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What are we looking for?

by Jeffrey Rous last modified Aug 30, 2013 12:47 PM
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What are we looking for?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at December 13. 2004

Dallas had a decent modernist wave pass through in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then, almost nothing. I am interested to know just exactly what people in Dallas (North Texas really) are looking for in a house.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Universal Constructor at December 14. 2004

McMansions that are vaguely reminiscent of French, Italian or Spanish villas (but you're not really sure which one), are 1/15th the size of the original - with central air and central heat but leak conditioned air like a sieve - and have no canopy or porch covering the front or back door? If you buy from a good developer, as a bonus you get interior and exterior cladding you could put your fist through if you had a stud-finder.

Seriously? I'm looking too and don't see much. To a large extent people are buying what is getting built.

Figured this thread needed a post. : )



Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by jonathan delcambre at December 14. 2004

I believe we are beginning to see a
new wave of modernisn in the Dallas area.
With the creation of great magazines like
Dwell and websites like LiveModern the word
is getting out that there still is modernism in
this fabulous land we call America. And it is
happening in areas that you would never think
it could. It is going to take several developments
of modern housing before more developers grasp
this new building type! At least new to these
Mcmansion developers.

Several of these developments in the Dallas area
are being seen in Kessler Woods,
uptown, and in East Dallas click on the modern link and check out
The EDGE at White Rock, 468 Easton. Stay tuned there is more on the horizon.....

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Rodrigo Ocejo at January 03. 2005

This has to be a message from the gods . . . I spent the whole evening looking for what's available in the Dallas market with a modernism/minimalistic touch, finding very little developments available, except some interesting townhouses.

Finally, I landed at Griffin website. Very nicely done, the Modern link is great. Saw two very interesting concepts, Kessler Woods and the Easton Rd houses. Reading through, I found Jon's name there. Man, talk about finding someone . . . Jonathan was harder to find in the internet than modernism in Dallas!

Well, you have figured out where I ended up, finding a site where the man himself jointly coordinates a forum.

While not living in the area right now, I am interested in relocating there in the next 2-3 years and are looking at an investment right now, modern style ONLY, potentially our future home. Therefore, my interest would be to acquire knowledge on anything modern/minimalistic being developed in the Dallas metro zone. I believe some of us interested in living in the city can add our two cents to the rebirth of modernism Jonathan was talking about, if we invest in Dallas (hopefully more architects would be attracted, as you mention!).

I was curious to know whether the Easton Rd houses are part of a small 3-house community or are aligned side-by-side on the street.

To touch upon Rous' point, I am looking for:

Naturally-finished construction materials: concrete, brick, glass, wood, steel. 18-20ft living room areas. A lot of glass, a view from there. Minimal roundiness. Square spaces, where every corner is maximized. Functional design. A dining room where one actually eats more than twice a year. A living room where people gather, not only used when guests are around. Diminishing slack space, such as several dining spaces and more lounges/living rooms than utilized. Improve closet design, it seems we cannot fit our stuff anywhere these days. Innovative bathroom design. We use bathrooms intensively few hours a day, and then less than we think so during the whole day. Space, space and space; nothing more relaxing in our stressful lifes than to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of clean space after a hard day. White walls. Great modern art.

For a start . . .


Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at January 03. 2005

Other than the stuff you have already found, (David Griffin does seem to have the best collection of modern houses), there is not much. About two months ago, I was contacted by someone who had read some of my postings here. They said they were part of a new 22 acre subdivision project in Northeast Dallas (in Dallas, but Richardson School District) where only modern houses would be allowed. The idea was that you would get your own blueprints and then have this company (I think it was Urban Edge, but they do not mention this project on thier web site) build the house. The timing was perfect as our blueprints are done and we have mixed feelings about the neighborhood where our lot is (let's just say, we expect some negative responses to our house, which you can see on my blog). I responded to the email that I wanted to know more. Then nothing. A month later I tried again. Nothing.

Now that I have mentioned them, check out the Urban Edge ( ) site.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Mark Meyer at January 03. 2005

Your sentiments echo many folks sentiments about the state of available housing. It seems we are increasingly being left with the options of either buying up the schlock that is currently built (and being unhappy), lucking into a mid-century home (and I do mean luck), or going the route of building for ones-self (which I for one think there needs to be more of, but hey I'm in the design business, so what can I say). I think Dallas, as well as Austin (where Jonathan and I happen to be located), Houston, and to a lesser degree San Antonio, are coming around, as it seems like I keep seeing new modern developments springing up everywhere. Granted most of these developments are Condo or townhome or mixed use projects, and in the city I think those sorts of higher density developments are what is needed, but if those sorts of things become obviously economically viable, then single family developments aren't far behind.

Here is a link to some modern stuff going on in Austin. Similar things are happening in Dallas and Houston as well


Mark Meyer

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by jonathan delcambre at January 03. 2005

To answer your question on the Easton road houses rocejo, yes they are side-by-side and yes they form their own small 3-house community, well two so far with another on the way.

If you are looking for an investment in the next 2-3 years you should check out south Dallas
or Oak Cliff. The whole metropolitan area is reving up for the Calatrava bridge and the development of the Trinity River. Once these go down the whole area will start to take shape.

And the 22 acre development that Rous is talking about is truly happening. It will be in northeast Dallas. Keep checking the Griffin and UrbanEdge website because the land should be going up pretty soon. Not mention it is looking like Kessler Woods part 2 might be forth coming......This is not enough though we need more modern developments with the emphasis on Energy Efficiency!

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Rodrigo Ocejo at January 03. 2005

Thanks for the feedback. Didn't know Calatrava was building a bridge. Seems like the city is on the right trend, then.

Can sense your frustration. Interestingly, coming from South of the border, the picture is completely different, despite being at a lower state of development. Loft-style developments mainly in Mexico City (Condesa, Polanco areas) are the most expensive ones by square foot these days. People like the new face they provide to the city.

You guys in Texas should check it out one weekend, being 1 to 2 hours by plane.

Another significant difference: you can build your own house ANY way you like. Of course, this leads to some form of chaos, but some spectacular houses/developments can be seen. I think it is worth a trip for 2-3 days. Check for a slight flavor.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at January 03. 2005

If the 22 acre Urban Edge deal is really going to be happening, then why won't they respond to my emails! They won't even tell me where the place is. We hope to break ground soon in Farmers Branch but I'd at least like to have a chance to evaluate the option.

Then again, maybe whoever it was that found me here saw our house on my blog and and thought it wouldn't fit in.

Anyway, I'll make a pitch for Farmers Branch. It was largely developed in the 1950s and 60s with, then, middle to upper middle class homes. The newer suburbs like Flower Mound and Allen have offered people new large but cheap houses with that old world charm and they have left. But Farmers Branch isn't giving up. Along with other inner ring suburbs, they have decided to try to reinvent themselves to avoid becoming low income wastelands. We are planning on building a house in Branch Crossing (new name for a neighborhood of 750-900 sq.ft. ranch homes built in the 1950s). They have imposed new zoning restrictions to encourage starter castles, but, as you can see in my blog, there are ways around that. AND, there is an immediately adjacent neighborhood without any restrictions. The houses there sell for 100k.

So what does Farmers Branch have going for it? As part of CFBISD, they have good schools (and easy access to Dallas' best private schools if you are into that sort of thing). Also, at the intersection of 35e and 635, FB is 15 minutes from DFW, 10 minutes from the Gallaria, and 20 minutes from downtown. Also, within 5 years, there should be a light rail station at the intersection of 35e and Vally View Rd, a 10 minute walk from the Branch Crossing neighborhood. As part of that development around the station, this summer they will break ground on a new mixed use development (retail, restaurants, office space and residential). They also have a new city-owned recreation center (it is amazing) which costs families $35 per month to join. It also has the best park system in the Dallas area.

Do I sound a bit like an ad? Well, if you want to build a modern house in North Dallas (or Lakewood, or Bluffview) you start by spending $400k for a lot and then you can count on $15,000 per kid per year for private school (a kid got stabbed to death last year at the middle school down the street from our Dallas home last year). When we were able to get a 1/4 acre lot for a reasonable price in FB, we didn't think it was perfect, but did think it might be our best alternative.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Ami Kio at January 22. 2005

I've been reading with great interest many posts and browsing various links supplied by this forum, so thank you all for all of those things.

A litte intro before I start spouting off: I'm a lazy yuppie dink (I have no problem admitting that I fit a stereotype, although do I count as a yuppie if I don't drink Starbucks?) who has been married for a few years. A friend's current hunt for a new house touched off my online research into modern housing. While I would love a modern house, I currently live in an early '80s house in the suburbs on the city edge. I'm guessing that I'm somewhat of a future target market for modern housing, although our income probably puts us at the lower edge of that market.

So what am I looking for?

Materials: Long lasting, easy care, energy efficient.
I want steel frames (why feed the termites?), avoid wood siding outside (again, why feed the termites?), lots of insulation, Corian or something similar for kitchen surfaces (easy care).

Design: Practical for TX, easy care, bright and spacious yet insulating.
I love midcentury modern design, but many of the designs are better suited to milder climes. Open air isn't so great when
(a) you're guaranteed at least a week of 100/+F in the summer,
(b) temps go from 80F to 40F in 24hrs (thus the need for good insulation and an enclosed design) and you're a cold-wuss,
(c) you have horrible allergies, and
(d) at least 6 months of hot sun will make a glass walled house into a hot box.
So while I want bright and spacious, there have to be overhangs that shade the windows. We also get at least a few days of hail (past 2yrs have been bad), so I'd want a design that can prevent breakage.
Easy care is a personal thing. I'm college-student-living-in-a-messy-dorm lazy, and I want lowlowlow maintenace. No surfaces that I have to treat/reseal once a week/month/year. Everything needs to be stain/scratch/impact resistant. No large expanses of grout that I'll have to scrub. No fingerprint happy surfaces. No flat roof that will be prone to puddling or leaks (unless there's been great flat roof improvements that I'm unaware of, which certainly can be the case) -- in any case, I like the slightly sloped roof design with windows immediately below the higher edge.
Other personal preferences are a large shower and large kitchen with tons of counterspace.

Relatively low cost: While I don't mind paying for quality, I balk at paying more than $250k for a 2200-2500sq.ft home. It's like how $1000 is a threshold price for many consumer electronics -- quarter of a million is my threshold price for a home, albeit $200k is already enough to start me fidgeting. Unfortunately, the combination of a demanding full-time job with my lack of do-it-yourself-ness makes taking charge of my own project a cold day in Hades likelyhood. I very much admire Rous's drive to build his own house, but it's not me.

Land/Location: I want to live in an area where I feel safe and will keep it's value (duh). I also want to live close to work b/c I hate commuting. This is the main reason that I live where I do. I love the location of my current house so much that I'm considering renovating the interior in lieu of getting a modern house down the line.


Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at January 23. 2005

First, the good news, for $250,000 you can have a modern house and one that suits your needs.

Now the bad news. Depending on how much lots go for where you want to live, 2200 sq. ft. might be stretching it.

Say you can find a lot for $50,000 (doable in Dallas or some of the older suburbs if you chase the fire trucks). In many areas (unless you head out to the country) you are looking at $80,000+ for a lot. But let's assume you get lucky and find one for $50,000. Now, for a 2000 sq. ft. house for $200,000 you need to get in for $100 per sq. ft.

Slab on grade foundation: $10/sq.ft.
Framing and insulation (2x6 stud walls for exterior): $15/sq.ft.
Electrical (including fixtures): $6/sq.ft.
Plumbing (including fixtures): $6/sq.ft.
HVAC: $4/sq.ft.
Gypsum board interiors: $4.50/sq.ft.
Paint: $2/sq.ft.
Finish floor: $5/sq.ft. ($3 for vinyl or carpet to $4 for stained concrete to $6 for bamboo to $8 for hardwood, I took a nice average)
Ikea cabinets for kitchen and baths: $5/sq.ft.
Minimum landscaping: $3/sq.ft.
Roof: $2/sq.ft
Exterior (cement board and paint): $6/sq.ft.
Windows: $10/sq.ft.
Appliances: $1.50/sq.ft.
Countertops (formica): $.50
Doors: $1.50
Fireplace: $1.50

And I am at about $84.00 per sq.ft. and I didn't include a garage.

With a garage and the stuff I forgot, you are probably talking about $90/ sq. ft. minimum for a house. Corian countertops, add $1/sq.ft.

Why is it that K/B Homes, Centex, Ryland, etc. can build them for $70 per sq.ft.? Because with the numbers they build and the crews they have, and the quality they do not include, they can knock about 20% off every number I have up in the list. Also, their number one concern is looking impressive during a 20 minute visit. You walk in and the foyer is impressive, the houses generally have high (9'-12') ceilings, and you can see 4 different rooms at once. It is a little disorienting, but it certainly seems luxurious. Sometimes they get lucky and the floor plans are at least functional, but not in a million years could they be confused with great architecture. You are going to have to decide whether design and construction quality are worth more to you than having a formal dining area, executive size bathrooms, a massive kitchen and a media room.

Before you answer, take a look at designSTUDIO's courtHOUSE-L (on ezekieltatoo's blog):

It is about 1720sq.ft. and could be stretched here and there to make a very cool and comfortable 2000 sq. ft. As it is, it has 4 BR, 2 baths, 2 living areas and a nice kitchen. I think a 2000 sq.ft. version could be done for $180,000 and a 2200 sq. ft. version for $200,000.

If you are looking for something in the $75-$80 /sq.ft. range, then check out the Have you wished for a cheaper pre-fab thread in the Dwell Labs forum.

More bad news. If you want to try and build a modern home in a new planned development, forget it, they will not let you build an overtly modern house in one of their neighborhoods. People in these neighborhoods crave conformity and they wrote the rules to ensure it.

Finally, the flat roof problem has been solved.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Vance P. Freeman at February 07. 2005


I heard from two sources about the East Dallas/ Richardson development last week. Diane Cheathum is supposedly promoting the development with formal presentations. I will post here when I find out more info.

Now to answer the question, my wife and two kids are looking to build a modern home--maybe in Sunnyvale--for $325,000-$350,000 including land. Does anyone know if there is a builder doing projects like Austin City Homes in Dallas. I saw several houses similar to jplouis’s when we lived in Houston, but none in Dallas.


Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at February 08. 2005

Have you heard where exactly the development is located? I guess what really bothers me is THEY emailled ME and asked if I was interested. When I said Yes, please tell me more, I got now response. I have since re-emailled them twice, and still cannot get a response. And I have a plan in hand!

But I digress. Any idea what lots go for in Sunnyvale? Any idea if you can find onw without such restrictive covenants that you could build a modern house? After you get to this point, work backwards from $325,000. Subtract the lot cost and then divide the remainder by $100 per sqft to determine what size house you might be able to afford. I think $100/sqft is about the cheapest you can get a house designed and built for around Dallas. Another option would be one of LaVardera's stock plans, which could save you $20,000 in design costs. If you are thinking that, like most Texans, you need a big house for it to be functional, check out designSTUDIO's courtHOUSE XL (is is described with plan and side view on ezekieltatto's blog called Two Votes for a Modern World). For your budget, a 2400 sqft version would be awesome and Mark has no problem working from Austin.

I tried to visit the AustinCityHomes site, but it seems to be down.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Wen at February 08. 2005

Okay here is the deal - the new urban edge community will be called urban reserve. It is E of Central Expressway, W of Greenville at the Royal/Forrest area, Richardson ISD. It is 53 lots - no min size requirement but the largest house can't be over 8,000 sq feet. I believe right now the lots range from $85,000 - $300,000 and are from 5,000 - 14,000 sq feet. They are not advertising anything yet because they are awaiting the final zoning approval from the City which they should receive in the next month - month and a half. The first houses might be done by the summer. You buy a lot, get an architect (or they help you select one), give them your plans and they build. If you call urban edge - they have a phone option now for urban reserve and you can speak with Katherine Horsey about it.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Catherine Horsey at February 08. 2005

The Urban Reserve website is, although we have not posted details and we can't make a formal announcement until our zoning is approved.

Urban Reserve is a 12-acre neighborhood of 53 lots. The project is immediately east of the DART rail and the White Rock Trail, north of Royal Lane and south of Forest Lane in Dallas. It will be Dallas's first low-impact development, with rainwater irrigation, low-water-use plants, narrower streets, bioretention swales and ponds to catch and filter stormwater runoff, and mandated high energy efficiency for the houses. Lots range from 5000 square feet to almost 14000 square feet; lot prices range from under $100k to about $300k. Modernist architectural style--current modernist rather than, say, mid-century modern--is mandated by design guidelines that were developed by Urban Edge and our master planner (architect Bob Meckfessel) and landscape architect (Kevin Sloan). Each house will be individually designed by an architect chosen by the homebuyer (we can help with that) and there will be a 3-person architectural review committee (Diane Cheatham, Bob Meckfessel and Catherine Horsey).

This is a project of Urban Edge Developers. As indicated in a previous email, we are making formal presentations and are already accepting lot reservations. About one-third of the lots are already reserved, which will confirm for you that there is a huge demand. There is a wide variety of folks who will be living there--what they have in common is a love of modern architecture.

Hope this information helps. If you're looking for information, telephone calls are always welcome (214-741-1600), so by all means give us a call. We are regular human beings and I swear always respond to emails, although we don't monitor this board on any sort of regular basis.

Catherine Horsey, Urban Edge Developers Ltd.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at February 08. 2005

Sounds like a great project. Had this started up about a year ago, before we spent the money developing a set of plans for our house, it would have been really interesting. Our house, with a 40'x40' footprint and detached garage, would probably require a lot priced too high for our budget. At this point, we cannot start over.

Good luck and make sure you keep trolling LiveModern for clients. In fact, if possible, please set up a blog to track the project's progress. I am sure that other developers around the US would value following your attempt to build a modern development. In fact, from what I have heard, there are lots of people looking for an alternative to McMansins but they are afraid of poor resale value because they think that future prospecitve buyers will also be focused on resale value. A few successful developments might be the thing to get people out of the rut and get a real movement started.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Monty O'Neil at February 12. 2005


I don't know if I'm in the right part of this forum, but I wanted to drop a line rather than just lurk around. My partner and I have been in a little 60's modern home in South East Dallas for a couple of years. There are a few other modernist homes in our otherwise traditional neighborhood. Thanks for the chance to mingle with others interested in something other than the world of McMansions.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Susan McElroy at February 22. 2005

Hi rocejo, interesting point; I lived in Mexico City for 13+ years, and you're right that modern building is very common, even luxurious, there. I learned to love concrete, that's for sure. I lived in a single family house in Tlalpan that was modern, but very eccentric. (details would be off-topic)

On topic (what we want)is interestingly enough, what I had there: concrete and steel structure, 100% usable roof, relaxed zoning, plentiful skilled labor force. I sure do miss that essentially zero maintenance. It was always very cold indoors, of course, at that altitude, but I've always regretted that places like Texas don't use more concrete in houses; our real concerns are the heat, not the month or two of cool weather we have here.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Peter McIntyre at February 22. 2005

What I would like to know is what is wanted? By that what do we call modern? Is that a 50's flat or corrugated roof with an update that includes concrete floors and countertops no molding plus double the McMansion amount of windows? I see that everyone is concerned with the cost. Modern should cost less as it is doing away with the past embellishments and streamlining the design and materials. Right? Wrong?
This sites mission statement is “making modernism affordable” and at $100. up to 140. per. sq. without including lot, project management, architecture fees, landscaping and construction financing that’s a stretch. A stick built Mc-house can be built for that amount and include a developer fee.

Prefabs are less expensive true on either coast and at best a wash in Texas do to the cost of labor. I agree modular is the future it is just further out to get the cost in line.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by jonathan delcambre at February 22. 2005

Yes modernism can be affordable but I believe it will take some time.
As you see the baby boomers currently buying their last homes, the next generation (gen x or y or whatever you want to call them) are beginning to buy their first or second home. This is the generation that is wanting this modern energy efficient machine. The smart developers and builders are beginning to see this and jump aboard. It will take time before the rest begin to see that the mcmansions are not in demand due to poor design, shotty building methods, and energy guzzlers. The only way to keep this modernism affordable now is with modern stock plans or in some cases prefab. But until then you get what you pay for.

On a side note, lets not forget that Architecture is an art. And good art is not always affordable!!:zz:

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Susan McElroy at February 23. 2005

I would like to see a thread about the generation-thing, as I am a baby boomer myself and wonder if I'm atypical; as for the cost, it could be also related to age...since most 20-somethings are starting out, the need for low-cost is much more intense than it will be for those same homebuyers a decade from now. My generation at that age was living in essentially substandard conditions, though considered hip, and a whole set of aesthetic rules bolstered everyone's spirits...I think the whole poster art fad was because we couldn't afford picture frames, for instance...

I sense that much of the financial push for so-called urban lifestyles is driven by older empty-nesters, even though it's marketed and highly geared towards younger buyers; it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by jonathan delcambre at February 23. 2005

That is a good question Susan, should this urban lifestyle be marketed and geared for younger buyers? Is it driven by older empty-nesters? I myself am not in that category but do want an affordable(not cheap)modern home that is available to the average middle class.

This topic should probably be titled What are we looking for and who is looking for it?

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Ami Kio at February 23. 2005

I just read a NYT article about this (, free registration req'd), and it described how new urbanism is being rejected by over 80% of new home buyers in favor of the stereotypical suburbs where you can have a house with white picket fence. The majority of urban adopters are either older empty-nesters or pretty young people -- basically people who don't plan on having to deal with kids.

That said, I'm a young newly married person who has a decent job and doesn't plan on having kids. I can't bring myself to invest a large amount of money in a new modern house b/c (a) I don't have that much money and (b) I don't know if I'll be living in this area in another 5yrs. My father pointed out that he didn't plan on living in this area for so long, but now it's 20yrs down the line, and he's glad that they built where they did.


Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at February 25. 2005

The measure of success (the American Dream) for the last 50 years in the US has been 1/3 acre of land with the biggest house possible on it in a neighborhood of curvey streets. I know plenty of people who feel that if this is has been the goal for 50 years, it must be good and so it is what they aspire to. I grew up in a mixed-use suburb of Chigaco and the houses near the downtown area are the most valuable in town. I need to read the NYT article you cited, but I feel that New Urbanism has 50 years of social inertia to overcome so the result does not surprise me too much.

FYI:The DPZ folks that really began the New Urbanist movement are actually modernists (they were all part of the Arquetectonica group in Miami in the 80s). The only reason they push traditional design is because they theink it will help New Urbanism get established.

I have been working on the idea of affordable modernism for years and I can tell you that modern design is NOT cheaper than traditional. Two reasons: there are not rows and rows of mass produced modern details at Home Depot because the market is small. This means you have to choose details that are made on a smaller scale and are more expensive. Also, the modern detail you do find tend to be pretty expensive since it is largely more affluent homeowners who choose modern houses. Pretty much, you have to hire an architect to get a modern house (just look at the plan books at the grocery store). Second, lots of the decoration you see in McMansions is there not much for design, but as a way to cover up seams and joints. It is much more expsnsive to work with 1/16" tolerances that can be exposed than to allow a 1/2" tolerance and cover it up with trim.

As for worry about resale in 5 years: 1) who knows how long you are going to be here and do you really want to live your life THAT conservatively? (this is a question I keep asking myself). 2) with all the renewed interest in modernism, I gotta believe a modern house is going to hold its value. In the Dallas area, it is the more rare modern homes that are currently selling at a premium.

Re: Urban Reserve

Posted by Catherine Horsey at March 04. 2005

The Urban Reserve website has been fully loaded, with lot layouts, photos and an image of the first house being designed for the neighborhood. You can see it at

Re: Dallas modernism

Posted by Catherine Horsey at March 04. 2005

The Urban Reserve announcement article appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday. Today is Friday and we have been deluged with calls and emails. Which tells you that there are a LOT of people in Dallas who want a modernist house but haven't been able to find one.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Susan McElroy at March 04. 2005

Hey, that's an interesting point about traditional fussiness that I hadn't considered, Rous. A way to cover up joints/increased tolerances! Makes a lot of sense...I remember as a young mother I used to bring in extra $$ by decorating wedding cakes--the more superflous decoration there was, the easier it was to cover up lopsided, crumbly cakes, and the more you got to charge.

I want to comment some more, but over on the Austin list because that's where I live and can refer to with examples. This is a VERY good topic.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Phil B. Aylward, Jr at May 31. 2005

I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Phil and I grew up in Dallas. I just recently returned to Dallas after 7 years in NYC. One of my top priorities is to find a place to buy.

I've been looking at modern/contemporary condos along the Tollway corridor (I work in Frisco). Compared to NYC, this market is heaven. I can afford many of the things I like. I wasn't really interested in a house because I've never much liked the single family home design in Dallas. I'm much more interested in a house now that I've seen some of the new developments that are occuring. The question I'm asking now is can I afford these developments. Let's say a person has up to $100k equity and can qualify for a mortgage of, say, $340k. Does that match the market for Urban Reserve? That would be at the high end of my financial ability and I wonder does it make sense to invest that much money in the Dallas real estate market? Buying anything in NYC is like a license to print money. The Dallas real estate market is not as clear to me.

I'm glad I found this forum and I welcome your input to my questions.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Jeffrey Rous at May 31. 2005

Say you could get a lot in the Urban Reserve for $140k, that leaves you with $300k for a house. I am going to guess that a house there will cost you $150/sqft (including design and landscaping). So, if you think you could be happy in 2000 sqft, then I think Urban Reserve might work for you and it is worth checking out.

Re: What are we looking for?

Posted by Phil B. Aylward, Jr at June 07. 2005

I had a meeting with the Urban Reserve people last Thursday. It sounds more and more like what I am looking for after talking to them. Right now you can get the smallest lot for just under $100k. They told me based on their previous construction/development experience that they could build a reasonably normal house at UR for about $125 psf. I could definitely be happy in a 2000 sq ft house. I've only lived in something that big once in my life.

They are supposed to break ground on the street running thru the project in a couple of months. First house will probably start construction in the fall.

My biggest concern is how to control costs. If you buy a condo you just make an offer and they either accept it or not. UR is going to make fixed cost construction contracts. I'm just concerned if we agree to $125 psf and 6 months into construction later the costs are much higher. I only qualify for x amount of a loan based on my income and if the costs are higher than that then no one would want to convert the interim financing into a permanent loan. A mortgage broker I talked to acted like it was in UR's interest to keep construction costs down during the process and warn homeowners about how much a change in design will add to the costs.

Anyone with experience designing/building a house? I would love to hear about your experience with estimating total costs and the whole financing aspect.

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