Tag Archives: kit homes

FirstDay Cottage: Kit Homes

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Special Guest: David Howard.

Completed01FirstDay Cottage: Kit Homes,

building your future.

A FirstDay Cottage is a house kit with a unique building system designed specifically for people who want to build themselves a home. FirstDay Cottages require few tools, are tolerant to error and are strong and elegant. Building a FirstDay Cottage is a lot of work and takes a significant commitment, but once complete can earn you valuable sweat equity and a new home. FirstDay Cottage has been helping people build themselves a home for over 20 years and now has over 250 houses in more than 30 states and two foreign countries. We are now featuring our new designs for the Single-Story T house, which builds off all that we have learned about owner-built housing in the last 20 years of FirstDay Cottage.

Meet David Howard:

David, in his career as an architect, has designed over 400 buildings in 38 states. He’s designed and manufactured timber frame residential and commercial buildings.  In the mid eighties, David began to focus more on residential design and he started pursuing his dream – the design and development of new villages. One major motivation for developing FirstDay was for a way to “get school teachers into our new villages for half the price”. The first new village, for which David contributed the conceptual design, was constructed on Nantucket Island. These days, David continues to do the major design work for FirstDay while actively pursuing the creation of new villages. He still does occasional work as a residential designer, and is also working on the development of a few books on architecture as well as other subjects.

Click for Brochure:

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What is a FirstDay Cottage?
• An elegant, durable and energy-efficient all-wood house.
• A house kit specifically designed for owner-builders that a pair can build with few tools.
• A customized house design to fit the specific needs of each customer.
Why Should I Build a FirstDay Cottage?
• Finally live in a house that you own with a design and materials you can believe in.
• Increase your personal equity. Your hard work can add significant sweat equity to your personal wealth.
• Feel a sense of accomplishment. Be satisfied by the successful completion of a difficult, highly rewarding project.
• Impress your friends (and in-laws). Build yourself a home!
Can I Build a FirstDay Cottage?
• A wide variety of people have successfully built FirstDays. FirstDay Cottages have been built by everyone from twenty something school teachers with children to seventy year old retirees. If you have the determination and a solid plan, you can build one.
• FirstDay is serious about supporting you to make the project a success. We encourage all our customers to contact us frequently to get advice and support throughout the project so that we can help you get the project done and done right.
• FirstDays can be adapted to meet local codes. FirstDay Cottage’s have been built all over the country. FirstDay will work with you to make sure your house will meet local codes.

 

 

 

 

 

Forbes picks Nashville #2: Best place to get a job!

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Forbes picks Nashville #2 best place to get a job!

Nicole Kidman described Nashville this way, “It’s the warmest, loveliest community I’ve ever set foot in. For me, it’s the perfect place to live. It’s the best part of America.”

Now the ‘best part of America’ is the second best place to get a job according to a recent report from Forbes magazine. Their calculation methods are somewhat complex, but the bottom line is simple:

Downtown Nashville

“Affordab ility + Quality of Life = Success”

Some other cities that are growing stronger, since the Great Recession, have Technology and Energy to help push the forward but according to Forbes, “… you don’t have to be a huge tech hub or energy capital to generate new jobs. The No. 2-ranked place in our big metro ranking, Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., reflects the power of economic diversity coupled with ample cultural amenities, pro-business policies and a mild climate. Nashville’s 3.8% expansion in employment last year, and 7% growth since 2008, has been propelled by business services, education and health. There’s also been a recent recovery in manufacturing, up over 9% last year, as well as retail and wholesale trade. Like the Texas cities, Nashville has registered long-term growth as well, with 112,000 jobs added since 2001, a nice 16.6% increase.”

Nashville has it all with a seemingly never ending supply of restaurants, music, theaters, shopping and streams of celebrities walking freely around town. Sport fans can get their fill with Nashville’s professional teams in football and hockey not to mention great college sport venues from Vanderbilt, Belmont and Tennessee State. Also, a financial attraction to Nashville has to be what the great state of Tennessee always boast about, no state tax!

There are many reasons to visit and consider moving to Nashville, but once you experience their great Southern Hospitality, you will understand exactly what Nichole Kidman meant when she said, “…For me, it’s the perfect place to live.

Air Date 5/11/13: Sears Catalog Homes

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Special Guest:  Rosemary Thornton Author and Authority on Sears Catalog Homes

Do you live in a Sears Home? Learn how to identify a Sears home! We want to hear from You! Mark.Griffith@migonline.com

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Click to buy book!

Sears Catalog Homes:

For more than 10 years, Rose Thornton has traveled throughout the country, seeking and finding Sears Homes. In that time, she’s written countless newspaper and magazine articles, in addition to several books.

Rose is the author of The Houses That Sears Built (2002,) Finding the Houses That Sears Built (2004) and she’s the co-author of California’s Kit Homes (2004) and Montgomery Wards Mail-Order Homes (2010). Rose’s newest book – The Sears Homes of Illinois – was published in December 2010.

Rose has traveled to 24 states to give 200 lectures on Sears Homes, from Bungalow Heaven in Los Angeles to The Smithsonian in Washington, DC. She has addressed a wide variety of audiences from architectural preservationists in Boston, St. Louis and Chicago to kit home enthusiasts in small towns across America.

Rose has appeared on PBS (History Detectives), A&E (Biography), CBS (Sunday Morning News) and her book was featured in its own category on Jeopardy. She is considered the country’s #1 authority on kit homes. Her work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, L. A. Times, Dallas Morning News, Old House Journal, American Bungalow, Blue Ridge Country and about 100 other publications. Twice in the last three years, the story of her unique career was picked up by the AP and in May 2009, she was interviewed on BBC Radio.

Rosemary Thornton
Order your copy today!

Rosemary explains how to identify a Sears Home:

Do you live in a Sears Home? We want to hear from You!  Mark.Griffith@migonline.com

Click here  to see dozens of extant photos of Sears Homes!

The number one question I’m asked again and again – How do you identify a Sears Kit Home?

First, begin by eliminating the obvious. Sears sold these homes between 1908-1940. If your home was built outside of that time frame, it can not be a Sears catalog home. Period. Exclamation mark!

The nine easy signs follow:

1) Look for stamped lumber in the basement or attic. Sears Modern Homes were kit homes and the framing members were stamped with a letter and a number to help facilitate construction. Today, those marks can help prove that you have a kit home.

2) Look for shipping labels. These are often found on the back of millwork (baseboard molding, door and window trim, etc).

3) Check house design using a book with good quality photos and original catalog images. For Sears, I recommend, “The Sears Homes of Illinois” (all color photos). For Wardway, there’s “The Mail-Order Homes of Montgomery Ward.”

4) Look in the attic and basement for any paperwork (original blueprints, letters, etc). that might reveal that you have a Sears home.

5) Courthouse records. From 1911 to 1933, Sears offered home mortgages. Using grantor records, you may find a few Sears mortgages and thus, a few Sears homes.

6) Hardware fixtures. Sears homes built during the 1930s often have a small circled “SR” cast into the bathtub in the lower corner (furthest from the tub spout and near the floor) and on the underside of the kitchen or bathroom sink.

7) Goodwall sheet plaster. This was an early quasi-sheetrock product offered by Sears, and can be a clue that you have a kit home.

8 ) Unique column arrangement on front porch and five-piece eave brackets (see pictures below).

9) Original building permits. In cities that have retained original building permits, you’ll often find “Sears” listed as the home’s original architect.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.
To read another article, click here.
Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Lumber was numbered to facilitate construction

Numbers

The numbers are usually less than an inch tall and will be found near the edge of the board.

The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

See the faint markings on this lumber? This mark was made in blue grease pencil and reads, “2089” and was scribbled on the board when the lumber left Cairo, Illinois. This was a photo taken in a Sears Magnolia in North Carolina. The Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as #2089

Sears Magnolia was also known as Model #2089.

Shipping labels can also be a clue that you have a Sears Homes

Shipping labels can also be a clue that you have a Sears Home.

“The Sears Homes of Illinois” has more than 200 color photos of the most popular designs that Sears offered and can be very helpful in identifying Sears Homes.

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home

Ephemera can help identify a house as a Sears Home. This picture came from an original set of Sears “Honor Bilt” blueprints.

Ephemera

Ephemera and paperwork can provide proof that you do indeed have a Sears Home.

Goodwall Sheet Plaster

Goodwall Sheet Plaster was sold in the pages of the Sears Modern Homes catalogs. This was a “fireproof” product that was much like modern sheetrock.

About two dozen of Sears most popular designs had a unique column arrangement that makes identification easier. The Vallonia was one of those 24 Sears Homes with that unique column arrangement.

About two dozen of Sears most popular designs had a unique column arrangement that makes identification easier. The Vallonia was one of those 24 Sears Homes with that unique column arrangement.

Close-up of the columns.

Close-up of the columns.

And in the flesh...

And in the flesh…

Houses should be a perfect match to original drawings found in the Sears Modern Homes catalog.

Houses should be a perfect match to original drawings found in the Sears Modern Homes catalog. This is where people get into trouble. They ignore the details.

Sears Mitchell in Elgin, Illinois.

Sears “Mitchell” in Elgin, Illinois.

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The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

The Sears Winona, as featured in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The house in Raleigh (see below) is just a spot-on match, a rarity in a house of this age!

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Winona in Raleigh, looking PERFECT!

Sears Auburn in Halifax, NC

Sears Auburn

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

And a dazzling Auburn in Halifax, NC.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

Sears Pheonix from the 1919 Modern Homes catalog.

And a lovely Sears Pheonix in Newman, IL. Photo is courtesy Rebecca Hunter.

And a lovely Sears Pheonix in Newman, IL. Photo is courtesy Rebecca Hunter.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.
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Send Rose an email at thorntonrose@hotmail.com
To read more about Sears Homes, click here.
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Mortgage Delinquency Rates Fall!

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Remember how Bob Newhart’s last show called  Newhart ended? Bob’s character, Dick Loudon, had bought a small Vermont Inn full of zany characters. Newhart became so frustrated with everything going on at the inn, that he stormed outside where he was struck in the head with a golf ball and  knocked unconscious. When he finally awoke, he was in bed with TV wife Susan Pleshette from the original Bob Newhart Show that ran 12 years earlier. This TV history making scene stunned America and brought back the fond memories of a previous time. Watch the full scene:


The Housing crisis that began in 2007 is one of those  dreams everyone wishes they could wake up from. But there is great news in recent reports suggesting, at least in one regard, that one aspect of the housing crisis may be back to pre-2007 levels. Our national nightmare could be coming to an end.

New mortgage payment delinquency data released from  Lender Processing Services (LPS) gives reasons to hope. The LPS reports that new problem loan rates in March (seriously delinquent mortgages that were current six months ago) have fallen below 1%  for the first time since 2007. This means that these delinquency levels have reverted to levels that have not been seen since the Great Debacle  began. The key factors for the decline in delinquencies are: home equity increases which are rising due to the improving housing  market, increasing home values, and over all improvement in the economy.

A new report from Corelogic states, “Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased 10.5 percent on a year-over-year basis in March 2013 compared to March 2012. This change represents the biggest year-over-year increase since March 2006 and the 13th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 1.9 percent in March 2013 compared to February 2013.” Corelogic also reports that April will see excellent home value increases. Delinquencies and foreclosures, which were once the nemesis for our country and the housing market, may be a thing of the past.

These are wonderful signs that point to a housing recovery in full swing. But unlike Hollywood, where the scene can magically take us back to a happier place and time; our happy place will not be facts and figures that point us to the past, but an economic recovery that points us to an exciting future.