About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.

25 comments:

  1. 1
    Blurtman says:

    A roof.

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  2. 2
    Erik says:

    RE: Blurtman @ 1
    Ha, that’s what I was thinking. I would buy any house for the right price as long as it was in an area I like. I see the structure and money as interchangeable. If you don’t like something about the house, just change it.

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  3. 3
    redmondjp says:

    Definitely a garage, and make mine a minimum 2-car with a 16 foot wide door.

    Last Saturday I bought a vehicle lift which will be inside my garage soon. It’s like that ultimate kitchen gadget that you can’t live without after you’ve used one. No more brake jobs out in the driveway!

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  4. 4
    masaba says:

    The only thing I am really picky about is location. I would love a nice two-cat garage, but I’m not willing to move out to suburbia to get it.

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  5. 5

    By masaba @ 4:

    The only thing I am really picky about is location. I would love a nice two-cat garage, but I’m not willing to move out to suburbia to get it.

    Meow.

    By redmondjp @ 3:

    Definitely a garage, and make mine a minimum 2-car with a 16 foot wide door.

    Last Saturday I bought a vehicle lift which will be inside my garage soon. It’s like that ultimate kitchen gadget that you can’t live without after you’ve used one. No more brake jobs out in the driveway!

    I always thought it would be better to build a pit. Or at least cheaper, particularly if your garage doesn’t have much head room. You’d need to have some sort of cover for safety when not using it.

    By Erik @ 2:

    RE: Blurtman @ 1
    Ha, that’s what I was thinking. I would buy any house for the right price as long as it was in an area I like. I see the structure and money as interchangeable. If you don’t like something about the house, just change it.

    I’d first point out that most of these things cannot be changed. The exception would be a larger kitchen or perhaps adding a garage, probably detached. But beyond that, your type of thinking is what creates really lousy houses. Probably 90% of owner modifications to a home suck if they’re changing the layout of a house. Simply put, the owner’s opinion of what will make their house better isn’t anyone else’s opinion. You can’t simply add on space to most floor plans and have the floor plan still work. There are exceptions, but they are far and few in between.

    Just last week I was previewing a $500,000+ home that featured a converted garage (garage made into a rec-room). I’m sure whoever converted it thought it was great, but it still felt like a garage, but one without a door to shut it off from the rest of the house. The rest of the house was nice, so it was quite the contrast.

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  6. 6
    Erik says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 5
    In the future I would hire a good interior designer. A good interior designer could figure it out for a few hundred bucks. If you have never hired one, you wouldn’t understand. Moving forward, I would never remodel anything again without an interior designer. It sounds like the people in that house were inexperienced, so their work sucked. They should have planned it better.

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  7. 7

    By Erik @ 6:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 5
    In the future I would hire a good interior designer. A good interior designer could figure it out for a few hundred bucks. If you have never hired one, you wouldn’t understand..

    I know enough about it to know they’re called architects, not interior designers. And yes, when we remodeled our last house, changing the floor plan to remove a fireplace and add a master bath, we hired an architect. It did cost more than a few hundred bucks, but it was definitely worth it, both for the floor design and the structural issues.

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  8. 8
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 5 – Indeed. This is my biggest frustration with buying used homes.

    I’d also point out that the pendulum has swung too far on ‘open floor plans’. I like a kitchen that can be closed off from the rest of the house, not only for energy savings, but also for when my Border Collie goes mud-bogging, which is pretty much every day.

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  9. 9
    Erik says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 7
    I do not need specific details to add a window on knock down an interior wall. I understand how to double the joists around the window or above the interior wall. I was not talking about adding a large addition. I was talking about using the available square footage to add a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc. If you want it done nicely and for a few hundred bucks, hire rebecca west from rivalee design. She will give you a consultation. Pay attention to every word she says and then you won’t have to hire her to detail all the plans. If you tell her what you want, she can lay it out for you and make it look great, but she won’t take structural loads into consideration. No need to pay an architect. Here is her website.
    http://www.rivalee.com/

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  10. 10

    RE: wreckingbull @ 8 – What I’ve seen in a few high end homes is a dedicated cooking area off the kitchen. That might not deal with your dog issue though.

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  11. 11
    Matt the Engineer says:

    Strange that Garage is winning. 2/3rds of garage aren’t used for cars. Then again, maybe everyone here appreciates storage/gym/woodworking space.

    I voted “basement” because I’d like to convert it to add space, but none of these things would keep me from buying a house if they were missing. I’d even consider a condo if there was a park nearby and it had enough space.

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  12. 12

    By Matt the Engineer @ 11:

    Strange that Garage is winning. 2/3rds of garage aren’t used for cars.

    I’ve never understood that since there are so many advantages to having a car stored inside.

    We’re the opposite. We just bought a bunch of shelving and took three loads to the dump so that we could convert our golf cart garage into tandem parking for a third vehicle. It’s a pretty tight fit, but fortunately I still have enough Teamster blood running through my veins that I can back up a truck.

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  13. 13
    CD says:

    “A dedicated cooking area off the kitchen” is pretty funny.

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  14. 14
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: CD @ 13 – OK, I know it is painful, but I suppose obligatory:

    http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/500x/47066844.jpg

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  15. 15
    Matt the Engineer says:

    @12 Meh. I spent way too much money building a massive 2+ car garage*, and use it for storage and as a wood shop. I park both of our vehicles on the street, where they’re easier to access.

    What are these advantages to having a house for your car? I assume one of them is keeping your car beautiful, which is more useful for a real estate agent than those of us that care more about the function of our vehicles than their form. I bet if I bought something new I’d make space in my garage for it. At least for a few years.

    Street parking is generally more convenient, provides a metal barrier for pedestrians on the sidewalk, slows road traffic, provides some sound dampening from traffic, and reduces curb cuts. Plus indoor space is expensive. I think I worked out once that the land alone for each parking space is something like $20k in Seattle.

    * I needed to build an 8′ retaining wall for my yard anyway, and it made a nice wall for a garage, and this allowed me to use the roof as a deck and garden.

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  16. 16

    RE: Matt the Engineer @ 15 – Ironic Matt the Engineer seemingly doesn’t know about electric garage door openers. ;-)

    It’s actually harder to access a car outside than with an attached garage. You have to deal with a locking outside door, if it’s raining the wetness, and if it’s cold the frost/snow. And in the last example, it’s going to be several minutes before you can safely drive your car as you wait for the engine to warm up to clear the windshield.

    Also, being outside is hard on a car, particularly the summer months. My 89 Ranger has only been outside about 7 years, and I regret that time.

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  17. 17
    AxlRose says:

    By Matt the Engineer @ 15:

    Street parking is generally more convenient, provides a metal barrier for pedestrians on the sidewalk, slows road traffic, provides some sound dampening from traffic, and reduces curb cuts. Plus indoor space is expensive. I think I worked out once that the land alone for each parking space is something like $20k in Seattle.

    The first few reasons are just rationalizations of a city person. How is it possibly more convenient? Metal barrier for pedestrians? Come on. The last one is the real reason. An attached garage, and a car in it, is unarguably a better arrangement, when possible. Obviously in the city it doesn’t often make sense. How many houses in the burbs don’t have garages?

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  18. 18
    ARDELL says:

    RE: CD @ 13

    I believe what Kary was referring to, since he mentioned the ones in high end homes, is the dedicated cooking area for “the cook” who is not a member of the family. Something like “a butler’s pantry” which you also see in high end homes. The people standing in the butler’s pantry at the ready to refill the water and wine glasses for the people sitting at the table in the dining room are staff, as are the people standing in the dedicated cooking space.

    I am also familiar with dedicated cooking spaces in low end homes, which is usually a basement kitchen, for people who do a lot of messy cooking and don’t want to mess up their pretty kitchen. My Italian grandmother had a designated cooking space in her basement as did my old boyfriend’s Greek mother. Europeans often like a dedicated receiving entry before you get into their house vs being in the living room the minute you open the front door and they also often like dedicated “heavy cooking” space outside of “the kitchen”.

    Both of these are more common outside of the Seattle Area in other States and the builder plans sometimes find their way here inadvertently.

    The funniest I have seen in this area is the Butler’s Pantry that is not near the dining room. They apparently don’t know what that is used for. :) Also the seller who wanted me to say he had a pantry in the kitchen section data field because he had a few canned goods on a shelf in the front hall coat closet under the coats on the shoe rack. My answer was “If I bring those cans up into your master bedroom closet, should we call that ‘a pantry’ too?”

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  19. 19

    If the lot is large enough, you can always build a garage, or create a large kitchen, or add a fireplace. You can’t create a view ( I’d be able to see Mt. Rainier if I cut my neighbor’s tree down), and you can’t create a large yard. I suppose you could raise your house to create a basement, and I use my basement and like it, but who really thinks of them as essential, other than some homicidal maniacs or people who are part mole?

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  20. 20
    Erik says:

    I didn’t have a view when I first bought that condo that I remodeled in Juanita. The trees that I was unable to get to were in the neighbors yard. This particular neighbor had already called to cops on me for running some remodel tools too late on saturday night(7pm). The relationship was strained, but I still wanted those tree tops trimmed, so I could see lake washington and seattle from my front room. I had talked with friends about ways we could create a view without being detected. This caused stress and a lot of thought.

    One day I was tired of staring at those trees blocking my view. I grabbed a hack saw, trespassed into the neighbor’s yard, climbed their trees and started hacking limbs off. I heard some yell “hey!” My entire body clinched up and I was looking for an escape route because I knew they would call the cops as they have done in the past. I said… “Yes?” While hanging from the tops of these trees. The neighbor said “Are you chopping those tree tops off to get a better view for yourself?” I said “Yes.” At that point I was frozen and really didn’t know what to do, but I was ready to run if I saw the cops were coming. The neighbor said “Good, I hate those trees. Thanks for getting them for us.” I was extremely surprised and I really couldn’t believe my ears. I spent the next 5 days maticulously carving out a view and topping each tree with precision.

    What is the point of this story? The point is that you never know how someone else feels about the trees in their yard. If I would have asked in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to get riled up about the neighbor blocking my view. If you want your view, you should come up with a good pitch to your neighbor. If that doesn’t work, we can discuss alternate plans.

    Here is the view again.
    http://www.redfin.com/WA/Kirkland/12003-100th-Ave-NE-98034/unit-203/home/15329

    Maybe clearing out views is my remodel skill? Next place I buy will have view potential. I will figure out a way to negotiate with the neighbor on carving a view out. If that doesn’t work, I will take matters into my own hands.

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  21. 21
    mike says:

    RE: Erik @ 20 – You want some stealth work? I have a somewhat obstructed view I’d like to open up.

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  22. 22
    Erik says:

    RE: mike @ 21
    Yeah, I would do it for you if it was easy enough to get at. These trees were about 14′ tall and easy to climb. I don’t have a job and any side work I can get my grubby hands on at this point only helps. I probably wouldn’t even need to be stealth. I would just park about out of sight, trim the tops, and take off running. If it is a larger job, more planning would be necessary. If worse came to worse, I’d just say some guy named wreckingbull set me up to this.

    If this is a stealth job, you need a solid plan. Opening a view would increase your value by a lot. If this pesky green view blocker is in an apartment complex, then it is no problem cause nobody cares. A fenced yard is a little more complex. I may need camo.

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  23. 23
    Marc says:

    RE: mike @ 21 – Holy Trespass to Timber Batman. Treble damages and attorneys fees, ouch!

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=64.12.030

    RE: Erik @ 22

    Eric, who let you out unsupervised?

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  24. 24
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Erik @ 22 – I wouldn’t be dumb enough to hire someone who cuts tree limbs with a hacksaw.

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  25. 25
    herrbrahms says:

    Erik, you were caught red-handed topping the trees on someone else’s property? You should consider yourself lucky that you didn’t end up with a pistol pointed at you.

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