In the town where I live (and the surrounding area), builders do not
like to build basements. They also don't like to build one-level
houses. Apparently, the most profit is to be had from a 2-story on a
slab foundation. Because that's all they want to build. Never mind
that a couple of years ago, the local newspaper conducted a large
survey of home buyers to find out what it is they want in a house.
Overwhelmingly, the answer was "a one-level house with a basement."
The two-story on a slab was not even on the radar.
Presumably, the movement away from ranch houses is due to the ever-
shrinking lot size. I remember when a quarter acre was a postage
stamp. Now a quarter is considered a "large lot" by the builders. A
lot size of 0.11 acre is quickly becoming the defacto standard around
here. And for obvious reasons, you can't build much of a house on
that unless it's multi-level.
And presumably, they don't like to build basements because the
basement adds nothing to the heated living area, and when they're
figuring their profits, they have to figure price per square foot of
HLA. So to maximize profit, they simply don't build basements.
I sure looks like like home building has become simply an optimization
problem. It's disappointing that builders (at least in my town) don't
seem to care what home buyers actually want. They build what they
want to build.
No, they build what sells. You can take all of the surveys you want,
but all that matters in the end is what people actually buy. Trust me,
if what is being built stops selling, then it will stop being built very
And if you have a house built, you can spec it any way you want. That
is what I did.
As long as you have a signed contract. This is very important. And if you
have a professional architect / structural engineer and express your desire
to match the home as designed with no changes unless your professional
designer gets your permission from you to make the change.
Well, if you engage a builder and don't have a signed contract, then you
aren't smart enough to even own a house. However, if you don't have a
contract, then if you don't like the house you don't have to pay for it.
That is not easy to do. If you don't have contract I think that you really
don't have any control over the construction of the house anyway so you
can't dictate anything related to the house construction or the
architectural elements and plan layout.
People buy based more on location that what the house actually is. In days
past, they were homes, now there merely crash pads that people expect to
occupy for no more than three years. Hell, notice how many people without
basements park a $40,000 car in the driveway and store all their crap in the
That mindset work for the "Big Three" automakers for a generation or so,
then when it petered out, Japan cleaned their clocks.
People are so inured to the cookie-cutter homes, they'd buy anything that's
new. I've seen some real verge-of-falling-down crap that was scarfed up like
a shark frenzy.
I'm appalled by the builders of $300K+ home that use Wal-Mart quality
Say what you want, but the bottom line is that it is not the builder's
fault; it is the consumer's fault. If a builder doesn't build what
people want to buy, somebody else will and the market will shift. If
the market in a given area is staying with cheaply constructed homes,
then it is because the area has people who are willing to buy cheaply
constructed homes. And, no, I'm not a builder, but I know a little bit
The average consumer adjust their wants very quickly to what is
available. They quickly become drones who openly think they ARE actually
buying quality and equally try to deny the repercussions of their
actions with a litany of retorts. As posted in this thread, and others,
this is clear by they boom of Wal-Mart type stores and big box home
centers. It is brutally clear in our political process where the current
mantra (post bush) is "stay on message" because eventually you will
"drill" it into the masses heads and they _will_ begin to follow. It is
a proven method for success. People, in a short period of time, become
numb to what is actually quality and what is not. No different than feed
lot cattle, they eat what they are fed, period. Show me a cow in a field
who will stroll up to a dead cow and start munching, it will never
happen. Yet when some vunderkind came up with rendering, vualah.
The masses are no different, and Matt, you are _not_ an average
consumer. Thinking because you took a class or two in college and know a
bit about economics means you have seen inside the minds, or are in
touch with, the masses is utterly naive. I have personally been working
in the homes of the "average consumer" daily for almost 20 years now. I
see first hand the way they raise their children. The way they
rationalize minor and major purchases. I often times see first hand why
they actually make the buying decisions they make. It is often times for
far different reasons than any they would outwardly confess in a poll or
in social circles. I also see, with them, first hand the repercussions
of their actions on a regular basis.
This is not solely a consumer driven problem and if you think it is you
owe it to yourself to witness it first hand for a few months out of the
year. Start a small business doing something in the average consumers home.
I too assign a major portion of the blame to the consumer however the
average consumer is not the sole problem. I would say it is moreso the
fault of the middle-high end consumer. The one who knows better but does
It is a joint problem of those who dish out the food and those who
consume it. A fat child is not responsible for their fatness when the
mother continually feeds them french fries because of her own reasons.
Personally I would say in today's climate the blame is steadily
shifting towards those who dish out the food rather than those who eat
it meaning less consumer more retailer. There could easily be an
economic revolution causing a reawakening of consumers forcing builders
into a return to quality but I dont know what that would entail.
I have lived/worked in the land of Harvard, Yale, MIT, cash galore, and
now live in the land of many who did not even get their diploma's and
now farm, raise cattle, hunt for food, and do whatever they can for a
living. Oddly, its very much the same in both locations.
You can see in the media regularly "Jennifer Aniston seen shopping at
Wal-Mart". It is not an issue of wealth or location. Its greed and human
nature. Although those two things are virtually one in the same.
Think: demographics, now and a generation ago.
A generation ago, people bought a house expecting to live there for 10, 20
years or more. Today it more like 2-3 years. In a way, a basement is for
long term storage, and moving things in and out every couple years is not
In many areas of the southwest, garages are a recent feature. Prior to about
the 1980's, carports were considered adequate.
Surveys show people want basements, but they also show people are unwilling
to pay the premium required to build them. This is more a matter of tastes
and demographics than any form of "greed".
In short, people pay less attention to the WHAT of a home, than the WHERE
(closer to work, schools) and basements are wayyyy down on the list.
Build a house with a basement and, say, 1800 sqft for $340K, and a house for
$300K, and 2000sf, and the $300K house will sell first, often by weeks or
months, especially in the dense cookie-cutter developments.
Custom homes are quite different.
Main Entry: greed
Etymology: back-formation from greedy
: a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than
In the context of my my posts this would mean throuh greed people are
solely looking to pay as little as possible regardless of the total
costs. These are mostly people who know full well there are serious
short, long, global, and local, negative consequences linked directly to
their actions yet they do it anyway for personal benefit. Its called a
lack of social conscience but it is manifsted through greed.
Sticking with the Wal-Mart/Anniston model, many who shop there are not
ignorant to Wal-Mart's well established business model with regards to
human resources, employee compensation, global market practices, vendor
practices, its in the news daily. Yet people like Jennifer Aniston, who
by far has the resources to shop at far more conciencious outlets, shops
there by choice.
With her bajillion dollars in the bank she smiles cutely at the cashier
as she hands the cashier her gold card knowing full well that the
cashier likely has no paid vacation, no paid sick days, may full well be
intentionally held at weekly hours _just below_ full time in an well
publicized effort by Wal-Mart to not pay full time benefits, barely
exists on their wages, on and on. Forget about the global ramifications
of Wal-Mart bankrolling manufacturing overseas where they dump waste
straight into the river, in holes in the ground, child labor, and the
like. For 20 years now we have been bickering back and forth that what
other countries do to their country side should be no concern of ours.
Yet now atmospheric studies are showing clearly that the waste plume
leaves Chinese air space within hours and is over the west coast of the
US in days. Western China has, and will continue to have, some of the
cleanest air on the planet. Ironic that the very waste plume from our
low cost goods is actually raining back down on the rockies. So much for
the outa sight outa mind philosophy.
The Jennifer Aniston's of the world, and the vast majority of the rest
of us, are well aware of these issues and have the means to shop
elsewhere but choose not to. Forget about the fact that the consumer is
willing to accept low quality (or dilludes themselves into thinking it
is quality), thats fine. You can buy junk all you want. Where will the
the social conscience of the worlds major retailers, and the customers
who gobbled up the low cost goods, be for the numerous cancer pods
50,000 strong and more each caused by effluent outflows from
manufacturing facilities constructed to feed our greed for more.
Multiply China by what 20, 30, or so other countries where we are doing
the same thing? We already did all this to our own country and have been
cleaning it up for 75 years. Now, because lord knows we cant act
responsibly and learn from our mistakes, we are doing it elsewhere but
we sleep soundly because we arent actually "doing it", they are doing it
These are the exact reasons why the very politicians and taxes you whine
about exist, because we are too selfish, greedy, and irresponsible, to
police ourselves and behave in a responsible manner. We cant even manage
that locally, forget about globally. You are the very reason these laws
and taxes exist, we all are. Its why there are laws about beating your
children, chaining your dog, speed limits, drugs, dumping trash, murder,
j-walking, sending your children to school. Christ! We have to make it
_a law_ to send your children to school! People have to be TOLD to send
their children to school and you are wondering why we have politicians
and laws?!?! Hell, there ARE people out there who believe(d) that
chaining your children in the basement should be an acceptable form of
punishment. These people have to be told otherwise by the government and
the laws it creates. After that vast amounts of taxes need to be
collected to pay the dog officer, cops, EPA, DHS, DHHR, BATF, NEA, and
Its very simple, if you want less government just make the EPA go away.
Companies should have been smarter and not polluted rivers, lands, and
air. The EPA wouldnt even exist if we were a responsible lot. There
would be no need for the EPA. But greed makes people dump into the river
rather than go through the expense of proper disposal hence an
enforcement agency is born out of the citizens irresponsibility. The
same for Unions, OSHA, Labor Laws, Corporate laws, NEA/Education, DHHR,
on and on. Dont force miners into the mines without safety equipment and
a law wont have to be created that mandates it for you. But greed
prevails. It always does. Its human nature. Laws, and taxes to enforce
them, soon follow.
Builders use "Wal-Mart quality fixtures" because the "Wal-Mart quality
buyer" will not pay another penny for better fixtures.
On the other hand the Rodeo Drive Buyer will pay 10K for a warmer toilet
Successful Builders sell what the Buyers in their market want to buy.
I live in central Indiana & most houses are 2 story on slab. The reasoning
is simple. Its very difficult to put in DRY basements when the water level
is almost at grade. Frost is only 30" so footers are no where near basement
elevation like further north where you have to dig 54" anyway. the added
cost is substantial. You could get a 2 story for 20 grand less than the
ranch with the basement, & no headaches to deal with when it starts to leak.
for a basement due to the soil conditions. People will build the
basements anyway, of course. This leads to a lot of problems
including wet basements, shifting foundations, and the damage that
goes along with those things. Could be the reason local builder don't
like basements is because their soil engineers and lawyers don't like
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