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VOL. 41 | NO. 16 | Friday, April 21, 2017

Old houses can’t compete with modern conveniences

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As the housing market flourishes in the Greater Nashville area, new construction is leading the way. And the success new construction is enjoying is the result of builders adapting to the demands of the market.

Packed with amenities that have become standard, the older homes cannot compete.

In real estate circles, the Heard Newman team has emerged as a dominant force in marketing these leading-edge spec homes designed and built with the quality and style once reserved for custom homes. As the new houses proliferate the urban and suburban landscape, many of the existing homes lack the design to be able to compete, even with renovation.

Both Jonathan Heard and Lacey Newman are affiliated with PARKS and have extensive experience in development and new construction. And it shows.

As for the layout of the homes, the kitchens are open with some Energy Star or the equivalent appliances where possible, with high-end brands normally associated luxury homes such as Wolf, Viking, and Jenn Air.

The Heard Newman team listed a house at 1127 Lipscomb Drive for $1,299,000 and sold it for $1,274,000 last week. It has as sleek exterior composed of some brick, but mainly fiber cement, a material that is the Hardie Board – named for its creator James Hardie – equivalent of stucco. The last nail can now be struck in the EIFS (Dryvit) coffin.

Of course, the Lipscomb home has the master bedroom, or owner’s suite, downstairs, and the kitchen opens into the keeping room, as you can keep things there such as youngsters.

Once it was known as a gathering room. Prior to that, as the family room but some owners have no families, so it went to gathering.

Years ago, it was the great room as that sounded grander than a den, but some were not great at all, so they went to family room. Now you know what happened there.

What’s in a name? It is the enormous room off of the kitchen. Call it what you will.

These kitchens now have quartz countertops replacing the suddenly outdated granite, soapstone, slate and the concrete that had a fleeting 15 minutes of fame in the kitchen before some genius realized that concrete is heavy and it cracks. Although many loved to spew the words uba tuba when describing granite, the material has gone the way of the Sousaphone.

As Newman or Heard are quick to explain, quartz countertops need Carrera tile back splashes. Ironically, these tiles may be fashioned from marble and, in many cases, are produced in the subway tile wall design providing a space for the Paul Simon’s words of the prophet to be displayed.

In ancient times around the turn of the century – this century – the cubby space came into vogue as an area that replaced the mudroom, so called as it was a space for muddy children to de-clay or dust themselves before entering the main residence.

The rooms were replete with shelves for storage of the toys, sports equipment and just plain stuff that young people accumulate.

Following the precedent set by the great room, living room, family room and others, the mudroom and cubby have gone to the great outdated mansion in the sky. Now and forever more, or until Heard Newman tell us otherwise, this area is the drop zone.

In fairness, this is more appropriate as most children run through dropping things as they go. And many adults as well, if the truth be told.

Years ago, all new construction had bathrooms with shower heads placed over the bathtubs – the old shower/bath combo, as it were. As humans became more spoiled, they were made aware that standing in a few inches of water that contained the filth recently washed from their bodies was unacceptable.

Most shower/tub combos did not drain well.

The separate shower stall emerged, and the shower-tub combo fell into the Jack and Jill bathrooms. It did not take long for Jack and Jill bathrooms to come tumbling down, as kids these days refuse to share something as intimate as a bathroom in a million-dollar home.

No sirree, each room must have its own bath and most of them have showers with no tubs as no one takes a bath nowadays.

And there’s another rub, as the bard may say. Many buyers think that million-dollar master bathrooms should have bathtubs. With that demand in mind, but refusing to fold on the bath-taking issue, the modern-day builder now includes a soaking tub.

So the owner may soak rather than bathe. Described by the Newman Heard team as “a pedestal soaking tub,” this solves the problem and might even entice more use.

Many relocating to the area are concerned that they are landlocked for, as you may have noticed, Middle Tennessee lacks an ocean. With thousands moving in from coastal regions and the area’s lakes failing to reach into the urban core, builders had to overcome the landlocked obstacle, and building an ocean is not an option.

So, other than witches, what floats on an ocean? That’s right. Ships. These homes have shiplap siding galore, bringing the brine into the homes.

In the case of the Lipscomb listing, Heard and Newman mention the material twice, once in the entry foyer on the ceiling and again over the vent hood in the kitchen.

Ravi Sachan, the real estate agent representing the buyer, is omnipresent in restoration, renovation and new construction.

With homes such as these, it is no wonder the kids never leave home. Bring back the Jack and Jill baths, remove the shiplap, and they will set sail.

Richard Courtney is a real estate broker with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at Richard@richardcourtney.com.