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Is real estate in the Heights really this hot?

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You do realize that there are TONS of repeat "craftstman" homes throughout the Heights.  These houses were tract homes of their day - Sears Catalog homes.  You pick the plan, they generate the  materials and you can either contract for the labor from them or do it yourself.  There was nothing special about them, EXCEPT for the fact that at that time in history true carpenters built houses instead of unskilled labor.  Fortunately for everyone else, modern technology has made precision less important...but it is a shame that carpenters dont build homes anymore.   For all the talk about hating suburbs people are quick to forget that the Heights was Houstons first suburb.

 

That said I like the Heights look....I also like the ranch home look of the non-tract ranch homes...I also like New Orleans style homes, and Southern Georgia style homes with plantation columns and the like...suffice it to say I like many many home styles.  The only style I don't like is the repetitive tract homes...and there is nothing wrong with the styles of those homes - just the fact that they are repeated over and over and over again is distasteful to me.  I do not have a problem with the home itself.

 

I am custom building my home right now and I could choose any style I wanted...I choose a Georgian as my "style"  I moved out of what the craftsman snobs would probably call a McVic and I liked that house too.

 

All the weiner measuring here over one house style being better than another is silly.  People have differing tastes.  Craftsman is not better than ranch, is not better than modern, is not better than Georgian, etc, etc.

 

Also all the talk about the ranch house foundation collapsing is pure speculation.  Houston does predominatly have terrible soil, but much to my surprise on the home I am currently building, my house sits on sand directly above stone...and the stone is at a depth of 7'....That is as good a building strata as you can get anywhere in the world...odds of my foundation moving - close to zero...How does anyone know what soil is under what particular house?  You dont.  The only way to know is to drill and test.  Your just putting someone elses house down to feel good about living in your own.  Just enjoy your house....his house may collapse tomorrow or may outlast your house...you dont know... and your cute little craftsman may be swallowed by a sink-hole tomorrow.  

 

Why is it that people in the Heights always feel the need to tell everyone else how much better their house is?  Its a phenomenon I have not seen anywhere else in Houston.

 

Many homes were largely provided by many different kit home companies, Sears, Ladies' Home Journal, a local Houston kit company called Crain Ready-Cut Kit Homes, among others. Add this to the fact that each respective company had many different plans available as well as constant updates adding new plans and obsoleting others on the way. You also have to take into consideration that the heights was built over a 50 yr period from 1890 to around the mid 1940s. Now lets compound that with the fact that there are many people renovating (adding additions, changing up building materials, etc). I still stand by my original statement. The only thing you proved is that you have a very high level generic understanding of Craftsman homes, but haven't necessarily read about Houston's specific history with them.

 

I don't know what part of the Heights you are walking through is, but all the types of homes you just listed can be found here as well. And for the homes that are craftsman, they have so much variation its not even funny. Hipped roofs, cross gabled roofs, full front porch, wrap around front porch, cedar shingle siding, wood siding, standing seam metal roofs, architectural shingle roofs, 6-over-1 windows, 8-over-1 windows, I could go on all day. Your statement holds no water to anyone who has ever walked through the Heights for more than a few seconds. 

 

I don't feel any sort of need to tell everyone how much better my house is. I was responding to statements from Brian stating Knollwood's houses are better. I am posting to challenge that claim. I like how Brian is allowed to put my neighborhood down, but I'm not allowed to defend it without having to field rude overly general blanket statements claiming an entire neighborhood of people are smug from you.

Edited by laiall

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Let me clarify my statement. West U up until the early 90's was a aging solidly middle class neighborhood that began a gentrification process with young professionals moving in. These were people grouped in the later baby boomer to early gen X category. Since then the neighborhood has transitioned to an upper class family-friendly neighborhood. Eventually, people started getting priced out of West U and that is when Bellaire began to develop due to its still good location and larger lots.

 

In my eyes, the exact same thing is happening right now in the Heights and GO/OF. The vast majority of people moving into the Heights during this boom the last 2 years or so have been people in their late 20s to early 30s on the cusp of starting a family (late gen X'ers and mostly gen Y'ers). Those priced out of the Heights have started to venture north/northwest to GO/OF for their cheaper prices and larger lots.  

 

Big difference is that places like Bellaire and West U can and do have a lot of land use restrictions (zoning), whereas currently Houston does not. That means that, as those places become more desirable, density can't increase, so the price of entry goes up.  

 

In the Heights, GO/OF, and other parts Houston, the market responds to an increase in desirability of a given neighborhood with increased density. Full size lots get sub-divided to build two houses, then single family gives way to townhouses, then multi-family.  Deed restrictions, block-by-block MLS/MBL restrictions, and Historic Districts will attempt to contain this somewhat (this was the real reason behind the HD ordinance). But densification is already fully underway in the Heights, and there's too much available land around GO/OF to stop it there.

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Big difference is that places like Bellaire and West U can and do have a lot of land use restrictions (zoning), whereas currently Houston does not. That means that, as those places become more desirable, density can't increase, so the price of entry goes up.  

 

In the Heights, GO/OF, and other parts Houston, the market responds to an increase in desirability of a given neighborhood with increased density. Full size lots get sub-divided to build two houses, then single family gives way to townhouses, then multi-family.  Deed restrictions, block-by-block MLS/MBL restrictions, and Historic Districts will attempt to contain this somewhat (this was the real reason behind the HD ordinance). But densification is already fully underway in the Heights, and there's too much available land around GO/OF to stop it there.

 

I don't recall claiming that the density of the Heights will be like West U.

 

Your point is valid although a straw man's argument.

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People in the Heights do not tell everyone else how much better their house is.  They just have pride in their homes, which most people in Houston do not as the vast majority live in stucco/hardiplank boxes that have absolutely no redeeming architectural quality. 

 

The old ranch houses in Houston are ugly.  Most have very few architectural elements and are just bland as bland can be. 

 

And Craftsman homes were not the tract home of their day.  There is tremendous various between craftsman homes.  There were a number of different catalogs with distinctive designs.  There is way more variation as a result of the catalog system because people were not tied down to a particular builder who owned the entire subdivision but was only going to build from a small set of plans.

 

And there is plenty that is special about them.  The craftsman homes were part of the Arts and Crafts movement.  The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction to the extravagances of the Victorian period while also resisting the increasingly diminished amount of design as the result of mass produced housing.  Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School was essentially born out of the Craftsman movement in architecture. 

 

so much irony in this post, cant decide where to start...Ill just leave it alone.

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Craftsman bungalows have old growth hardwoods and are generally over engineered structurally.  The ranches have the benefit of some more modern engineering and design, but look out if that slab starts to move. 

 

 

 

Haha! Sounds like we have a Heights homeowner who hasn't yet had the pleasure of peaking behind his walls yet. You are in for a HUGE surprise...assuming you even know what to look for. Even with the added load capability of old growth hardwoods, our roofs are supported with 2x4s, as are our rafters. Floor joists are 2x8s, spaced 24 inches apart. Blocks are spaced up to 14 feet apart. These homes are not over-engineered by any stretch of the imagination. That is a myth perpetuated by those who love old houses and cannot justify why they spend so much money on them.

 

The one place where they are as strong as new builds is the fact that they used shiplap inside instead of drywall. This has the same effect as putting OSB on the outside of new homes for wind load strength. 

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Big difference is that places like Bellaire and West U can and do have a lot of land use restrictions (zoning), whereas currently Houston does not. That means that, as those places become more desirable, density can't increase, so the price of entry goes up.  

 

In the Heights, GO/OF, and other parts Houston, the market responds to an increase in desirability of a given neighborhood with increased density. Full size lots get sub-divided to build two houses, then single family gives way to townhouses, then multi-family.  Deed restrictions, block-by-block MLS/MBL restrictions, and Historic Districts will attempt to contain this somewhat (this was the real reason behind the HD ordinance). But densification is already fully underway in the Heights, and there's too much available land around GO/OF to stop it there.

 

Angostura, you are telling me about population density and price appreciation. This has nothing to do with what I was talking about.

 

But since you want to talk about that so badly I'll put in my $0.02.

Houston Heights, Norhill Heights and Woodland Heights all have very involved civic associations. I have seen some single family homes give way to townhomes on the western fringes of Houston Heights and now recently on the Eastern fringe of the Woodland Heights, but that is definitely more an exception to the rule than the norm. You stated it yourself already, but on top of the highly active civic associations we also have historic designated areas.

 

Drive through the areas enclosed by Heights blvd on the west, 11th/pecore on the north, houston ave on the east and white oak on the south and you will see the scenario you are trying to paint is not based in reality.

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I don't feel any sort of need to tell everyone how much better my house is. I was responding to statements from Brian stating Knollwood's houses are better. I am posting to challenge that claim. I like how Brian is allowed to put my neighborhood down, but I'm not allowed to defend it without having to field rude overly general blanket statements claiming an entire neighborhood of people are smug from you.

 

For the record, I didn't join in this thread to simply trash the Heights. I was concurring with Marksmu's comment earlier about the variety of other housing options in Houston (esp near Frostwood/West U/etc.) and why I ended up liking Knollwood/S Braeswood better than the Heights. I merely am posting this information for those potential readers of this forum (who like me when researching neighborhoods read everywhere on here about how great the Heights is) and may get confused (like I did) when looking at it and wondering what all the hype is about. If the Heights is your cup of tea... then great. I have no reason to hype up my neighborhood since I don't plan to sell in the next 20 years... just trying to counter all the Heights is the next West U chatter I keep reading on here. If it had deed restrictions and their own municipality... then I maybe would agree with you. Unfortunately, I worry it will become a subdivided mess of townhomes trying to look like fake Craftsmans and Victorians. Again, nothing wrong with that, just not my preference.

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For the record, I didn't join in this thread to simply trash the Heights. I was concurring with Marksmu's comment earlier about the variety of other housing options in Houston (esp near Frostwood/West U/etc.) and why I ended up liking Knollwood/S Braeswood better than the Heights. I merely am posting this information for those potential readers of this forum (who like me when researching neighborhoods read everywhere on here about how great the Heights is) and may get confused (like I did) when looking at it and wondering what all the hype is about. If the Heights is your cup of tea... then great. I have no reason to hype up my neighborhood since I don't plan to sell in the next 20 years... just trying to counter all the Heights is the next West U chatter I keep reading on here. If it had deed restrictions and their own municipality... then I maybe would agree with you. Unfortunately, I worry it will become a subdivided mess of townhomes trying to look like fake Craftsmans and Victorians. Again, nothing wrong with that, just not my preference.

 

As stated earlier, Woodland Heights and Norhill have blanket deed restrictions as well as having historic designation in portions of each neighborhood. Portions of Houston Heights are also deed restricted / have historic designation. The areas you all are referring to are the fringe sections of the Houston Heights west of Yale St and North of 20th. 

Edited by laiall

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Haha! Sounds like we have a Heights homeowner who hasn't yet had the pleasure of peaking behind his walls yet. You are in for a HUGE surprise...assuming you even know what to look for. Even with the added load capability of old growth hardwoods, our roofs are supported with 2x4s, as are our rafters. Floor joists are 2x8s, spaced 24 inches apart. Blocks are spaced up to 14 feet apart. These homes are not over-engineered by any stretch of the imagination. That is a myth perpetuated by those who love old houses and cannot justify why they spend so much money on them.

The one place where they are as strong as new builds is the fact that they used shiplap inside instead of drywall. This has the same effect as putting OSB on the outside of new homes for wind load strength.

Actually, the guy who told me that bungalows are over engineered is an engineer who has spent most of his life working on repairing foundations in block and beam houses.

I have personally never had to pay a penny to repair any of the original structure on my house. It is all the garbage work of house flippers that cost a lot to redo. For some reason in 1920 they could build a house frame that could last 90+ years but after 2000 they can't replumb a bathroom without putting in a fixture upside down.

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The engineer lied. As for all those great over engineered houses? Look at how many are gone. Those are the ones that didn't make it. But, again, people try to make these houses sound like something they ain't. One day, maybe you'll pull back a wall and see for yourself. I enjoy working on my house, but I will not lie about how they are built just to sound like an old house homer. My garage, built in 2009, is twice as strong, level, engineered, wind resistant, and everything else compared to my 107 year old house. And it ain't even close. When I added a porch onto the back of my house, the City would not even let me do the same foundation as the house.

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People in the Heights do not tell everyone else how much better their house is.  They just have pride in their homes, which most people in Houston do not as the vast majority live in stucco/hardiplank boxes that have absolutely no redeeming architectural quality. 

 

The old ranch houses in Houston are ugly.  Most have very few architectural elements and are just bland as bland can be. 

 

And Craftsman homes were not the tract home of their day.  There is tremendous various between craftsman homes.  There were a number of different catalogs with distinctive designs.  There is way more variation as a result of the catalog system because people were not tied down to a particular builder who owned the entire subdivision but was only going to build from a small set of plans.

 

And there is plenty that is special about them.  The craftsman homes were part of the Arts and Crafts movement.  The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction to the extravagances of the Victorian period while also resisting the increasingly diminished amount of design as the result of mass produced housing.  Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School was essentially born out of the Craftsman movement in architecture. 

I'll take bland over architectural quality any day if that means bland is better built, more efficient, and technologically sound. Better that than something that desires to be on the cover of Better Homes which is equivalent to analog vs digital. You can always argue opinion, but you can't argue fact. 

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The engineer lied. As for all those great over engineered houses? Look at how many are gone. Those are the ones that didn't make it. But, again, people try to make these houses sound like something they ain't. One day, maybe you'll pull back a wall and see for yourself. I enjoy working on my house, but I will not lie about how they are built just to sound like an old house homer. My garage, built in 2009, is twice as strong, level, engineered, wind resistant, and everything else compared to my 107 year old house. And it ain't even close. When I added a porch onto the back of my house, the City would not even let me do the same foundation as the house.

 

RedScare, I find myself agreeing with a lot of the things you have been saying. 

 

Though I agree with you that Sm3h's "overengineered" comment is baseless. The older homes used balloon framing which incorporated longer/contiguous studs that run from the bottom plate / floor joist all the way to the top plate. The older homes also sit on a pier and beam foundation. Newer homes incorporate platform framing and concrete slab foundations.

 

Balloon framing, at least from what i have read, is more wind resistant especially in two-story homes because it eliminates a hinge point on exterior gable studs. Where it falls short is lack of insulation in interior walls (which can be added if one wants) and the fact that in a two-story homes the full length studs provide a path for fire to travel easily between floors. Also, the pier and beam foundation is superior to concrete slab in every way. Concrete slab arose as a cost savings to pier and beam. Pier and beam allows you easy access to plumbing as well as being substantially easier/cheaper to level. I have a coworker who spent upwards of $10k to level his slab foundation. I recently had mine leveled for about $2000.

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I have a coworker who spent upwards of $10k to level his slab foundation. I recently had mine leveled for about $2000.

$2k!?!?!

Do tell.

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Actually, the guy who told me that bungalows are over engineered is an engineer who has spent most of his life working on repairing foundations in block and beam houses.

I have personally never had to pay a penny to repair any of the original structure on my house. It is all the garbage work of house flippers that cost a lot to redo. For some reason in 1920 they could build a house frame that could last 90+ years but after 2000 they can't replumb a bathroom without putting in a fixture upside down.

 

I doubt the houses were engineered at all. Probably just had a designer draw up plans, and the builders used the common lumber of the time. The house my Dad grew up in was built in the early 30's from a sketch. It was built with 8x8 sills. The house next door to it was built with railroad ties for sills. No rhyme or reason, just what was available.

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RedScare, I find myself agreeing with a lot of the things you have been saying. 

 

Though I agree with you that Sm3h's "overengineered" comment is baseless. The older homes used balloon framing which incorporated longer/contiguous studs that run from the bottom plate / floor joist all the way to the top plate. The older homes also sit on a pier and beam foundation. Newer homes incorporate platform framing and concrete slab foundations.

 

Balloon framing, at least from what i have read, is more wind resistant especially in two-story homes because it eliminates a hinge point on exterior gable studs. Where it falls short is lack of insulation in interior walls (which can be added if one wants) and the fact that in a two-story homes the full length studs provide a path for fire to travel easily between floors. Also, the pier and beam foundation is superior to concrete slab in every way. Concrete slab arose as a cost savings to pier and beam. Pier and beam allows you easy access to plumbing as well as being substantially easier/cheaper to level. I have a coworker who spent upwards of $10k to level his slab foundation. I recently had mine leveled for about $2000.

 

 

I have lived, owned, and worked on houses of all different foundation types.  Pier&Beam as it is done in the Heights is not superior in every way.  Its superior in some ways and it is inferior in some ways.  Pier & Beam or block and beam is the only cost effective method to raise a house 3-4 feet off the ground to achieve the look that everyone wants in the Heights.  Pier & Beam is drastically superior to block & beam, which is just cinder blocks on the ground without the benefit of a drilled pier. 

 

To achieve the elevated look, you only really have 2 options:

Block/Beam - cinder blocks on ground - requires frequent adjustment

Pier/Beam - drilled & concreted piers that create a small "pad" for the blocks to elevate the house

But with concrete you have more options

Standard rebar slab on grade - this is what is done in most of the 60-80's home.  This is sufficient for 99% of homes so long as the soil is stable.  If the soil is unstable you have problems....They usually stabilized soil prior to concrete pours with fill dirt and compaction, but it was still inadequate in Houston gumbo in most cases.

 

Post Tension slab - this is a concrete slab where prebuilt cables are installed like rebar, and after the concrete sets the cables are tensioned to give it more strength.  Also sufficient for most homes so long as the soil is stable.

 

Concrete with poured Beams - this is where you create deep "beams" from concrete which are tied into the rest of the rebar.  Superior way of doing concrete...more rigidity for unstable soil cost about 20% more.

 

Drilled Piers with poured beams in a rebar slab.  This is the absolute most expensive and highest performance foundation available.  This foundation has drilled piers with bell bottoms, exactly like an elevated pier/beam house...once the concrete for the piers set, the grade beams are then dug out and rebar is set.  Then the rest of the foundation has rebar installed.  Once complete this foundation is by far the strongest, highest performance foundation you can buy.  It costs almost 3x what a standard concrete foundation cost and 2x as much as pier beam.  It does not move b/c of the piers, the grade beams add a huge amount of rigidity, and then the rebar ties the rest of it all together. 

 

But each different house has a different soil & there are advantages & disadvantages to different foundation types.

 

Pier/Beam has the advantage of being up off the ground which is great for flooding, aesthetics, and allowing access to house mechanicals like plumbing & electrical.  Also very easy to upgrade/change things later b/c of this.  However, pipes are prone to freezing, wires are exposed to animals like mice/possums, etc your floors are exposed to the elements & humidity which can cause wood floors to cup if ventilation is inadequate, First floor can be very cold in the winter if uninsulated, the entirety of your home is exposed to both drywood & subterranean termites.  

 

Most builders go with post tension slabs now (which I am not a fan of) to cut down on errors and to save time, not money.  Post tension versus pier/beam are not drastically different in terms of price.  The reason builders chose post tension is b/c the cables are made off site by tradesmen where there is VERY little error.  When the cables are delivered the only thing the workers do is put the pre-labeled cables in order 1,2,3,4 etc and then criss-cross A,B,C,D...its difficult to make errors....its fast, strong, error-free and will usually, even under poor soil conditions, last 10 years without a problem.  That is why builders use them.  Pre-Engineered, nearly impossible to screw up, fast, almost always last past the warranty at which point they dont care.  Tract homes builders design homes that are easy to build to minimize mistakes.

 

The drilled pier/grade beam/concrete rebar slab is the strongest slab, not prone to differential movement (in some cases you can remove the dirt underneath and it wont matter) but its super expensive.   It has the advantage of strength & performance, can handle loads significantly higher than other types, so it can have a bigger house built on it, does not have to worry about termites or bugs or critters, is not cold in the winter, BUT  - Your stuck with what you pour.  Its extremely expensive to modify this type of slab later, if its possible at all, so it must be done correctly the first time.  You also can't achieve the elevated look with it.

Different soils, different looks, different foundations.  Pier/Beam is great but it is not the best.  Its just the best way to achieve the elevated look.

 

Modern construction makes the older homes construction seem obsolete...mostly because it is obsolete...That does not mean that there are not great things about the older homes, but to say they are built better than todays home is silly.

 

Im in the process of building my custom home right now.  Its a 30 year home for me, so I am going above & beyond on everything.  I guarantee that absolutely 100% of the things that I am putting into that home are superior to everything found in the older ones in every single way, both in terms of strength and energy efficiency.  Where an old home may have strong "old growth" wood.  I have steel.  Its not your run of the mill production home, but if I am to believe all of the old historic natzi's neither were their homes back in the day.

 

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Kudo's S3MH, your ability to use logical fallacies to your advantage once again successfully steered the comments from a very good description of different methods of home foundations to pick the one thing that really didn't matter in all of what was written and use that to try and debase the entire post.

 

If you really own an old home with block and beam foundation, have you ever looked in the crawlspace under the house to see how crappy the block and beam foundation really is? Cinder blocks sitting on the surface, and pieces of wood used to shim the house level. Yes, foundation leveling for block and beam is pennies compared to dollars to do foundation work on a slab, but at least with the slab once the foundation has been repaired, it doesn't need to be addressed in 3 years time like a block and beam foundation. Often, after you pay the $20k to have the slab foundation fixed, they offer a lifetime guarantee, so yeah, there's a big investment to make it right, but you won't (shouldn't) have to worry about it again.

 

My house was leveled before I bought it, it needed to be leveled again 2 years ago. and it will need to be leveled again next year. hooray drought. I've started wondering if it's possible to introduce piers into a block and beam foundation to get around the woes of weather and upgrade the foundation to something that will last more than a few years. I bet I can, it's just not cheap.

 

I have been under my house and have seen the foundation.  Yes, lots of shims and a combination of original brick and replacement cinder blocks.  My house was leveled in 2005.  It is still level today despite floods and droughts.  I have friends with new construction and the state of the art pier and beam systems who have been dealing with cracks for years.  All their builder will do is patch up the drywall and repaint.  Their house is almost out of tolerances and will require a very expensive repair.  Less is more when you build houses on mud.  An occasional lift here, shim there, beats the crap out of having to plunk down $20k in exchange for a lifetime warranty from a company that will probably go under within a few years.

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I have been under my house and have seen the foundation.  Yes, lots of shims and a combination of original brick and replacement cinder blocks.  My house was leveled in 2005.  It is still level today despite floods and droughts.  I have friends with new construction and the state of the art pier and beam systems who have been dealing with cracks for years.  All their builder will do is patch up the drywall and repaint.  Their house is almost out of tolerances and will require a very expensive repair.  Less is more when you build houses on mud.  An occasional lift here, shim there, beats the crap out of having to plunk down $20k in exchange for a lifetime warranty from a company that will probably go under within a few years.

 

A properly engineered pier/beam foundation made from concrete will not shift any more than a properly engineered pier/beam foundation on cinder blocks.  One is easier to shim if needed, though it should never be needed for either if done properly.

 

Properly done means at least 3 soil test bores over the area of the house itself (not just the lot)  to determine soil types.  The top 12-18" of top soil should be removed from the site and select fill should be brought in to build the foundation up to the desired height.  Large vibratory drum compactors should be used to compact the pad prior to doing any foundation work.  Test bores should be used to measure compaction.  Piers should then be drilled past the gumbo until you reach a rock or sand strata.  Bell bottoms should be used to flare out the width of the pier at the bottom and rebar should tie the pier together.  Grade beams should be a minimum of 24" thick and should have both an exterior frame rebar and an interior reinforcing rebar.  All the beams should meet in an X or a T and should tie into the piers rigidly.  Then the 5-7" slab should have its rebar tie into the grade beams and piers.  After in ground plumbing is installed a moisture barrier should be added and the seams taped.  Concrete should be 3500 PSI or higher and the pour should have the concrete tested. 

 

If you do it right the first time it is not going to move.  Tract home builders are not exactly known for doing it right the first time.

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...

If you really own an old home with block and beam foundation, have you ever looked in the crawlspace under the house to see how crappy the block and beam foundation really is? Cinder blocks sitting on the surface, and pieces of wood used to shim the house level....

Don't stop there, my house in Norhill was crappily (omg I hope the spelling is right) constructed from top to bottom in 1926.  Also, what most people forget is it went downhill from there, uninterrupted for seven decades with spray-paint maintenance, jack-leg additions, no city oversight....termite damage (if you haven't found it you're not looking).  I finally ripped out the last of the knob-and-tube wiring last year, but many original homes still have this fire hazard waiting.  Now I just live with cracks in the wall rather than spend $3,000 for three years crack-free, doors that stick during the humid days and don't latch during dry season, windows that leak cash but won't open, floors that tell me in real-time the outside temperature / wind speed and wake me up when my kids are sneaking in at 2 am, all along with a power bill and dust coating twice what they should be….AND forget about a second home since your kids are going to private schools.  I am sure one could cherry-pick a few examples of fine construction, but that’s by far the exception not the rule. 

 

I have concluded that preservationist architects and their ilk are sadist anti-engineers who would like to see the human population and condition regress to that of the dark ages.  I live in the Heights because broken crap doesn’t bother me, native Heightstonians are Fonzie-cool and location location location, and the location has actually improved with all the new dining and shopping. 

 

So all you tire kickers out there hear this: ALL of those other neighborhoods are better than the Heights in ALL those ways set forth, and we have a political structure set to ensure continuance of same for several years. Our old crap is older and crappier than your old crap and we have a law to make sure that fact doesn’t change, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.  I think that’s the only thing still allowed around here.

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When I had my foundation worked on almost 4 years ago... they dug down and reset and troubled or new piers/blocks on the harder clay  (it is only about 2-3' down).  They also added 12 new piers/blocks, a new beam running the entire length of the house are raised the entire house a block (8 inches).  My plaster did crack around most of the windows and doorways (nothing severe just light stress cracks).  I had them repaired and cheaply repainted... a few recracked and I just had the entire house scraped, thincoated with a very mild texture, and repainted.  I'm sure it will be find for several more years  (probably even longer if I put gutters on to keep water from going under the house).   My foundation work cost ~5k.  Just the additional beam cost like $500 for the material (thats a big chunk of wood).   I'm not sure about superiority to slab, but  I'm confident in fixing any issues that arise in the future myself, which to me is a definite winner. 

 

True pier and beam construction is superior to block and beam, only a fool would say otherwise.

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...But each different house has a different soil & there are advantages & disadvantages to different foundation types.

Pier/Beam has the advantage of being up off the ground which is great for flooding, aesthetics, and allowing access to house mechanicals like plumbing & electrical. Also very easy to upgrade/change things later b/c of this. However, pipes are prone to freezing, wires are exposed to animals like mice/possums, etc your floors are exposed to the elements & humidity which can cause wood floors to cup if ventilation is inadequate, First floor can be very cold in the winter if uninsulated, the entirety of your home is exposed to both drywood & subterranean termites.

Most builders go with post tension slabs now (which I am not a fan of) to cut down on errors and to save time, not money. Post tension versus pier/beam are not drastically different in terms of price. The reason builders chose post tension is b/c the cables are made off site by tradesmen where there is VERY little error. When the cables are delivered the only thing the workers do is put the pre-labeled cables in order 1,2,3,4 etc and then criss-cross A,B,C,D...its difficult to make errors....its fast, strong, error-free and will usually, even under poor soil conditions, last 10 years without a problem. That is why builders use them. Pre-Engineered, nearly impossible to screw up, fast, almost always last past the warranty at which point they dont care. Tract homes builders design homes that are easy to build to minimize mistakes...

Modern construction makes the older homes construction seem obsolete...mostly because it is obsolete...That does not mean that there are not great things about the older homes, but to say they are built better than todays home is silly.

Im in the process of building my custom home right now. Its a 30 year home for me, so I am going above & beyond on everything. I guarantee that absolutely 100% of the things that I am putting into that home are superior to everything found in the older ones in every single way, both in terms of strength and energy efficiency. Where an old home may have strong "old growth" wood. I have steel. Its not your run of the mill production home, but if I am to believe all of the old historic natzi's neither were their homes back in the day.

Marksmu, excellent post. I definitely learned something when reading it.

With that said, I think its not a stretch to say over the last couple of pages on this thread the discussion has been about craftsman bungalows and 1950s ranch-style tract homes (what i meant by "newer"). Im not going to argue with you about your brand new fully custom steel-framed, nonstandard upgraded modern slab founation home being better or not than an early 1900's home. And frankly, it's another strawman argument.

So to be clear, in the context of early 1900s balloon framing & pier and beam foundation and post-WWII platform framing & post tension slab foundation homes: Pipes prone to freezing, while being a valid point rarely will happen in Houston and steps can be taken to insulate your plumbing and install lattice trim to reduce airflow. My electricals are in the attic so no exposure to wildlife. In regard to humidity effects on flooring, my home has a 3/4" thick subfloor and a vapor barrier b/w the subfloor and flooring. Uninsulated floors being cold in the winter is absolutely true, no rebuttal there. Slab foundation on its own does not necessarily protect you from termites either.

Post tension slab advantages are: plumbing less prone to freeze (minimal concern in Houston) and floors not being as cold in the winter. Seems from your description that most of the real advantages come in the form of saved time and reduced liability for the builder, not the homeowner.

Pier/beam advantages are: easy access to plumbing, cheaper leveling cost, flood protection, better aesthetics

The difference is the minimal advantages of the post tension slab can be remedied to some extent with proper insulation and ventilation control for pier and beam. The same cannot be said for post tension slab; no easy way to remedy plumbing access, foundation leveling is expensive, nothing can be done about flooding and the aesthetics less than ideal.

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About a dozen posts that were off-topic or devoted to flaming have been deleted.  Anything else violating forum rules and the topic is closed. 

 

 

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two pages of foundation related topic don't really fit in to the thread either... 

 

 

I definitely think the market has cooled off a little... there are a few houses near me for sale that are asking about what I would have suspected  them to get early in the summer that haven't sold yet.  I have also seen a few houses reduce their prices lately (this wasn't happening at all earlier). 

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I concur the market has stabilized.  It reached its peak in May, those houses closed in June/July and by mid June, early July it was cooling off. 

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http://www.greenwoodking.com/images/pdf/marketreport7.pdf

 

Not enough detail to tell anything about the demand side, but you can clearly see all throughout GK's market area a major decline in inventory and a major price hike as a result over the past year.  With an average price pushing through the mid 400s, the Heights will naturally see a smaller pool of buyers because there are way more people who can afford to pay under 400k than over.  So, a plateau would be expected at some point.  But if inventory continues to tighten, prices will continue to move up.  The new development in and around 19th street will help take away some sticker shock for people looking at the neighborhood. 

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http://www.greenwoodking.com/images/pdf/marketreport7.pdf

 

Not enough detail to tell anything about the demand side, but you can clearly see all throughout GK's market area a major decline in inventory and a major price hike as a result over the past year.  With an average price pushing through the mid 400s, the Heights will naturally see a smaller pool of buyers because there are way more people who can afford to pay under 400k than over.  So, a plateau would be expected at some point.  But if inventory continues to tighten, prices will continue to move up.  The new development in and around 19th street will help take away some sticker shock for people looking at the neighborhood. 

 

I've also used Judy Thompson's website over the years to track market conditions:

 

http://westurealestate.com/marketWatchAllAreasSummary.htm

 

Anyway, in general I've noticed a bit of cooling off as well in checking har listings, but as others have pointed out it certainly makes sense for this time of year

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So people who can't afford it... will flock to places like Morrison Heights...

 

I know you are being sarcastic, but I did wonder on that thread whether Houston will ever see a trend of condo conversions.  I think there is still a lot of land where you can build town homes in the high 200/low 300 range (east side, 3rd ward, etc.).  But once that land starts to get scarce, you may just see a real condo market emerge inside the loop. 

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I agree, I think the market has peaked and will start to level off. The prices are approaching West U, but the Heights doesn't have the school system yet like West U does to deserve pricing on the same level.

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I agree, I think the market has peaked and will start to level off. The prices are approaching West U, but the Heights doesn't have the school system yet like West U does to deserve pricing on the same level.

 

I haven't seen anything suggesting the prices are anywhere close to approaching West U.  Actually, I think I've seen several times that housing in Montrose is actually pricier than the Heights, but of course both areas are fairly large so things can vary quite a bit within each

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OkieEric, on 04 Sept 2013 - 7:11 PM, said:

 

I haven't seen anything suggesting the prices are anywhere close to approaching West U...

 

Heights:

 

$300/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/702-Omar-Houston-77009-6645_HAR47490461.htm

 

$353/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/910-Redan-St-Houston-77009-6040_HAR28988478.htm

 

$369/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/1015-Fugate-St-Houston-77009-5013_HAR33583074.htm

 

 

 

West U:

 

$265/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/3935-Marlowe-St-West-University-77005-2045_HAR28400842.htm

 

$322/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/3921-University-Blvd-Houston-77005-2803_HAR52279754.htm

 

$344/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/4015-Villanova-West-University-77005_HAR28457840.htm

 

 

Made sure to choose properties in both West U and Heights Proper. No cherry-picking, I also made sure lot sizes were relatively close.

 

I rest my case.

Edited by laiall

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Very instructive; thanks for doing this. Not that I can afford Heights or West U,  but as a resident of The Perpetual  Next Cool Neighborhood, it def provides some perspective.

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Very instructive; thanks for doing this. Not that I can afford Heights or West U,  but as a resident of The Perpetual  Next Cool Neighborhood, it def provides some perspective.

 

Crunch, I see you are in Eastwood. That is a great neighborhood from an investment standpoint and gentrification is well under way. I suspect when the Metrorail line opens up, there will be an increased influx of working professionals into the area and that area will blow up. 

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Price / sq ft is one metric that has some definite flaws to it, plus you are showing us a small sample of asking prices (and note that all 3 West U ones are pending).  One of the houses you listed for the Height was shown as < 1K sq ft.  Seriously?  Do you think if that house was twice as big they would get anywhere close to twice the price?  If someone is paying $500Kish for a house in West U it's a teardown, that's certainly not the case in the Heights.  Lot value alone in West U is probably $500K+ nowdays.  Seriously, go filter on West U and see what is available for < $600K.  Now try $700K, $800K

 

Edit:  It's not like I'm a real estate expert, but it's pretty logical that when your land value is a high % of value of the house (as is the case in all 6 of your examples except maybe the first) I think $/sq ft is extremely misleading

Edited by OkieEric

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Those examples prove what I was saying earlier, the Heights is a joke for prices. $400k for a 2/1 shack that needs work with worse schools and a worse location?

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Those examples prove what I was saying earlier, the Heights is a joke for prices. $400k for a 2/1 shack that needs work with worse schools and a worse location?

 

I'd still argue Montrose is generally priced higher.  The only thing you will find under $400K in Montrose anymore are teardowns or townhomes and maybe a couple of worn out duplexes

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You have cherry picked the snot out of that list from West U.  Those properties are the exception in West U.  Currently on the market in West U, there are 9 houses over 2 mil, 25 over 1 mil, 9 over 900k, 3 over 800k and 8 from 0-799k.  Sure, it may be possible to pluck a tear down away from a builder in West U, but the vast majority of the housing in West U is 1 mil+. 

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You have cherry picked the snot out of that list from West U.  Those properties are the exception in West U.  Currently on the market in West U, there are 9 houses over 2 mil, 25 over 1 mil, 9 over 900k, 3 over 800k and 8 from 0-799k.  Sure, it may be possible to pluck a tear down away from a builder in West U, but the vast majority of the housing in West U is 1 mil+. 

 

s3mh, reading comprehension, please read my post a little more carefully.

 

Houses over 2 mil, 1 mil, etc are on larger plots of land and/or are larger in sq ft. To get a good comparison I chose properties with comparable plots of land and building sq ft and made sure to choose properties within the best sections of each neighborhood.

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I'd still argue Montrose is generally priced higher.  The only thing you will find under $400K in Montrose anymore are teardowns or townhomes and maybe a couple of worn out duplexes

 

You don't get to make up your own facts.

 

Montrose:

 

$300/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/1223-Jackson-Bl-Houston-77006-1101_HAR84444417.htm

 

$296/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/1623-Marshall-St-Houston-77006-4121_HAR20477874.htm

 

$273/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/1108-Bomar-St-Houston-77006-1224_HAR5282944.htm

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Price / sq ft is one metric that has some definite flaws to it, plus you are showing us a small sample of asking prices (and note that all 3 West U ones are pending).  One of the houses you listed for the Height was shown as < 1K sq ft.  Seriously?  Do you think if that house was twice as big they would get anywhere close to twice the price?  If someone is paying $500Kish for a house in West U it's a teardown, that's certainly not the case in the Heights.  Lot value alone in West U is probably $500K+ nowdays.  Seriously, go filter on West U and see what is available for < $600K.  Now try $700K, $800K

 

Edit:  It's not like I'm a real estate expert, but it's pretty logical that when your land value is a high % of value of the house (as is the case in all 6 of your examples except maybe the first) I think $/sq ft is extremely misleading

 

First of all, I never said Heights was the same price as West U. If you go back and read my post again you'll see I said the prices are "approaching" West U and used it as a justification for why I think the prices in the Heights are going to level off:

 

"The prices are approaching West U, but the Heights doesn't have the school system yet like West U does to deserve pricing on the same level."

 

 

Here are some larger homes in the Heights:

 

$304/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/520-Omar-St-Houston-77009-6641_HAR37201506.htm

 

$271/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/423-Bayland-Av-Houston-77009-6603_HAR25958364.htm

 

$270/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/1032-Highland-St-Houston-77009-6515_HAR81010554.htm

Edited by laiall

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Yes, your 3 house sample of the bottom of the market in Montrose completely refutes what I said

 

1623 Marshall is touted as a tear down (build later!) and 1108 Bomar is 1300 sq ft with no garage.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's a goner, too, at least at some point in the near future.  $/sq ft doesn't mean anything on these

 

There are townhouses going in Montrose in $600K range, I recently sold my 80's remodeled 2 bed/2.5 bath townhouse for not much less than the price ranges you are showing.  Of course, it always depends on the area you are looking at.  Here's some of the pricier new construction (with your favorite $/sq ft metric included):

 

$323/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cfm?mlnum=98123400&v=s

$322/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cfm?mlnum=20440247&v=s

$300/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cfm?mlnum=70446739&v=s

Edited by OkieEric

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s3mh, reading comprehension, please read my post a little more carefully.

 

Houses over 2 mil, 1 mil, etc are on larger plots of land and/or are larger in sq ft. To get a good comparison I chose properties with comparable plots of land and building sq ft and made sure to choose properties within the best sections of each neighborhood.

 

But you are choosing properties in West U that are very rare and are just a broken AC unit away from being a teardown and comparing them to properties in the Heights that are abundant.  Thus, even if you are right that there is better value in West U, the fact is that those properties are so scarce that it is practically a moot point. 

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But you are choosing properties in West U that are very rare and are just a broken AC unit away from being a teardown and comparing them to properties in the Heights that are abundant.  Thus, even if you are right that there is better value in West U, the fact is that those properties are so scarce that it is practically a moot point. 

 

Not going to argue with you about West U being a better value at a similar price/sq ft. Heights middle and high schools need to vastly improve before I would change my mind.

 

"...broken AC unit away from being a teardown.." is completely inaccurate btw, 2 of those 3 properties are fully renovated and the $322/sq ft one is half way there.

 

I'm glad you read my post in more detail and came to the same conclusion that the Heights prices are getting a little too close to West U prices and thus are overpriced for what you are getting.

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Yes, your 3 house sample of the bottom of the market in Montrose completely refutes what I said

 

1623 Marshall is touted as a tear down (build later!) and 1108 Bomar is 1300 sq ft with no garage.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's a goner, too, at least at some point in the near future.  $/sq ft doesn't mean anything on these

 

There are townhouses going in Montrose in $600K range, I recently sold my 80's remodeled 2 bed/2.5 bath townhouse for not much less than the price ranges you are showing.  Of course, it always depends on the area you are looking at.  Here's some of the pricier new construction (with your favorite $/sq ft metric included):

 

$323/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cfm?mlnum=98123400&v=s

$322/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cfm?mlnum=20440247&v=s

$300/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/dispSearch.cfm?mlnum=70446739&v=s

 

Fair enough, even though I disagree with you that those homes are the "bottom" of the market and I hope you realize the price/sq ft of your examples are maybe a $20/sq ft on avg difference from the ones I cited, I'll drive my point home by using your own examples coupled with some similarly sized (building and lot) homes in the Heights to show you that you are 100% wrong. 

 

$300/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/726-E-7th-1/2-St-Houston-77007-1708_HAR19889954.htm

 

$388/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/515-Ridge-St-Houston-77009-7517_HAR31762194.htm

 

$418/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/601-E-16th-Houston-77008-4401_HAR63199432.htm

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Fair enough, even though I disagree with you that those homes are the "bottom" of the market and I hope you realize the price/sq ft of your examples are maybe a $20/sq ft on avg difference from the ones I cited, I'll drive my point home by using your own examples coupled with some similarly sized (building and lot) homes in the Heights to show you that you are 100% wrong. 

 

$300/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/726-E-7th-1/2-St-Houston-77007-1708_HAR19889954.htm

 

$388/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/515-Ridge-St-Houston-77009-7517_HAR31762194.htm

 

$418/sq ft - http://search.har.com/engine/601-E-16th-Houston-77008-4401_HAR63199432.htm

 

OK, enough of this contest.  Yes, maybe they are within range of what you quoted but that doesn't make your examples any less valid.  Your method of comparing home prices between parts of town is flawed - but if doing it that way helps you sleep at night, then so be it.  Those earlier examples were driven by land value, not $/sq ft.  I'm not sure how else this can be explained  

 

I can nit pick your examples (that last listing is insanely high) and try to find higher $/sq ft offerings in Montrose but what's the point, a $400/sq ft example probably doesn't exist.  My comment was that Montrose pricing is generally higher.  That's not to say you aren't going to find some very high priced homes in certain areas of each.  There are a total of 10 single family homes/multi-family in Montrose under $400K, so in terms of what we are comparing here I would say that yes, the examples you gave are the bottom of the market.  I don't even live there anymore so I don't really don't care either way.  But I'd say this document posted the other day may offer some guidance and is probably a little more conclusive than this random house picking

 

http://www.greenwoodking.com/images/pdf/marketreport7.pdf

 

It's not perfect, but I think it substantiates my views.  Or at least proves I'm not 100% wrong

Edited by OkieEric

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OK, enough of this contest.  Yes, maybe they are within range of what you quoted but that doesn't make your examples any less valid.  Your method of comparing home prices between parts of town is flawed - but if doing it that way helps you sleep at night, then so be it.  Those earlier examples were driven by land value, not $/sq ft.  I'm not sure how else this can be explained  

 

I can nit pick your examples (that last listing is insanely high) and try to find higher $/sq ft offerings in Montrose but what's the point, a $400/sq ft example probably doesn't exist.  My comment was that Montrose pricing is generally higher.  That's not to say you aren't going to find some very high priced homes in certain areas of each.  There are a total of 10 single family homes/multi-family in Montrose under $400K, so in terms of what we are comparing here I would say that yes, the examples you gave are the bottom of the market.  I don't even live there anymore so I don't really don't care either way.  But I'd say this document posted the other day may offer some guidance and is probably a little more conclusive than this random house picking

 

http://www.greenwoodking.com/images/pdf/marketreport7.pdf

 

It's not perfect, but I think it substantiates my views.  Or at least proves I'm not 100% wrong

 

Eric, give me a break man. Your link differentiates single family homes from townhomes for Montrose but lumps them all together for the Heights. Unlike your link, I've made a direct apples to apples comparison between the two areas today; I have made sure there are similar sizes of land and similar sizes of home. 

 

It's not a contest. The facts have been presented and you have nothing solid to substantiate your claims while I have provided ample examples to refute them. I even used the links you yourself posted to demonstrate to you.

 

There is nothing left to debate here.

Edited by laiall

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Eric, give me a break man. Your link differentiates single family homes from townhomes for Montrose but lumps them all together for the Heights. Unlike your link, I've made a direct apples to apples comparison between the two areas today; I have made sure there are similar sizes of land and similar sizes of home. 

 

It's not a contest. The facts have been presented and you have nothing solid to substantiate your claims while I have provided ample examples to refute them. I even used the links you yourself posted to demonstrate to you.

 

It's broken out for Montrose because obviously there the ratio of townhouses to single family homes is much higher and thus gives a clearer basis for comparison.  You can lump them together if you want by taking a weighted average and it shows they are essentially the same (albeit Montrose still slightly higher).  But of course nearly half of the Montrose properties are townhouses

 

There are probably other sources to use for comparison out there, I dunno.  Either way it's a much more objective analysis with a larger sample (all sold houses) and more importantly, it's based on actual sales prices rather than picking a very small subset of house list prices from har

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It's broken out for Montrose because obviously there the ratio of townhouses to single family homes is much higher and thus gives a clearer basis for comparison.  You can lump them together if you want by taking a weighted average and it shows they are essentially the same (albeit Montrose still slightly higher).  But of course nearly half of the Montrose properties are townhouses

 

There are probably other sources to use for comparison out there, I dunno.  Either way it's a much more objective analysis with a larger sample (all sold houses) and more importantly, it's based on actual sales prices rather than picking a very small subset of house list prices from har

 

So, what you meant to say in your original posts were:

 

"Actually, I think I've seen several times that housing in Montrose is actually pricier than virtually the same as the Heights, but of course both areas are fairly large so things can vary quite a bit within each."

 

"I'd still argue agree Montrose is generally priced higher the same."

 

 

Unless what you meant by your original statements was the 0.4% difference between the two neighborhoods per your link. I think we can agree that they are both awesome neighborhoods and comparably priced.

Edited by laiall

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Unless what you meant by your original statements was the 0.4% difference between the two neighborhoods. I think we can agree that they are both awesome neighborhoods and comparably priced

 

Agreed.  FWIW even though I loved living in Montrose for the same price I'd go for a house in the Heights over a townhome in Montrose any day.  There are really only a handful of neighborhoods I'd consider living in Montrose with a family whereas in general the Heights seems to be more family friendly.  There is just a location factor to Montrose that is hard to beat

 

I agree with Brian that there are better values on the south side, at least for now.  I guess "value" is kind of the opposite of what we are discussing here, though

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Agreed.  FWIW even though I loved living in Montrose for the same price I'd go for a house in the Heights over a townhome in Montrose any day.  There are really only a handful of neighborhoods I'd consider living in Montrose with a family whereas in general the Heights seems to be more family friendly.  There is just a location factor to Montrose that is hard to beat

 

I agree with Brian that there are better values on the south side, at least for now.  I guess "value" is kind of the opposite of what we are discussing here, though

 

Finally, I agree w/ everything you said!

 

I love Montrose as well and would be just as happy if I had ended up there.

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