humungus bear prints in the mud around this house the other day. I was half expecting the bear to be sitting at a table inside the house.

Cottage 25 is moving right along and we should be turning the home over to Steve here in the next few weeks. Not much left to finish.

And the porch of all porches at Farmhouse 12. Rounded, exposed rafters. Just the right size for lots of diverse activities. Their kids are going to love this porch - actually maybe the parents will, now being able to just 'stick the kids on the porch'. Inside is done, and just need to paint and finish the grading on the land.

Tito and his helper painting the brick fireplace.

And, since we don't waste time, here is the foundation of Ranch 3 - our newest mid-century masterpiece. It's going under contract here shortly.

Nice lot, with great views, just a few miles outside of Narrowsburg, NY.

And here's Mark, our local floor sanding craftsman. We're lucky to have him - he makes our floors look great. He's at our offices here, on a Thursday afternoon, and I needed it resanded, stained, and 3 coats of poly by Monday Morning. Of course, no problemo. Note Jake, who has become a real camera whore.

This is a cool construction photo, below - usually, it's man and his machine. Here is just machine, in an empty room.

I love when they write about upstate. I'm immediately swamped by emails and phone calls. Thanks New York Times - it's much appreciated. Keep up the good work.