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Cheviot Memorial Field

Most Cincinnati Westsiders know all about the Cheviot Memorial Field or more commonly referred to as the Cheviot Fieldhouse (which actually refers to the civic bulding which sits at the front of the property).  Most of our children have played baseball or perhaps soccer or peewee football on those fields.  I had the wonderful experience of watching my son play on all three ballfields, from the tee-ball field right up to the big field with the amazing grandstands.  

While Cheviot has done a wonderful job of maintaining this 1930's era facility over the years it has become a little dated and in need of improvements and repairs.  My son and I were just talking about this a few weeks ago and then to my surprise my brother pointed me to an article that talks about coming improvements to the site.  Apparently, Cheviot Memorial Field was entered into a contest to receive a makeover.  The Reds Community Fund and Procter & Gamble (P&G) North America Marketing have announced that Cheviot Memorial Field is the winner of the second annual Home Field Makeover contest.  The fields themselves will get some improvements as well as the dugouts.  The historic grandstand is apparently scheduled for a complete renovation.  I really look forward to this project and can't wait for it to get started.  Preserving historical gems like this one are very important for our communities.  

UPDATE:  The repainted grandstands and improvements by the Reds Community Fund are amazing

Home as an Investment

Contractors and real estate agents pushed a concept for years.  The notion was that purchasing a home is a great financial investment.  I personally never fell for this fairy tale.  I guess we all know now that if houses ever were a good financial investment then they surely aren’t now.  Let’s face the truth that you’re better off investing with Bernie Madoff than investing in a house if you expect an actual financial return.

You will spend more money on purchasing, maintaining and improving your home than you ever would have spent just renting something. 

 And yet we continue to invest in our homes or I wouldn’t have anything to do except work on my own home.  So why do we really invest in our houses?  I believe the simple truth is that we invest in homes, not houses.  A home is what you turn your house into when you add your family and all the personal touches that allow the home to reflect what your family is.  You must be asking yourself “why in the world is this guy, a remodeling contractor, telling us that houses are not good financial investments?”  Believe it or not I have been saying the same thing for years to anyone that will listen.  Many people have asked me about the resale value of their project and I have to tell them the simple fact that you’re unlikely to recover the money you spend on remodeling except for minor curb appeal items.  The core and main focus of our business is making your home into a place you want to spend the rest of your life in.  Sadly, many people invest in their home and are constantly worried about what the neighbors or the next owner will think about their project.  Make your kitchen or bath project reflect your style and personality and assume that you will stay in the home forever.  Quit worrying about what the next owner will think because the simple fact is that they will very likely tear it out anyway and install their own personality.  Trust me.

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How can the Home Construction/Remodeling Industry increase quality?

I wrote an article recently about the demise of the McMansion and rightsizing our homes again.  A very closely related subject was about the quality and durability of new homes.   Let’s assume we can get homebuilders and even remodelers to go along with the concept of building reasonably sized projects.  What are some of the ways we can increase quality and durability.

Quality and durability go hand in hand for the most part.  Most of us tradesmen were taught when we were starting out, if you start out with a bad foundation, there is little good that can be built atop it.  However, if a structure has a good foundation then everything else from that point at least has a chance to be solid (doesn’t mean it will).  Every carpenter knows what a nightmare it is to come in after someone else if the guy before him didn’t get the floor level.  Everything else after that is difficult and one mistake can cause huge problems down the road.

So, quality starts with the fundamental aspects of our business and it is really important for the tradesmen to take pride in their work and for management to understand the difference between a good job and a bad job even if they have never physically completed that task.  I believe quality has been stripped from our business because there has grown a huge disconnect between the trades that complete the work and the management that oversees it.  The problem with most megabuilders and paper contractors is that they rarely, if ever, physically oversee the work being done.  These managers keep all the money for themselves and constantly put the squeeze on the actual tradesmen to get it done faster and for less money.  When profit becomes the sole factor for construction then we can forget durability and true quality.  Sure, it will look good for a few years until the warranty is over.  But then what?  Let’s start paying true tradesmen what they are worth so they can take their time to do it right and stop paying guys to drive around in their truck all day on the phone.  Technology allows a tradesmen all kinds of ways to communicate with the office nowadays so there just aren’t any excuses anymore. 
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Will “right-sized” homes have better quality?

I have seen a few articles lately about how an old trend is turning around.  It had to happen of course.  The old trend I am speaking of is the McMansion.  It was a term coined to describe the huge sprawling homes that homebuilders built over the last twenty years.  With the changing economy I for one am very happy to see this trend reverse.  We in the remodeling industry have preached for years that it makes more sense to repair existing homes than to constantly build further and further out.  We are now hearing the new trend is to right-size homes.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Many of those megahomes weren’t always built very well so they are now providing some job security for us home remodelers.  It’s sad that homes that are only seven to ten years old already need completely new kitchens and bathrooms.  That seems to be the norm for homes built during that era at least in the Greater Cincinnati area.  Eighty years ago, homes were built to last for a century.  Many of us still live in homes in the inner ring suburbs that have the original bathrooms from the 1930’s or 1940’s.  How is that possible?  Perhaps they are ugly but they were built to last a lifetime with techniques that were tried and true.  Sadly, many of the homes built in the last twenty years were built for maximum square footage and did not have quality and durability as their primary concerns.  They also used every modern shortcut and modern material with little regard for longevity of those materials or techniques.  

Reputable remodeling contractors and reputable builders always build for the future.  They want their products to be around for considerably more than twenty years and therefore put solid design and craftsmanship into their construction.  When most people find out that its costs a lot more to build with quality they often choose size over quality and that is probably something endemic to our society.

So what does all this talk of quality have to do with making the home smaller?  Not necessarily anything.  Many megabuilders and paper contractors will simply rightsize their construction and still use the poor building techniques they have employed in the past.  I am hoping for a reversal in that trend however.  Building smaller requires excellent design and the need to make everything more efficient.  Great construction starts with great design so I am hoping that is where we can turn this around.  
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