One and one and one is three…
It should not come as much of a surprise that houses in America have become larger over the years. From this article by Michael Batnick on The Irrelevant Investor comes this chart with data from the US Census Bureau:
Is the decline in median square feet since 2015 meaningful? Batnick doesn’t address this in the piece, but writes “Houses are getting bigger, and thanks to HGTV, they’re definitely getting nicer.” He also writes:
“Houses today are bigger and nicer than the ones we grew up in. I’m not going to get into interest rates in this post, but obviously, this is a critical part of the story.
It seems like there is an island in every kitchen and granite on every counter. These things did not exist when I was growing up. What I remember were old wooden counters and walls all over the place. Open concept is the thing these days. There are no more walls.
Crown molding is now standard. Bathtubs are separate from the shower. Houses are turning into hotels.”
Of course, as the population ages the median square footage for houses could decline as people often downsize as they grow older. Our Arizona house is 2,000 square feet smaller than our house in the mid-Atlantic. That fact is due primarily to the housing market here and what we wanted to spend and not necessarily due to a strong desire to downsize, though. Yes, Batnick is talking about new homes, but wealthier, elderly Americans could have new homes built that are smaller.
I grew up in a rowhouse–they weren’t called townhouses in those days–in Baltimore. I can’t find the square footage on the Baltimore City website, but I can tell you the lot is just 18 feet wide. Zillow to the rescue…according to them the house is 1,152 square feet. I’m guessing that counts the finished part of the basement, but I could be wrong. That house was built in the 1950s. From the Maryland Historical Trust a less than stellar picture of a rowhouse block:
For most of us, our house is the single most significant purchase we make. It is where memories are made. I have been remiss in not writing about this topic more often.
From Hemmings is this article about automobile restoration dos and don’ts. Here are most of the don’ts:
DON’T: Be afraid to ask questions
What kind and/or brand of paint does the shop typically use? Is it going to media blast the body or chemically strip it? If it doesn’t do its own engine work, who does it typically use? Get into the weeds of your restoration, so you’re clear about hows and whys of the work.
DON’T: Hover over the restoration shop
Let the shop do its work. Helicoptering over the project, because you live nearby, invites stress on your part and the craftspeople doing the work. A few in-person visits to track progress is fine, but don’t make the shop your weekly haunt. You’ll annoy the staff and interrupt the shop’s workflow.
DON’T: Change course midstream
It happens often: A simple repaint turns into a full-blown restoration, or standard resto turns into a concours-ribbon-chasing project. Changing course midway through the project inevitably requires the shop to backtrack and redo work. That adds time and money. Make your plan before the shop starts and stick with it.
DON’T: Expect to make money
Only a fraction of cars are worth more than what it costs for a full restoration. If you’re committing to the project, do it for the love of the car and thrill of the project itself. If it’s because you’re harboring notions of turning a profit after the color sanding is completed, don’t bother. For the vast majority of vehicles, it ain’t going to happen.
Of course, most of these tips do not apply to people doing the work themselves. The last “don’t” is something about which I have written before. I don’t believe in buying a car as a financial investment, but as an investment in the enjoyment of life. Some people think they can make money buying, restoring and flipping cars (of course, that’s similar to what many people do, or try to do, with houses…I am not writing about car dealers). I think if you can afford it and you want to restore a “classic” car, then you should do it “for the love of the car and thrill of the project itself.”
What I am doing with my Z06 is not a restoration in the traditional sense, but it is an investment in the enjoyment of my life. I will quote “Ferris Bueller,” “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Enjoy your holiday weekend!
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