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Do you love a good challenge? Try building not just a home, but a “dream home” - from the ground up - in the middle of the most devastating pandemic in a century and complete the job in just four months.
Would there be any product and transit delays, any material costs shifting weekly and constant shortages of skilled labor? As the German settlers of Fredericksburg, Texas, where this charming home sits, would say:
Ja natürlich (yes, of course)!
For all the industries that have been hurt by the recent health concerns and suffered declines in popularity, there are a few that are glowing like the hot coals in an outdoor grill. Outdoor entertainment equipment and cooking outside, while being surrounded by fresh air, sweet smoke and good friends, have become a positive “obsession” for millions of people.
For several, post-World War II generations of families, owning a home has been an important part of the “American Dream.” Unfortunately, a “perfect storm” of factors has caused the American Dream to feel more like a nightmare for homebuyers. These include historically low mortgage rates; the largest population cohort in history - those born after 1980 - starting families; a pandemic that fundamentally changed how families worked and educated their children; and low yields in traditional investments that propelled investment in residential real estate.
Iconic college campuses each have a distinct look and feel about them. In many cases, the personality of the buildings and landscape of these schools have evolved over hundreds of years and they help to build a strong emotional bond that is permanently etched in the minds of current and former students.
For today’s homeowners, landscaping has become an important and often expensive priority. Experts note that more than $40 billion dollars are spent every year on equipment, design, plants, and maintenance for our yards. While any residential real estate developer or home builder will attest to the importance of landscaping for potential buyers, there are great ways for homeowners to reduce this maintenance with better planning.
Not too long ago, the people who talked about the importance of “sustainability” in the construction of homes or commercial buildings were a distinct minority of the population. Now, several factors have catapulted them from the fringe to the mainstream. One of the most important of these factors is the simple economics.
Lessons learned from “the year of the pandemic,” like those from the Great Depression, will likely affect us for decades to come. One particularly powerful new trend is the appreciation for the family home. Every family, of every size - couples, those with children, those with multiple generations in the same residence and empty-nesters - all have discovered the simple but sublime joys of home. This is especially true with regards to the outdoor entertaining spaces.
It seemed like a good idea, at the time. Until the relentless Texas weather showed everyone - the architects, the construction company and the building's owner - exactly who is in charge! In the end, the wood siding facade of a six-month old, beautifully designed office building had to be replaced with a material that was as tough as it was stunning.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Back in the 1950s, many manufacturers and companies who needed a warehouse decided to move away from their buildings in large cities such as New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and others, and move to (cheaper) industrial parks in the suburbs. These former industrial spaces began to be repurposed for residents who loved their open, uncluttered, barebones look and the inexpensive rent! The “loft” became a hit, especially for those who would be described as “creative types” - artists, writers, designers, media, and knowledge workers of all stripes.
For many, this time of year feels like Christmas, or that they have won the “teeny tiny” lottery. Somehow, getting a tax refund feels like found money, even though it was really your money, that you overpaid the federal government. The recently enacted “COVID Economic Stimulus” payments, on the other hand are, in fact, unexpected funds. The recipients are so happy that the check from Uncle Sam has earned a cute nickname - “stimmy.”
For anyone who was around 130 years ago, 1891 was rough and rowdy.
The “Gilded Age” was coming to an end. Railroads were the major growth industry with the factory system, mining, and finance increasing in importance. Two years later, every industry got an economic “wake-up call” in the form of the “Panic of 1893” which led to serious social and political upheaval.
1891 was to see many “firsts” in the United States.
When the coronavirus first began to be noticed by physicians and public health experts in early 2020, few were concerned. Unfortunately, it was to become a once-in-a-century pandemic and, in the process, heightened the awareness of the potential dangers of all air and surface borne microbes. The partnership between science and business began working on ways to prevent this virus and the other highly contagious germs, such as those from bacteria, from spreading.
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind, and melt your cold, cold heart.
~ Hank Williams
In Texas, on Valentine’s day, 2021, there were many cold, cold hearts, not to mention more than a few cold, cold fingers and toes. Unfortunately, the next day it would be worse. A serious electrical failure was coming fast. An epic winter storm would turn the “Lone Star State” into a dangerous deep freeze that would leave residents in their homes for more than a week.
Home renovation projects are an important part of the “new normal” that we’ve all been hearing about in the year of the pandemic. For example, recent research notes that appliance sales and aesthetic upgrades to both indoor and outdoor kitchens have never been this robust. Why? This is because cooking, dining, and entertaining at home haven’t been this popular since President Franklin Roosevelt offered his “Fireside Chats” during the Great Depression.
Homeowners who have decided that 2021 is a great year for a new look in their residence have an abundance of opportunities, especially as they relate to new designs for both floors and walls. While these two categories may not receive the kind of attention that is given to the most popular paint colors, furnishings, kitchens, and other frequently changed elements of a home, product innovations for these two areas are pushing them to the forefront for both interior designers, homebuilders, and owners.