Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's a Teardown

Hooked on Houses is hosting her "Hooked on Fridays" blog party; I hope y'all will click here and have look. I'm also participating in my 6th Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch! I'm ambivalent about teardowns but hooked on the process. Are they tearing down houses in your neighborhood, in this economy? Well, they are in mine.

Here it is, the building permit sign went up this week. It's across the street a few houses down. It's a postwar minimal traditional built in 1947. The owner was a veteran, raised a family here, mighty nice folks.


This is the kind of house most folks my age were raised in - me too. Probably about 1,200 square feet when built on about 1/5 acre. With additions it's about 1,400 square feet. They don't build like this any more, not with these details at this size. It's quite handsome but not old enough to be a classic, not new enough for "modern" tastes.


It's on the high side of the street. The driveway and steps look tired and have settled a little. Imagine how many girl scouts and trick-or-treaters have made the climb. My girl scouts and trick-or-treaters did.

All it needs is some paint and fixing up, the roof looks pretty good. Plenty of life left for a few more generations. That's what would happen in most neighborhoods. But in mine, it sold for $332,500 this spring and they are going to tear it down.


The back yard is flat, a nice place to park if you have a load of groceries.

As with nearly all postwar houses, the owners added on. What do you think: Kitchen bumpout on the right. Laundry room in the middle, new master bath on the left? The single car garage, like most on the street is gone. You could barely get a car in there anyway.

Well they are going to tear it down and build a whopper, more that 4,000 square feet I'd bet. I'm going to watch the whole thing.

Portico Design / Construction has their sign out front. I'm expecting great things from them

Thanks to Hooked on Houses' "Hooked on Fridays" blog party..

P.S. Here is another teardown from my street, a couple of years ago. They did keep the foundation. Turned out pretty good but I don't have the a picture of it finished and landscaped.

Thanks to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.


  1. I think it is wasteful to tear down a house like this. Why not remodel, even raise the roof?

  2. Wow, $332K for a teardown?! Makes me sad that it couldn't be saved. There's a lot of that going on around here, too. You'll have to show us how the new place looks when they get it up.

  3. That makes me SO sad. I see that house and I see so much potential!!! There are so many ways it could be "modernized" without just ripped it down and building a low-quality McMansion. :( Well, now I am bummed, Terry, and it's all your fault. ;) Stopping by from Julia's party. :)

  4. This won't be a low quality house. They'll build it like we see in the magazines. Probably ask about $1.3M depending on where the economy is.

  5. ... and that is how neighborhoods evolve and change over time. I agree with you completely Terry, they just can't make them like they used to. Please keep us tuned in to the construction and new home when it is completed! It would be fascinating to follow this project from your perspective.

  6. Very interesting post, Terry.

    It's funny how no one takes the middle road. I would say 1,200 or 1,400 sq ft might be smaller than I would want, but 4,000 sq ft is impossible to imagine. In every way. Difficult to heat and cool, difficult to fill on even a generous budget and of course expensive to build, especially when first you have to spend $300k for something you won't even live in!

  7. Wow, $330k just to tear it down! Will be interesting to see what they put up in its place. I'm sure the new one will be spectacular, just kind of sad to see one like this go. It only the walls could talk!


  8. Neat to be able to watch the construction! I can watch a bridge being built nearby!

  9. Teardowns and construction are continuing along in my neighborhood - just outside of Washington, DC. I like some of the new houses, but others don't relate well to the surroundings. It's hard to see the big trees come down to make way for new construction.

  10. This was a nice ode to a home that has seen good times, but has seen better times than now. I actually felt a bit sorry for the home when you were describing the steps that had so many trick or treaters and girl scouts beating a path to the front door, but then I saw the back elevation - might be time for something new. Keep us posted. Do you think they will do 4000 sf? They will certainly do 2 stories, so I can see how it could get close.

  11. Well, I love the secrets old homes could tell, the tears of joy and heartache, the faces looking out the windows for decades at the changing of the seasons, the ringing of telephones and the sound of the mailbox lid closing when the postman came, sigh. Girl scouts, boy scouts, trick-or-treaters, carol singers, the groceries brought in and mild delivered, newspapers thrown against the door, how many times was the lawn mowed. These things ring true in the memories of those who hold them, and the neighbors who still remain.

  12. please excuse, that was supposed to be 'milk delivered' in my post, sorry for the typo

    Thanks Terry, I so enjoy your blog.

  13. I personally think it's sad to see an old home torn down. We've lived in 2 old homes and I love all the stories that go along with them and all the character they have. It's nice that they're at least building homes that keep with the neighborhood's architectural styles I guess. That was a very interesting slide show - it's very cool to be able to watch that process. Thanks!

  14. Steps in the driveway are one of my favorite details. Not sure why, perhaps the unique tailoring they must have required. Will keep my eyes peeled for the finished product.

  15. Wow - would love to see that house stay. I would think it could be something really lovely. Hope it is an interesting process for you, though. :)

  16. Whoa! What would a vacant lot that size go for? The demolition itself is going to cost a fortune! And such a small lot too! I'm stunned.

    It was a cool idea to show us the slides of how that type of home morphs. Thanks!

  17. Susan, Vacant lots and teardowns pretty much cost the same. There are just a handful of vacant lots in the neighborhood. Another small handful where the lot could be divided.

    Saving the foundation is a trade-off issue for the architect/builder/banker/permit process.

    They'll go through the house for salvage and dangerous materials. After that a big machine will tear it down, dig it out, and ready the foundations in a week if the builders are experienced.

    A crew of men can take it down the foundation by themselves in a couple of weeks.

    Getting dumpsters and big trucks down our narrow cul de sac can be exciting for everybody.

  18. This seems to be happening a lot in prime locations--people with no imaginations building Mcmansions with no personality--ooh that was a little harsh :) Keep us posted.

  19. Great post....I am having a new give a-way do hope you stop over...

  20. That is an amazing remodel! I did something VERY similiar to my old home.

  21. Many of the original homes in my village have disappeared over the past 10 yrs or so. I still miss them. But in place of the gorgeous wooden farm houses they are building these HUGE stone McMansions with no real architecture style. So sad.

    When we did our remodel we turned out home from a ugly '60s colonial to a gorgeous 1910 Craftsman home. Hope to reverse the trend a bit!


  22. it is happening in my neighborhood in Austin. Many of the new builds are huge,ugly, and do not relate to the history of the area. Sometimes though... they take an ugly duckling and change it to a beautiful home.

  23. Hi Terry! It's so nice to meet you! I enjoyed your post. The olden houses are so lovely. The video of the teardown is amazing! Now in a neighborhood like this - would this be 'overbuilding' or is it what's happening to all the little homes? Just curious.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  24. Shelia. The kind of folks who've lived in this neighborhod from 1950 to 1980 can't afford to buy here now. $300K or for a tear down. The 4000+ square ft, new house (from a tear down) might be $1.2M to $1.7M - depending on the economy is. The upgraded house, house can be anywhere in between.

    I think that if they are doing this in your neighborhood right now, in this economy, it must be a great neighborhood.

    In general the teardowns are post WW2, and latter infills, basically the "least" houses. I not nostalgic about them but I am a little wary of gentrification. But I think neighborhoods need to change to stay alive.

  25. We live in SW, Fl and people do it ALL OF THE TIME. It isn't the house that is worth the money it is the land. There is no land left, especially near the beach and if one of the old little houses goes up, it is down as soon as the papers are signed and up goes a 20 or 30 or 40 billion dollar home.

    I hope you will come by for a visit as well. I have a fun party on Mondays and another on Wed that just started up.

    Its So Very Cheri

  26. It seems as though most people would rather tear down a house that needs any work and put up some generic house. If, people only took some time restoring these old homes they could have a house unlike most others.

  27. The little house down the street went into foreclosure...happily it is being fixed up by the new young family with the help of his parents. Basically gutted for new kitchen/baths/opening a wall. I think they will be happy here.

  28. I am sad when older homes are torn down to build mcmansions. I do love the second home that had a new 2nd story addition!

  29. Your response Terry abou the $1.2M+ homes is exactly the problem. We'd love to live in your neighborhood but just can't see spending that kind of money.

    personally, I'd rather see a re-do of the rear elevation and make this one a "surprisingly large" house rather than a total teardown rebuild.


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