Monday, August 18, 2008

Cost of a house in 1924 :: $4,470

Cisco, Utah

Okay, they added a heating system in 1929 for $225 - make it $4,695. I ran across this doing a search for cedar shingles.

I remember our house in Lafayette, Louisiana that my parents bought in 1974 for roughly $45,000. It was a three bedroom, two bath, "ranch" style (one story) with a carport. It was in a "nice" neighborhood, on one acre with huge oak trees. Oh, and it was on a small lake. I would paddle my canoe around it after school - kinda like Walden Pond. It had a huge deck in the back yard, a small workshop that I built like a little Acadian style cottage, and we ended up enclosing the carport to make an art studio for my mom to paint in. Middle class geologist level. My mom sold it in 1983 or 1984 after my dad died for $150,000.

I just did a little looking - out of curiosity - at current real estate prices in Lafayette. I found a similar sized/aged/designed house pretty close to my old neighborhood. It's listed at $295,000. Brand spanking new homes are in the $400,000 to $500,000 range.

Remember when you could buy a raw lot for $10,000? Then it was $20,000, then $50,000, then $100,000 and $150,000. One hundred and fifty grand just for a freaking bare lot. I know this will depend a great deal on where you are geographically. Hell, a "lot" in Aspen can run you $8,000,000. I call it a lot, but it's really a tear down. That means there's a perfectly good, livable house on it that someone is going to tear down to build a McMansion. McMansion really doesn't convey the proper image. 15,000 square feet at $800 per square foot construction cost (and I'm being modest/frugal here) - that's $12 million plus the "lot" at $8mil equals $20,000,000. That doesn't include architecture, structural engineering, civil engineering, MEP (mech/elec/plumbing) design, interior design, lighting design, landscape design, furniture, art, you get my drift. Add $2mil for design and the sky is the limit for furniture/furnishings/art. I dunno, budget $5mil for that. Just call it $30 mil with some quick and dirty ciphering. $30mil trophy house. I had a client once who spend $6mil on a house for the wife. He had spent $6mil on a sail boat the prior year, so she was getting her house that year. Trophies. Ornaments. Trinkets. Fixed Asset Jewelry.

Or, you could have bought Peter Guber's Mandalay Ranch a few years ago for $47 mil. 650 acres. Nice spread. 10 minutes from the core of Aspen. Milky Way Galaxy stretching out across the night sky. (bet they didn't have that in the sales brochure...) Wild elk migration route. Which reminds me of a cold blustery morning with the dark sky spitting ice at me. I stopped on Owl Creek Road on my way to work to help out some elk calves. They had gotten trapped on the other side of the fence after their mommas hopped the fence. I pulled some of the fence rails in a couple of places so they could cross the road.

Anyway, beaucoup dollars. Mucho dinero. Conspicuous consumption. Trophy living. Keeping the trophy wife happy. Whatever you want to call it. What does it mean in the U.S. today when a piece of shit, barely livable house costs $200,000 or $1,000,000? (Again, depending on your market...).

I would be happy with a patch of exposed limestone rock with a bunch of scrub cedar somewhere out west of Austin in the hill country. $10k for one acre - owner financed. Off the grid somehow. I would at least need a window unit blowing on my head/bed at night, and a refrigerator. I could build a nice little bachelor haven for $20 or $30k. Nothing big, nothing fancy. Finely handcrafted with loving care.

With a wood floor of course. Walnut. Dark and rich and smooth. Smooth like a woman' a woman', skin...

I think I'll call it "La Ermita del Tango".

No, on second thought, I'll go with "El Rancho Deluxe". I always liked that movie.


zigadenus said...

OMG, it's really you! With our upcoming 30 year reunion, I've been reminiscing, looking up old friends and found your blog. I am stunned but delighted by your interest in tango and your new name. I'm so glad who you are hasn't really changed--still an environmental crusdaer trying to make the world a better place.
To stay on topic, you should consider meeting with a friend of mine in Lafayette who lives off the grid next time you're in town (reunion next month?). I've been to his house in August and it is quite comfortable without any air conditioning. He appeared on a local PBS show. Try this link
or and choose LWSI 3150 Environmental Architecture 08 Aug 08

I hope to live off the grid one day. I've become quite the pioneer homesteader since having children. Just kidding, but not entirely.


Alex said...

OMG! How could it have totally slipped my mind that this year is our 30? Plus, I haven't heard a thing from anyone, and I'm sure I keep up-to-date with Chris.

When, where, what, how? I'll start Googling to see what I can find out.

Look me up on Facebook and you'll find my email address, or on under alex.tango.fuego and if you go to my profile you can message me.

It's great to hear from you Saundra, a really good warm and fuzzy feeling to have your message waiting to greet me this morning...

Oh, and thanks for the links and info! I'll check it out...

Limerick Tango said...

I heard a story of how an elderly bachelor in the west of Ireland decided to replace his front door recently. He nearly keeled over when the price of the door matched what he paid for the bungalow 40 years ago.

Anjolie said...

It's a sign you know...of people with a tango addiction. I haven't really been able to dance for months now (ankle issue) but I still can't put any furniture in the sunroom...and it's not even that nice of a floor.

I was at an after-the-milonga-milonga and the host had it down to a science. She had her front room disassembled in less than five minutes. Talk about convertable living space.

And real estate is bonkers...which is why I've not been one bit surprised by the current state of affairs and am trying to get out of the business myself.

Good to find you here.

Alex said...

Thanks for the comment Anjolie...welcome to the blog...I know what you mean about this addiction...I even have a design in my head for a flat roofed house, with a dance floor on the roof...