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April 7, 2005


On our day off, Ben, Joel, Taylor and I did a partial demo to an investment property recently purchased by a friend. Over the years, this North Seattle craftsman house had been slowly disguised by chintzy "wood" paneling covering plaster walls inside, cheap wall to wall carpet hiding the fir floors, and too-wide vinyl siding over intact wood shingles on the exterior. In just 6 hours we added  thousands of dollar in value by removing these ill-conceived "improvements."

There were a lot of brown recluse spiders hiding in the siding.

There's a wild west feel to Seattle's housing market right now, with properties appreciating 10% annually for the past 10+ years. The game now is to buy fixers and flip them fast. It's so competitive that many are becoming realtors just so they can get the jump on the competition and save money processing the paperwork themselves. Of course, there's some risk. Seattle's relatively brief history (as far as white people go) is one of boom and bust, but today's real estate speculators project confidence that in the worst case the market will plateau, not burst. In the meantime, there's a glut of work for construction people, thereby lowering the bar for quality. So much so that on a different flip job where we picked up some cabinets, the new owner's carpenter asked me if a certain beam he wanted to remove was structural or not. He was asking the wrong guy. I hope that house is still standing.

demolition waste preserved and
                                  framed (unconscious echo of beach

before - broad vinyl siding
after - uncovered narrow wood