The Cool House: economy
Showing posts with label economy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economy. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My stimulus plan

Pay workers to dig trenches for power lines.

I could take a really good shot of the house's unique roof if it weren't for the damn wires blocking the view. If that's not bad enough, look at this photo of the electricity, cable and telephone (which we don't use because we have VOiP through the cable) wires going to the house. It's ugly and potentially dangerous. If a tree branch hits the wire and sparks an electrical fire we'd be re-naming this blog The Cool House Ashes. Think I exaggerate? This was actually my Welcome to America moment: driving to look at real estate eight years ago in a thunderstorm we were stopped at the main road into one village where a lightening strike had caused the electricity cable to catch fire, which melted the road surface and spread to connected houses. Yip, I felt safe.

My job creation scheme has the added benefits. Not only will it beautify America but we're less likely to suffer power outages - after all it's difficult for a falling branch to take out a power line if the cable is buried underground. It may also have a positive effect on the accident rate - fewer people running their cars into telephone poles. Potentially it could be wildlife-friendly, too - fewer fried squirrels falling off the lines. Infrastructure, public (and wildlife) safety, landscape improvement and jobs, that's a great stimulus package.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Adding value

Walking through the Incorporated Village on a superb Fall Sunday I was struck by the progress that has been made on a few houses. One is in the midst of an attic conversion and new dormers and a cupola have been added since I last walked this street, another has new windows and siding while the third has dramatically changed the entrance with curved stacked stone walls and piers supporting wrought iron lamps. It looks like a million bucks and is rumored to have cost only slightly less than that. I remarked to The Guy that the number of houses on the market seems to be matched by those that are being "pimped" and that maybe when we have weathered the current market meltdown, unclogged the conduits of credit, and allowed the current of finance to flow freely again (yes, we made these up while we were walking) we should think about tarting up the front adding value and a WOW factor with something spectacular like this driveway:

So I have a question for you, no, not how many years will it take to get ourselves out of the economic morass, but rather:
If money were no object, what would you add to the house exterior or yard to boost curb appeal?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Crisis, Panic and The Weather

Well of course it rained over the weekend but we managed to get the death out of the pool and the guys are closing it up as I type. I sent The Guy up on the roof to clear the gutters and resisted the temptation to remove the ladder while he was up there. Why would a contemplate doing such a potentially dangerous thing? This is why. See, you couldn't blame me, could you? Anyway, when push came to shove I just couldn't leave him up there and besides I needed him to get back up the ladder to fill in the woodpecker damage to the pillar on the front porch. It looks a whole lot better now and it will be almost invisible once we can stain the whole post. We couldn't do that on Sunday because
a) it rained
b) the local paint store only had a gallon of stain and we wanted a no more than a quart
c) the other branch they sent us to that had quarts available (they checked on their computer) was CLOSED on Sundays. They didn't check that on their computer for us, did they?
We were forced to postpone the Met visit, and more seriously, our forthcoming trip to Europe. Obviously the weather was to blame for the former, the latter we can attribute directly to the global financial crisis. Instead of getting on a plane in a few hours I will be staying home learning to weave warm blankets from discarded animal fur and making soup out of nettles.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Farming out the economy

What's warm and fuzzy and might stave off financial ruin? Alpacas. Or at least alpaca farming. Maybe I should consider a change in career?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's the economy, stupid

Overheard outside a store:

"Man, it's slow today"
"Why isn't anyone buying anything?"

Obviously not everyone has got the whole the economy is tanking, credit has dried up, pretty soon we'll all be unemployed, homeless people with no healthcare so we're not spending anything message.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The other shoe....

Things went from bad to worse after I posted this. So much so that we have this simple solution for getting out of the economic mess we're in - just lend yourself the money.
File under: robbing Peter...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Body Language

photo Reuters
One image summing up an entire story. Employees at 25 Bank St, Canary Wharf, the headquarters of Lehman Brothers, London. September 11 2008.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The current preoccupation

You can guess from yesterday's post and today's playlist (scroll to page end, press to play) that the economy, our economy that is, which is deeply affected by the real estate market, is my current #1 concern.
When we took on this house we knew it required a lot of work to correct the problems caused by years of deferred maintenance. We did everything necessary to make the house watertight, pest and rot free and we addressed certain things like removing carpets and landscaping that we thought would make the house more appealing and easier to live in. For the first two and a half years we were sure that every dollar we put into the house we would get back at least once. Now the market has turned and even though we didn't buy the house to flip (we bought because I was deeply in love with it) we have to consider carefully the level of investment we are prepared to make in the future.
I was therefore intrigued by an HGTV mail 30 Tips for Increasing Your Home's Value and I started to compare what we'd done with their checklist.
We started really well, a perfect score on things we could do for less than $100, and we are up to speed at the $100-$200 fixes, too. Things start to get a little wonky at the next level. I refuse to believe a "functional, decorative ceiling fan is a beautiful thing" even though my realtor told us to install ceiling fans in all the rooms as "buyers expect them". I've never met a ceiling fan I like and we have a HVAC system with a fan option so I hope I'm covered. Even more disturbing, though, is Tip #3: "Replace heavy closed draperies with vertical blinds or shutters to let light in — a sunny room feels larger and more open". Does this mean people keep their drapes closed all the time? What are they, troglodytes?
We ripped out all those vertical blinds the first week we were here. The same fan-loving realtor suggested it as an immediate way to increase the value of the house when we viewed the place and we took that advice. The rooms went from dark to light in the hour it took to pull the vertical vinyl from 10 windows. Did we do the right thing, or have we seriously compromised our real estate value?

Is this before shot really better than the image below?

Or should I give up reading the HGTV emails?