09/04/14 5:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE STRANGE ALLURE OF THE SHINY SHINY NEW NEW HOME Illustration of Spring Branch Home“Houston is a strange place for real estate, where a surprisingly large number of people want ‘new’ homes, not ‘new’ as in less than 10 years old, but ‘new’ as in ‘never lived in, built just for me, uncontaminated by someone else’s use.’ I don’t understand this freakish (to me) thinking, but I’ve heard people express that thought, and it shows in the pricing of ‘slightly used’ houses. To me, a used house is one where the initial and inevitable builder snafus will have been fixed by a previous owner, and there might even be some mature trees.” [GoogleMaster, commenting on A Modern Colquitt Townhome’s Gently Lowering Price Tag] Illustration: Lulu

08/13/14 1:46pm

Schatz and Eamon House, 5906 Grace Ln., MacGregor Terrace, Houston

Schatz and Eamon House, 5906 Grace Ln., MacGregor Terrace, HoustonHouse-porn hub Houzz visits the MacGregor Terrace home of M+A Architecture Studio‘s Mark Schatz and Anne Eamon, after their recent upgrade from the 700-sq.-ft. residence they built for themselves back when they were architecture students at the University of Houston to the far-more-expansive slate-tile-clad concrete home they designed, constructed, and then added onto next door for their current family of 4. The finished size of their new 2-bedroom, 2-bath living space? A whopping 980 sq. ft.


Little House on MacGregor Terrace
06/10/14 11:45am

Animated Image Showing Location of New Housing Construction, Houston

If the Greater Houston Partnership is eager to include some exhibits or animated GIFs to go along with the video footage of cars driving through imaginary barriers, shiny skyscrapers, and smiling people that pepper its new campaign celebrating Houston as The City of No Limits, it might want to look at the work of California computational biologist [and former Houstonian and longtime Swamplot reader] Ian Rees. Using data from the American Community Survey, Rees mapped structures in the region by the decade they were built, grading their concentration with varying shades of blue.  The result helps us visualize the decades-long march of Houston housing ever outward. His map, shown above, was featured in a series of articles on the Next City website on urban sprawl, a few of which compare Houston’s growth to those of other major U.S. cities.

Unfortunately, the data (and the dancing blue construction hotspots) stop in 2010, and we’re left to ourselves to wonder whether Houston is still on track to continue its now-officially-enshrined core mission. An earlier version of Rees’s map breaks out the last recent decade into 2 separate frames, helping to illustrate the scale and sequence of the more recent Inner Loop construction revival:


See How We’ve Sprawled
05/08/14 1:15pm

Simms Woods Homesites, 5401 Lawndale St., Simms Woods, Houston

Simms Woods Homesites, 5401 Lawndale St., Simms Woods, HoustonDevelopers are planning to put in a 173-home subdivision on the 11.93-acre former site of the All Woods Schroeder (and later, Woodlands Mill Work) warehouse adjacent to the HB&T rail line near the intersection of Jefferson and Hackney in the Simms Woods subdivision, west of Idylwood. The official address of the not-just-yet-subdivided property is 5401 Lawndale St., but only a small leg of the land fronts Lawndale — between Telephone Rd. and Wayside Dr., across from the KIPP Explore Academy. Demolition permits for portions of the former warehouse buildings were approved back in 2011 and 2013, but a reader reports that the last structure was cleared just recently (see photos).

On May 15th, the city’s planning commission is set to consider the layout for the new subdivision, which includes 11 new streets, 173 new homesites, and 25 “reserves” — to be used for guest parking and bits of open space. Here’s the proposed layout:


Clearing Simms Woods
09/27/13 1:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: THOSE CRAZY DIY HOUSTONIANS “And what is up with everyone wanting to build a house? I have friends who are building in the Heights, Spring Branch and Oak Forest. I can tell you that it is a miserable process. Lots of delays (trades and materials can be in short supply), cost overruns, failed inspections, builders who don’t return calls until you start dropping the ‘l’ word (not ‘lesbian’) and having a double bill for housing if you buy the land. All of that just to get a ‘custom’ home that is really just a slight variation on a form of residential design that an architect has recycled dozens of times for different clients all around Houston. Why not just find a house you like well enough, make an offer, sweat the inspection and move in after 30 days?” [Old School, commenting on Garden Group Looking To Turn Gus Wortham Golf Course into Botanical Wonderland] Illustration: Lulu

08/01/13 4:15pm

MONTGOMERY COUNTY MASTER-PLANNED COMMUNITY PICKED FOR MIDDLE-AGED DISTRICT Arizona homebuilder Taylor Morrison has just purchased 700 lots in the master-planned community Woodforest a few miles north of The Woodlands, and the Houston Business Journal reports that these lots — for which prices and plans are not yet available — in Johnson Development’s 3,000-acre community will be reserved for residents 55 and up. But this doesn’t appear to mean that Taylor Morrison, which is also building in Springwoods Village south of here, will be putting anyone out to pasture, writes Bayan Raji: “It’s committed to the homes fitting in.” [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Riverbend in Woodforest: Woodforest

06/11/13 3:00pm

The gate is not depicted in this rendering, but Pelican Builders and Martha Turner Properties are saying that there will be one around the 18-home ’hood they are developing just east of the Loop in the not-really-in-River-Oaks River Oaks District. Named for the lane they will sit on, these 3-bedroom Bancroft Place houses are going for $1.3 million. They’ll sit near the 16-story Highland Condo Tower and south of San Felipe, where Liberty Kitchen is replacing Vida Sexy Tex-Mex and that 5-story apartment complex is going up on E. Briar Hollow Ln. If you want to buy in, you’ll have your choice among 3 floor plans:


03/01/13 4:00pm

BIG PLANS FOR NEW SOUTHSIDE PLACE HOMES A LITTLE SMALLER Those 45 3-and-a-half-story houses that Lovett Homes said it was planning for the western end of the old Bellaire Technology Center site (shown here) met a lot of resistance, reports the Examiner‘s Robin Foster: “In a packed public hearing Jan. 29, neighbors expressed concern over traffic, visitor parking and the taller buildings.” Since then, writes Foster, Lovett Homes met with some of those “neighbors” to share scaled-back plans, which were presented at a second Southside Place hearing on February 27: The revised plans are for 39 homes no taller than 3 stories, with an interior street for more parking, wider setbacks, more common space, and “larger-than-average trees.” [The Examiner; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia

10/22/10 6:17pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW WE’RE BUILDING THE HEIGHTS “. . . I’ve been in the Heights for 17 years and I can count the ‘stucco mcmansions’ on one hand. 90% of new construction in the Heights is 3,000 to 4,000 sq. ft and at least gives a nod to some turn of the century style. A 4,000 sq.ft house is ALWAYS 2 stories and would . . . have an average footprint of about 2,400 sq.ft including porches. With a 500 sq. ft. garage that is a total of 3,000 sq.ft of coverage on a 6,600 sq. ft. lot, which, according to my calculations, is 45% of the lot. Where do I get my numbers? I’ve built about 50 of them and designed close to 200. All of my houses sell at the top of the market so I know EXACTLY what my competetors are building. The days of dividing a lot and building multiple units is over, at least for now. Prevailing Lot size and Building Line rules cover about 60% of the Heights and the market just doesn’t want them, so nobody is even thinking of doing it. The exception on 15th and Rutland has been in the planning since 2003 and is going to fail badly. . . .” [SCD, commenting on The Houston Historic District Repeal Scramble Begins]

09/24/10 4:40pm

A reader IDs this construction site at the corner of Van Buren and Bomar in Montrose as the latest project of longtime UH architecture professor and serial homebuilder John Zemanek. The 1,400-sq.-ft., single-story home is just steps away from the architect’s current home on Peden St. (pictured below), which was featured on Swamplot last year. We’re told Zemanek considers that house too big for him now, and plans to move into this one when it’s complete. Writes our tipster: “We’re eager to see how this concrete bungalow(?) turns out… and hey, we’re wondering if he’ll put the old place up for sale or not. We get first dibs if he does . . .”


08/05/10 5:17pm

Four long and hot construction days after the big made-for-teevee bus-moving ceremony, HHN Homes still needs help finishing its 4,400-sq.-ft. Extreme Makeover on Goodhope St. in South Union. What exactly is the company looking for? “Plumbers to finish trim features,” HHN’s Linda Stewart tells Swamplot. And there’s still that ongoing, restrained request for some patio furniture. When will the Johnson family get to move in? They’ve been “in and out” of the house over the past few days, Stewart says. HHN Homes hopes to have all of its work complete by Friday evening.


08/05/10 2:57pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: HOW HOUSTON’S EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME GOT KNOCKED OFF SCHEDULE “We completed the house and the family was able to go inside and see the finished home fully furnished Monday night (8/2/10) around 10pm. The first year electrical service is being provided by Champion Energy. This is the 5th home we have built with EMHE and are very proud of what they do for families in need. I have personally met with several of the families and they are very grateful for what EMHE and the volunteers do for them. I just wish more people would have shown their Big Texas Hearts and would have come out to help. One building crew did not even show up for the night shift one night and it put the build behind by 30 hours! Thank you to everyone who did come out to help us complete this new home for the Johnson family.” [Rene, commenting on No, Not Finished Yet: Extreme Conditions After the Deadline at Houston’s Extreme Makeover House]

08/02/10 3:53pm

“I’ve just been told we need Gatorade,” HHN Homes manager Linda Stewart emails Swamplot from the site of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build on Goodhope St. in South Union. “Water is not doing the trick as far as electrolytes are concerned.  If you can spread the word and people can just drop off 3-4 6 packs would be great.”

Wait a sec . . . wasn’t the weeklong building project’s grand finale this past weekend? Didn’t the Johnson family come back from Paris and wait patiently to see their new home? Didn’t thousands of well-wishers shout “Move that bus!”?

Yeah, that all happened Sunday night — only a little more than a day later than originally scheduled, despite all of last week’s rain. But don’t imagine the Johnsons are gonna get to move in too soon . . . not with these kinds of requests still going out:


07/30/10 4:54pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SAVES YOU MONEY!! “Harness/Lanyard runs about 400 dollars total. They must be replaced too. In addition there is significant overhead for training. Including time to train, and productivity losses. These Productivity losses amount to regulations that call for your tie off point be able to withstand a load of 5 kips (5000 lbs). So In the image where the dude is standing on a wood beam, laborers would have to construct a system for him to be tied off to. How do laborers know what can take 5000 lbs? well Scaffold builders do that a lot… how do scaffold builders do that? With an engineer who designs the scaffold? And all the time, and money trickles down to the homeowner. Finally, in the housing industry there is a large illegal immigrant workforce. They are working at lower wages [than] US citizens. If they get injured the cost vs productivity/exploitation of that illegal still falls in the companies[’] advantage.” [Enginerd, commenting on Comment of the Day: Extreme Homebuilding Makeover, Oil and Gas Edition]

07/29/10 2:38pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: EXTREME HOMEBUILDING MAKEOVER, OIL AND GAS EDITION “i understand that safety regulations are lax and/or nonexistent in the housing industry but those people standing on beams/heights without safety harnesses would be kicked off the job in the oil and gas biz. people underneath that manlift is questionable too. it’d be nice and safer to see other industries held to the same standards as oil and gas.” [joel, commenting on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Meets Extreme Mud: Houston Edition]