Tag Archives: Westchester Real Estate for Sale

Cob Building Basics: DIY House of Earth and Straw| Waccabuc NY Real Estate

In early 1999, a young woman from Florida happened across an article online  about the recent revival of an ancient British method for sculpting dirt houses.  Intrigued, she used her savings to travel to Vermont for a five-day workshop,  where she learned how to mix clay, sand and straw by foot, and then knead lumps  of the stuff into solid walls nearly as durable as concrete.

After returning to Florida, she and some friends used the techniques she had  learned to build a small pottery shed in her parents’ backyard. Some people  predicted Florida’s humid air and torrential rains would melt her “mud hut” back  into the ground. Following Hurricane Lili in 2002, however, the sturdy little  building, which had cost just a few hundred dollars and a summer’s labor to  build, proved to be one of the few buildings left standing in her neighborhood.  Christina Ott had discovered cob building.

Cob-Building Origins

Cob building gets its name from the Old English term for “lump,” which refers  to the lumps of clay-rich soil that were mixed with straw and then stomped into  place to create monolithic earthen walls. Before coal and oil made  transportation cheap, houses were built from whatever materials were close at  hand. In places where timber was scarce, the building material most available  was often the soil underfoot.

Building with earth has a long and successful history. Cob construction is  particularly easy to learn, requires no fancy equipment, uses local materials,  and can be done in small batches as time allows — making it extremely accessible  to a wide range of people. (See DIY Cob-Building Technique, later in  this article.) After her initial success with cob, Ott traveled to Oregon to  apprentice with the Cob Cottage Company. When her family relocated to the  mountains east of Nashville, Tenn., Ott used her new skills to build a small cob  house for just under $8,000. By age 23, she was mortgage-free and teaching  cob-building workshops all over the United States as the “Barefoot Builder.”

In the U.K., tens of thousands of cob buildings are still lived in, some of  them more than 500 years old. When the British immigrated to the United States,  Australia and New Zealand in the 1700s and 1800s, they brought the technique  with them. In Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, parts of Asia and what is now the  southwestern United States, cob was developed independently by indigenous  people. In Yemen, cob buildings stand that are nine stories tall and more than  700 years old.

However, with the industrial age came factories and cheap transportation in  the West, making brick, milled wood, cement and steel readily available. Mass  production led to mass marketing and the promotion of these new materials as  signs of progress. The perception of cob as “poor people’s housing” led to its  near demise. By 1985, there hadn’t been a new cob building constructed in the  U.K. for more than 60 years, or in the United States for at least 120 years.

Modern Cob Buildings

Today, building your own house is the exception to the norm, and it is almost  unheard of to build with local materials. Instead, houses are built by  specialists using expensive tools and expensive, highly refined materials  extracted and transported long distances, often at great ecological cost.  Industrial materials have many benefits — performance, predictability, speed and  ease of installation — but they have in common that they must create a profit  for the companies that manufacture them. The average number of members in U.S.  households has dropped by more than half in the past 50 years. Yet, over the  same time period, average home sizes have more than doubled. We are more  comfortably housed than at any point in history, but practically enslaved by the  payments (the word “mortgage” is French for “death contract”). Fortunately, we  have other choices.

In the county where Ott lives, low-income housing is often a crumbling  trailer home that is difficult to heat and cool and expensive to maintain. As  she sits next to the woodstove in her cozy cob house, she explains that a quick  fire in the morning warms the cob walls and will often keep the house warm for a  day or more. She uses less than a cord of wood per year. Meanwhile, the same  neighbors who laughed about her “dirt house” are stripping their own land of  trees and burning trash just to keep from freezing. Some go through as many as  15 cords of wood per year. For less than what many people spend on a down  payment, Ott has a house, and it performs well even by modern standards.

Cob’s thermal performance varies by climate region. While cob is a relatively  poor insulator, it also has the ability to absorb large quantities of heat.  These properties are valuable in regions such as the Southwest, but would be a  disadvantage in the chilly Northeast, for example, where heat gains will quickly  be lost. This weakness of cob can be solved by building interior walls of cob  for mass heat storage while using better-insulating materials for exterior  walls.

Anecdotal evidence and recent testing show cob walls are highly resistant to  earthquakes. Unlike cement or adobe, which tend to shake apart in an earthquake,  lumps of cob are woven together in the building process to form one large mass  reinforced by straw fiber. Also, unlike cement, cob is easily repaired with the  same material it was built from, and if torn down, there is no waste to be  disposed of — only earth that can be returned to the ground or soaked in water  and reused to build another room or house.

Oregon Cob-Building Method

Outside Coquille, Ore., stands a constantly evolving collection of test  buildings affectionately known as “Cobville.” Sculpted cob garden walls weave  around and between the tiny cottages, giving each its own sense of space. Here,  apprentices and workshop attendees learn and experiment with ingredients,  methods and finishes. This is the headquarters of the Cob Cottage Company, which  is largely responsible for the re-emergence of cob building in the United  States. Founded by Ianto Evans, his wife, Linda Smiley, and Michael G. Smith,  Cob Cottage Company started with the radical idea that, with a little direction,  almost anyone can learn how to build a cob house.

Evans, a spry Welshman now in his 70s, has reimagined the cob of his  birthplace in a more efficient form. The traditional British cob method, which  was generally to stomp lumps of whatever clay soil was handy into place, relied  on thick walls for strength. “Oregon cob,” by contrast, effectively does more  with less. Builders make thinner but significantly stronger walls by tightly  controlling the clay-and-sand mix and using lots of straw for reinforcement. “We  have created in Oregon cob an almost-free building material most people can  manufacture for themselves. It has fluidity of form, and it’s healthy,  non-polluting and local. The buildings it inspires are sculptural, snug and  permanent,” Evans says. Because you can provide much of the construction labor  yourself, cob is very affordable.

But Evans speaks of cob and “natural building” (a term he helped popularize)  less in terms of cob-construction methods and more in terms of the social  movement it has become. “Building your own house for less than $10,000 is  revolutionary, and, yes, you can do it,” he says. “Millions of people in other  countries and our own ancestors have proven that.” Evans has seen firsthand the  way people are empowered by building their own houses from earth.

Cob-Building Community

Thirty years after its founding, Cob Cottage Company has much progress to  report. Evans, Smiley and Smith’s book, The Hand-Sculpted House, has sold more than 30,000 copies  worldwide. Their CobWeb newsletter documents 18 years of experiments  and advances (and failures) in cob technology, and it is available at the Cob Cottage  Company. Multiple nonprofits, such as the Natural Building Network,  continue to promote cob building and work with code officials to streamline the  approval process. Every year, natural builders host regional colloquia to swap  techniques and foster camaraderie. Some travel hundreds of miles and sleep in  tents to help each other with projects.

Cob Cottage Company alumni are building and teaching all over the world.  Despite the downturn in the global economy — or maybe because of it — cob  workshops are more popular than ever. On her first building project, Ott’s most  steadfast supporter was an unemployed single mother who went on to build her own  cob house after her first home was destroyed by a hurricane. Together, they  built a building while chatting and watching kids run around the yard. A  construction site is not a playground, but without the noise and danger of heavy  machinery and without nails littering the ground, a cob-building site is a great  deal more family-friendly. Most natural builders go to great lengths to keep  that atmosphere on their job sites. Many times I’ve been grateful for that as I  watched my young daughters hard at work atop the growing cob wall of a friend’s  new bedroom.

If you are serious about building with cob, Evans strongly recommends that  you seek hands-on experience, either at a workshop or by volunteering on a  project. To find a workshop near you, visit the event calendars on the websites  listed in the resources box to the left.

See Golden Retrofit & Foundation Repair for more and read this post: http://www.motherearthnews.com/print.aspx?id={17BBBF82-CFC3-4892-96B0-6BBD76943B00}#ixzz2gmIi9IFc

Many Markets Still Underpriced and Primed for Growth | South Salem NY Homes

Prices in half the 315 markets covered by Local Market Monitor were flat through the first half of the year, but the slow takeoff only means most homeowners can expect steadily higher home prices during the next few years.

Part of the reason is that many markets are still under-priced relative to local incomes, some by 25 percent and more. In these markets, prices fell too far and buyers can now get a lot of house for their money.

Foreclosures still cloud the data in places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and a good number of California and Florida markets. The value of the average home bears little relation to the bidding wars for cheap foreclosed properties.





Westchester Magazine Weekend Update | Bedford NY Homes

October 4
If you’re in the mood for some smooth pop-vocal styling, get to Tarrytown Music Hall to see pop-song writer, singer, and opera composer Rufus Wainwright as he plays from his seventh studioMore
You probably never thought you’d get to (safely) sleep with wolves, did you? Well, now the chance is here. Bring a tent and camp out under the stars with the 22 wolves that call the Wolf Conservation Center More
October 5
Bring your bookworms to the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival to meet 65 authors of books like Ella Enchanted andThe Magic School Bus Series. Along with author readings and … More
Well, it’s time once again to scare the bejeezus out of ourselves, Westchester. For the fourth year, Philipsburg Manor becomes Horseman’s Hollow, a haunted attraction based on the scariest… More

Pick and pickle fresh carrots, dosey doe your partner, hop on a hayride, and show off your farmer skills at the Farm Olympics-all while supporting Stone Barns’… More 

It’s pumpkin season, and that means it’s time for the annual Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor. More than 5,000 individually hand-carved jack o’lanterns will light up your…More
Head to the 2nd Annual Hudson Hop and Harvest at the Riverfront Green Park, which will be the only place you can enjoy craft beer, farm-to-table-made food, and indie music-all in the same place…More
After the Hudson Hop and Harvest, continue the fun with Brew Blues at Paramount Hudson Valley. You can sip even more brews while listening to some great blues music provided by the…More

Generate leads by the thousands with Facebook photo contests | Armonk Real Estate

Editor’s note: This post explores a marketing tactic submitted by Dream Town Realty, the most recent winner of #madREskillz, a weekly Inman News Twitter competition.

One day this summer, a University of Chicago student biking to school was struck by how a sculpture featuring figures holding their heads in exasperation seemed to mirror the mood of many of his college peers, who at the time were mired in finals week, according to Yuval Degani, president of Dream Town Realty.

Captured by the parallel, he whipped out his smartphone and shot a photo of the angsty figures, Degani said.

That proved to be a smart move on the student’s part: The photo ultimately bagged him $2,500, after garnering the most votes in a Facebook photo contest hosted by Dream Town Realty.

Cash prizes were just one aspect of the robust marketing campaign that Dream Town held over the summer. The competition’s success demonstrates that hosting photo contests can help catapult a broker’s Facebook following and boost online engagement.

Calling for submissions of photos of the Windy City, “Chicago in Focus” helped Dream Town collect more than 4,000 likes on its Facebook page in just one month, more than tripling the amount the page had gathered over the four previous years of its existence.




– See more at: http://www.inman.com/2013/09/26/generate-leads-by-the-thousands-with-facebook-photo-contests/#sthash.IZt7POmF.dpuf

$30 Million Home Is The Bedford Daily Voice’s House Of The Week | Bedford Hills Real Estate

Photo Credit: Douglas Elliman Real Estate


BEDFORD, N.Y. – A six-bedroom home at 55 Springhurst Road listed at $30 million is the Daily Voice’s Bedford house of the week.

Check out the details of this home listing:

  • 8,395 square feet
  • six bedrooms
  • nine full bathrooms
  • two partial bathrooms
  • built on 21.70 acres
  • a lake stocked with Koi
  • gym, pool
  • tennis/paddle court with stone pavilion.
  • specimen trees and perennial gardens.

See Douglas Elliman Real Estate for the complete listing.




Armonk Election Season Heating Up | Armonk NY Homes

Armonk Politics:

Dear Neighbor,
On November 5, our town faces an important election.  I am running for Supervisor against Howard Arden, and I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce my running mates for Town Board, Barry Reiter and José Berra.  I urge you to support them as their experience and abilities will help me in continuing to protect the taxpayers of our town.
Barry Reiter and José Berra are joining me in bringing the right change to our community.  We strongly oppose the way Diane Roth, Howard Arden, and John Cronin have been running our town, as this “ruling majority” has brought a disrespectful, arrogant, and secretive approach to North Castle.  Instead of basing decisions on facts, too often false personal attacks are used to get their way (the latest example is the inexcusable campaign of a vicious character assassination conducted during the Republican primary).  Too often they are not honest with the residents, treat them with disdain, and focus more on their own personal agendas then with your priorities.
José Berra and Barry Reiter provide a superior alternative for the Town Board than what we’ve seen from Diane Roth and John Cronin.  Both Barry and José offer excellent professional experience coupled with a clear commitment to our community.
Barry Reiter is an expert on budgeting and resource management as a local business owner, which are important skills that will help protect our taxpayers.  In addition, Barry is truly committed to our community.  From serving on the Byram Hills Education Foundation that benefits our children, to chairing NC4 (North Castle Citizen Corps Council), to coaching AYSO soccer, to volunteering in Boy Scout Troop 94, Barry understands the importance of giving back to our town.  Any of the more than 2000 residents that passed through the Herganhan Recreation Center for comfort during Hurricane Sandy understand Barry’s commitment to his neighbors, as he managed that facility 24/7 as Chairman of NC4. Barry is a respected fiscal conservative and is endorsed by both the Democratic and Conservative parties.
José Berra has lived and volunteered in North Castle for nearly 25 years and possesses an exceptionally strong combination of financial, business, analytical, and legal skills.  José is a CPA and attorney who earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.  He is uniquely qualified scrutinize the town’s finances and to help improve deteriorating town roads and services in a fiscally responsible manner.  José knows the importance of giving back to our community and among other things has volunteered every year for almost 20 years for the Friends of the North Castle Public Library at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show.  José has been enthusiastically endorsed by the Democratic and Independence parties and has strong support throughout North Castle.
Barry, José, and I want to bring responsible, respectful leadership back to our community.  We hope you will support us on November 5 and we look forward to talking with you in the weeks to come.


Mike Schiliro


I’ll Have the Same: How to Design With Monochromatic Color | Armonk Real Estate

We’re taught from an early age that overindulgence is a bad thing. But sometimes it can be very, very good.
Repeating a single color throughout an entire room can be not only beautiful, but relatively easy to pull off. No worrying about whether the curtains go with the carpet. When everything’s the same color, it’s usually a match.
Granted, the look can be overwhelming. It works best in contained spaces where you don’t spend a lot of waking hours, such as a bedroom. And while it’s possible to match the color precisely in every detail, it’s better (and easier) to vary the shade a bit — in terms of both hue and intensity, and texture and sheen. That keeps the repetition interesting.

modern bedroom by Amy Lau Design

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One of the appealing things about a monochromatic interior is that colors you’d think would be too overpowering on their own become more demure when used en masse. The sheer quantity dilutes their ability to shock and makes even a strong color, like acid green, feel restful.
When working with bright colors, be mindful of the amount of light the room gets: This space could be blinding if it got a lot of intense, direct sun.
by Chambers + Chambers Architects

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This charming bedroom merges shades of pink, orange and coral. They have more depth and visual interest together than a single shade would have, and also contribute to the room’s casual feel.
contemporary kids by Melanie Coddington

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Although the patterns in this girl’s room don’t match, they all work together because they share a common color. Liberal additions of white prevent the blue from overwhelming the space and add to the tranquil atmosphere.
traditional living room by Kendall Wilkinson Design

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The combo of blue and white is a seaside staple. But in this San Francisco home, the variations in hue and solid planes of color banish some of the sweetness, making the scheme feel fresh and more contemporary.
eclectic bedroom by HERMOGENO DESIGNS

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Pink has such feminine connotations, we’re often afraid to use it outside a bedroom. But inside a bedroom — watch out! Pink fabric upholsters the walls and bed in this boudoir, making the softness not just visual but tactile.

NAR’s health insurance marketplace is worth a look | Katonah Realtor

Starting in January 2014, I will be getting my health insurance through an exchange.

For months, Minnesota’s health insurance exchange posted outrageously high sample rates on its site. I kept trying to look away, but could not. I’ve been carrying this fear in the pit of my stomach, because I know what it is like to spend more on health insurance each month than on housing.

It seems like the news media and politicians have done everything they can to keep me worried about the arrival of “Obamacare.”I have listened to scary news stories for months about how bad Obamacare is going to be for everyone. The state exchange has not helped alleviate those fears, publishing super-high and inaccurate sample numbers on the MNsure.org website.

Friends who work for insurance companies assured me that my current, somewhat affordable health insurance plan — which carries a large deductible and provides little actual health care — would go away at the end of the year, and be replaced with a much more expensive plan next year.


read more…



All-cash deals make huge comeback | Chappaqua Homes

Call it the summer of the cash sale. All-cash home purchases skyrocketed during the summer months of 2013, with their share of total sales growing by more than 40 percent from the beginning of June to the end of August, amid sustained appetite from investors, a recent spike in interest rates and tight inventory.

Cash purchases accounted for 45 percent of sales in August, up from the 2013 trough of 32 percent seen in April and May, according to RealtyTrac data provided exclusively to Inman News. RealtyTrac That indicates that the market share of cash sales has increased 41 percent in just the last three months.

The recent meteoric rise in cash sales’ market share hit its fastest clip yet in August, with cash purchases’ share of total sales jumping 6 percentage points month over month to 45 percent. That’s the highest level that RealtyTrac has recorded since March 2012, right around when home prices hit their post-meltdown low.

Looking back a year, cash sales’ market share was up a whopping 50 percent in August, RealtyTrac said.

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