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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

500th Blog Post

Wow, in September, 2007, I started this blog (i reposted that thread at the bottom) and once, or twice, or 3x I week I go around, snap some photos, brainstorm on an angle of interest, edit and upload the photos, and write some narrative, sometimes compelling, sometimes angry, sometimes depressed but all the time real.

The goal was to track the highs and lows of this endeavor, and with remarkable consistency, I've done it, for better or for worse. They say that like 99% of all blogs are abandoned or un-updated for over 6 months, so just the consistent enthusiasm necessary to get it done on a weekly basis is pretty telling as to the enthusiasm as to which we tackle our day in and day out of running this home design and build and sell company.

Here is a retrospective of the first home in each of our home design lines -

Farm 1, our very first home, inspired by a run-down home outside of Fremont Center, started in 2003, and sold in 2004. Every driveway rock, every piece of lumber, every nail and window nearly bankrupted me - now we build 8 homes at a time and have money left over. We've come a long way baby.

This home was purchased by Phil and Karla and their two children, and they still own it, 7 years later, which is a long time to own a country home. The house wasn't perfect, but it's standing the test of time.

When it used to take us forever to sell a house, we used to furnish them. This one we furnished with a lot of shabby chic antiques. I was so all in in the house, that during the winter I slept there during the coldest nights just to ensure there was not a heat malfunction of any sort.

Matthew and Christopher bought Cottage #1 in May-ish of 2007. Farm 1 was an interesting idea because it was an attempt by Catskill Farms to give upstate retreaters another option besides 'this old house'. This old house is fine, but it's not for everyone. Most of our homeowners have experienced zero extra homeownership costs - which compared to the owners of 'that old house', is an extraordinary way to stay stress free and keep that dough in your pocket - or at least spend it on fun things like furniture, landscaping or building out the basement.

So Cottage #1 was developed with a macro idea in mind as well. At the height of the McMansion/ Hummer craze (sorry Christine), Catskill Farms understood the marketplace well enough to understand what the real sweet price point for our target buyers was. It was around $300k - was true in 2003, was true in 2007 and remains true today. Problem was that prices had inflated to such levels that it became very difficult to find anything half-decent.

So, in a very contrarian and counter-intuitive move, we kept the cool design, we kept the details and the aethestic, but we shrank the house, eliminated a bedroom and brought to market a brand new idea - a small, 2 bedroom, 1300 sq ft perfect little house.

We have just started Cottage 38, so I'm guessing we were onto something. At the time, small was not cool, modesty was way out of vogue, and money was cheap and easy like some whore from a Tom Waits song. Now, everyone builds small, everyone builds affordably, everyone had reduced unused living space.

But back in 2007 - you couldn't find a well-designed small home to save your life, irregardless of how much cash you had.

To keep things real, we also launched a few new styles, like the Barn #1 we built in 2006. We've now done 4 barnhouses, all with great lines, and loft-like attributes.

Once we started building small, we started really playing around since the one thing that keeps us moving is our inclination to keep things real and fresh and new. It's a hard thing to do- especially in building homes when all efficiencies come from standardization. But it's a trap, one that you don't escape from if you sell to clients as savvy as ours.

Mid-Century Ranch 1 is such a great story - It was a 900 sq ft 2 bedroom recession house, with both the bank and lumber company pretty skeptical about us starting 3 spec homes in the beginning of the great slow down - granted, no one knew how bad it would get, but it was pretty bad by the end of 2008.

Erin comes up, middle of January, freezing cold, looks around, sees the Ranch which was just a bunch of studs (framing lumber, not me and James), checks out Albert's barn/music studio that was under construction, and says she'll take it. She buys it, loves it, ends up getting married and the whole story just is really great, especially since her house hunt took all of 12 hours (some families take months and years).

Very cool home and interior.

Mini-Cottages were meant to hit a new price point - the mid to high $200's. With 1000 sq ft, 2 bedrooms, a bath and 5 acres on Tuthill Road, Jason and Justen are pretty settled in 18 months after the purchase.

This is Cottage 19.

And Mauricio's MicroCottage - our first 800 sq ft effort. We really sweated this one - since no one had dared to build a cottage of such miniature dimensions. but it worked out good, and now we've built a half dozen of them.

It's plenty of space, especially when you add in the front porch, back deck, couple of acres and the basement.

And the Shack - 500 sq ft of lovin'. It's our first one - It's cute.

So there you have it. 75 plus homes, $25m invested into this little community, 150 new people introduced to the area and added to the school and town tax roles, all tracked and documented on this little ol' blog of mine.

Which reminds me of a song, 'Sweet Child of Mine', but that's for a different day, different time.

To all of our faithful readers, We Salute You. That actually reminds me of a song as well - "For Those about to Rock, We Salute You'.

So, to our clients, and to our team, hats off. it's been a whale of a ride.

1 comment:

  1. The ambition was to clue the highs and lows of this endeavor, and with arresting consistency, I've done it, for bigger or for worse.

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