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.

50 comments:

  1. 1

    The New Custom Home

    Would probably be a more reliable investment.

  2. 2
    Dave0 says:

    I’ve been unable to submit a vote in each of the last few polls. Any idea why? Could it be because I’m using Firefox? When I click the “vote” box nothing happens.

  3. 3
    The Tim says:

    RE: Dave0 @ 2 – Hmm, I’ve seen a few reports of this. I thought maybe it was an issue with the poll appearing both on the sidebar and in the post simultaneously, so I eliminated that this week, but it sounds like it’s still a problem.

    I’ll do some troubleshooting and try to figure it out. It’s definitely not just you, as the volume of votes in polls the last few weeks has dropped dramatically.

    Thanks for the info about the browser.

  4. 4
    pfft says:

    I’d build a custom home made to look…historic!

    Even if you don’t pick up a hammer building or restoring a home is a lot of work and headache.

  5. 5
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: The Tim @ 3 – I have the same problem with Firefox 34 on 64-bit FC20 Linux.

  6. 6
    Dave0 says:

    RE: The Tim @ 3 – I tried it in internet explorer and had the same problem, so it’s not because I’m using Firefox.

  7. 7
    Azucar says:

    I can’t vote using chrome on an iMac.

  8. 8

    Still a problem. Can’t vote. Neither from my Android phone nor desktop running Chrome.
    If money were no object, I’d absolutely restore a historic home. They don’t make ’em like they used to. Did the restore historic home thing 28 years ago in Leschi, an 1899 Victorian. but my tastes have changed. Much more enamored of Mid Century Moderns now.

  9. 9

    RE: The Tim @ 3

    Me Too Tim

    I figured out your website…..post a comment first, then it will let you vote…

  10. 10

    I would vote historic if I could vote, although “old” would perhaps be a better term.

    There’s something satisfying about restoring something into something better than it was originally. For example, our prior house we did a “to the studs” remodel, which not only added a second full bath, but which also replaced all the electrical and supply plumbing, as well as additions to insulation. And to some extent that house ended up better than new in that it was built on 16 inch centers and had superior siding. The foundation perhaps was not as good as new, in that it wasn’t earthquake proofed, but in just about every other way it was better than new construction.

  11. 11
    FWIW says:

    The poll won’t let me vote or see results.
    But, I do get access to this comment area.
    Safari browser.

  12. 12
    Erik says:

    Historic homes are money pits. Stay away!!!!

  13. 13
    David B. says:

    RE: Dave0 @ 2 – same here.

  14. 14
    Erik says:

    I just voted in my iPhone sukka!

  15. 15
    ChrisM says:

    Do historic houses have safe rooms?

  16. 16
    Deerhawke says:

    When you talk about restoring a historic home, money is Never an object. It costs you $50 to $100 per square foot more to remodel than to build new. People are so disappointed to learn that it is a lot cheaper to tear the old house down to the foundation and start over than to remodel. Remodeling is hard because you are building a new structure inside an old one and finding a creative way to marry the two. They were lovely buildings, but even the best constructed early 20th century homes were very poor 2×4 structures with no thought given to energy efficiency or seismic stability. When I hear people say “they don’t build them like they used to”, my response is “Thank God for that.” I agree that the best of both worlds is to build a brand new home that looks like an old one.

  17. 17
    Jonness says:

    By Deerhawke @ 16:

    When I hear people say “they don’t build them like they used to”, my response is “Thank God for that.”

    LOL!

    Old has mold. Build a new healthy house and breathe in peace!

  18. 18
    boater says:

    By Deerhawke @ 16:

    When you talk about restoring a historic home, money is Never an object. It costs you $50 to $100 per square foot more to remodel than to build new. People are so disappointed to learn that it is a lot cheaper to tear the old house down to the foundation and start over than to remodel. Remodeling is hard because you are building a new structure inside an old one and finding a creative way to marry the two. They were lovely buildings, but even the best constructed early 20th century homes were very poor 2×4 structures with no thought given to energy efficiency or seismic stability. When I hear people say “they don’t build them like they used to”, my response is “Thank God for that.” I agree that the best of both worlds is to build a brand new home that looks like an old one.

    That very much depends on the home. I restored a 1928 tudor and the framing was excellent. Hell in parks of it they ran 2×4’s on end for 20′. Seismic retrofitting wasn’t that hard. It’s so true though that it’s more expensive so remodel than rebuild.

  19. 19

    By Erik @ 12:

    Historic homes are money pits. Stay away!!!!

    But the poll was asking “if money was no object.” So that is irrelevant.

    Also, new homes can be money pits when they are not built correctly. The difference is you might have some sort of express or implied warranty claim, assuming the builder is still solvent.

  20. 20

    By ChrisM @ 15:

    Do historic houses have safe rooms?

    Some of the really upper end ones have semi-hidden separate passage ways for staff, so that might provide an escape route! ;-)

  21. 21
    Erik says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 19
    When I hear historic homes or everett, my blood boils as that combination stole 6 years of my life. I still get angry when agents push the nostalgia of old technology. Old homes weren’t built right, that’s why the building codes changed. If someone catches some romantic feeling from an old homes, they need to see a psychiatrist as it’s much cheaper than owning an old home built to old standards.

    Then when the house breaks and they have to fork over cash, they get a warm feeling in their heart and chalk it up to one of the things about owning an old home so they don’t have to admit they made a bad bad choice by owning an old home.

  22. 22
    AJ says:

    I can’t vote on my iPad either.

  23. 23

    RE: Erik @ 21 – But if money is no object, as the poll indicates, you can fix all that. For you six years ago (and me my entire life), money was has been an object. Even so, on that house I mentioned we were able to do a lot to bring the house up to current code for not all that much money.

  24. 24
    Erik says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 23
    Money is certainly still a big deal for me. I did well on that last remodel, other than that, not so well.

    I like small and new because that is most cost effective. I personally think condos are cost effective because there are usually held to some electrical and plumbing standards. I’m sure there are many counter examples, but that has been my experience so far.
    This remodel I am doing now will most likely not be nearly as successful as the last one for various reasons. The point is that money is the way I make decisions. Maybe saying “if money were no issue” is not something I can understand.

  25. 25
    boater says:

    By Erik @ 21:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 19
    When I hear historic homes or everett, my blood boils as that combination stole 6 years of my life. I still get angry when agents push the nostalgia of old technology. Old homes weren’t built right, that’s why the building codes changed. If someone catches some romantic feeling from an old homes, they need to see a psychiatrist as it’s much cheaper than owning an old home built to old standards.

    Then when the house breaks and they have to fork over cash, they get a warm feeling in their heart and chalk it up to one of the things about owning an old home so they don’t have to admit they made a bad bad choice by owning an old home.

    I find it a bit amusing how some folks say old homes were not built right and yet here they still stand. The assumption is when we go 100 years into the future the current homes will stand up better than the homes that are old now but it’s just an assumption. My 1929 house had knob and tube wiring. I replaced it but it’s somewhat interesting to note that I also replaced all the bulbs with either compact florescent or LED bulbs dropping the draw down. All the appliances were likewise new and more efficient. I removed the wiring because insurance was an issue but not because I was worried it would suddenly fail and burn the house down or I would overload the wires. The plumbing was a clearer case. The old galvanized pipe had to go as it was failing. I like PEX piping but we’ll see how that holds up over the next 100 years. Who knows.

    Someone here with more knowledge of building code can and should correct me but as I recall the building code for this region calls for a building to survive a rictor 7 earthquake even though we are expecting an 8. And survive doesn’t mean take it with no damage just not collapse and kill people. You’d still probably condemn the place.

  26. 26
    Erik says:

    RE: boater @ 25
    What city is your house located in? 1929 is not a good year. Has your sewer line collapsed yet running from your place to the sewer main? That one will cost you since it is probably due up soon. Probably $20k if you farm the work out. Good luck.

  27. 27
    boater says:

    By Erik @ 26:

    RE: boater @ 25
    What city is your house located in? 1929 is not a good year. Has your sewer line collapsed yet running from your place to the sewer main? That one will cost you since it is probably due up soon. Probably $20k if you farm the work out. Good luck.

    Seattle. Sewers are all new from the house to the main. My point is that the sewer was put in in 1929. I replaced it in 2005. I’m ok with something only having a 76 year service life. And I replaced it because someone was a genius and planted a tree over it. The only area in need of repair was the area under the tree.

  28. 28
    pfft says:

    By Deerhawke @ 16:

    When you talk about restoring a historic home, money is Never an object. It costs you $50 to $100 per square foot more to remodel than to build new. People are so disappointed to learn that it is a lot cheaper to tear the old house down to the foundation and start over than to remodel. Remodeling is hard because you are building a new structure inside an old one and finding a creative way to marry the two. They were lovely buildings, but even the best constructed early 20th century homes were very poor 2×4 structures with no thought given to energy efficiency or seismic stability. When I hear people say “they don’t build them like they used to”, my response is “Thank God for that.” I agree that the best of both worlds is to build a brand new home that looks like an old one.

    a lot of old homes are a lot better built. they don’t make them like they used too. old growth stuff. a lot of new homes are built cheaper.

  29. 29
    David B. says:

    The old house, of course. I’ve lived in old places (both own and rent) and loved it. I didn’t expect things like 2 separate 20 amp circuits for the kitchen outlets. It’s an old place — it’s not going to be up to current code. If you can’t accept that, don’t buy an old house (or do have very deep pockets).

    My current home is not old. Not because I prefer newer, but because the old house options on Bainbridge island are limited. It was hard enough to satisfy my wish list as it was.

  30. 30
    David B. says:

    RE: boater @ 25 – k & t wiring per se is actually completely safe. It’s actually safer than modern NM cable when it comes to things like the insulation failing (k & t has the ceramic knobs and tubes to fall back on) and driven nails shorting conductors (because the two poles are very widely separated, often in different walls).

    The problem is, by this time, most of it has has one or more unsafe hatchet-job modifications made to it. And then there’s the lack of capacity compared to more modern homes plus the Edison fuses which are easy for fools to put pennies in the sockets of to bypass.

    In other words, while not intrinsically unsafe, it tends to have unsafe things done to it.

  31. 31
    Mike says:

    If money were no object but time was still scarce I’d do a new build. Currently I’m 2.5 years into restoring a one owner Mid-Century Modern, and while I still really like the house, I’m starting to tire of the constant major back breaking projects. Last year I re-graded and replaced all of the drainage on the north side of the house, this year it’s time to tackle the south side drainage and add a rain garden. On a new build this could all be done with machinery. For an existing home, it’s all done by hand.

  32. 32
    Erik says:

    RE: boater @ 27
    The reason the tree destroyed your sewer line was probably because it wasn’t made of modern materials. I’m sorry that you had to spend all that money fixing your of home. The expenses are not over. Maybe money is no object to you? Old houses are great if you enjoy spending a lot of extra money and time fixing the problems you purchased. Old houses aren’t a good deal unless you get them at deeply discounted prices.

    New homes are good if you are someone that likes a good deal and a happy life. Old houses may look pretty and capture your heart, but they will only screw you in the end.

  33. 33
    David B. says:

    RE: Mike @ 31 – If money is no object, the answer to your objection is simple: hire a contractor instead of doing it yourself.

  34. 34

    RE: Erik @ 32 – I’ve seen tree roots get into modern plastic sewer pipes, although perhaps that was installation error.

  35. 35
    Erik says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 34
    Good to know. I didn’t know that roots could mess up a new sewer as it messes up an old sewer. It is probably much less likely though since PVC or ABS seem like they would deflect much more than clay, cement or rusted iron pipe.

  36. 36
    Erik says:

    RE: Mike @ 31
    Exactly how I feel. Old houses suck. I will live out of a cardboard box before I buy another old “charming” house.

  37. 37
    Azucar says:

    By Erik @ 36:

    RE: Mike @ 31
    Exactly how I feel. Old houses suck. I will live out of a cardboard box before I buy another old “charming” house.

    I believe that, but it may not be due to your choice.

  38. 38

    RE: Erik @ 36

    Yeah Erik

    Your Flipper experience shines and you don’t dodge the laughable Seattle Old Houses are worth the $700K tin hat politics….you go at it with both horns.

    Even my past experience with a 1953 Bellevue shack was a money pit too, even in the early 1990s; partially because Bellevue homes, water pipes and other infrastructure were built for lower class at the time and everything was obviously thrown in “on the cheap”. The sewer lines hadn’t collapsed “yet”, but old oil furnace tanks are buried in the front yards like rotted dinosaurs and the Bellevue water pipes looked like multitudes of Yellowstone Park’s underground streams bursting constantly.

    I completely remodeled my rambler/basement built on a slanted lot in Lake Hills; the kitchen had to be completely gutted and the upstairs bathroom looked like the rotted floor was going to fall in soon when the toilet was removed [we let the beams dry and used rot chemicals to calm our nerves, then slapped the old rebuilt toilet in anyway]….I’d eye the past earthquake cracks in the cement foundation with dismay [my neighbor’s house had ‘;em all over too] and the 1/2″ brick chimney cracks made me cringe [fire danger]. I suppose a bit of plastic goo and paint would have completely hidden the visible defects, but not solved them at all [the home inspection didn’t mention any of this BTW]. The next owner would be re-assured by the realtor, the problems were just “cosmetic”….LOL

  39. 39
    boater says:

    By Erik @ 32:

    RE: boater @ 27
    The reason the tree destroyed your sewer line was probably because it wasn’t made of modern materials. I’m sorry that you had to spend all that money fixing your of home. The expenses are not over. Maybe money is no object to you? Old houses are great if you enjoy spending a lot of extra money and time fixing the problems you purchased. Old houses aren’t a good deal unless you get them at deeply discounted prices.

    New homes are good if you are someone that likes a good deal and a happy life. Old houses may look pretty and capture your heart, but they will only screw you in the end.

    I’m not sure why you’re sorry for me as I haven’t expressed any regret over my choice. At this point the expenses are over and as Deerhawk said it probably cost more than it would have to tear down and rebuild. I didn’t care and still don’t. I spent the money the way I wanted to get what I wanted. It made a great home while I lived in it and now it makes a reliable rental for me. There are more effective ways I could have spent the money if my main goal were ROI. It wasn’t and still isn’t.

    By Kary L. Krismer @ 34:

    RE: Erik @ 32 – I’ve seen tree roots get into modern plastic sewer pipes, although perhaps that was installation error.

    This goes to my comment about the assumption that a new house is inherently better. It depends on the old house you’re purchasing and the new house. No generation has a monopoly on the lousy builders. Oh and Erik you severely underestimate the power of trees. A tree over a steel pipe will eventually destroy the pipe. I had that happen on a newer home. All it takes is time. I’d say 80% of the costs I’ve run into repairing homes are due to peoples love affairs with having trees all over their property.

    By David B. @ 30:

    RE: boater @ 25 – k & t wiring per se is actually completely safe. It’s actually safer than modern NM cable when it comes to things like the insulation failing (k & t has the ceramic knobs and tubes to fall back on) and driven nails shorting conductors (because the two poles are very widely separated, often in different walls).

    The problem is, by this time, most of it has has one or more unsafe hatchet-job modifications made to it. And then there’s the lack of capacity compared to more modern homes plus the Edison fuses which are easy for fools to put pennies in the sockets of to bypass.

    In other words, while not intrinsically unsafe, it tends to have unsafe things done to it.

    This statement could be shorted to the longer the home is separated from the initial build the more likely some owner has done something stupid to it. This is likely to hold true for all time so someone in 2050 will look at a 2014 home and go “WTF is this?!?”
    In my case it was all old knob and tube but they did swap out the Edison fuses for a circuit breaker panel which didn’t seem to bad to me. Like I said I wasn’t scared of the knob and tube I just couldn’t get it insured by my preferred insurer.

  40. 40

    If money was no object, wouldn’t another good choice be to buy a historic home that has already been very nicely restored and updated? If money were no object, I’d like an older home, but I’m really tired of working on old houses, so how about an old house that’s been tastefully renovated and modernized, but still retains it’s charm?
    And, if money is no object, you wouldn’t be buying this house to make money or to make a good investment. You’d be buying it because you have too much cash lying around. You can only buy so many stocks or diamonds or art before you get bored. You’re buying it because you feel like owning it. Money is no object, so take it out of the equation. Nobody is asking ” Do you want to live in a drafty old dump , or would you prefer to live in a brand new, energy efficient home?”
    The choice is based on what would make you happier, because money is no object. I’ve never had the luxury of being able to buy a house with money not being an object. But I wouldn’t mind the opportunity. Based on what I do for a living, I’m inside a lot of houses. New houses tend to not do it for me. They don’t have the personality or charm of old houses. But I recognize that my opinion doesn’t matter, and if I have a client who is creaming over the vaulted ceilings and granite countertops in a brand new home….who am I to judge?

  41. 41

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 40:

    If money was no object, wouldn’t another good choice be to buy a historic home that has already been very nicely restored and updated?

    And if money were no object, you’d then quickly strip out all the flooring, cabinetry and other woodwork to make it exactly as you want it. ;-)

  42. 42
    Mike says:

    By David B. @ 33:

    RE: Mike @ 31 – If money is no object, the answer to your objection is simple: hire a contractor instead of doing it yourself.

    Ha, I guess so. My fantasy only lasted one sentence!

    I wouldn’t say the old house I bought is a bad deal overall, we paid about 25% over land value for a place with good bones and good style. Someone else just paid $550K for a smaller house of the same vintage and condition 1/2 a block away, but lacking the style. At that price it would have been a no-go for me. Both are good solid homes to improve, but today’s prices are just a tad high for a fixer-upper.

  43. 43
    Erik says:

    RE: boater @ 39
    If you got it for cheap enough, it could still be a good deal. I doubt the pain is over though. I suspect a new issue will surface. When I owned my 1906 North Everett mistake, I didn’t have big enough stacks of cash laying around to fix things. Either I made repairs myself or I had to sh!t in a bucket. I am only speaking from my experience and watching my neighbors go through hardships from not having the cash to make repairs as they arose. It’s tough out there, but it sounds like you have the cash to buy your way out of hardship, so cheers to you.

    I replaced all my knob and tube in erot. Here is the problem with it dummy… There were not enough outlets and lights at the time so more had to be added. When you use romex with knob and tube, it causes a dangerous situation. Therefore, knob and tube must be replaced for a large fee of course.

  44. 44
    wreckingbull says:

    One thing that seems to be completely missed in this thread – old homes are usually located on much more desirable land.

  45. 45

    By wreckingbull @ 44:

    One thing that seems to be completely missed in this thread – old homes are usually located on much more desirable land.

    I would agree, but if money were no object, you could tear it down and build new.

    Seemingly a lot of people are having trouble with the concept of money not being an obstacle. ;-)

  46. 46
    wreckingbull says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 45 – Not if the structure is protected by a historical designation. Some cities do take this seriously.

  47. 47
    Erik says:

    RE: wreckingbull @
    Message here is dont buy a “historic” home in north everett. That place is a wasteland with dumpy old homes that need repair. It is a land filled with child molestors and drug users. Stay out friends!!!!

    Buy a beat down home in a nice area!! Please!!!!

  48. 48
    Azucar says:

    RE: Erik @

    If The Tim is no longer going to limit the number of comments that any one poster can try to clog up a particular topic with, I wish he would bring back the down thumb button (one that works!).

  49. 49
    Erik says:

    RE: Azucar @
    Thank you for sharing.

  50. 50
    boater says:

    By David B. @ :

    RE: Mike @ 31 – If money is no object, the answer to your objection is simple: hire a contractor instead of doing it yourself.

    Hiring a contractor means you dont do the work but you do still have to manage them to make sure they do what you want. It just changes where the pain in your ass is not that you have one. And I don’t mean that as a slight to contractors. They need the customers input and customers don’t always do a good job of transferring the information about what they want. And then there are also just crummy contractors but thats true of all occupations.

    By Kary L. Krismer @ :

    By Ira Sacharoff @ 40:

    If money was no object, wouldn’t another good choice be to buy a historic home that has already been very nicely restored and updated?

    And if money were no object, you’d then quickly strip out all the flooring, cabinetry and other woodwork to make it exactly as you want it. ;-)

    Eh money may be no object but time always is. One thing I see a lot of my friends doing new build go through is endless picking of items and changes. Having some decisions made for you can be a benefit if you are ok with the result. I think that’s some of the appeal of the older homes. People want a certain look and don’t want to make all the little decisions that add up to that look. Finish decisions are also a way a new custom build can get close to the cost a non spec remodel. Here on the island many folks run into geotech issues that bump up the cost of a tear down and replace. Add to that the many small decisions that need to be made and you get a long painful process.

    By Azucar @ :

    RE: Erik @

    If The Tim is no longer going to limit the number of comments that any one poster can try to clog up a particular topic with, I wish he would bring back the down thumb button (one that works!).

    Agreed.

    By wreckingbull @ :

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 45 – Not if the structure is protected by a historical designation. Some cities do take this seriously.

    Most aren’t in Seattle. Old doesn’t immediately place it in historic protection.

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