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Old 12-05-2017, 12:51 PM
 
Location: Raleigh
5,364 posts, read 3,933,519 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudship View Post
A mental exercise this. I want your opinion if you think an idea like this would work.

Let's say you have a lot of about 10 acres. Heavily wooded, but fairly close to the town center. I am thinking of a prototype lot in one of the Wachusett towns in Central Mass, though this is more a concept than a specific case. Zoning normally prohibits small houses on small lots. But let's say for the sake of this experiment that you have a loophole around that, mostly because you are looking at affordable housing options. And we will assume for this argument that you have worked out a deal with the town, so normal zoning restrictions are not an issue here.

Lots are 1/4 acre
Obviously some tress will have to be cut down. However the goal is to limit as much tree cutting as possible to preserve the natural feel
Water, Electricity, and Sewer will be provided to the lots
Location is just within the commutable distance of Boston
Trains to Boston from the city next door are available
Land around the development will be protected
Walking paths and public space will be set aside (for instance playground, benches, etc.) for a social atmosphere
Home size will be limited to say 1000sq ft or less
The cost of building the home itself can't exceed $150k
The lots are $50k apiece with utilities provided
Houses must be permanent (i.e. no houses on trailers) but do not need basements


Do you think something like this will work? Would there be interest in something like this?
I think you would have to give a little on the bolded...Probably 1/8 acre lots or smaller, and/or allow sf up to 1450 sf or bigger...

Otherwise, condo-ize them, in SFH structures on smaller lots still...

The same people that generally want "tiny homes" or even smaller SFH don't want 1/4 acre of leaves to rake or lawn to mow.

Does it sound nice? Sure, but I can't see it being viable or even desirable, that small a house on that large a lot.
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Old 12-05-2017, 02:46 PM
 
377 posts, read 203,729 times
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Right now, in this area, minimum lot sizes are either 1 acre or 2 acres. I choose 1/4 acre as I think that is the smallest that you would have any chance of getting approval for - any smaller than that and they can come up with all kinds of safety and environmental issues they can use to block development. I was figuring that at 1/4 of an acre, a small footprint house would allow you to not have to clear the whole lot to build, giving the homes more of a rural feel than a development feel.

I suppose really the question I need to answer first is what exactly is the target audience, and is there enough of them to want this type of home. We still have quite a few small ranches from the 50s and 60s in town - that is where I go the 1000 sq. ft. size from. Big enough to allow for 3 bedrooms, but still compact enough to be affordable. I am not trying to target the typical suburb seeking families - I figure there is enough out there for them already. I am really looking at the youngish modern (I hate the term Millennial) couple, one or two kids, two likes the idea of a tiny home and simplified living, but isn't ready to go into something quite so small. They are looking more for character and lifestyle than size.

I put the custom build in there because I think this group is specifically looking to avoid the cookie cutter mass market styles that you are going to get from a developer. But you are right about financing issues.

I spent some time recently looking at our local small housing market, and was really bothered by how it is so dominated by luxury builders and upity upward mobile suburban lifestylers. To the point where they are seriously pushing out anyone else. How do you get around this? The housing market around here is insane - unsupportable really.
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Old 12-05-2017, 02:53 PM
 
Location: Raleigh NC
5,610 posts, read 4,689,598 times
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are you talking about doing this with a piece of the parcel your family is wrangling over?
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Old 12-05-2017, 03:05 PM
 
4,917 posts, read 5,340,127 times
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All things being equal, and you have the capital to get the project funded, I think your idea will do well.


There are a TON of people who are in their two story McMansions which are at the point where the homes need painting, roofs, updating, etc., and IF they can sell, they surely might like to downsize...a LOT. Then there are first time home buyers, retirees, commuters and people are parachuting into the area to take jobs in Boston, either long or short term, and need a "place to stay".


Go for it. Put together a plan and see if you can get it permitted and funded. That will tell you a LOT about whether it is viable.
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Old 12-05-2017, 05:57 PM
 
7,465 posts, read 6,339,779 times
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It is obvious you have not done any development, and custom building like you are suggesting.

You are way under the actual amount it would cost to develop those lots including cost of the land, and the cost to build. The cost to bring in adequate utilities to such a lot, is going to break the bank. Any existing utilities will not be adequate for the project you are proposing, and you are going to have to bring in the utilities and that is very expensive to do.

You want them custom built, and custom building tiny homes like that and keeping the total cost of the home under your top limit, is not going to attract custom builders. The reason that type of project is not currently being built in the area, is that builders know they cannot do such a project and make money doing it.

Today the young crowd you seem to think you can attract, want larger homes not smaller. That is the reason for the so called McMansions. Builders are building what they can sell and make a profit. They know who the market is, and they are building to satisfy that market.

You are in an area of 1 or 2 acre minimum lots for larger homes, so you will get all kinds of problems from other property owners, that do not want your type of development in their neighborhood. Be prepared for opposition to your proposal, and this can be even law suites to keep it from happening. Especially a radical zoning change from 1 acre to small lots.

In the early 70s, a builder and a long time real estate broker, brought such a proposal to me and they would build 13 homes such as you are proposing, but not custom built. They were nice little starter homes, and we flipped them between lots, and changed the roof lines, etc., to make they look as different as possible. I sold out that development in 2 1/2 hours on the phone, plus another home the seller needed an immediate sale. Yes 14 homes sold in that one afternoon (13 of them to be built). Sold not to home owners, but to investors to use as rentals. So I do have a little experience in what you are trying to do.

Today, I could not have done it, as the cost to build those homes today, would exceed the market value for them.

The cost per square foot of home in the Boston general vicinity is $275 per square foot. You are proposing a limit far below this amount. Building small homes, can cost as much per square foot, as larger more luxurious homes. It would be impossible to reach your target, and leave a builder even $1 of profit.

Last edited by oldtrader; 12-05-2017 at 06:07 PM..
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Old 12-05-2017, 06:04 PM
 
8,130 posts, read 3,892,474 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonwoodsmoke View Post
How are you going to sell 1/4 acre lots easily commutable to Boston for $50,000? It would cost you that much just to split the lots and install all the utilities. Just putting in sewer lines can cost you $30,000 per lot. A subdividable 10 acre parcel commutable to Boston can't possibly be that cheap.
This

A minimum size house lot and a moderately easy commute to Boston jobs is $300K. No town with a strong school system is going to allow a zoning variance for tiny homes. If you want to do it on a bombed out vacant lot in Brockton, have at it but good luck finding anyone to buy it.

They have these tiny home things they've been selling or renting for decades all over the country. They're called studio and 1 bedroom apartments. You share the cost of very expensive land among a large number of residential units. This whole Walden cabin in the woods thing makes no sense in 2017 where land anywhere near a viable job market is extremely expensive. For example, you can buy a 459 square foot 1 bedroom apartment in Arlington in the Arizona Terrace complex for $199K.
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Old 12-05-2017, 07:00 PM
 
377 posts, read 203,729 times
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I'm not actually thinking of doing this, like I said it is a mental exercise. It is the result of a conversation about my families land issue, my experience looking at the housing market, and several other friends who have the same experience. It seems everyone that I have talked to all see the same thing - these towns have become havens for affluent investors and builders. The people I have talked to are all looking for something smaller and more affordable. They don't want to live in a apartment or condo, they want their own space, they want a small house with trees and space between them and their neighbors and not these huge houses built 10 feet apart. And they have their own designs and ideas of what they want to build. "custom" builders are anything but that around there. "Custom" to them simply means they maybe let you choose the siding or finishes, and maybe, if you are lucky, maybe add a small addition or choose where the garage will be.

But I guess that is really the trick here. It's getting out form under the developers (who, btw, seem to be buying up a lot of the remaining small homes to tear them down and replace them). I know the town does not want anything different - the people running the town now are the ones who buy and build these things because they kicked everyone else out. There are ways around that, though, which I specifically do not want to discuss here. I want to focus on whether or not there would be interest in such a thing if you could find a way to make it work, and what is critical and what could maybe be nixed or changed.
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Old 12-05-2017, 07:07 PM
 
4,774 posts, read 3,158,660 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudship View Post
I'm not actually thinking of doing this, like I said it is a mental exercise. It is the result of a conversation about my families land issue, my experience looking at the housing market, and several other friends who have the same experience. It seems everyone that I have talked to all see the same thing - these towns have become havens for affluent investors and builders. The people I have talked to are all looking for something smaller and more affordable. They don't want to live in a apartment or condo, they want their own space, they want a small house with trees and space between them and their neighbors and not these huge houses built 10 feet apart. And they have their own designs and ideas of what they want to build. "custom" builders are anything but that around there. "Custom" to them simply means they maybe let you choose the siding or finishes, and maybe, if you are lucky, maybe add a small addition or choose where the garage will be.

But I guess that is really the trick here. It's getting out form under the developers (who, btw, seem to be buying up a lot of the remaining small homes to tear them down and replace them). I know the town does not want anything different - the people running the town now are the ones who buy and build these things because they kicked everyone else out. There are ways around that, though, which I specifically do not want to discuss here. I want to focus on whether or not there would be interest in such a thing if you could find a way to make it work, and what is critical and what could maybe be nixed or changed.
I get what you're saying in general.

I agree that at some point, SOMEONE will figure out a way to satisfy the shifting demand in real estate and what people with $$$ want to spend it on. It's a tall hurdle, but someone WILL figure it out someday.
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Old 12-05-2017, 08:09 PM
 
249 posts, read 130,392 times
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I'm assuming it's PUD with special zoning. Traditional 1/4 acre lots will kill you and like others have said aren't the right size for a 1000 sq.ft. home. Lot size increase cost and knocks out the anti yard work crowd of professionals and empty nesters who are kinda the big part of the 1500 foot or less market in "nice" areas.

What I'd do with the 10 acres heavily forested is this. Build a village inside the forest. Go with 40-60 houses on 3000-4000 ft. lots with 1000-1800 ft houses close together and then cut some trails through the forest for walking, running, mountain biking. That gives you a few advantages. 1. It's shielded by the forest from the neighbors. 2. It preserves the forest which is a feature and save money. 3. The utilities per lot are cheaper since the area served is much smaller.(only 3-4 acres) 4. The houses are high density but the development is low density. 5. Lower environmental impact.

I do think you may be low balling land and development costs. In any case google cottage housing developments for some ideas. Basically you want to use the forest as the common area. You will also want some pictures of what you are talking about.
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Old 12-05-2017, 10:26 PM
 
Location: Raleigh NC
5,610 posts, read 4,689,598 times
Reputation: 4791
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cloudship View Post
I'm not actually thinking of doing this, like I said it is a mental exercise. It is the result of a conversation about my families land issue, my experience looking at the housing market, and several other friends who have the same experience. It seems everyone that I have talked to all see the same thing - these towns have become havens for affluent investors and builders. The people I have talked to are all looking for something smaller and more affordable. They don't want to live in a apartment or condo, they want their own space, they want a small house with trees and space between them and their neighbors and not these huge houses built 10 feet apart. And they have their own designs and ideas of what they want to build. "custom" builders are anything but that around there. "Custom" to them simply means they maybe let you choose the siding or finishes, and maybe, if you are lucky, maybe add a small addition or choose where the garage will be.

But I guess that is really the trick here. It's getting out form under the developers (who, btw, seem to be buying up a lot of the remaining small homes to tear them down and replace them). I know the town does not want anything different - the people running the town now are the ones who buy and build these things because they kicked everyone else out. There are ways around that, though, which I specifically do not want to discuss here. I want to focus on whether or not there would be interest in such a thing if you could find a way to make it work, and what is critical and what could maybe be nixed or changed.
read what oldtrader said again.
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