Daily Archives: February 17, 2006

Renovate or Dumpster Bait?
One of the more frequent questions we agents get asked by our clients is whether it is simpler (and cheaper) to load an existing house into a dumpster and start anew. The answer depends on the house, of course: its design, condition, location on its lot and so forth. If I were to do it again on my own house, I’d scrape the thing rather than make so many compromises in working around the existing layout. But that doesn’t mean, as some builders think, that every house should be torn down. Some, like the Italianate on Riversville Road, were just too beautiful to tear down (not that the builder was deterred- he loaded everything up in a dumpster and has built a boring, conventional house. Idiot).
And regardless of age, some houses can be expanded very nicely with less effort than
starting anew. Some recent projects that caught my eye were 422 Riversville Road, Jan
Miliken’s listing, asking $4,750,000. Totally renovated last year by its owner who works,
I think, as a kitchen designer here in town and obviously has an eye for more than just
kitchens.

Shelly Tretter’s listing at 97 Lockwood Road in Riverside is one of the original Lockwood family’s houses, built in 1828 and renovated and expanded slowly over the years. I think it’s great as is but at $2,025,000 there’s probably room to spend some more if you want to.

John Cooke’s new listing at 4 Kinsman Lane, off Bruce Park, has not been renovated, but it should be. $1,295,000 – add a few hundred thousand and you’d have an excellent house.

The Eagle has Landed
Well, a sick swan, anyway, that collapsed on the center line of the Post Road the other Saturday morning and refused to move. A couple of drivers parked on either side of it to prevent it’s being converted to road kill, so we called Meridith Sampson, Old Greenwich’s only (?) federally certified wild bird rescuer and the police. Meridith arrived to find the bird surrounded by four police cars. No word on the outcome, although Meridith brought the bird home and began feeding it antibiotics, but I think it’s a telling, and nice testimony to our town that we can send out four patrol cars for one bird. We’re still, in many ways, a sleepy town, and I like that.

Perils of Winter Construction
So did you notice that, after spending a week preparing and pouring a sidewalk for the new Cos Cob Starbucks they sent in a machine to dig it all up and do it again? I did, and the curiosity was killing me but I feared that the workers redoing the job might be grumpy so I waited until a cop was dispatched to direct traffic around the second pour and I asked him. Turns out, it rained the afternoon of the first pour, then froze, and the expanding ice popped the whole job out of the ground. Ouch. Whatever the profit margin is for this type of job, it probably isn’t enough to cover doing it twice.

Over-priced houses
A perennial theme of this column is, price your house to sell. Most agents get it; many owners do not. Still, I was shocked to see a house come on the market recently that was at least 25% – $1,000,000 too high. That’s not just my opinion. I asked several other agents for their suggested asking price got the same answer. There are some really nice houses in the threes – all nicer than this one, and I suspect this owner is going to discover that to his sorrow.

Nicely Priced Houses
25 Hendrie Lane, Carlton MacLean’s listing, $1,995,000. Hendrie is a quiet, dead-end street just steps from schools and the train. This is a nice, big house that, at this price, is probably gone already.
A little distance away, Ginnie Ridenour has listed 11 Owenoke Way for $2,195,000. It has been renovated a bit more recently than Hendrie, which may account for the price difference but either house would be a great buy.
A long distance from either of those two houses Walter Durniak has listed 14 Chateau Ridge Drive for $4,795,000. Great views, wonderful yard and in excellent condition. I see this as appealing to either parents with teenagers or grandparents who want a place to stash grandkids on visits because the master bedroom is on the ground floor while four additional bedrooms are on the second and lower floors, respectively. You could host a visiting rock band and never know it.

Mama, Mia, That’sa Spicy Meatball!
From the New York Times: “Correction – a recipe last Wednesday for Super Bowl meatballs misstated the amount of chilies to be used. It is one or two canned chilies, not one or two cans.”

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