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Does a Swimming Pool ADD Value to a Home?

Does a Swimming Pool ADD Value to a Home?

I’ve been asked “how much value does a swimming pool really add to your home?” many, many times, and my answer always is … it depends.

If you’re thinking of adding an in-ground pool or buying a home with an in-ground pool you’ve probably heard that tired old saw that a pool adds $10-15k value to a home and limits the buyer pool for your home when you go to sell it. While true as a sweeping generality, there’s more to this topic than meets the eye.

 

high-end-poolNobody will argue that the swimming pool in the photo shown to the left will add considerable value to the home it accompanies. The reason is that it speaks to art and craftsmanship and quality … three important considerations for a pool or for that matter any addition or expensive home improvement. The design marries absolute unity with absolute variety and will be almost universally considered beautiful by most who encounter it. The scale also suggests that it is attached to a larger home on a larger piece of land … the other two key considerations when discussing similar improvements and their value.

Now most pools look like the one showninexpensive pool to the right. They are pretty ordinary, well-done, and cost somewhere in the under $50k range depending on it’s liner (plaster or vinyl). Included is a small hardscape area, cast concrete, pavers or exposed-aggregate concrete, and fenced enclosure around the pool area or the yard, depending on the local building codes. This is your classic in-ground pool and this one does add the $10-15k that any realtor will tell you. If you look at this picture you will see it is located in a fairly good sized yard, so it’s value would be in the upper end of the range. If it were on a small lot and took up most of the back yard it’s value would be in the lower end of the range.

mid-range-poolThe pool shown to the right is one that while costing in the $50-150k range will not add it’s full cost to the value of the home will add significantly more than the $10-15k typically bandied about. The natural stone hard-scape and the addition of an integrated hot-tub and gas-fired outdoor fireplace are desirable features that add value individually and add more combined value when integrated into a unified design. Again, as you can see, the pool is a small part of a larger yard and suggests it’s attached to a larger home with superior fit and finish.

Okay, so how can one determine what a pool adds in value.

For this exercise I took the price per square foot for homes sold in the last six months for million dollar properties in the inner suburbs of metrowest Boston.  If you compare the price per square foot across the six selected towns you will see that there is a significant increase in the price per square foot in the selling price of homes sold with pools. You will also see that the overall increase for all the towns is pretty constant. So, as you can probably imagine, for these towns, pools that have a high degree of fit and finish and are in not outsized in proportion to their lot size add about 11% to the value.Pool-Charts-PSF

Then if we take the number of homes sold with pools and compare them to the total market for their towns, we see a strong desire for them in some towns, in other towns not so much. For example, in Lincoln homes with pools represented almost half of the market, Weston homes with pools represented about a quarter of the market,  while in Lexington they represented only about 10% of their market. So it could be figured that putting a pool in Lincoln or Weston is a much better investment than putting one in Lexington.Market-Share-pools

So as you can see, the real answer to the question is determined by two things: 1. how nice the pool is and 2. is it considered a valuable feature in the town where it is located.

Should you have questions about a specific application and location feel free to give me a call, I will be glad to help you out. Call or text 978-580-1069.

What is the Difference Between a Raised Ranch and a Split Level Style Home?

What is the Difference Between a Raised Ranch and a Split Level Style Home?

When showing homes to first-time home buyers we often end up in Splits and Raised-Ranches as they tend to be smaller in square footage and in the lower price points for their town/marketplace.

Whichever house style we enter first, the buyers often ask me “what’s the difference between this one and the other one”. So I figured that there are lots of folks who are asking the same question and why not share my answer with you all.

 

Raised Ranch House Style

Raised Raraised ranch style homench style houses were built in the Boston area from the mid-40’s to the 70’s and are occasionally still built today as individual custom homes.

They are typically built in this area on lots with high water tables, lots with stone ledge very close to the surface, or lots on a hillside.

Imagine building a single story ranch style home with a full basement and instead of sticking it in the ground up to the top of the foundation,  you set it on a flat spot carved into the ground anywhere from one to four feet deep.This gives you two stories of living space mostly above grade with full-height windows in the basement to give you air flow and sunlight.

Because of the foundation location, you enter the front door directly at the same grade as the driveway on the basement level and have to go upstairs to the main living level (see sketch).raised ranch schematic

You will enter on the level with a family room, utility/mechanical room, laundry/bath, possibly a bedroom, and if there is one, the garage. There will be a full set of stairs to the side of the front door that takes you up to the main living level where you will find the kitchen, dining room, living room, bedrooms and one or two full baths or a bath and a half.

In many towns they are found along rural roads or what were rural roads at the time in clusters of several homes that were built at the same time.

As these homes are anywhere from forty to seventy years old, their heating/cooling systems, wiring, plumbing, windows, doors, and other systems have probably been replaced or updated. If they haven’t been, they are easy to do and a great way for first time buyers to generate some sweat-equity.

When available, they sell well due to their economical carrying costs, generally low prices, and great use of space. So if you’re looking for all those things, a raised ranch might just be your perfect home.

Split-Level House Style

split-level style houseSplit-Level houses are a variation on the raised ranch style and are also called Splits, Split-Foyer and Bi-Level houses. Splits are built with the foundation sunken deeper than Raised Ranches, usually four to six feet into the ground, and the driveway is excavated level with the bottom of the foundation. Unlike a raised ranch which has full-height windows, the lower level tends to have short windows.

In Splits, you always have to go up a half-flight or more via exterior stairs or a sloping walkway from the driveway level and enter the door to a landing or a small foyer.The doorway is often recessed and sometimes the main level of the house is cantilevered out over the basement level, creating a natural indentation and very clear way-finding to the front door.

Once inside you immediately have to make a decision to go up a half-flight of stairs or down a half-flight of stairs, hence the name split-level (see sketch).split-level house scematic

As with a Raised Ranch, upstairs you will find the kitchen, formal dining and living rooms and the bedrooms/baths. In many of these homes the owners have opened up the original walls between the kitchen and dining/living rooms giving them a wonderful flow and nicely supporting the behaviors of today’s lifestyles.

Also like the Raised Ranch, downstairs you will often find a family room, utility room, possibly some miscellaneous finished space, and the garage (which is usually located under the bedrooms).

Splits were designed to be inexpensive homes giving two stories of living space while minimizing foundation and roof costs.

While most of them have full-height basement levels, there are many that have basement levels that were shortened to cut building costs. So if you’re tall you might want to find one with forced hot water heating systems that don’t require big duct work.

In Metrowest developers built them mostly in large developments (by New England Standards) that have evolved into wonderful family neighborhoods of thirty to forty similar homes. Depending on the original price point, they can have a variety of finishes and architectural details on their fronts, such as faux stone, brick, awnings, and bay/bow windows. They will hardly ever have front porches, and are often fitted with screened-porches or raised decks off the back of the dining rooms with stairs down to grade.

Splits don’t tend to handle additions well, so many folks buy them as starter homes and then sell/move when they find they have outgrown them.  Because of this and the fact that so many of these homes were built, they are almost always available for sale in all local marketplaces.

Summary

Whether it’s a Split or a Raised Ranch they be a very practical layout, they sell well due to their economical carrying costs, they have generally lower asking prices, and they make great use of all available space. So if that’s what you’re looking for, one of these just might be your perfect home.

Backyard Chickens … in Sudbury?

Backyard Chickens … in Sudbury?

You’ve moved to the suburbs to have some land, lots of house, and great quality of life. You’ve started a vegetable garden and have enjoyed the puttering and the fresh produce. Now you’re thinking of getting a few chickens so that you can feed them an excellent diet and have fresh eggs of your own. You’re not alone, it seems to be that this hobby is growing exponentially in popularity over the last year. In Sudbury, you’ll have to know a few things before you buy the chicks.

 

FAQ  for those thinking of raising backyard chickens in Sudbury:

  1. Is an Annual Animal Permit Required? yes, a special permit is required, issued by the Zoning Board of Appeals, cost is $100 first year, $50 annual renewal
  2. Is a Building Permit for the Coop Required? not if the coop is less than 120 s.f. footprint
  3. Is there an Annual Board of Health Inspection Required? yes
  4. Are Roosters Permitted? no
  5. Are there Lot Size Limitations? no
  6. What are the Coop Setbacks from Property Lines? There is a 5′ min distance from lot lines.
  7. Are there Manure Pile Storage Limitations? This would be dictated by the conditions of the special permit
  8. Is there a specific section of the Zoning Bylaws that I can read regarding this? see Sudbury Zoning Bylaw Section 2313/6200
  9. Is there an Agricultural Commission or Committee that I can join? yes email: agricultural@sudbury.ma.us
  10. Is there an Agricultural Group that I can contact to get help/info/advice? yes, Sudbury Grange No. 121 Pomona No. 16 , Meetings: 1st & 3rd Wednesday 8 pm, Grange Hall 326 Concord Rd (beside Town Hall), Contact: Brenda Chamberlain 508-429-5458
  11. How do I contact the Board of Health? 978 443-2209 x1379 email: health@sudbury.ma.us
  12. How do I contact the Zoning Board of Appeals? 978-639-3387 email: pcd@sudbury.ma.us
  13. How do I contact the Building Inspector? (978) 443-2209, x1361  email: building@sudbury.ma.us)
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