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Thread: Where should people be living?

  1. #26
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    we should be living where existing infrastructure is underutilized and has capacity to absorb new population, as opposed to building new infrastructure and extending our power grid, water/sewer capacity and road system.
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  2. #27
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    Interestingly, the National Association of Homebuilders recently reported that average home sizes for new permits have declined by some 17%, since 2007. 80% of developers they surveyed said that they will eliminate formal living rooms and dining rooms in new detached product going forward. Most also plan to eliminate 4 bedroom or more product. Energy star fixtures and other "green building" features are becoming standard.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian
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    Kitchens seem to be a good place to start economizing.

    Very few people have the time or inclination to cook much, so kitchens are not being utilized in the way they once were. And, they are, by far, the most expensive rooms in homes. Couple these facts with the increasing availability of more walkable neighborhoods that have good restaurants and good transit, and I think a revolution could be afoot.

  4. #29
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    Cheap, effective soundproofing is probably another area for attention. If attached and semi-detached single family product is to become the new-normal, the perception that the shared wall creates privacy and sound issues has to be overcome.

  5. #30
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    Kitchens seem to be a good place to start economizing.

    Very few people have the time or inclination to cook much, so kitchens are not being utilized in the way they once were. And, they are, by far, the most expensive rooms in homes. Couple these facts with the increasing availability of more walkable neighborhoods that have good restaurants and good transit, and I think a revolution could be afoot.
    Umm. Nice try. Tell that to people like myself who already live in a "walkable" neighborhood. While I enjoy going out to eat, I prefer a large kitchen with preparation island, gas range, and large pantries to store food and other "prep" items. I already save $$ on gas. What happens when you have a family unit? You think families can go out to eat all the time? Hell, I can't even go to McDonald's without spending close to $20 bucks with my family of 4, and that is not even super sizing anything nor a health meal to boot.

    Again, we go back to the whole "do what we say" mentality.

    And one wonders why people call us "commies"

    Tide hit it perfectly. It is not a question for planners to debate type, unit or style (at times with style because I am a fan of appearance) but rather this is a debate on how we manage our existing or future infrastructure and utilize this as a tool to manage development.
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  6. #31
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    And one wonders why people call us "commies"
    Commie!

    I also agree with Tide, we need to start tying current excess infastructure with development. Lord knows we got enough of that in many places in this country.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  7. #32
    Cyburbian
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    Actually, the kitchen is critically important for people. In theory, you could basically have a single family house consisting of a good kitchen, a small family/nook/eating area, 2 bathrooms, lots of storage, and the bedrooms, and it'll probably sell. In terms of common area, the kitchen is really all people really care about these days.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Umm. Nice try. Tell that to people like myself who already live in a "walkable" neighborhood. While I enjoy going out to eat, I prefer a large kitchen with preparation island, gas range, and large pantries to store food and other "prep" items. I already save $$ on gas. What happens when you have a family unit? You think families can go out to eat all the time? Hell, I can't even go to McDonald's without spending close to $20 bucks with my family of 4, and that is not even super sizing anything nor a health meal to boot.

    Again, we go back to the whole "do what we say" mentality.

    And one wonders why people call us "commies"

    Tide hit it perfectly. It is not a question for planners to debate type, unit or style (at times with style because I am a fan of appearance) but rather this is a debate on how we manage our existing or future infrastructure and utilize this as a tool to manage development.
    No one is suggesting that people be prevented from having large and fully-equipped kitchens if they are desired. The issue at hand is how to make homes more efficient. And, it behooves me to see builders include, as a matter of course, elaborate and expensive kitchens in all units because, supposedly, said rooms are guaranteed to be good for resale values.

    You like your kitchen, and you think it is worth the price you paid. My kitchen is excessive, but I didn't have a choice since it was bundled with the rest of my home.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian
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    Unbundling garages and storage units should actually be written into codes.

    People should not be forced to buy garages if they are not desired.

    I'd also like to see more bathrooms split so that toilet, bath, and powder-room functions are separated in order for them to be used more efficiently.

    With attached housing, the potential exists for common areas to be used for entertaining, cooking, working, etc. One might have access to a very elaborate kitchen, for instance, that he or she shares with other residents.

    Paradigm shifts of all sorts are in order.
    Last edited by Pragmatic Idealist; 22 Mar 2011 at 5:13 PM.

  10. #35
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    Kitchens seem to be a good place to start economizing.

    Very few people have the time or inclination to cook much, so kitchens are not being utilized in the way they once were. \.
    This sounds just like the reasoning we see around here that goes something like: because I live in a dense city, it is the best possible arrangement. Therefore, many people want to live in dense cities.

    The same here: me and my cohort don't cook much. Therefore, most people don't cook much and kitchens should be downsized or something.

    Never mind that an adequately-equipped kitchen would mean people would save money by purchasing their own food and preparing it themselves instead of driving to a place to consume more expensive food and service (since most new construction - if there is such a thing as 'new construction' - continues to be far from an adequate supply and choice of restaurants).

  11. #36
    Cyburbian
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    Minus the elevator (don't know what's up with that), this townhome is probably the future for much of the country, for "big"/"high end" product:

    http://images.vrbo.com/vrbo/images/4cb754

    Tuck under tandem garage (or just one garage), two floors of living space above, very efficient, about 1400 square feet.

  12. #37
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    Kitchens seem to be a good place to start economizing.......
    I wouldn't give up my large, open kitchen for anything except for a larger kitchen. We enjoy cooking and eating our creations.

  13. #38
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    This sounds just like the reasoning we see around here that goes something like: because I live in a dense city, it is the best possible arrangement. Therefore, many people want to live in dense cities.

    The same here: me and my cohort don't cook much. Therefore, most people don't cook much and kitchens should be downsized or something.

    Never mind that an adequately-equipped kitchen would mean people would save money by purchasing their own food and preparing it themselves instead of driving to a place to consume more expensive food and service (since most new construction - if there is such a thing as 'new construction' - continues to be far from an adequate supply and choice of restaurants).
    You don't seem to be getting the irony.

    You're telling people who don't cook that they should take the fully-equipped kitchen and be happy with it. You're also telling them that they need to cook even though they may not want to do so or they don't have the time to do so or they are not very good at the task.

    Well, thank you, Comrade.

  14. #39
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    You don't seem to be getting the irony.

    You're telling people who don't cook that they should take the fully-equipped kitchen and be happy with it. You're also telling them that they need to cook even though they may not want to do so or they don't have the time to do so or they are not very good at the task.

    Well, thank you, Comrade.
    No, I'm talking about making decisions for a durable structure based on a cross-sectional, anecdotal dataset. And the stronger rationale is that you want a better kitchen as there still may be a future in this country where people consume/rent multiple dwelling units.

    Surely projecting into the future we'll want to ensure efficiency gains are realized across markets and scales, and providing flexible options that allow savings from avoiding extra costs should be incorporated into durable structures.

    Second, non-utilization of a kitchen may lessen depreciation if in the future we still are somewhat mobile and family units consume multiple houses (or rent) in their seeking livable employment.

    That is: in an economy where wages will be lower, many sectors may appreciate the flexibility of a more well-equipped kitchen.

    Now, where is that frugal smiley...

  15. #40
    Cyburbian
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    I alluded to resale values. My point is that the culture is changing, but builders haven't adapted to the market preferences, yet. Instead, we're being treated to ever more elaborate and useless kitchens, partly because of the one-size-fits-all mentality that ensures we are all buying granite countertops and a full complement of stainless-steel appliances.


  16. #41
    A three bedroom, two bath city condo around here is about 1500 square feet. There is only so much space for a kitchen. While mega kitchens in McMansions may be on the way out. no one is going to buy a unit without a certain minimum amount of space with at least a full size stove, even if they only cook a couple of times a week. I bet you'd have problems getting it by the code and mortgage people.

    These three bedroom condos can accommodate families with 2 children quite nicely. Our condo complex of 160 units has about 150 children in it of all incomes (the complex is 1/3 low income - Section 8, 1/3 moderate income ownership, and 1/3 market rate).

  17. #42
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    Kitchens seem to be a good place to start economizing.

    Very few people have the time or inclination to cook much, so kitchens are not being utilized in the way they once were. And, they are, by far, the most expensive rooms in homes. Couple these facts with the increasing availability of more walkable neighborhoods that have good restaurants and good transit, and I think a revolution could be afoot.
    Speak for yourself. Obviously, you are a single male living in a home without children who eats out 90% of the time.

    What kitchens need to be is more practical with more economical finishes (ie, a return to formica/ceramic tile counter tops and vinyl flooring as opposed to granite and tile or hardwood). They need more storage and countertop workspace plus an eat-in area in less floor space (ie, fewer islands, drop the dining room, etc).

    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Cheap, effective soundproofing is probably another area for attention. If attached and semi-detached single family product is to become the new-normal, the perception that the shared wall creates privacy and sound issues has to be overcome.
    I will definitely second this. You cannot imagine how stressful it is to live next door to or above or below noisy neighbors in an apartment building until you've suffered through it.

    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    I alluded to resale values. My point is that the culture is changing, but builders haven't adapted to the market preferences, yet. Instead, we're being treated to ever more elaborate and useless kitchens, partly because of the one-size-fits-all mentality that ensures we are all buying granite countertops and a full complement of stainless-steel appliances.

    Let me guess, you also think private laundry facilities are superfluous, too, because you love hauling your dirty clothes to the laundromat, right?

    "The culture" is NOT changing that much that people are going to stop having families any time soon. I think that you need a reality check.

    Mr Mom
    Last edited by Maister; 23 Mar 2011 at 10:03 AM. Reason: sequential posts

  18. #43
    Cyburbian
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    No, I don't think the culture is changing... just the economics and the desire for a greater amount of conservation and sustainability. I think developers have a good handle on what needs to happen. Basically, density has to go up and unit sizes, down, without increasing construction costs per square feet, and that means no increase in apartments and much fewer single family detached product. Townhouse and patio/semi-detached product will become the new norm. This means patio homes, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and rowhouses. They seem to be saying the following (about housing):

    1. z-lot product will become the vast majority of new production. The enclosed private softscape yard will be history by 2020. They'll be replaced by more community open space and playground sapce.
    2. average densities must increase from 5 to 8 per acre net to 10 to 14 per acre WITHOUT increasing per square square feet construction costs (which is why apartments won't become more popular and townhomes will be). Stack-up townhome configurations can get you to up to 17 per acre net... or 22 units per acre in one weird San Diego case, but I'm still not sure how McMillan did that and sold the product.
    3. homes closer to work locations (sometimes this means TOD, but other approaches are available as well)
    4. smaller units, sometimes much smaller, but correspondingly well-designed for household needs
    5. more prefab/modular construction techniques will increasingly blend the difference between prefab homes and traditional homes, to the point that the casual buyer won't even be able to tell the difference anymore
    6. three-story stack-up configurations for the mass market will become very common in urban markets (narrow homes with at least one shared wall and tuck-under parking below)
    7. more purpose-built special needs housing (co-housing, seniors, SOHO) will require different configurations
    8. sound-proofing will be a big marketing issue for people accustomed to detached product
    9. dramatically reduced discretionary communal household space (getting rid of the living/dining room and reducing the family room to a small bedroom-sized TV/play space)
    10. reduced bathrooms in larger units, but not below 1.5 per unit for 2 beds and 2 for 3 beds, elimnation on in-suite bathrooms (the private master suite bath is going away fast)
    11. elimination of 4+ bedroom configurations in most urban markets outside of Utah; this has pretty much already happened in new permitting, nationally
    12. smaller bedrooms, sometimes dramatically smaller
    13. the end of the front-facing 2 to 3 car garage. Tandem configurations will replace the 2 car garage and offsite or single onsite parking space configurations will become much more common, personally I don't know why people put up with tandem parking garages but I have been seeing them pop up in permitting all over the US recently.
    14. bigger kitchens/nooks, not smaller to make up for the elimination of communal space
    15. more porches and enclosable balconies, also to make up for the elimination of communial space and blending indoor and outdoor space
    16. more, not less, storage space
    17. in-unit building and equipment/MEP rooms (shared unit facilities are paradoxically going away. Nobody wants to share HVAC or weasher and driers with their neighbors). Each unit will become more autonomous with respect to MEP equipment, small private washers-driers, etc.
    18. Energy Star will be ubiquitous
    19. so longer as tax credits are available for them, PVs and solar hot water in virtually all US areas, and ground-source heat pumps in some US areas, will become standard options and add-ons provided by developers
    20. green roofs will, unfortunately, not become ubiquitous, unless costs come down dramatically

    It's important to note that in most markets, home prices are down 30% to 60% since the recession began. This value won't come back and I strongly believe they have further to go.. possibly another 10% to 25% on a national average basis. The best case is that those values stop plunging and start growing at the rate of real wage growth, going forward (assuming this country will ever even see real wage growth again.. we haven't in my lifetime, certainly). Thus, eventually, homes will recover their values, but only in a nominal sense. This means the whole game has changed. If developers could make a breakeven 10-12% profit for single family detached production in 2007 (it never really got better than that, unless you count in the land speculation gains that are really at the root of our current problems), they now must figure out how to do the same with half the valuation gone. A median income household can only afford half the house he could before the recession, and builders can only afford to build him half the house, literally, and still make their 10% cut.

    If home sizes peaked at 2800 sq feet nationally in 2006 new permits, the new normal will, by 2020, be half of that. Short of China-style rates of real economic growth or an impossible $4+ trillion bailout and recapitalizaton of the GSE system, there's no other way to cut the numbers. Unit sizes have to fall dramatically (40%, much more than the 17% they've already fallen since 2007, with a blend of previously permitted and new permitted product). Density has to increase in order to increase amortization of the land residual. My suspicion is that the land-residual will not be a source of much home price appreciation since it'll become - has already become - virtually unfinanceable (you pay equity for the residual and then finance the physical home). Construction costs per square feet have to stay the same while all this stuff is going on.

    Some interesting stats from ULI: (i) another 1,000,000 foreclosures nationally in 2011, (ii) demographic growth, equilibrium demands and mobility requirements will require 4,000,000 home sales in 2011.. how they'll get financed is anyone's guess, (iii) homeownership rates have reverted back to 63%.. or 1993 levels, (iv) 1 in 4 US homes now have negative equity value, 3 in 5 homes in entire regions have negative equity (Florida, Central Valley, Nevada, etc), (v) 1 in 4 buyers are paying all cash, versus one in 100 pre-recession, (vi) rental product shortfalls are starting to materialize in most major markets, causing rents to spike at the worst possible time.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 23 Mar 2011 at 11:57 AM.

  19. #44
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    I alluded to resale values. My point is that the culture is changing, but builders haven't adapted to the market preferences, yet.

    The market isn't young single males who can't cook.

    Just because some TV shows have convinced a segment of gullible rubes that granite countertops will make their house a better ATM doesn't mean we make cr*ppy kitchens all of a sudden. Learn how to cook and you'll want a nice kitchen.

  20. #45
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    The market isn't young single males who can't cook.

    Just because some TV shows have convinced a segment of gullible rubes that granite countertops will make their house a better ATM doesn't mean we make cr*ppy kitchens all of a sudden. Learn how to cook and you'll want a nice kitchen.
    I don't agree that developers haven't adapted to the new market preferences yet. They have already, with a lag for previous permit applications (see my post below). Zoning and land-use officials - and NIMBY constituents, are the ones who haven't.

  21. #46
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  22. #47
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    14. bigger kitchens/nooks, not smaller to make up for the elimination of communal space
    I've seen way too many huge kitchens that are poorly designed in new homes which is why I brought this up. I think those behemoths need to go if we're talking smaller units. Too frequently, islands are too large for practicality -- and I say this as someone who likes to cook and bake -- and the cook might be better served with a peninsula. Islands not only take up their own space, they require a minimum of 3 feet all around them for circulation, which requires a very wide kitchen. In a smaller, 1200 or 1500 square foot house, a peninsula with a bar for seating and a nook area might work better. Islands may also raise issues about traffic through a kitchen. I am a fan of u-shaped kitchens with one side opening to a nook for the amount of work and storage space they provide, but that's just me.

    I also am a big fan of in-unit laundry facilities. I will never live anywhere I have to share laundry facilities again unless I get carted off to the old folks home. Been there, done that, and I won't do it again.

    I also would NOT be any more interested in some place that didn't have a dishwasher than in some place that didn't have central heating. Again, that's just me, but I really do detest washing dishes.

  23. #48
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I think those behemoths need to go if we're talking smaller units
    I think the reason that kitchens are getting bigger is precisely because the family rooms are going away. They're becoming hybrid kitchens that open into nooks and a small TV area. Effectively, the kitchen, not the family room, becomes the new communal center of the house. It can work well. For some reason, growing up, we spent all our time in or around the kitchen and nook in my parents' ridiculously big mcmansion. I think I'd physically go into the living room once every month or so, if that. Basically, I only saw the formal dining room when we had important guests. I think I even got punished a few times for gettnig caught touching stuff in one of those rooms. No surprise those rooms are going away in new, smaller configurations.

  24. #49
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    Speak for yourself. Obviously, you are a single male living in a home without children who eats out 90% of the time.

    What kitchens need to be is more practical with more economical finishes (ie, a return to formica/ceramic tile counter tops and vinyl flooring as opposed to granite and tile or hardwood). They need more storage and countertop workspace plus an eat-in area in less floor space (ie, fewer islands, drop the dining room, etc).



    I will definitely second this. You cannot imagine how stressful it is to live next door to or above or below noisy neighbors in an apartment building until you've suffered through it.



    Let me guess, you also think private laundry facilities are superfluous, too, because you love hauling your dirty clothes to the laundromat, right?

    "The culture" is NOT changing that much that people are going to stop having families any time soon. I think that you need a reality check.

    Mr Mom
    You need to look at the statistics, lady. I'm thinking ahead of the curve.

  25. #50
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    This thread has turned from annoying to pretty good. Thank you to all who are making this an interesting read... (even though some are a bit more heated in their rhetoric)

    I really don't think that this is going to be answered. People perceive what they know or want as best. Many times this isn't correct.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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