Storage Comes to Riverside!
A new, six-story building complex is coming to Pinecrest Road in Riverside. An eclectic combination of (windowless) Nantucket/Shingle-style Georgian-Colonial, the structure will provide room for town residents to place everything they can’t fit into their current homes. “It’s the least I could do for my fellow citizens,” said Franklin “Westy” Bloomer, ruefully surveying the rubble of his former residence. “We thought we were zoning out addicts, not attics, but now, thanks to FAR, no one has space to store a pogo stick. If I won’t admit I was wrong, at least I can say I’m sorry.” Completion date is expected by July 14th.
Okay, that was a joke.
But Mr. Bloomer, the “FAR Czar” (Tom Gorin, you have nothing on me!) has written an angry letter to this paper suggesting that, if I have any ideas on improving FAR regulations, I attend the next FAR meeting, date as-yet unscheduled. Heck, I’ll be there with pencil and pad, ready to report, but I’ve been there before and listened while residents complained about the extraordinary costs incurred trying to comply with the regulations, heard cogent arguments against its present interpretation (why, for instance, should a house of 5,700 sq.ft. be perfect for a one-acre lot yet 5,200 be the maximum allowable size for a two-acre lot?) and even learned of great solutions to the problem of reducing bulk while still permitting homeowners to have the house that they want. Every time, the FAR folks nodded their heads, tugged their beards and proceeded to enact even more stringent regulations. The only answer, I think, is to toss these people off the RTM. Until then, let me leave you with a question: what possible business is it of yours, mine or Franklin Bloomer what people do with the interior of their homes? If someone wants a lighted, walk-out basement or a useable attic, does it concern you, so long as height and set-back requirements are met? I think not; Bloomer thinks so. We’ll agree to disagree, until the next election.
When you see a listing for a waterfront real estate listing that fails to mention, er, taxes, should your hairs prickle? I think so. Recent example, a property in Riverside that neglects to mention a tax bill of $54,000.00. Obviously this little omission would turn up sooner or later, but I prefer to see my numbers up front.
The $5,000,000 – $7,000,000 Market
My clients and I toured a number of houses recently in what used to be considered nosebleed altitudes and saw very little that impressed us. “How much do we have to pay to get quality?” asked my client. The answer, sadly, is far more than $5,000,000. Even considering the high price of land, that’s ridiculous. We saw cheap (and identical – Home Depot must have been holding a yard sale) thermostats, light fixtures, California Closets, and on and on. I suspect (or hope) that a number of builders who have refused to open their wallets to pay for the quality their high prices supposedly demand will get their comeuppance, either when they sell at drastically reduced prices or at the foreclosure.
Saw a listing recently that claimed that the house in question had been built by “a reputed local builder”. Somehow, that doesn’t set my mind at ease.
Back to the recent tour of high-end houses. Again and again, I saw little windowless basement cubicles designated as “nanny quarters” or, just as bad, basement bedrooms with a single tiny window. Here’s the deal – if you want to place a human being in a basement bedroom, you have to provide a window large enough to accommodate a fireman and his (or her – I don’t care who saves me) breathing equipment. I don’t have the exact specs, but figure on something about 5 ½’ X 3 ½’. If a Realtor shows you something smaller and says it’s legal, she’s blowing smoke. You may not care about the safety or comfort of your staff but, given a chance to bring a wrongful death case against a rich, Greenwich mansion owner by an impoverished, hard-working Philippino girl, I’d dust off my law degree in a second. Do the right thing, or someone will do it for you.
“Could Be…”The other thing that annoyed my clients the other day were silly signs proclaiming, “could be wine cellar”, “could be video room”, etc. Build it and charge for it or forget it; don’t price your house as though these amenities are there.