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Old 01-05-2014, 05:56 PM
 
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It seems like 1950s/60s ranch houses with vinyl sidings are the types being offered at attractive prices so I am considering buying one of them. I will, however, have to convert it into another type to improve its resale odds when the time comes as well as to make it something I look forward to coming home to.

What would be good house models to convert an ordinary ranch into? I prefer something that would fit with Westchester’s woodsy environment. Also, since I do not plan to demolish, it has to be something that can be transformed from an existing ranch so neovictorians and colonials are out of the question.

The house will likely be close to a town or village (not necessarily along main st.) so the lot size will be relatively modest (max of one acre or one-half of an acre, could be less) and there won’t be any spectacular views of nature to exploit. Plus I don’t want too many obstacles getting the design approved by the town/village.

When I searched online, most ranch conversions I saw were either to prairie-style or mission, meaning they probably won’t be a good match for Westchester.

Are there any contractors and architects who are good at making such conversions?
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Old 01-07-2014, 04:15 PM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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In my opinion, the only genuine style for a new build or conversion is modern. No one has built a "colonial" since the late 1800s, and really a faux mission style is no more or less appropriate to Westchester than a faux colonial or faux Victorian. And there is a great repository of wonderful modern homes in Westchester which your architect can refer to for inspiration and respond to in his/her design for context. Of course, any decent design gets it's meaning and vocabulary from the site, so the specifics of the style will depend on the property you purchase. It's not like you can just plop any design on any lot and expect it to be successful and relevant.
Fortunately, ranches are very well suited for conversion to modem homes and I've seen quite a few good reboots in various parts of Westchester.

There are blogs and books on modern architecture in Westchester, so I'd peruse those to find an architect whose work speaks to you.
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Old 01-07-2014, 05:19 PM
 
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You might look into a book called 'Suburban Renewal' by Tom Connor. It is packed with transformations of mostly ranches, capes and splits; you will get many ideas from this book. It is amazing. The tackiest tract homes are completely redone into beautiful, tasteful homes.

Also, 'House Beautiful' magazine has had some great remodels to where you can't believe it's the same house. Some might be on their website.

If you can track down the Tom Connor book, it may open you up to buying a split level, which are even more out of favor than ranches. Maybe cheaper.
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Old 01-07-2014, 06:11 PM
 
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Yes, modern seems to be the most feasible conversion for an existing house with a plain rectangular shape. My only concern would be whether there are towns or villages that would allow such designs so close to the town center. They may insist on something that is more traditional like the capes and tudors in Scarsdale or victorians in Katonah - not that I know whether these villages in particular impose such restrictions.

Will buy Suburban Renewal. Not sure about split levels though. I think they would be limited to remodelings than conversions. At least a one story ranch has a simple shape which gives owners more flexibility on what to change/add.

Last edited by Forest_Hills_Daddy; 01-07-2014 at 06:22 PM..
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Old 01-09-2014, 07:04 AM
 
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Suburban Renewal: Transforming Standard: Tom Connor: Amazon.com: Books

Here it is on Amazon. It almost doesn't matter what house you start with. As a rehab freak, I envy you. Re-do 2 houses and sell one.

The necessary permits up there might be a royal pain, but it will be worth it. Good luck.
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Old 01-09-2014, 07:09 AM
 
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One Story Home Remodeling Ideas

Here's some one-story home re-dos in Better Homes and Gardens.
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Old 01-09-2014, 11:39 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roskybosky View Post
Suburban Renewal: Transforming Standard: Tom Connor: Amazon.com: Books

Here it is on Amazon. It almost doesn't matter what house you start with. As a rehab freak, I envy you. Re-do 2 houses and sell one.

The necessary permits up there might be a royal pain, but it will be worth it. Good luck.
I realize that there is a saying about this, but to judge this book from it's cover--yikes! That is one butt-ugly, misproportioned, steroidal house. The book may be full of lovely homes, but the choice of cover photo would give me serious pause. It smacks of the McMenu approach to house design that so many tacky developers follow ("I'll take three bays, two turrets, three pitches, a pair of dormers, and a port-cochere please."). Obviously, this is a question of personal taste to some extent, but I certainly hope FHD doesn't replace some non-offensive ranch with something like the home pictured on the book cover.
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Old 01-09-2014, 02:35 PM
 
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Forest Hills-

Also, you might look at the Westchester Modular Home website. They are in NY and CT and can add a second story to a house that fits the original house perfectly. And if you can find a real dump, you can demo and replace with a modular home. They are a little less money than stick built, but go up in about a month. I have toured their factory in Wingdale, and it's pretty impressive.

Modular Home Manufacturer & Builders | Westchester Modular Homes, Inc.
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Old 01-10-2014, 09:31 AM
 
Location: Yorktown Heights NY
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Here's some links on two companies developing more tasteful modular homes in our area:

Pretty fabulous: Pre-fab homes have modern appeal - Lohud Real Estate

Pound Ridge Breezehouse - Blu Homes

LAbhaus announces custom modern prefab in Westchester County | LABhaus
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:04 AM
 
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If you have a large plot of land, I can see building a super-modern house because it wouldn't be right up against your neighbor's Cape Cod or Colonial. Dma's links are great homes for a different setting, but in a typical Westchester town, they'd be about as cozy as the frozen food section of an A & P supermarket.

I love modern homes, and will probably build one up in the Catskills, but I am very far from any visible neighbors. There are probably guidelines in each town as to what will be in keeping with the neighborhood.
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