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Status Anxiety

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  • Robert J. Matter
    This looks like an interesting book. Overcoming the status symbol factor of McMansions in the suburbs and three or four luxury cars and SUVs in the driveway is
    Message 1 of 14 , Jun 21, 2004
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      This looks like an interesting book. Overcoming the status symbol factor
      of McMansions in the suburbs and three or four luxury cars and SUVs in
      the driveway is going to be a major hurdle for the carfree cities
      movement to surmount IMHO. -RJM

      http://www.semcoop.com/events.php

      Alain de Botton , Status Anxiety

      Monday, June 21st, 2004 at 7 pm at The Oriental Institute, 1155 East
      58th Street [Chicago]

      Why are we still disappointed even though we have so much more than
      those earlier or elsewhere? Why are our confidence and self-worth based
      so little on who we are, so much on how others see us? Why are people
      nicer to us the higher our status is? And how can we spend so much time
      worrying about it?

      In his new work, philosopher and novelist Alain de Botton explores the
      origins, symptoms and effects of that most pervasive of modern ills,
      status anxiety. Charting its many manifestations, de Botton also
      explores possible remedies, from art to religion, and argues for a
      pluralistic understanding of success. His previous books include The Art
      of Travel and How Proust Can Change Your Life.

      ###
    • J.H. Crawford
      Hi All, ... No, I don t think so. I think the SUV-driving, McMansion building class is going to stay right where it is for as long as possible. We can simply
      Message 2 of 14 , Jun 21, 2004
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        Hi All,

        Robert J. Matter said:

        >This looks like an interesting book. Overcoming the status symbol factor
        >of McMansions in the suburbs and three or four luxury cars and SUVs in
        >the driveway is going to be a major hurdle for the carfree cities
        >movement to surmount IMHO. -RJM

        No, I don't think so. I think the SUV-driving, McMansion building
        class is going to stay right where it is for as long as possible.
        We can simply ignore them.

        I want to do some serious market research into the feasibility
        of actually selling units in a carfree development. I think that
        there is already a small but viable market, as long as it's
        possible to have a car around somewhere (or to do car-sharing),
        so as to be able to drive to places that are not (yet) reasonable
        to reach by any other means.

        There are lots of carfree people already. They have huge burdens
        from the use of cars by others and practically no benefit. These
        folks would snap up carfree units, especially given that they can
        be priced a fair bit lower, since you don't have the car
        infrastructure costs. More people could afford them, since they
        don't have to finance a car and could apply that money to housing.

        I thus see lots of working and middle-class urbanites who would
        snap up carfree housing if it became available, especially at a
        lower price than sprawl (possibly half the price, given that
        rooms would be smaller than in the 'burbs).

        Regards,



        -- ### --

        J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
        mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
      • Kevin Barton
        ... Joel, I agree fully. I m looking at the same approach for San Antonio, TX and have found a handful of developers who I believe may support such a project,
        Message 3 of 14 , Jun 21, 2004
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          > I want to do some serious market research into the feasibility
          > of actually selling units in a carfree development. I think that
          > there is already a small but viable market, as long as it's
          > possible to have a car around somewhere (or to do car-sharing),
          > so as to be able to drive to places that are not (yet) reasonable
          > to reach by any other means.

          Joel,

          I agree fully. I'm looking at the same approach for San Antonio, TX
          and have found a handful of developers who I believe may support
          such a project, based on their focus of redeveloping existing parts
          of the city (downtown and near downtown) rather than new suburbs on
          the fringe. Please feel free to contact me off-list if you're
          interested in pursuing market research in San Antonio.

          The market obstacles I'm running into (based on personal
          speculation, not real research) are school districts and land
          prices. For example, reasonably priced land near downtown is in
          unfavorable school districts, which could keep middle/upper-middle
          income buyers away. On the other hand, possibly the best school
          district in San Antonio is near dowtown, but land is exceptionally
          expensive. Greenfield development could skirt these issues,
          although I don't personally favor greenfield development.

          Kevin
        • T. J. Binkley
          ... I think the first thing you ll find when you start doing your research is that price is unlikely to be a selling point for the first carfree projects.
          Message 4 of 14 , Jun 24, 2004
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            Joel wrote:

            >I want to do some serious market research into the feasibility
            >of actually selling units in a carfree development. I think that
            >there is already a small but viable market, as long as it's
            >possible to have a car around somewhere (or to do car-sharing),
            >so as to be able to drive to places that are not (yet) reasonable
            >to reach by any other means.
            >
            >There are lots of carfree people already. They have huge burdens
            >from the use of cars by others and practically no benefit. These
            >folks would snap up carfree units, especially given that they can
            >be priced a fair bit lower, since you don't have the car
            >infrastructure costs. More people could afford them, since they
            >don't have to finance a car and could apply that money to housing.
            >
            >I thus see lots of working and middle-class urbanites who would
            >snap up carfree housing if it became available, especially at a
            >lower price than sprawl (possibly half the price, given that
            >rooms would be smaller than in the 'burbs).

            I think the first thing you'll find when you start doing your research is
            that price is unlikely to be a selling point for the first carfree projects.

            Construction financing for an unconventional project will be more expensive
            and difficult to obtain. Planning and permitting will take longer (than
            conventional development) and therefore result in higher land carrying
            costs, and probably more fees for professional
            services. Per-square-foot(meter) construction costs for multistory,
            multifamily housing projects on constrained sites are higher than for
            similar sized ranchers in the burb's (unpaid externalities aside).

            But these are small matters compared to the main factors that determine the
            price of any home: the cost of land, and the demand for the finished product.

            Most sites that have the desired proximity to shops, services and public
            transit, will be relatively expensive. High land costs will completely
            wipe out any potential savings from less car infrastructure, as compared to
            suburban development. Carfree development might result in more 'efficient
            use' of expensive urban land, compared to a conventional apartment or condo
            project (more units per acre, plus more usable green space). But the end
            product is not going to be less expensive.

            If "it's possible to have a car around somewhere" in these projects, and
            they are as beautiful and desirable as we envision, then demand for them
            will be substantial, and they will command high prices.

            -TJB
          • kplcards
            there is a proven market for apartments without parking in Dublin centre , first time buyers without cars and landlords purchase 400 sq. ft apartments 1/2 bed
            Message 5 of 14 , Jun 25, 2004
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              there is a proven market for apartments without parking in Dublin centre ,
              first time buyers without cars and landlords purchase 400 sq. ft apartments
              1/2 bed for about 220k Eu , parking underground (spaces 50% to apartment
              numbers in a single basement floor) is sold separately for approx. 20k ,
              first time young buyers often cant stretch to the cost , landlords often
              purchase car parking separately and rent to people working locally who cant
              find on street parking at a rent of 2.5k per year, the apartment is then
              rented to sharing students/young couples/social welfare unmarried
              mothers/divorced men. young couples move out to the sprawl when there first
              child arrives as the apartment is to small & the traffic invested street
              unsuitable for children ("they become normal") . divorced men paying heavy
              alimony stay . rents achieved are 850 PM 1 bed 1100 2 bed for cheaper
              developments.
              development usually from 30 to 150 apartments on 5/6 levels .
              these developments are not beautiful some are truly ugly, however they are
              dense by Dublin standards , all that matters is proximity to the centre and
              cost . its hard to see what advantage non car owners would receive as they
              still live in a traffic invested and noisy city centre .




              Kelly Plastics , 24 Benburb Street , Dublin 7 . Ireland .
              Tel: 00 353 1 6799234 - Fax: 00 353 1 6799236 - Email kplcards@...

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • mailbox@carfree.com
              ... Unless we can find an insurance company that believes in the need for this.... ... Perhaps, yes. ... It depends on infrastructure. If the carfree site
              Message 6 of 14 , Jun 25, 2004
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                TJ Replied:

                > >I thus see lots of working and middle-class urbanites who would
                > >snap up carfree housing if it became available, especially at a
                > >lower price than sprawl (possibly half the price, given that
                > >rooms would be smaller than in the 'burbs).
                >
                > I think the first thing you'll find when you start doing your research is
                > that price is unlikely to be a selling point for the first carfree projects.
                >
                > Construction financing for an unconventional project will be more expensive
                > and difficult to obtain.

                Unless we can find an insurance company that believes in the need
                for this....

                > Planning and permitting will take longer (than
                > conventional development) and therefore result in higher land carrying
                > costs, and probably more fees for professional
                > services.

                Perhaps, yes.

                > Per-square-foot(meter) construction costs for multistory,
                > multifamily housing projects on constrained sites are higher than for
                > similar sized ranchers in the burb's (unpaid externalities aside).

                It depends on infrastructure. If the carfree site already has
                it in place and if the developer of a comparable sprawl project
                has to pay for streets and drainage, etc., then I would imagine
                that the carfree site would be fairly cheap to construct.

                > But these are small matters compared to the main factors that determine the
                > price of any home: the cost of land, and the demand for the finished
                > product.

                High land cost is, and always has been, a powerful argument
                in favor of higher density, since it helps keep the per-unit
                land cost under control.

                > Most sites that have the desired proximity to shops, services and public
                > transit, will be relatively expensive. High land costs will completely
                > wipe out any potential savings from less car infrastructure, as compared to
                > suburban development.

                In California, I'm not so sure this equation would hold. Buildable
                land is now so expensive that the costs of building, say, 4 houses
                on one acre as compared to building, say, 40 apartments would almost
                certainly yield a lower per-unit cost for the carfree project.

                > If "it's possible to have a car around somewhere" in these projects, and
                > they are as beautiful and desirable as we envision, then demand for them
                > will be substantial, and they will command high prices.

                Well, let's not confuse price and cost. The cost to construct should
                be moderate, I think. The price in the market may be quite high.
                We already see this with New Urbanism--these projects cost about the
                same to build, but they command higher prices in the market.
                Value-added is thus greater.

                Regards,




                -------------------------------------------------
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              • T. J. Binkley
                ... How would this make obtaining construction financing less difficult or less expensive? ... I m missing something here. Some developers (right here in
                Message 7 of 14 , Jun 30, 2004
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                  Joel replied:

                  > Construction financing for an unconventional project will be more expensive
                  > > and difficult to obtain.
                  >
                  >Unless we can find an insurance company that believes in the need
                  >for this....

                  How would this make obtaining construction financing less difficult or less
                  expensive?

                  > > Most sites that have the desired proximity to shops, services and public
                  > > transit, will be relatively expensive. High land costs will completely
                  > > wipe out any potential savings from less car infrastructure, as
                  > compared to
                  > > suburban development.
                  >
                  >In California, I'm not so sure this equation would hold. Buildable
                  >land is now so expensive that the costs of building, say, 4 houses
                  >on one acre as compared to building, say, 40 apartments would almost
                  >certainly yield a lower per-unit cost for the carfree project.

                  I'm missing something here. Some developers (right here in Ventura,
                  California) continue to build detached houses at 4 units per acre, others
                  build apartments and condos at 40 dua+. The land for both project types is
                  "expensive", but the land being considered for higher density projects, is
                  much more expensive than land proposed for suburban development. Are you
                  suggesting building a carfree project in the 'burbs? ....or praying for
                  cheap land in a city?

                  > > If "it's possible to have a car around somewhere" in these projects, and
                  > > they are as beautiful and desirable as we envision, then demand for them
                  > > will be substantial, and they will command high prices.
                  >
                  >Well, let's not confuse price and cost. The cost to construct should
                  be moderate, I think. The price in the market may be quite high.

                  Yes, let's not. ;^]

                  I was replying to your comment:

                  > >I thus see lots of working and middle-class urbanites who would
                  > >snap up carfree housing if it became available, especially at a
                  > >lower price than sprawl (possibly half the price, given that
                  > >rooms would be smaller than in the 'burbs).

                  Honestly, where could you possibly imagine making carfree housing available
                  at a lower price than sprawl?

                  Best,

                  -TJB
                • J.H. Crawford
                  ... The insurance companies are freaking out about global warming. Swiss Re (one of the largest reinsurers) recently expressed its alarm (I think there s an
                  Message 8 of 14 , Jul 1, 2004
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                    Continuing, TJ said:

                    > > Construction financing for an unconventional project will be more expensive
                    >> > and difficult to obtain.
                    >>
                    >>Unless we can find an insurance company that believes in the need
                    >>for this....
                    >
                    >How would this make obtaining construction financing less difficult or less
                    >expensive?

                    The insurance companies are freaking out about global warming.
                    Swiss Re (one of the largest reinsurers) recently expressed its
                    alarm (I think there's an article in Carfree Times). These folks
                    will be looking for a way to invest their received premiums in
                    projects that don't contribute to, or better yet, help reduce,
                    global warming. It may not make it any/much less expensive to
                    borrow, but it should make it easier.

                    >> > Most sites that have the desired proximity to shops, services and public
                    >> > transit, will be relatively expensive. High land costs will completely
                    >> > wipe out any potential savings from less car infrastructure, as
                    >> compared to
                    >> > suburban development.
                    >>
                    >>In California, I'm not so sure this equation would hold. Buildable
                    >>land is now so expensive that the costs of building, say, 4 houses
                    >>on one acre as compared to building, say, 40 apartments would almost
                    >>certainly yield a lower per-unit cost for the carfree project.
                    >
                    >I'm missing something here. Some developers (right here in Ventura,
                    >California) continue to build detached houses at 4 units per acre, others
                    >build apartments and condos at 40 dua+. The land for both project types is
                    >"expensive", but the land being considered for higher density projects, is
                    >much more expensive than land proposed for suburban development. Are you
                    >suggesting building a carfree project in the 'burbs? ....or praying for
                    >cheap land in a city?

                    I guess we need to talk numbers. Is the urban land ten times as
                    expensive as rural (but developable) land in Ventura?

                    > > >I thus see lots of working and middle-class urbanites who would
                    > > >snap up carfree housing if it became available, especially at a
                    > > >lower price than sprawl (possibly half the price, given that
                    > > >rooms would be smaller than in the 'burbs).
                    >
                    >Honestly, where could you possibly imagine making carfree housing available
                    >at a lower price than sprawl?

                    Well, practically anywhere. IIRC there's a cost reduction to
                    the developer in the range of $10,000 per unit when moving
                    from single-family sprawl to medium-density condos. (See
                    Carfree Cities for the reference.) That ought to help. Then,
                    you cut the cost of road building by a very large factor.
                    No garages/carports (I guess people don't do carports any more?)
                    So, sure, I think we can do this at lower prices in practically
                    any market. It would be useful to be able to prove this with
                    numbers, but I can't get to this for years. Any construction
                    estimators out there who want to take this on?

                    Regards,




                    -- ### --

                    J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                    mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
                  • Richard Risemberg
                    ... Also aidingthis will be the nascent but growing practice among municipalities & counties of no longer providing free roads and infrastrcuture to developers
                    Message 9 of 14 , Jul 1, 2004
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                      J.H. Crawford wrote:
                      >
                      > Well, practically anywhere. IIRC there's a cost reduction to
                      > the developer in the range of $10,000 per unit when moving
                      > from single-family sprawl to medium-density condos. (See
                      > Carfree Cities for the reference.) That ought to help. Then,
                      > you cut the cost of road building by a very large factor.
                      > No garages/carports (I guess people don't do carports any more?)
                      > So, sure, I think we can do this at lower prices in practically
                      > any market. It would be useful to be able to prove this with
                      > numbers, but I can't get to this for years. Any construction
                      > estimators out there who want to take this on?
                      >
                      Also aidingthis will be the nascent but growing practice among
                      municipalities & counties of no longer providing free roads and
                      infrastrcuture to developers laying down tracts in the greenfields.
                      I've seen mention of this even in the mainstream press occasionally,
                      mostly in the last few months.

                      On another point: yes, people will snap up carfree or carlight homes.
                      Gilmore's loft projects downtown (here in LA) have all filled up
                      instantly--they're not carfree, but they're in the carfree form, all
                      being multistory buildings (rehabs of classic downtown apartments and
                      commercial buildings) in extremely dense, mixed-use, transit-heavy
                      areas. (One block from a subway stop and bus nexus.) Folks--not just
                      artists but all sorts of folks--are paying good money to live there even
                      though it's two blocks from Skid Row.

                      In fact, I believe downtown has the lowest vacancy rate for residential
                      of all LA.

                      Richard

                      --
                      Richard Risemberg
                      http://www.living-room.org
                      http://www.newcolonist.com

                      "Until you stop looking for simple answers, you will not be happy. You
                      will not even be human."

                      RR
                    • T. J. Binkley
                      ... Interesting. ... I don t know offhand the price of developable rural land, but yes, ten times is probably in the ballpark. A three-and-a-half acre (1.42
                      Message 10 of 14 , Jul 1, 2004
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                        Continuing, Joel said:

                        >The insurance companies are freaking out about global warming.
                        >Swiss Re (one of the largest reinsurers) recently expressed its
                        >alarm (I think there's an article in Carfree Times). These folks
                        >will be looking for a way to invest their received premiums in
                        >projects that don't contribute to, or better yet, help reduce,
                        >global warming. It may not make it any/much less expensive to
                        >borrow, but it should make it easier.

                        Interesting.

                        >... the land being considered for higher density projects, is
                        > >much more expensive than land proposed for suburban development. Are you
                        > >suggesting building a carfree project in the 'burbs? ....or praying for
                        > >cheap land in a city?
                        >
                        >I guess we need to talk numbers. Is the urban land ten times as
                        >expensive as rural (but developable) land in Ventura?

                        I don't know offhand the price of developable rural land, but yes, ten
                        times is probably in the ballpark. A three-and-a-half acre (1.42 hectare)
                        site downtown sold last year for $10.5 million ($3 million per acre). This
                        is a site which still requires clearance of several (unsalvageable)
                        structures, substantial infrastructure upgrades, possible groundwater
                        intrusion and underground contamination issues. 206 units are planned for
                        the site. The price of a small 2-bedroom condo here is about $500,000.

                        > >Honestly, where could you possibly imagine making carfree housing available
                        > >at a lower price than sprawl?
                        >
                        >Well, practically anywhere. ... Any construction
                        >estimators out there who want to take this on?

                        Sure, I'll do it. Pick a site, anywhere. Hey, Erik Rauch, what did that
                        site in North Cambridge sell for? Anything built there yet?

                        Rick mentioned that dense urban housing is selling well in Downtown LA, as
                        is the case in many cities across the US. These condos, lofts and
                        apartments are commanding HIGH prices. This type of development conserves
                        resources, and is highly desirable for many reasons which are familiar to
                        all of us here, but it ain't cheap to build, or purchase.

                        Best,

                        TJB
                      • Doug Salzmann
                        I m losing track of the main idea here, at list a little, but... Why is it even relevant to compare (and contrast ;^) costs of construction for urban,
                        Message 11 of 14 , Jul 1, 2004
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                          I'm losing track of the main idea here, at list a little, but...

                          Why is it even relevant to compare (and contrast ;^) costs of
                          construction for urban, multi-use, carfree projects with those for
                          carburban sprawl? After all, nobody's building ranchers on Broadway,
                          and we know that carfree development isn't going to work in the land
                          of endless snout houses. Shouldn't we, rather, compare our preferred
                          style of development (vertical mixed-use sans auto accommodations)
                          with projects and uses that are actually likely in the urban core?

                          All that low-density sprawl is dinosaur-dead, anyway -- that is, it's
                          already dead, but it's a long way from its tiny little brain to its
                          gigantic, clumsy limbs, so the twitching lasts a long time.


                          -Doug



                          P.S. For those who want to do some estimating, here's a list of
                          useful references. Excuse the non-standard listing format -- there
                          should be plenty of info here to track down anything you find
                          interesting.


                          Basic Estimating for Construction (Second Edition) - by James A. S.
                          Fatzinger

                          Means Estimating Handbook (Second Edition) - by John Chiang (Editor),
                          John Ferguson (Editor), Joe Macaluso (Editor), Mel Mossman (Editor),
                          William D. Mahoney, RS Means Engineering

                          Estimating in Building Construction - by Frank R. Dagostino, Leslie
                          Feigenbaum

                          Markup & Profit: A Contractor's Guide - by Michael C. Stone

                          RS Means Residential Cost Data 2004: Square Foot Costs, Systems Cost,
                          Unit Costs - by Howard M. Chandler (Editor) - Includes location
                          factors to adjust material and labor costs to more than 930 U.S. zip
                          codes and selected locations in Canada

                          RS Means Residential Cost Data 2003: Square Foot Costs, Systems Cost,
                          Unit Costs - by Howard M. Chandler (Editor) - Includes location
                          factors to adjust material and labor costs to more than 930 U.S. zip
                          codes and selected locations in Canada

                          2004 National Building Cost Manual (28th Ed) - by Dave Ogershok
                          (Editor), Craftsman Book Company

                          2003 National Building Cost Manual (27th Ed) - by Dave Ogershok
                          (Editor), Craftsman Book Company

                          2003 National Construction Estimator - by Dave Ogershok, Craftsman
                          Book Company (51st Edition - Book & CD-ROM)

                          2003 National Repair and Remodeling Estimator - by Albert S. Paxton,
                          Craftsman Book Company (Book & CD-ROM)

                          2003 National Electrical Estimator - by Edward J. Tyler, Craftsman
                          Book Company (Book & CD ROM)

                          2003 National Painting Cost Estimator - by Dennis D. Gleason,
                          Craftsman Book Company (Book & CD ROM)

                          2003 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator - by James A. Thomson (Book &
                          CD ROM)

                          2003 National Renovation & Insurance, Repair Estimator - by Jonathan
                          Russell, Craftsman Book Company (Book & CD ROM)

                          2004 CD Estimator - by Craftsman Book Company
                          Note: This is not a book. It is a software program that includes six
                          estimating costbooks for the year 2004, 40 estimating & bidding forms,
                          85,000 construction costs for new construction, and a 70-minute
                          interactive video that teaches you how to use this CD-ROM to estimate
                          construction costs.

                          * National Construction Estimator - Residential, industrial, and
                          commercial new construction
                          * National Repair & Remodeling Estimator - Remove and replace
                          costs for residences
                          * National Electrical Estimator - Electrical work in residential,
                          industrial and commercial buildings
                          * National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator - Plumbing, heating,
                          ventilating & air conditioning
                          * National Painting Cost Estimator - Painting, wallcovering and
                          surface preparation costs
                          * National Renovation & Insurance Repair Estimator - Costs for
                          adjusting casualty losses


                          Square Foot Costs 2004 (25th Edition) - by R. S. Means, Barbara
                          Balboni (Editor)

                          Square Foot Costs 2003 (24th Edition) - by R. S. Means, Barbara
                          Balboni (Editor)

                          Building Construction Cost Data, 2003 (61st Edition) - by R. S. Means

                          Mechanical Cost Data 2003 (26th Edition) - by R. S. Means, Melville J.
                          Mossman (Editor)

                          Electrical Cost Data 2003 (26th Edition) - by R. S. Means, by John H.
                          Chiang (Editor)

                          Plumbing Cost Data 2003 (26th Edition) - by R. S. Means, by Melville
                          J. Missman (Editor)

                          Exterior Home Improvement Costs: The Practical Pricing Guide for
                          Homeowners & Contractors (Updated Seventh Edition) - by R. S. Means
                          Company

                          Interior Home Improvement Costs: The Practical Pricing Guide for
                          Homeowners & Contractors (Updated Seventh Edition) - by R. S. Means
                          Company

                          Historic Preservation: Project Planning & Estimating - by R. S. Means
                          Company

                          Walker's Building Estimator's Reference Book, 26th Edition - by Frank
                          R. Walker Co.

                          F.R. Walker's Remodeling Reference Book: A Guide for Accurate
                          Remodeling Cost Estimates for Construction Professionals and
                          Homeowners - by Frank R. Walker Co.

                          Carpentry Estimating - by W. P. Jackson

                          Contractors Pricing Guide: Residential Square Foot Costs 1999 - by
                          Robert W. Mewis

                          Contractor's Pricing Guide Residential Detailed Costs - by Robert W.
                          Mewis

                          Dodge Unit Cost Guide 2001 (Book & CD) - CD-ROM includes downloadable
                          cost calculator plus Timberline Precision Estimating Basic trial
                          version.

                          Estimating Tables for Home Building - by Paul I. Thomas

                          Estimating Excavation - by Deryl Burch

                          RS Means Site Work and Landscape Cost Data 2003 - by Barbara Balboni
                          (Editor)



                          --

                          "Is it not a strange blindness on our part
                          to teach publicly the techniques of warfare
                          and to reward with medals those who prove to
                          be the most adroit killers?"

                          -Donatien-Alphonse-Francois de Sade, 1740-1814



                          ---
                          Doug Salzmann
                          Kalliergo
                          Post Office Box 307
                          Corte Madera, CA 94976 USA

                          <doug@...>
                        • J.H. Crawford
                          ... Let s be sure not to confuse cost and price. At 206 units, the COST of the land is about $50,000 per unit. A small 2 BR condo ought to cost $200,000 or
                          Message 12 of 14 , Jul 1, 2004
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                            Continuing, TJ said:

                            >I don't know offhand the price of developable rural land, but yes, ten
                            >times is probably in the ballpark. A three-and-a-half acre (1.42 hectare)
                            >site downtown sold last year for $10.5 million ($3 million per acre). This
                            >is a site which still requires clearance of several (unsalvageable)
                            >structures, substantial infrastructure upgrades, possible groundwater
                            >intrusion and underground contamination issues. 206 units are planned for
                            >the site. The price of a small 2-bedroom condo here is about $500,000.

                            Let's be sure not to confuse cost and price. At 206 units,
                            the COST of the land is about $50,000 per unit. A small 2 BR
                            condo ought to cost $200,000 or less to build, so the cost
                            would be only $250,000 per unit (plus clearance and infrastructure
                            upgrade, which shouldn't affect the issue all that much). So,
                            somebody is going to be putting nearly $250,000 per unit in his
                            pocket. The only reason this is possible is the tremendous demand
                            for urban housing in the area. (I wonder what the profit on
                            sprawburbia is?) Even at $500,000 a unit, this is still fairly
                            inexpensive by CA standards, no?

                            >Rick mentioned that dense urban housing is selling well in Downtown LA, as
                            >is the case in many cities across the US. These condos, lofts and
                            >apartments are commanding HIGH prices. This type of development conserves
                            >resources, and is highly desirable for many reasons which are familiar to
                            >all of us here, but it ain't cheap to build, or purchase.

                            Well, as I say, it shouldn't cost more to build than auto-centric
                            construction. What it actually sells for may not have much to do
                            with the cost. (I heard not long ago that you could buy a rancher
                            in Brownsville TX for something like $5000 (not new, of course),
                            because nobody wants to live there.) Cost can also be higher than
                            price in some markets, which means, of course, that there is no
                            new construction.

                            Housing prices in California are so far off the map of "reasonable"
                            that it might be better to focus our attention on other parts of
                            the country.

                            Regards,


                            -- ### --

                            J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
                            mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
                          • Matt Hohmeister
                            In Tallahassee, population around 250,000, a 2000 sf, 3BR, single-family, 1960s sprawlburb house would sell for around $150,000, and would be pretty solidly
                            Message 13 of 14 , Jul 2, 2004
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                              In Tallahassee, population around 250,000, a 2000 sf, 3BR, single-family, 1960s
                              sprawlburb house would sell for around $150,000, and would be pretty solidly built: brick
                              exterior, drywall interior.

                              At $200,000 for a 1000 sf, 2 BR condo, are we assuming a very high quality of building
                              here? I'd hope that we're talking about a 2-4 story buildings with fire sprinklers, masonry
                              exteriors (I don't care if it's brick, cinder block, or stucco--diverse sidings would actually
                              be nice), concrete separating all units (walls, floors, and ceilings), butcherblock wood
                              doors in steel frames, and mortise locks (as opposed to putting a new $15 Kwikset
                              deadbolt on the door every time it changes hands). I'd hope that any buildings in a carfree
                              area would be built to last 200 years or more. We should also make buildings easy to
                              remodel inside, so if someone wants to replace a shabby-looking 50-year-old bathroom
                              counter, it can be done with a miniimum of collateral damage. This would provide
                              disincentive to razing buildings after 25 years.

                              If we build carfree areas large enough to accomodate the demans, pricing should drop. I
                              feel that the reason "urban" property is so expensive is that, in many areas, it's illegal to
                              expand urban areas--the law requires sprawl. Thus, even if relatively few people WANT to
                              live downtown, they're still battling over a limited supply, since development code has put
                              the stop on any new development like it.

                              > Let's be sure not to confuse cost and price. At 206 units,
                              > the COST of the land is about $50,000 per unit. A small 2 BR
                              > condo ought to cost $200,000 or less to build, so the cost
                              > would be only $250,000 per unit (plus clearance and infrastructure
                              > upgrade, which shouldn't affect the issue all that much). So,
                              > somebody is going to be putting nearly $250,000 per unit in his
                              > pocket. The only reason this is possible is the tremendous demand
                              > for urban housing in the area. (I wonder what the profit on
                              > sprawburbia is?) Even at $500,000 a unit, this is still fairly
                              > inexpensive by CA standards, no?
                            • T. J. Binkley
                              ... That would be nice. Fire sprinklers are required in all new construction here, and standards for energy conservation are high, but alas, there s a huge
                              Message 14 of 14 , Jul 2, 2004
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                                >At $200,000 for a 1000 sf, 2 BR condo, are we assuming a very high quality
                                >of building
                                >here? I'd hope that we're talking about a 2-4 story buildings with fire
                                >sprinklers, masonry
                                >exteriors (I don't care if it's brick, cinder block, or stucco--diverse
                                >sidings would actually
                                >be nice), concrete separating all units (walls, floors, and ceilings),
                                >butcherblock wood
                                >doors in steel frames, and mortise locks (as opposed to putting a new $15
                                >Kwikset
                                >deadbolt on the door every time it changes hands).

                                That would be nice. Fire sprinklers are required in all new construction
                                here, and standards for energy conservation are high, but alas, there's a
                                huge local disincentive to much masonry construction: earthquake
                                codes. These make even simple concrete block construction quite a bit more
                                expensive than wood. Nonetheless, when I acquire my own little patch of
                                dirt, I fully intend to build as you've described.

                                >I'd hope that any buildings in a carfree
                                >area would be built to last 200 years or more.

                                Yes. Here's a proven way to provide affordable, dense, urban
                                housing: build structures that are still habitable, serviceable, highly
                                desirable for several generations of users, long after the high costs of
                                new construction have been paid (Jane Jacobs covered this well).

                                In The Baltimore Rowhouse, an interesting review of nineteenth century land
                                lease laws describes how developers were more willing to spend money on
                                solid construction and elaborate ornamentation of some rowhouses there, in
                                order to maximize the ongoing land rents they could expect.

                                >If we build carfree areas large enough to accomodate the demans, pricing
                                >should drop. I
                                >feel that the reason "urban" property is so expensive is that, in many
                                >areas, it's illegal to
                                >expand urban areas--the law requires sprawl. Thus, even if relatively few
                                >people WANT to
                                >live downtown, they're still battling over a limited supply, since
                                >development code has put
                                >the stop on any new development like it.

                                Yep. It couldn't possibly be worse anywhere than here, where so-called
                                progressives conflate environmentalism with "no-growth".

                                Cheers,

                                TJB
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