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Dan Friedrichs
04-05-2010, 11:43 PM
So...this is supposed to be "affordable, low-income" housing? :eek:

Stainless steel appliances, new high-end front load washer/dryers, single piece of solid marble on the countertops, custom-made plaster decorative medallions on the light fixtures, marble fireplace, solid interior doors, crown moulding, etc, etc..

Given the house in its initial condition, what interior finishing could have been MORE high-end? :eek:

I should find a "low-income" house....

Mitchell Andrus
04-06-2010, 1:07 AM
I'm thinking that for the money spent on that place, 3 or 4 in Boston or 5 or 6 homes in New Orleans could have been built.

When are we going to get real about how we spend our tax money?

I'm hoping we're seeing plenty of donations on this one. I'd like to see the final accounting on this one. It's a public project and it should be available. Anyone in the Boston area... care to give a try?
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Dan Mages
04-06-2010, 4:18 AM
I was thinking the same thing. What a waste of money. I am sure the appliances are donated (all GE, a sponsor of the show). But many of those high end features have no business being in a low income home, not only for their initial cost, but long term maintenance as well.

Dan

Brian Elfert
04-06-2010, 8:46 AM
Would anyone watch This Old House if they installed laminate countertops, rental grade appliances, cheap vinyl windows, and luan hollow core doors, and painted pine trim?

Phil Thien
04-06-2010, 10:22 AM
Would anyone watch This Old House if they installed laminate countertops, rental grade appliances, cheap vinyl windows, and luan hollow core doors, and painted pine trim?

I would. I always watch. And they could demonstrate ways to do more with less.

I imagine those appliances and counter tops and a lot of the other stuff was donated. TOH can get anything they want with a phone call.

Matt Meiser
04-06-2010, 10:27 AM
Those company T-Shirts visible on screen during the install or the company name in the credits are probably worth many times what the donation costs. Plus its probably tax deductible since the show is produced by public TV.

My company happens to have the same name as a regular TOH supplier. We don't do anything at all related but we get regular phone calls. I'm sure we get a lot of web traffic as a result too because our result ranks 1 and theirs 2.

Randal Stevenson
04-06-2010, 10:28 AM
Would anyone watch This Old House if they installed laminate countertops, rental grade appliances, cheap vinyl windows, and luan hollow core doors, and painted pine trim?

I would. Over the years they have shown both techniques and new, retrofit products that are more aimed for the DIY'er, then what I refer to as the wantabe's. (those who are either incapable, or want it now and pay for it later, whether credit card, or worse, hire something done, then expect the person they hired (and agreed to pay), to accept payments (fraud)).

This certainly is a different show from when I started watching it.

Dan Friedrichs
04-06-2010, 11:15 AM
Would anyone watch This Old House if they installed laminate countertops, rental grade appliances, cheap vinyl windows, and luan hollow core doors, and painted pine trim?


I understand the use of better-quality materials if they last longer and are a better long-term investment, but the need for a solid piece of imported marble for the countertops?

I probably wouldn't care to see them install pre-fab laminate countertops, but there was an Ask TOH episode where Tommy fabricated a laminate countertop on-site - that was very interesting. From a large sheet of laminate, he made a countertop with no seams. That's impressive, and more reasonable.


I understand the donations/advertising/tax write-offs/etc, but it frustrates me to see this billed as "affordable" housing. A yacht would be affordable if someone GAVE it to me. This gives people (perhaps young people looking into their first home purchase) a horribly distorted idea of what a typical/reasonable/livable first home purchase ought to be like. This seems to be a systemic problem in our society - ever watch some TV show and think, "Wow - these people have an entirely reasonable, normal lifestyle given their income?"

Did anyone else catch the episode where they went back to an older "affordable" house they did in DC? Kevin said, "We always thought of this space as a dining room, but you're using it as....oh, humm...." Was it just me, or was the disappointment in his voice palpable?

Curt Harms
04-06-2010, 11:18 AM
I would. I always watch. And they could demonstrate ways to do more with less.

I imagine those appliances and counter tops and a lot of the other stuff was donated. TOH can get anything they want with a phone call.
I heard Norm speak at the old Ft. Washington PA. show. For private jobs, the materials are donated but the owners also get a 1099 miscellaneous income form. They owe taxes as if the "donations" were income. I don't know how the value is/was determined.

Matt Meiser
04-06-2010, 11:50 AM
That makes sense. The families Extreme Makeover Home Edition chooses have to claim everything they are given as winnings from what I understand. Then they have to go out and get a mortgage on the house to pay the taxes. Last I heard a few families went to foreclosure.

Neal Clayton
04-06-2010, 12:13 PM
the plaster medallions actually don't cost that much.

can't find much fault with the rest though, heh.

Eric DeSilva
04-06-2010, 12:48 PM
...the wantabe's. (those who are either incapable, or want it now and pay for it later, whether credit card, or worse, hire something done, then expect the person they hired (and agreed to pay), to accept payments (fraud))...

OK, I'll bite because I'm confused. First, you seem to disparage credit. But, whether a car loan or a mortgage or commercial credit or a credit card, credit facilitates people purchasing things. How many people in the US could afford to buy homes--or even cars--in the absence of credit? How many businesses would operate without credit? Certainly credit can be abused, but used appropriately, I'm not sure I see a problem.

I'm also not sure how the show implicates or encourages the latter scenario you are describing--hiring someone under false pretenses to do a job.

Randal Stevenson
04-06-2010, 1:16 PM
OK, I'll bite because I'm confused. First, you seem to disparage credit. But, whether a car loan or a mortgage or commercial credit or a credit card, credit facilitates people purchasing things. How many people in the US could afford to buy homes--or even cars--in the absence of credit? How many businesses would operate without credit? Certainly credit can be abused, but used appropriately, I'm not sure I see a problem.

I'm also not sure how the show implicates or encourages the latter scenario you are describing--hiring someone under false pretenses to do a job.


Lets just say, I have known too many people who abuse credit, and those who give it to them. Too many get it before learning about responsibility or that one shouldn't be doing things on impulse all the time.

The later, is due to someone I know who hired a member of their family to do some work recently, after watching some of the shows. It was AFTER, that they said they couldn't come up with the money (contract) and expected him to take payments.

Eric DeSilva
04-06-2010, 2:11 PM
In all fairness, however, these issues are pretty tough to lay at the feet of TOW, no? I suppose you could argue that TOW is convincing everyone that even those with low incomes warrant granite, but that seems like a real stretch. Ultimately credit abuse and fraud are issues of personal responsibility, and I would think that TOW generally promotes taking responsibility for what you do.

Mitchell Andrus
04-06-2010, 2:15 PM
That makes sense. The families Extreme Makeover Home Edition chooses have to claim everything they are given as winnings from what I understand. Then they have to go out and get a mortgage on the house to pay the taxes. Last I heard a few families went to foreclosure.

More than a few of those who received a car on that famous Oprah show had to sell them, pay the taxes and buy something cheaper.
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Randal Stevenson
04-06-2010, 2:28 PM
In all fairness, however, these issues are pretty tough to lay at the feet of TOW, no?


Really no different then any other product placement/commercial. Consume, spend, etc. I could lay it at anyones feet, and yes it is a personal responsibility thing, that society seems to be shrugging off. (trying to avoid going into that, lest this falls down like the Sawstop threads).

I would MUCH prefer a get back to basics approach, as TOH, taught me a lot when I was 14, and was fixing all the issues that come up with a house, that I eventually ended up buying and own today.

AL Ursich
04-06-2010, 3:18 PM
A little off topic but I wish Norm would make some more NYW Shows...

I get some of my Norm Fix watching the videos on his website that are there for a week.

http://www.newyankee.com/index.php

I get the other part of my Norm Fix watching Scott Phillips on line at

http://wbgu.org/americanwoodshop/episodes.html

Looking for other shows on line.

AL

Neal Clayton
04-06-2010, 5:54 PM
as i mentioned in a previous TOH thread, i think what's lost in TOH with all of the tool/material marketing is the whole premise of people with little money owning an old building to begin with.

old buildings are certainly not maintenance free, but what the owners don't have in money they can usually trade in time. very few things can't be built with a simple set of tools. fewer still old things can't be repaired with a bit of 'where to start'. if TOH had more "how to" to that end it would serve people alot better.

Mike Archambeau
04-06-2010, 6:06 PM
It is amazing how nice that Roxbury house looks compared to what they started with. It would have been easy to tear it down and leave a vacant lot. But I think that the town wants to encourage people to fix the old houses and preserve the history of the town. If that is their intent, then the TOH project with all the high end materials and quality craftsmanship makes sense. It might just inspire and encourage other home owners in those neighborhoods to fix up their houses and stay...in essence rescuing another old neighborhood.

Agree that the project does not exactly look like our image of affordable housing. But TOH is modeling the way...and if it works in Roxbury, it may lead to a bit of a renaissance....lets hope that is the case.

Bob Luciano
04-06-2010, 6:12 PM
The main problem is the housing being given to low income recipients. High end products while they may last longer often are costly to maintain. On the other hand the people that advertise on the show are marketing to people that can afford to buy their products. I do have to agree I enjoyed the early shows where reuse seemed common and if I remember correctly salvage yards were visited more frequently. Then again Tommy wasn't using Festool in every seen either. I do enjoy seeing those tools in action before buying them.

Brian Elfert
04-06-2010, 7:02 PM
That makes sense. The families Extreme Makeover Home Edition chooses have to claim everything they are given as winnings from what I understand. Then they have to go out and get a mortgage on the house to pay the taxes. Last I heard a few families went to foreclosure.

The EMHE people have found a tax loophole so the new house is not considered income so tax is not due on the house itself. Basically, they rent the property for a week from the family. Improvements made by a tenant are not considered income to the landlord (the family) and thus not taxable.

The bigger issue with taxes are the increased property taxes. One home done here in Minnesota is valued for tax purposes at $1.2 million. The property taxes I would estimate at around $10,000 to $12,000 a year.

One family ran into mortgage problems because they took out a very large mortgage using the new house as collateral to start a business. I suspect the others who had mortgage issues would have had them new house or not.

Mike Archambeau
04-06-2010, 7:40 PM
Thanks for the link!

Mitchell Andrus
04-06-2010, 7:42 PM
The EMHE people have found a tax loophole so the new house is not considered income so tax is not due on the house itself. Basically, they rent the property for a week from the family. Improvements made by a tenant are not considered income to the landlord (the family) and thus not taxable.




Interesting.

Called 'lost leasehold improvements'. I've been asked to provide such documentation to a comm'l tenant. I hadn't thought of its use in this instance. Clever, but if the gov't wanted to get pushy a judge could easily detect a pattern in this ploy. It wouldn't hold up if the 'lease' existed solely to by-pass tax law. It'd be hard to argue that 100 volunteer workers and a TV crew needed to rent a house for a week any valid (residential) reason. Most state laws vacate leases due to destruction of the premises - which renders it unsuitable for the purpose stated in the lease.

If this could REALLY hold up, I could rent my dad's house, install a new kitchen, cancel the lease and take the cost of the kitchen as a deduction as a 'lost leasehold improvement'. I don't think I'll be testing this.

The homeowners will for SURE have a capital gains figure that might choke a horse. The one-time exclusion and caps might help with this though.


From IRS.gov:

Leasehold improvements. If a tenant erects buildings or makes improvements to your property, the increase in the value of the property due to the improvements is not income to you. However, if the facts indicate that the improvements are a payment of rent to you, then the increase in value would be income.
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Carl Beckett
11-28-2010, 7:46 PM
I live in (near) Boston. Housing is expensive! (I have lived in a few other parts of the US, but excluding my buds in the Bay area its about as expensive as it gets around here).

There is a law on the books called 40B, which allows developers to bypass local zoning rules if at least 25% of what they build in a complex is 'affordable housing' (some call low income housing, etc).

The level of affordability is set by the median income of the particular town you live in. Something like what is deemed acceptable housing cost for someone making 80% of the median income for the town.

The idea is to stimulate more housing to be built (by removing local zoning as a hurdle)

In my town this equates to a house that is priced at ~$340k. Hence, a duplex or townhouse project will have 25% of the units at $340, with the remaining 75% at 'market rate'

Its hard to find a decent single family home in the suburbs for less than $500k. Maybe $400k is entry point now that housing crashed. Just go on zillow and pick a town and check it out. Scary.

A secondary impact is that all the trades need pretty high salaries to afford to live around here. Plumbers, carpenters, builders, any type of service labor, is very high (you couldnt afford to live otherwise), pushing building costs up as well.

It costs a lot to live in/around Boston. What I would have thought 'affordable' doesnt even apply here.