Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Picture Is Worth Thousands of Square Feet

I had told you about how commercial properties and developments keep popping up regardless of the state of the economy. If big corporations are behind all the building, I can understand how they can float the cost until a recovery takes place.

But what do you make of regular homeowners adding on and improving their homes now? I know the market will recover, but spending tons of money on a currently depreciating asset doesn't make sense to me unless you're sprucing it up to sell--especially if your cost basis is more than market value. It's not like the price of construction has dropped significantly out here. When we were asking for estimates for a garage conversion (that we never did), the quotes we received seemed to be just as expensive per square foot as it was two years ago.

Temecula has so many foreclosures now that it's mind boggling. Even in Whine Country. Yet, I've driven by homes with pools or other elaborate exterior landscaping being added. It's not too many, but today I saw the most ostentatious display.

On Avenida Lestonnac across the street from the only Catholic school in Temecula, a rather large construction project is taking place. The houses on this street are five years old or newer. This house was a beautiful, large Spanish-style estate, with a big separate guest house.

When I drove by a few weeks ago, it looked like they were tearing down the front portion of the home. I hadn't watched the progress before I saw it today. It appears that the homeowners are expanding the front of the house to extend about 30 feet wider and, maybe, 80-100 feet longer, almost to the guest house. Oh, and they're adding a second story to the bottom floor expansion. Here is one part of it:

Here is the other angle:

Those arches aren't all garages. The original separate guest house is behind the porta potty.

Here is the full add-on. I had to drive up another street in order to get the whole project in one shot. I'm sure that, by the time we were done, the residents had our license plate number and the cops are on the way to question us now.

Not only is it two stories of more room than I've had in all of the homes I've owned put together, but it has a catwalk on the second floor (why? I don't know--it just looks like a floating hallway) encased on both sides by glass. Wow! It almost looks like a gaudy hotel.

This project completely eclipses the portion of the original structure that's still standing. So we had to drive by it, turn right at the next street, drive up the little hill, and take a picture from the back to show you the rest of the house. It starts just beyond the white fence. You can see the construction directly behind the roof of the house from this angle. (I'm not sure, but that may be only the guest house.)

So, what parts of the economy are thriving right now? Hmmm. Maybe the owner works for an oil company. Why he took up residence in Temecula across the street from a school, I'll never know.

And, by the way, the house next door (not pictured in my shots) is for sale. Remember how we talked about why anyone would want to sell in this market (I can't find the post--perhaps it was all in my head). Well, maybe, just maybe, the neighbors are having financial problems. Is it Rich Guy's fault? Heck no. But, if I were Struggling Guy, I'd want to hightail it out of there before the Motel 6 opens next door.