If you don’t like McMansions, be prepared to renovate and live in older homes

Older homes are an alternative to McMansions but someone has to renovate them and then choose in them:

Enter Barbara Jones. The Needham contractor launched Little Pink Houses a couple years ago to provide an alternative to homeowners who want to sell but aren’t keen to see all their memories bulldozed away to make way for some cold, grotesquely large, and soulless box.

Jones’s aim is to hit the $600,000 to $800,000 end of the market in Needham, where listings are comparatively scarce, while saving some of the town’s graceful older homes from the wrecking ball…

My goal on my houses is to keep the original footprint but to update the entire inside to provide a “brand new” old house for the buyer. Staying within the existing footprint enables the end price to be well below the $1million+ price tag that is becoming the norm here in Needham.

I want to preserve the older homes and keep the charming feel of our 300-year-old town while providing homes in the price range that is becoming increasingly rare: $600k – $800.

The number of people who have expressed their gratitude to me around the preserving of my home has been overwhelming. I credit the woman we purchased my home from. She had multiple offers from builders who wanted to buy the 4 acres my home sits on and turn it into a development. We are thankful that she “waited” for us to come along.

The steady march of McMansions requires that good citizens do nothing – or something like that. Two things strike me by this particular approach:

1. It is still not cheap to preserve these older homes. The average homeowner in Needham might be able to make more money by selling the home and lot to someone who desires a teardown and can pay more. In many places, it might be difficult for owners to take less simply to preserve the houses.

2. It sounds like the older homes are completely renovated inside. So while the exterior appears old, the new buyer gets all the modern conveniences they might expect in a new home. It seems a bit strange that older homes might only be attractive to buyers if they basically look like new homes on the inside. Yes, these older homes may not have been turned into McMansions but this might have been the goal with the interiors.

All together, it can be quite a bit of work to preserve older homes and it requires willing sellers, buyers, and neighbors. It would be interesting to then find out whether it is “easier” to have teardowns and McMansions rather than organize to keep older homes that enough buyers still want.

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