Friday, August 31, 2012

Now I've seen it all


I've seen a lot of downright crazy developments as this natural gas thing played out upstate, but I don't think I've seen anything as ludicrous as Sean and Yoko Ono (with Sean, after a lifetime of anonymity - one picture I saw even had him in a suit like his dad's famous white one) coming out vocally against domestic gas exploration at the last possible moment, when the spotlight of the press is the hottest.

Add that to the 'can't make this stuff up' collection I keep in a drawer at my office.  The more I see the celebrity train attempt to rush the stage and jockey for the limelight, the happier I am to have stayed off that bandwagon.

Move over FarmAid - here comes SamAid (Singers against Marcellus).  Where we can serve our Marcellus Ale that a client and I are secretly brewing in his basement.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sullivan County NY Homes for Sale and Under Construction

We do a lot of post-closing work for our clients.  Build a garage, finish a basement, help with a new building they purchased.  Below is Barn 1, just repainted, 7 yrs after the sale.  One, it looks great.  Two, it's amazing we've been doing this that long.  Oh, if only those lonely country roads could talk, they could certainly tell some sorry stories about my first years doing this Catskill Farms thing.  Lonely, hard, doubtful, steep learning curve.  Wearing way too many unfamiliar hats - developer, designer, builder, employer, salesman and probably the hardest, customer service.



Now, I think we've mastered most of those, with customer service being about as important for us as it is for our clients.  When I travel, purchase, shop, - I am subconsciously comparing our process with those I'm encountering and I have to say we rank up there pretty high, regardless of the hotel chain, car dealership, suit maker, realtor or bureaucrat I encounter.

Considering our clients are about the pickiest, most demanding, discerning demographic one can target, it's a high achievement.  that caliber of expectations is all we know so we always had to deliver a product and process that met that set of high expectations.




Lucas wearing my boots, his superman shirt, his skull and crossbones thermals and his batman mask, at my office, waiting for some clients to show.


And adding the helmet for good measure.



Here was a run I was on in Saugerties out to an impossibly cool old lighthouse, through the high grass and marshes just after the Hudson high tide.


Our Sullivan County projects are going great, with Farm 20 in Barryville currently getting the exterior siding installed and insulation.  I believe at this point it may even be sheet rocked.











And Cottage 39 in Eldred, a 2 two bedroom 1.5 bath home that just went into contract.


And Farm 19 in Narrowsburg NY on 10 acres is moving right along.


Wasp in the spider's nest.  Kind of like our prospective clients when they learn what we can deliver in terms of quality and design, and at the price we can do it.  It's a value and lifestyle offering that many find compelling indeed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Farm 21 (aka Craftsman II) (and going into Contract)

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
                                                  By any other name would smell as sweet."

But with Marketing, sure, definitely names matter.  That's why we don't call our homes the "Bennington", or the "Chatham" or the "Wentworth" - we are more down home than all that.  But I was thinking this over the other day with our Arts and Crafts line of homes.  One, it's a pain to write and say.  Two, lots of folks don't know exactly what it means, unlike the visual one gets with Cottage, or Farmhouse or Mid-Century.  And three, it just doesn't have that zing that I strive for.  So we decided to rename it, but then I couldn't decide between 'Craftsman' or 'Farm 21'.  I like Craftsman, and of course I like Farm 21, but whichever, I think the issue has been resolved.


And holy frickin' mackerole, now this house seems to be going into contract which will leave up completely sold out in Ulster County AGAIN.  So, it was only 15 months ago we entered the Ulster marketplace and one could say "Veni, vidi, vici" if one was so compelled.

I came, I saw, I conquered.  Not bad for a guy from the sticks.

The pics are a little dark regrettably, but we did some old school Morning Dew paint on the walls, salvaged red planking, whitewashed ceiling planks, early american floor stain, and host of our most legacy go-to choices.


And there is Tito, the master painter.


And from the rear... (very hard to not say something clever here)


...but I'm growing as an individual and hence kept such impulses at bay.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cottage 39 Goes to Contract And the Shack is Sold

 It's a dreamboat of a house - modeled after that winner Cottage 1, which started our path to fame and fortune, way back in 2007, when the local real estate community scoffed at the idea of a 2 bedroom 1300 sq ft home.

For under $330k, this home is rocking outside of Barryville NY.   We have a new strategy in Sullivan County with our spec homes (homes whos construction began without a buyer signed up) this year and that is to build the home, carve in the driveway, put the roof, windows and even the siding on so it can really be visualized by potential new homeowners, but leave the interior completely unfinished so the new homeowners can put their stamp on it.


And the Man Shed.
So congrats Todd and Tomoko.  You're gonna love it up here.

And the The Shack - that adorable little 500 sq ft 1 bedroom house up on Lucky Lake Road.  The house everyone wanted to see, the house I've owned for awhile.


Wow, the Shack, Ranch V - small 1 bedrooms that were built as the market and the magazines and my market information were pointing to smaller and lower price point.  Then, just like that, at the end of 2010, bam, the market changed for us and 2011 was not the year of the tiny house but actually the year of 3 bedroom 1500 sq ft farmhouses.  Just makes you value being a company that can turn on a dime, keep its ear close to the tracks and pivot into the prevailing winds, however slight and modest they may be.

I

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rabid Beaver - Careful out there

Rabid beaver attacks NY man swimming in Pa. river


PINE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- A Boy Scout leader from New York who was attacked by a rabid beaver while swimming in the Delaware River is recovering.

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that 51-year-old Normand Brousseau, of Pine Plains, was swimming in eastern Pennsylvania on Aug. 2 when a beaver swam through his legs and bit him in the chest.

The animal then bit him in the leg, buttocks, arm, hand and torso before he managed to grab it and hold its jaw closed.

One Boy Scout pulled Brousseau to shore, where he tossed the beaver away from him. The Scouts then used rocks to kill the animal.

A doctor confirmed the beaver had rabies a day after the attack.

Dutchess County health officials say a rabid beaver attack is unusual.

(you can't make this stuff up, nor do you get to use 'rabid beaver' in mixed company very often)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Narrowsburg Kicking Ass

Catskill Farms was building in Barryville long before it became trendy - now the farmer's market sells out in a few hours on a sunny Saturday Morning.

Catskill Farms has been adding great houses in Narrowsburg since 2003 with a big uptick in activity in the last 3 years.

With the Pig Fest, the Eagle Fest, the firework-less July 4th and now a sizable grant from Sullivan Renaissance, Narrowsburg seems like the place to be. 

Which makes me wonder if the subtle impact of our homes and the subsequent homeowners is a lot greater than I give them credit for.  And that's saying something since I'm not afraid to say that our homes have a lot of impact.  I think we have 19 homes within a few miles of the town, including Farm 1, 2 & 3, where each day it seemed less likely we were going to make it out of the dangerous infancy of a business.

Now, the only thing to avoid will be a self-inflicted shot in the foot, which is typically par for the course for these small towns and their small town politics. Provincial charm is nice up to a point, and typically that point is where it impacts your wallet.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Houses for Sale in Woodstock and Bearsville (and under construction)


This inspired Cottage on Glasco Turnpike, 5 miles from downtown Woodstock, 7 miles from Saugerties is just getting started.  A very challenging building lot, but now that we have it figured out, well worth the effort of all the engineers, inspectors, surveyors and the like to make it happen.

And we do that a lot - 'making it happen' - with all the things that can come in the way of the finish line, or actually the starting line, Catskill Farms has a great record of helping families figure out what they want, and then the strategy to make it happen.  It's not easy, but our end to end integrated approach leaves few persons swallowed up by all the seams and crevices inherent in the process.



Cottage 40, in Bearsville, is inspired by Matthew and Sarah's Cottage 36 in Narrowsburg, and now it appears we will be doing a deal on Cottage 43 in Saugerties on a house that is similar.  It's always a double-edged sword bitter-sweet pill for our clients that pioneer a new path or design - it's quite the compliment to have persons with good taste choose a design you had a hand in designing, specially since these new folks are typically quite discerning.  But at the same time, some of the absolute purity is lost when we do a design more than once, but in the end it's the nature of the beast, and typically, the similarities are basically the structure, with the finishes and design approach in general being fresh and unique onto the new persons aesthetic.

Cottage 2 is Cottage 6 is Cottage 18 is Cottage 22 is Cottage 38 is Cottage 41.  Little bigger, little smaller, darker, lighter, bigger porch, finished basement, red, brown, natural, blue.




This 3 bedroom 2 bath home has been a winner since it was built, inspiring a few families to pull the trigger (and I don't even think I can give all of the credit the subtle decorating humor of Cottage 36 owners).  It's just a hot little house with a lot of punch.

In this home the cabiny/stain approach was taken a step further than the previous version, with the great room ceiling and the upstairs bedrooms and bath getting the 'rustic' 'woodsy' treatment.



It's a good design and we spent a few hours nailing it down and making it work.  That's Carl, from Glasco Cottage fame, checking out what we are doing at Cottage 40 and the Craftsman over in Saugerties, either for inspiration or in order to continually gauge our professionally.  I'm fine with either.  The more people see us in action, be through the blog or in real life, the more they believe they can pull this 'build the perfect little house' thing off.






Tito the painter stays right with us, which is quite the accomplishment considering how many homes we have going at any point.  While we have 2 framing crews and several masons and excavators we only have one painter, and he's good at what he does.


The Thing about the Herman Miller Eames Lounger is its arrogance.  I have one in my office, on my polished concrete floor, underneath my vintage typewriter collection.  It's comfy, but the angle is not adjustable - these designers in the 1950's just decided they knew what was best, and how to get most comfortable in a seated position to read or relax.  And they designed and marketed a chair based on their feeling that they knew best.

I feel the same way - at this point, we know how keep our clients aligned for success, and we are very serious they keep the chair in the right position.

Friday, August 10, 2012

River Distorter Strikes Again

The River Distorter has struck again with its multi-year propaganda campaign concerning anything related gas drilling.  If it can be spun, they spin it.  If it doesn't match the pre-set Fox News-like filter criteria, they can omit it.  In fact, what they don't choose to report is actually where they do the most harm.

Anyways, a letter to the editor boldly lumps me in with the 'fanatical pro-gas drillers' and typically they wouldn't allow something like this to run, but I guess they're mad cause I've been saying their newspaper isn't really a newspaper but actually a wholly- propagandist rag that has no regard for anything other than their righteousness. 

But just to clarify matters - I'm not a fanatical pro-gas guy, but it's pretty clear that if you aren't going to use the gas under our feet, and you continue your use of fossil fuels without alteration, then you are a 'pro-foreign energy' person - that's where the energy comes from duh.  I'm not sure why that simple piece of logical would get Laurie McFadden's panties all tied up in a knot and motivate her to write a mean libelous letter about me.

It really hurts my feelings.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Saugerties NY Houses for Sale (and under construction)

Farmhouse 21, aka Arts & Crafts 2, is located in Saugerties NY, where we are building our 3rd and 4th homes in that area since last July.

Here's the annual bed race below on a main downtown street, just below my apartment.


Then over to Old Sawmill Road where we have a 1600 sq ft 3 bedroom 2 bath home on 3 acres.


Defined on the outside by the stone and tapered columns, and on the inside with an open floor plan and a super cool space serving as the dining room.



Using some salvaged wood right inside the front door.



The man-shed back behind the house.


Lot's of work being done last week on this house, with most of the interior going from the insulation phase to the paint stage in less than 6 days.





Then next door on 3.5 acres is Barn VI.  This is a hot house, an iteration of Barn V which was such a head-turner.  This week is this houses turn to be fluffed and flattered and fretted over and fondled.






I figure the Craftsman will be done in Mid-September, and it's for sale.  And the Barn should be rounding the final corner here at the end of September as well.