Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spec house, schmeck house. (The bigger the better? I think not.)

As anyone who knows me well realizes, I am quite interested in – perhaps even obsessed with – the Tiny House movement.

I am not a johnny-come-lately to this.

In fact, I’ve been fantasizing about living small, and designing compact living spaces in my head, since I was a kid, when I’d lounge in the tub until the water got cold figuring out what would go where if I were going to convert the bathroom into a house.

As an adult, visiting my sister in Wellfleet, I always look with longing at Brownie’s Cabins on Route 6 when I pass by. Sure, it seems ridiculous to pay for accommodations when a lovely home (and a wonderful host and hostess) are just around the corner, but someday I promise myself that I’ll spend a night or two at Brownie’s.

So, yes, I do have a strong interest in Tiny Houses.

I don’t think I could go as far as the 100  square footers. But I could definitely survive , if needed, in a 200 foot house. And could live large  - and comfortably – in 400 square feet. (Been there, done that, now that I think of it. I did live for a number of years in a small studio.)

And then there’s the other end of the spectrum. That would be the Ginormous House movement which, in contrast with the Tiny Houses. While Tiny Houses tend to be small footprint and green-built, Ginormous Houses are both big-arse and de luxe. As in the spec house built by Shelly and Avi Osadon in (where else) Beverly Hills which includes:

…a custom chandelier with 25 handblown glass balls for the entryway. They installed $5,000 “hands-free” toilets with heated seats in most of the home’s 10 bathrooms. They even bought $350 electric toothbrushes custom designed by “dentist to the stars” Jon Marashi.

Now all the Osadons need to do is find someone who wants to buy their dream—ideally for their $35 million asking price. (Source: WSJ Online)

Oh, I almost get the heated seat – I live in a cold climate. And “hands free”? Why not? (Although I don’t see how a trip to the toilet is ever going to be fully “hands free”) But a $350 toothbrush? Does it guarantee ‘look my, no cavities’? Permanent fresh breath? No plaque build up? No gingivitis?

Just part of a new trend in which:

More developers and investors are racing to build increasingly lavish homes on spec. Built on prime lots with master suites larger than most homes and spas and entertainment spaces comparable with those in hotels, many of these homes are also attempting to break new price records.

In Florida, a 30K square foot is going up, complete with underground parking for 20 cars. ($45 million.)

Not to be outdone, there’s another place in Florida – in the aptly-named town of Golden Beach – that’s gong for $36M. This baby:

… has a 5,000-square-foot spa and five kitchens. And in Los Angeles, a $55 million spec home with expansive city views includes an air-conditioned “auto gallery” with a spinning turntable and room for 15 cars.

As a Tiny House aficionado, it’s my head that’s spinning, not my car. (Which, of course, I don’t own anymore.)

Much of what’s driving this is the usual roundup of Russian oligarchs and Mid-eastern oil-princes, who are looking “to park money.” (Vs. a Tiny House purchase, in which you park the house.)

But some are being snapped up by home-grown moguls. (Think young software guys and handbag designers.)

Hey, it’s only money. And it’s only their money. So if someone has $45M to throw at someone-or-other’s spec dream house, they’re entitled.

Me? Even if I had $45M, it wouldn’t go into a house with a 2,500 square foot master bedroom.

But if I had $45M, I’d sure be willing to shed $45K for the Tiny House of my dreams.

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