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    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    House stalking

    Is February over yet? Come the stroke of midnight Friday, I will be celebrating — March 1 means an end to my purgatory phase of work in a suburban mall and a return to downtown. It also means that I can start thinking about doing things like blogging again. And nagging Tai about not having a washer and dryer yet. And nagging Tai about a facade for the fireplace. And nagging Tai about finishing the living room bookcase. (Perhaps I will be the only one in this house celebrating March 1.)

    Anyway, we've been salivating over modern homes in the area in our own special ways. Tai by actually researching different homes and familiarizing himself with permitting, financing and building methods. Me by occasionally thinking about it in between banal inquiries from the mall crowd in Sandy about what I'm doing there and IS IT FREE.

    Before February started (in a hazy past we like to call "January" around here), Tai and I drove past the bones of a house on the southwest corner of 500 South and 800 East in Salt Lake. The owner happened to be out front, chipping away at the ice sheet that covered the sidewalks around his construction zone. We hopped out to ask him a few questions about what he was building, how he got city approval, what the neighbors thought, etc. The kind man gave us a tour of the house, and myohmy we were impressed.


    We didn't take pictures inside (that would be weird), but we saw an open floor plan, three or four bedrooms (can't remember exactly), plans for an Ikea kitchen, radiant heating, a deliberately unfinished basement and western-facing decks on the second floor. The house was around 2200 square feet (if I'm remembering correctly). Check out more details on the builder's blog.

    The city gave him no trouble with the permitting, other than being a little slow due to inadequate staffing. On the other hand, neighbors were grumbling about the "monster" house; I suspect their complaints had more to do with a modern house than a monster house, though. The design is angular; the exterior will be a combination of galvanized aluminum panels and a dark purple stucco (we saw samples and the purple looked really cool). However, it certainly does not look like the hodgepodge collection of pale-beige-stuccoed-over bungalows and cottages nearby.

    We learned that the owner had favorable zoning for building a modern home; he requested and received only one variance. All the lots that Tai and I have seen in our neighborhood or downtown would require a long list of variances to standard zoning code; we tend to see every variance request as an opportunity for the city ("city" in this case can also mean the historic landmarks commission, of which we are developing a very healthy fear) to turn down an unusual set of house plans. We haven't acted on the small lots within our price range in 84103 because they are SO small that in order to build even an 800-square-foot footprint home, we would need several (or more) variances. Also, two lots near us now are both within the historic landmarks commission, which I've complained about before.


    We also learned that the owner bought two small lots for this project; he tore down a condemned home on one of them. In the financing department, we politely asked how he was able to find a bank to back the tear-down while he was still developing plans for the new house. He was able to be his own bank — a luxury that we will not have.

    I now make it a habit to drive past this house in progress whenever I'm within a few blocks. It's great to see unusual projects going up downtown.

    1 comment:

    Leogirl said...

    hey...good luck on the design phase...here's another i believe is right up your alley.

    http://www.peckhamhouse.com/index.php