Posted in Features on June 16, 2014
Posted in Features on January 15, 2009
The real estate industry has always been an efficient way for people to make money, which is exactly why holding rural land is a common practice. Rural development is one of the things that isn’t a for sure thing, that’s why so many people who have rural land within their means think that it’s useless (and in most cases worthless). The rural land you have might not be the best for farming (or even have the best location), and it might not even be the best to develop into a business, but there’s always going to be a use for rural land (in some way, shape or form). Sometimes people can feel like the land is worth nothing, which is until somebody whom is interested in developing it comes into play.
Rural land is something that housing developers love to look at, this is one of the main reasons those who own rural land don’t just ditch it or sell it incredibly cheap. The amount of money that can be made with rural land varies, sometimes you’re going to be in the perfect location and others you won’t be. It’s sort of like playing property lottery when it comes to rural land, and many developers have looked towards these types of properties to expand their businesses and ideas.
Every developer has their eyes open, they’re always looking for that “perfect piece of land” to start developing on. Land is one of the most beneficially investments you could ever make, because in the end there isn’t going to be a growing supply of it (meaning the amount of land we have here on earth is finite). When a resource is finite like land is, there is a certain demand amongst the market. Demand creates profits, which in turn makes everybody happier all around.
Flipping land, developing it for yourself or even renting out your property are all different ways to benefit from rural land, but it’s the holding process that is focused on. When you have rural land it’s important to know that you should never jump the gun. Plenty of developers might show interest, but which one of those developers is going to go through with the deal? Which one of them is going to provide you with the best possible offer? Holding onto your rural land can turn in a pretty large amount of profit if you wait long enough, it’s just a matter of perfect timing when it comes to selling rural land.
Some rural lands are going to be much more useful when you compare them alongside some others, that’s just how it is sometimes. Sometimes you’re going to have a piece of rural land that’s rich with high quality soil, making it ideal for any farming needs that a developer (or property hunter) may want to make use of. Not only that, but plenty of rural lands have vast pastures that would allow for the animals to rotationally graze.
Cropland properties that aren’t irrigation dependent are a good investment as well, as you wouldn’t have to worry about the water system breaking down over the holding period. The whole point of investing into rural land is the long-term benefits, the chances of you selling your rural land for the kind of money you want right away just aren’t there. Long-term investments can be a bit tedious sometimes, and many people aren’t completely sure how to go about them, but holding onto rural land is definitely one of the more “solid” investments that you could be making (pertaining to property that is). If you are considering an investment in vacant land then you can find lots of opportunities at Land Century’s website.
Posted in Features on July 17, 2012
Research is vital prior to purchasing a home. Dottie Herman, the host of “Eye On Real Estate” stresses that becoming an expert is essential to finding the right home to purchase and satisfaction with the choice. Dottie Herman, CEO and President of Prudential Douglas Elliman, emphasizes three most important facets when purchasing a home which center on worth. Value, cost and price are the keys to a solid investment and successful purchase of a home.
Ms. Herman stated that the first step in buying a home is to hire a qualified real estate broker. Find a broker who understands the market and what you are looking for in a home. A quality real estate broker will help you find a property that suits your needs and is a solid investment.
Herman stated, “It’s an opinion of what you think the home is worth, based on how you are going to use it.” Value is different for every buyer. Some home buyers may need to be close to good schools while others are seeking public transportation. The value is designated by the buyer’s needs.
Herman replied “Sellers believe that the cost of the house is what they paid for it plus all of the improvements and the money that they put into it. Cost is a measure of the past. Cost and value are not what the price of the home should be or shouldn’t be.”
Sellers who have made improvements to the property are adding value but not cost to the home. A buyer who desires a renovated home will be willing to pay more due to the value of the renovations.
Herman responded to a question of determining price by stating, “Price is what the home should be worth today. Some people don’t price it right, so what you really want to look at is fair market value.”.
Fair Market Value
Determining fair market value revolves around what the property is truly worth in the current market conditions. Your real estate broker is best equipped to relay that information to you. A necessity in purchasing a home and determining price is to locate sales of homes in the area over the last six months. Ms. Herman opinioned that “brokers price opinion will vary from home to home depending on a few factors.”
Wear and Tear
Two identical homes built by the same builder in the same time frame will look dramatically different in 10 years. A buyer must go inside the homes to see how well the property was maintained. A quality real estate broker will be able to narrow down choices to well maintained properties.
A neighboring property that has not been maintained well will affect the purchase price of surrounding homes. Your real estate broker will have gone out to look over the neighborhood to determine if problem homes are in the area.
A home with a view is more valuable than one without a view. Ms. Herman stated that ”You can always find a home, but you can’t replace the view.”
Good schools are as important as a view to most buyers. Researching school districts will help narrow the search criteria for a good location for a home purchase. Ms. Herman is adamant that ”It’s most important to go look at the properties, along with the surroundings and the neighborhood to know what value and price you are looking at.”
Your real estate broker will narrow down possible properties for you but researching your options is vital. Ms. Herman reiterates the need to “eyeballing properties yourself.” Every home has positive and negative aspects that result in value changes and Ms. Herman remarked “there is no exact science to pricing.”
Megan Gates is an active blogger who provides written work pertaining to home improvement, the latest architecture, design and fashion. She also writes on behalf of Elliman Real Estate. Follow her on twitter @MEGatesDesign.
Posted in Features on March 10, 2009
How do you feel about cheap wine? Better yet, how do you feel about obtaining fine wine at cheap prices? To the surprise of some market analysts, Nielsen reported wine sales last October were up 7.1 percent
over a year ago. One of the fastest growing segments was wine for less than $15, especially less than $7. The best news? Cheap wines are better than they used to be.This is great news to cheapskates. But, we’ve got more - 100 tools, tips and resources to cut those prices even further. The list below is categorized and those categories are ordered by alphabet. Further, the links under those categories are ranked by alphabet as well. This methodology was used to show that we don’t favor one site over another in their efforts to help any cheapskate find good, cheap wine.
No matter whether the country is in a recession, depression or at the top of the world - the best thing to do before you head out the door with your wine cash is to check on the experts. These current end-of-the year articles focused on wine bargains for the holidays. What better place to find a great wine for an even greater price than have someone else discover it for you?
- Bargain bubbles that won’t burst the budget: Michelle Locke from the Associated Press passes on some advice about buying champagne for the holidays. You can afford some “frugal fizz!”
- Cheap wine and too much growth: An Australian perspective from Michael Pascoe on the current wine market. This article sums up the problems within the global wine industry, felt harder in Australia’s micro-economy.
- From the Cellar: Wines for the holidays are a bargain this year: Mark Nothaft provides some ideas for holiday wine bargains from his perspective in Phoenix, Arizona.
- Giving the gift of worldly wine: Dorothy J. Giater offers up some great international wine bargains from various wine superstores online for the Wall Street Journal.
- Kitchen ‘Rithmetic: Cheap Wine: When it comes to wine, how low can you go? Kim O’Donnel, an admitted big fan of cheap wine, shares her expertise.
- Raise a glass to budget bubblies: Beppi Crosariol writes from Canada, but her vision is global in this article about great champagnes and sparkling wines at even greater prices.
- The bargain brigade: Three savvy readers search for great wine deals: Give three people $70 and turn them loose. What do they end up with in the wine aisle? Read to find out!
- The Year in Wine: Highs, Lows, Bargains & Holiday Picks: Kim O’Donnel serves it up again in an interview with wine expert Steven Kolpan in this Washington Post article. What are you waiting for? Go! Great advice that will save you money.
- Wines for $10: Budget-friendly bottles for the times: Kathy Barthel, in a special to CTV.ca, pops off several wines from just as many countries that are (mainly) under $10. A wide selection for any cheapskate!
- Wine investing 2009: End of the madness: If you’re a cheapskate bent on owning a wine cellar, this article may hold your interest. Is now the time to buy? Read and make your own decision.
Although you may not save that much money at an auction, the excitement of watching a bottle of a 1787 Chateau d’Yquem that belonged to Thomas Jefferson - the third president of the United States - pass hands for $56,588 might thrill you. On the other hand, gaining a bottle of 1966 Chateau LASCOMBES for a mere $100 might be more up your alley. Auctions are great ways for a cheapskate to build up a decent wine cellar, and some bargains can found. During tough economic times, some collectors try to sell their bottles for liquidity, and wine also is consigned from failed restaurants, deceased estates and wineries.
- Acker Merrall & Condit: This company conducts both live and online auctions for bargain-hunters. Additionally, they provide an online “quick bid tracker” so you can review your potential bids before you submit them. This company also offers wine workshops.
- Ambassor Cellar: Is it an auction or is it a monthly sale? Who cares? This company offers hard-to-find wines to their members in limited numbers on a monthly basis. While the prices in their ongoing campaigns are over $25 in most cases, they’re well under $100, too. Plus, you get the satisfaction
- Cellarnotes: This link takes you to their Bordeaux prices, gathered from The Chicago Wine Company’s wine auction price data. You can learn more about past auction prices for California wines and Port, too. While here, stick around and learn about Birth Year wines (although poor Oprah missed out with a lack of favored wines for her 1954 birth year).
- CellarX.com: Formerly known as CellarExchange.com, this site offers a commission-free wine auction premise. They ask for donations to keep the site going. Also, CellarX.com uses”Dynamic” auctions. This means that the bidding stops after the bidding deadline and where no bids have been received after 5 minutes. This emulates a typical Live Auction room setting.
- Chicago Wine Company: This is where you can download a current price list for Chicago Wine Company’s auctions, learn about their live auctions and dinners, find out how you can sell your well-stored wines and learn how to bid by absentee. You also can purchase fine wines straight from the site outside auctions.
- Consumables: Wine Auctions & Auctioneers: A great search option to find wine auctions locally and online. Several of the search results present auctioneers who focus on wine auctions.
- Wine Auctions Feel Recession’s Squeeze: As mentioned previously in the Articles list above, building a wine cellar is similar to building a portfolio (without the port!). This article can provide some insight into current wine markets from the Asian angle. You might follow up on this article with a story about Christie’s shifting a focus from England to Asia.
- Wine Auction Prices: Wineauctionprices.com offers actual selling prices of collectible wine from the most important commercial wine auctions in England, Europe and America. Their database contains more than 125,000 prices dating back to 2004. By subscribing to that database, you will be able to search the prices for any wine offered at auction.
- Wine Commune: If you can’t deal with bottles of wine over $50, then you might try this site for wine buyers and sellers. Since 1999, Wine Commune has offered a great venue for wine lovers who like fine wine without a huge price tag.
- WineBid: Founded in 1996, WineBid.com is the largest Internet auction for fine and rare wines. All wines auctioned are inspected and stored in a climate-controlled warehouse in Napa, California. Don’t let the wine price ranges freak you out - they’re listed in reverse. Browse down further in the left-hand column to find $25 and under wine offers.
Cheap Wine Blogs and Sites
Some bloggers are devoted to sharing their knowledge about cheap wines. Rather, cheap wines that taste good. These cheapskates may steal your heart:
- Cheap Fun Wines: What better way to learn about cheap fun wines that through a blog devoted to that effort? Cheap Fun Wines is on a mission to find the most luscious wines on the planet for under $20.
- Cheap Wine and Poetry: If you love poetry and cheap wine, you might like this blog. The blog is part of an event that occurs semi-regularly at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle.
- Cheap Wine Club: For a mere $25 per year, you can learn about ways to find good wines (and the wines to buy) for less than $10. One tip is free in the “How it all started” page - simply head to your neighborhood Trader Joe’s, a cheap wine mecca if there ever was one.
- Cheap Wine Finder: Enjoy wine articles, reviews and ratings as you search for wines under $10 and $20.
- Cheap Wine Ratings: Cheap Wine Ratings is all about finding good wine at affordable prices. Tim, the Quaffmaster General, focuses on wines that are $20 or less.
- Dr. Vino: This is a spirited wine blog with independent picks for value vino, wine maps and commentary, brought to you from a guy with a real PhD.
- Good Cheap Wine Guide: This blogger is on the quest for great $10 wines. The really fun part? This guy made up his own ranking system. And, it makes perfect sense.
- Good Wine Cheap: This link takes you to a blog within a site filled with news and reviews about good (and not-so-good) cheap wines. You’ll also find a fairly inactive forum here, but with your help that inactivity could change.
- Jason’s Wine Blog: Speaking of Trader Joe’s (see above under “Cheap Wine Club”), this guy is a nut about Trader Joe’s wines. “Cheapest Pinot by the glass last night $22. That’s like 5 bottles of wine at Trader Joe’s…” You gotta love this guy.
- The Wine Cask Blog: Three writers travel around the country for their occupations (non-profit, financial sector, software development respectively) and take the time to sample local vintages wherever possible. The best part? You can find wines here for under $10.
- Wine Burps: You may consider yourself a wine snob, even though you’re a cheapskate. Get over it. This blog is for people who enjoy drinking wine but who don’t like people like you - at least the snob part. If you can bear to read the blog, you might discover all sorts of ways to save money on wine.
If you’re about to purchase a bottle of wine at full price, at least make sure that your purchase is going toward a great cause. That way, you’ll receive a halo and an altruistic glow that isn’t imparted by imbibing your wine. Charities and nonprofits, after all, add to a wine’s value. The list below contains everything from companies that contribute to charities to blogs presented by organizations designed to protect wine lovers’ rights.
- Big Tattoo Wines: Two Brothers Winery, a partnership between brothers Erik and Alex Bartholomaus, released their debut wine, Big Tattoo Red 2001, in autumn of 2002 as a way to raise funds for cancer research and hospice care in memory of their mother, Liliana S. Bartholomaus. Fifty cents from every bottle sold was donated to the Hospice of Arlington, Va., and other breast cancer research foundations. In an effort to expand this project, the brothers now produce Big Tattoo White, a Riesling blend from Germany and a Syrah from Chile.
- Charity Wines: This one is a no-brainer. Charity Wines partners with superstar athletes & celebrities to create fine wines and help raise funds for charities across the country. To date, Charity Wines has donated over $1.5 million to charities featuring collectible baseball, football and hockey wines.
- Destin Charity Wine Auction: Auctions, as mentioned previously, may be a great way to find new wines at bargain prices. When they benefit charities, that makes the event more powerful because events like this one provide wine and food at a world-class resort. Yes, the tickets are expensive, but you walk away with a world of connections among high-class patrons. It’s called buying your way into society.
- Drink Charitably!: This blog was create to learn more about Humanitas wines. Humanitas Winery uses their profits to find solutions to hunger, affordable housing and illiteracy. They’ve chosen America’s Second Harvest, Habitat for Humanity and Reading is Fundamental as their primary charities.
- Enobytes is an non-profit organization created to advance the understanding and appreciation of all aspects of food and wine, and they are devoted to educating people and promoting an exchange of ideas that benefit professionals and enthusiasts alike. Enjoy their monthly wine picks and peruse wines by price (currently 90+ wines under $20).
- Geoffrey Roberts Award: Say you have a great idea about how to tie wine and charity together. Submit your proposal to this award, and you may win an international travel bursary with about $6,000. The award was named for the late Geoffrey Roberts, a pioneer importer of top quality New World wines into the UK.
- Grape Wall of China: This is a nonprofit blog written by a dozen wine fans in China. If you’re ever in doubt about an Asian wine, you can learn more about that product through an unbiased report here.
- Hope Wine: Hope Wine focuses on breast cancer, autism and AIDS as their charities. It is Hope Wine’s intention that with every bottle produced they spread awareness for these causes. They donate 50 percent of profit to each cause as well.
- Menu for Hope: Menu for Hope is an Internet-wide event to raise money for people in need. Find wine blogs, and you’ll find an array of offers provided by these bloggers - all focused on wine and all different. This link will take you to Vinography, a site that is offering a wine vacation at Meadowood Resort in the Napa Valley as one prize for the 2008 event.
- Steelhead Quivira Vineyards: Steelhead is an official partner of Trout Unlimited, and they both are partners in habitat restoration. Steelhead makes a donation to TU for every bottle sold, and those donations help conserve, protect and restore North America’s Trout and Salmon fisheries and their coldwater watersheds.
- Wine and Roses: Look for events like this charity wine tasting to expand the benefits to your wallet. Although the tickets may seem pricey for a tasting, you also receive a meal, music and chances to win cases of wine and other prizes.
- Wine Without Borders: This blog is supported by the Specialty Wine Retailers Association, an organization that stands for a free market in wine, unencumbered by protectionist state laws that prevent consumers from legally obtaining the wines they want. Yes, you should care.
- Woodward-Graff Wines: The Woodward/Graff Wine Foundation is a California non-profit public benefit corporation with the purpose of awarding scholarships to deserving students of the art and science of wine, food and hospitality. The Foundation receives funds from the sale of Graff Family Vineyards, A-Frame Vineyard and Collaboration wines, and sales of Mr. Woodward’s book, Chalone: A Journey on the Wine Frontier. Additional funds are received from auctions of wine and wine related items and donations of cash and securities from both individuals and institutions.
We included a few sales pages from online wine dealers so you can get a feel of what to expect. But, we also included some interesting search pages and shopping sites where you can - with due diligence - find great bargains.
- Bulgarian Master Vintners: This site carries a “Specials” page, and currently they’re selling cases of 12 bottles, some for a mere $99. That’s less than $10 per bottle, and you get to sample a variety of wines. This is a great way to share wine with friends (friends who are willing to split the tab, of course).
- NapaCabs: This page at NapaCabs provides a special “Wine of the Month” as well as discount rates on a list of wines. Some bargains are marked down 15 percent (read that as 30 percent on two bottles).
- NextTag: A cheapskate could spend hours on this site, searching for the best wine bargain possible. NextTag gathers prices from various online stores so viewers can compare prices and visit the various shops.
- Overstock.com: Yes, they carry wine. Yes, it’s on sale because it’s…well, overstocked. You might need to wade through several items with “wine” in the description (like wine-colored boots) before you spot a deal, however.
- The Wine Spies: Every 24 hours The Wines Spies features one exceptional wine for sale at its Web site. These wines are available on a quantity-limited basis and always at a great price.
- The Wine Web: Make a weekly stop at this site to learn about their weekly wine sale. Usually only one item is showcased, but the prices often are marked up to 30 percent off retail price.
- VINum Cellars: What do we like about this site’s sale page? They currently offer samplers! What a great way to sample wine, especially at ten percent off the retail price. Even if you find this page later, when the samplers are gone, you’ll find some great deals on this page. Try their PETs, where a portion of the profits from the sales of this wine is donated to the San Francisco SPCA. (Over $ 25,000.00 donated to date).
- Wine Legacy: This online wine store offers some great bargains on their sales page.
- Winebuys: Want to find a good red wine under $15 or a sparkling wine under $20? Then try this site. They also offer a “Winebuy of the Week” at great prices.
- Yahoo! Shopping Wine Sales and Deals: More a search engine than a sale site, but who’s quibbling? Discover a site that offers wines from $5.00 and up, along with comparison shopping features and more.
Search for the Best Prices
Do you have caviar taste on a hotdog budget? Instead of driving all over the region to compare prices, use the search engines listed below to find the best and least expensive wines around.
- Tastings: Refine your search throughout most of the wine types in the world. To realize the full power of this search page you can combine the buttons with keywords. Price is a definite option.
- Vinfolio: Free up-to-date auction pricing information for more than 10,000 wines. The most complete wine auction price index in the world.
- Vinquire: If you have the name of the wine, you can use this search engine to find the least expensive price on that bottle.
- Wine eXchange: Search through this company’s extensive catalog, using only the price you want to pay if you desire (don’t be surprised if you don’t find anything under $20, however).
- Wine Robot: Wine Robot helps you find the wine you want at the best price. They search the top online wine stores every day, let you compare prices, then link you to the wine at the online retailers website.
- Wine Search Online: Categories include wine clubs, stores, producers, events, magazines, tasting, courses and more.
- Wine Search: Brought to you by Wine Spectator, this global search contains advanced features that help break down searches by region, vintage, price, ratings and more.
- Wine Zap: This site requests a free registration, but it might be worth your time. Search for U.S. retail wines by region, type, food pairings, ratings and - best of all - by price.
- WineFetch: Bedazzle yourself as you search by country, varietal, keywords and price ranges.
- Wine-Searcher: Wine-Searcher is a search engine that contains 9,364 wine-store price lists (a total of 3,271,565 offers) and a wealth of information about wine. Wine-Searcher’s information is essential for pricing and locating wines.
The following list contains a variety of tips on how to save money on wine. Some may require investments of time and/or money, but the return may be better than expected. Others require effort on your part, such as making the wine yourself.
- Blogging vs. the MBA: “When Gary Vaynerchuk remarked at the recent Wine Blogger Conference in Sonoma, ‘There is no reason a wine blog cannot earn $100,000 a year in revenue,’ a lot of people sat up in their chair.” Earn money doing what you enjoy - writing about wine. Expect wineries to send samples for reviews, especially if you have a good following.
- California Wine Club: No, you don’t need to join this club. We’re using it as an example of the money you can save while sating your appetite for new wines. This particular club carries great benefits, including up to 50 percent off re-orders.
- How to be a Wine Sales Rep: This article, written by a wine store owner, shows that wine reps can make money - they just need to show up! Wine reps also can purchase wine at discount prices. Think about it.
- How to Brew Cheap Wine: This project is more for those who don’t expect a quality wine, but who want to try an “enjoyable, cheap, and easy educational project.” hm…
- How to Organize a Charity Wine Auction: You can attend auctions, but you can hold them as well. Ask for a sponsor, and you’ve got a source for free wine for yourself…and to lure a crowd.
- Jack’s Wine Blog: Unlike the experiment in wine-making noted above, Jack is dead serious about making his wines. Besides sharing his expertise so you can learn how to make wines, he passes on various tips on how to receive free wines (like making wines with and for others with their ingredients).
- Signature Wines: Create a DIY wine program through this site and earn royalties. What better way to pay for your wine than through a wine-related sales pitch?
- Snooth: Free registration to join the world’s largest and fastest growing community of wine lovers. This is one way to learn more about wine (for free), discover new wines (for free) and explore cheap wines through interaction with other members.
- Today, Tonight, Tomorrow: This is the title for a list of local events in the Fayetteville Observer, located in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Note the first item on that list - it’s an open house at a vineyard that offers holiday music, treats and wine at no cost. Ho, ho, ho! Search your local newspaper to find events like this - and they don’t necessarily need to be at wineries to get free wine.
- Vine Smart: Why not own a vineyard? While the investment may not be cheap, it’s one way to keep a cask of wine on hand at all times. Search through this site for the vineyard of your dreams.
- Vineyard Fresh: One advantage to searching for cheap wines on the Internet is running across products like this one. Vineyard Fresh is a wine preservative, designed to keep that open bottle of wine fresh. If you’re a cheapskate, this tool might be worth the price if you want to save that bottle of open wine for a few weeks.
- Wine Cast: Wine classes and seminars cost money. Why not learn about wines for free through sites like this one? What makes Wine Cast different is that it’s a blog and podcast in one.
- Wine Jobs: If you like wine that much, but you’re a cheapskate, then why not work in the industry? Many of the jobs listed here would open the possibility for obtaining wines at deep discount prices.
- World of Wine Classifieds: Find some great deals on wine for sale, learn about wine tours and study some wine-related business opportunities all at one site.
Try Local, Buy Local
Why buy local wines? For the same reason you’d buy local foods - to help cut environmental waste through long shipping routes and packaging. But, there are other reasons to buy local - especially when you expected a cse of Cabernet under the tree, but it didn’t arrive, thanks to a snow storm. Another reason is price, as you’ll save on shipping costs and packaging prices when you can drop by your local favorite winery.
- Arizona Vines and Wines: Find a site like this for your state, and you’re in business. This site was creted to promote the Arizona wine scene. You’ll find events, maps and more - all centered around promoting this state’s wine industry.
- Birmingham Wine: If you can’t find a wine site for your state, then try to find a site centered on a city near you. This site, which focuses on Birmingham, Alabama’s wine scene, provides locals and visitors with news about events and sales throughout and around Birmingham.
- Briefs: Want to help the environment? Buy local wines: Articles like this one in the Tampa Bay online newspaper might convince readers to spend more time enjoying their local wineries and wines. This article provides a punch by offering an example of a local wine - for a mere $15.
- Choose Local Wine: This article, offered up by GreenYour, is one of the best articles we’ve discovered on why you should buy local wine. One of the best reasons for a cheapskate is the lower price for shipping.
- Drink Local Wine: If you’re going to eat local, why not drink local? Writers from throughout the U.S. offer their insights into their state wines. Only seventeen states are represented at present, but you might bookmark this page and return…buying local is building steam.
- Local Wine Events: This is one of the hottest wine sites around, as you can search for wine events locally or in an area where you plan to travel. Fine wine tastings, wine dinners, cooking classes and more, all designed to save money in gas and in wine consumption.
- Monterey Wine Festival: This is just one festival out of many, but one of the best in the country. This serves as an example of one way you can sample various local wines without pinching the wallet.
- NapaValley: This site is an example of one of many sites that offer an overview of a particular area’s wine offerings. Use sites like this to save money in gas and to find special deals offered by various local wineries.
- Novus Vinum Tastings and Events: Find local wine events, including wine tastings, winemaker dinners and more in the U.S., London and Paris.
- Woodinville Weekly: One way to discover information about local wine events is to check with area online newspapers. This paper, which covers the Woodinville, Washington area, provides a fine example of local event listings.
How to find a good price? Look for supply in bulk. That’s the idea behind wine superstores and warehouses. Now, many regional wine superstores have gone online to offer their deals nationwide. Try the following stores on for size, or at least for price comparisons, but be sure to read each site’s policies before you order. They may not ship to your state. Remember that the closer you live to one of these warehouses, the less expensive the shipping costs if the wine is delivered.
- Astor Wines: Their landmark store is located in Greenwich Village, New York, but you can peruse their store online and order from over 200 brands of Sake as well as their best wines on sale under $10.
- B21 Fine Wine Superstore: Based in Florida, this wine superstore has been passed to the current third-generation owner. The facility includes a 5,900-square-foot warehouse connection with rows of cases stacked from floor to ceiling. Expect below-market prices.
- BevMo!: With 93 superstores throughout California, you can bet that this store carries some real bargains. They made a name for themselves in 2007 when they ran a sale where customers could buy one bottle of wine and get the second bottle (of the same wine) for five cents.
- Binny’s Beverage Depot: This store is in 21 Chicago locations, and they ship to many states. While they carry a great supply of wine, you can take advantage of weekly specials on all types of alcholic beverages.
- Sam’s Wine and Spirits: Located in the Chicago area, this warehouse offers more than discounted prices and shipping. They feature reviews, food pairings and wine of the month clubs.
- Shopper’s Vineyard: Located in Clifton, New Jersey, this store is committed to providing customers with the finest selection of unique wines and quality spirits available at discount prices.
- Super Wine Warehouse: Browse through over ninety wines in this superstore collection. The discounts are deep here.
- The Wine Club: This store offers the world’s best wines at great prices at three retail California locations and online. This store prides itself on “Futures” and “Pre-Arrivals,” which may be worth the price to have the first bottle of Haag Brauneberger Riesling Kabinett 2007 on the block.
- Total Wine and More: Wowee, Zowee - every store in the Total Wine chain carries about 8,000 different wines. This makes Total Wine & More the largest independent fine wine retailer in the country and the only major fine wine company to operate in multiple states. Your benefit? Savings.
- Wine Express: Expect more than discount prices through this site. WineExpress.com is the exclusive wine shop partner of The Wine Enthusiast catalog and Web site, which provide quality wine accessories and storage for over 25 years. It’s only natural then for them to have teamed up with a great wine shop to bring their customers first quality wines at value prices.
- Wine Warehouse: This company prides itself in offering excellent wine at the lowest prices in the Florida market. You buy by the case at lower than retail prices.
- Wine Warehouse, Inc.: Founded in 1994 by David and Elizabeth Souza. Wine Warehouse consistently offers some of the lowest prices possible in the Mid Atlantic on premium wine and beer.
Posted in Features on October 15, 2008
Have you ever wanted to be in the middle of a buyer’s market? If you managed to stash some liquid funds, then you’re primed for this economy’s meltdown. A buyer’s market, or soft market, exists when there are more sellers than buyers. This excess of supply over demand results in lower prices, often so low that you’ll end up with your jaw dragging the floor in disbelief over the savings, which can be ten cents on the dollar at times.To help you search out these bargains, we’ve compiled some instances where you can fill your vault with some worthy investments. From artwork to wine, you’ll discover luxuries that could be worth more as the economy recovers. Or, you can relish the luxuries listed below as you sip your wine and smoke your cigars on some island far, far away.
The following list was compiled in no particular order, although the categories have been listed alphabetically for your convenience. We don’t favor or recommend any site or news stories over another in the links below.
1. Artwork: If you attended the Art Basel Miami Beach in 2008, you know that some works were marked down thirty percent from 2007 prices. But, although Sotheby’s is busy cutting staff, their antiquities market is doing well. In another venue, at Christie’s, several pieces managed to do better than expected at a sale of antiquities in early December. But, Christie’s International plans to cut estimates on the artworks it auctions by at least ten percent because of the economic slowdown. Is it truly a buyer’s market for art lovers? As with real estate, you must do your research. Look for new artists, student artworks and small-town galleries to find bargains. It’s a good idea to purchase something that you really enjoy. After all, it might be some time before you can sell the piece at a true profit. The sites listed below might help you with your search as well:
- ArtPrice.com: You must register to use this site, but the registration is a worthwhile effort. This site offers data on previous auction sales and upcoming auctions for pieces from a particular artist. For example, lists details on 37 Andy Warhol pieces and 130 Pablo Picasso pieces being sold at auction houses from New York to Milan will help you understand if you’re entering into a deal or a dud with your art piece.
- American Craft Council: Use this site to find shows and to browse artists. You’ll learn more about the artwork you like as well as your price range. This way, you can takes that list of artists and begin looking into their professional backgrounds, as well as viewing more of their work, to get a better feel for their investment potential.
- Artnet.com: This site can help you determine a reasonable price for an artist’s works as well as future potential. This site lists auction results, so if your interest hasn’t sold at auction yet, look for similar artists with similar mediums to determine potential value.
- Gallery Hopper: Use this site to learn more about up-and-coming artists and their fine art photography. This blog, written by Todd Walker, has been featured in Forbes, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The San Francisco Examiner.
- Art-Collecting: This art collecting resource and online gallery guide can help you find affordable art fairs by month and provides links to their Web sites, which show some of the art being displayed. Affordable art fairs range from more regional events like Ann Arbor Street Art Fair in Michigan to the NADA Art Fair in Miami, which is populated by some of the most successful younger dealers in the country.
2. Automobiles: Amidst U.S. car manufacturer worries, the car dealerships that remain open have become very creative with their appeals to buyers. Early in December 2008, one dealership in Florida offered a “buy one get one free” offer. To be fair, there is a catch to the offer: You first must buy a new Dodge truck at full retail price before you’re eligible to receive a second truck for about $3,000 in tax, tags and dealer fees. Still, most readers will understand from that story and other anecdotes that car dealers are hurting and that the auto slump makes it a car buyer’s market. The following sites will lead you to some dream deals in this market…
- Automobile Magazine: This is the place to go to find auto shows, used cars and information about the best deals. You even can catch up on the latest rumors. Consider the state of the industry lately, there will be many rumors.
- Automotix: If you lost your job, you might have some time on your hands. In that case, this site not only lists used car bargains, but they also carry used car parts so you can fix that aging machine. You can find great bargains for both here.
- Car Bargains Weekly: Most dealers advertise a few vehicles at a discount price to attract buyers. Smart buyers take advantage of these incentives and deals. This is where Car Bargains comes in - they help you find those featured deals.
- Barrett-Jackson: Looking for rare cars, consignments and odd collectibles for rock-bottom prices? Try Barrett-Jackson to see if you’re tastes are satisfied here. You can attend the shows or buy online.
- Gov-Auctions.org: Try this site for government and police, live and online car auctions of government pre-owned and seized cars, trucks and SUVs. This site offers immediate access to 4,000+ updated auctions nationwide
3. Boats: While estimates vary, boating industry insiders say prices have dipped in the past year. This, along with falling interest rates, tax cuts and calls for the cost of petrol to be lowered further, now is as good a time as any to buy that water vehicle you’ve been craving. When some boat prices fell as much as 60 percent back in 2007, you know that it can’t tank much more in 2009. According to The Log.com, “This may not be a great time for Wall Street, but it is undeniably a great time to buy a boat.” Use the following sites to find your bargain:
- Boat Bargains at Boat Trader: Find great deals from dealers and brokers on clearance boats or damaged boats for sale. Use the search box to find discounted wholesale and clearance boats or damaged boats that are still available. Choose among all types of boats in all fifty states.
- U.S. Auctions: This site is selling off many of the boats that were damaged during Hurricane Ike. The listings are linked to eBay auctions. You can click on the boat link to learn more, or click on the “Bid Now” link at right to discover current prices. In many cases, the buyer is responsible for vehicle pick-up or shipping - look closely, as most boats are located in Texas. Scroll down for upcoming auctions.
- Yachting Partner Online: What better way to cut the price on a nice yacht than to form a partnership? Yachting Partner will help you seal such a deal through a range of the finest yachts around.
- Edminston: This site might not appeal to the person who desires a two-person used catamaran; however, for those with discriminating tastes, Edminston might fit the bill. Their most-advertised boat recently has been the Alibella, labeled by the U.K. paper, the Telegraph, as “the ultimate credit crisis bargain.”
- Brewer Brokerage Yacht Sales: Look for end-of-year bargains as well as a great deal on their new Flex Boat SR 500 LX, an inflatable reduced from $37,200 to $29,995. What a deal!
4. Cigars: Reasons to purchase cigars can range from the enjoyment of smoking a good cigar to an investment for resale when the market is ripe. Although the market for cigars may not seem down to you at the moment, all it would take is a few problems to force cigar rarity to rear its head. The reasons listed at that link are fine reasons to invest in cigars at any time. But, now that prices are a bit lower - thanks to the economy. The effects are global, as a $6-billion world cigar industry is now working through a huge inventory overhang and consolidating rapidly in a wave of asset deals driven largely by acquisitive European tobacco groups. The following sites will convince you that tobacco is the way to go if you want to invest in a commodity now.
- Buyer’s Guide to Cigars: If you don’t know the first thing about cigars, read this concise article and you’ll know what to look for in a good smoke. Then, you’ll be able to recognize a bargain when you see it.
- Cigar Secrets: Cigar Secrets was created to give both new and experienced Cigar Smokers a place to find information as well as chat about their latest cigar finds. This is the place where you can learn more about cigar markets as well.
- Cigar Aficionado:
- Friday Sampler: Each Friday, the Stogie Guys post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other snippets of interest that effect the tobacco and cigar markets. Keep an eye on how weather, politics and the economy all weigh on this commodity.
- ShopWiki: Find some great cigar bargains at this site. Users and sellers share their bargains. You also can find cigar accessories and other tobacco products here.
5. Dining Out: You might have tossed around the idea of creating your own garden and compost heap, but - really - what beats dining out? You don’t have to cook and the kitchen remains immaculate. Major cities and rural areas worldwide have experienced a downturn in diners. While some restaurants are still rocking, others are rolling with the economic punches. Thanks to most diners’ low cash flow, now is the best time to get past the doors of New York’s forbidden culinary kingdoms, and you can look for “neighborhood menus” at fine restaurants in Boston. The best way to find a fine-dining bargain is to hunt down ideas and coupons in your area through newspapers and online articles. Some examples of what you might find are listed below:
- PhillyBOYB: Bring your own bottle and enjoy the blog entries on this site. They’ll point you to all sorts of dining experiences and bargains in the Philadelphia area.
- Las Vegas Dining Deals: You can find dining deals in Las Vegas even when the economy is spilling over the top. Now? The bargains rock even harder. Where else can you find a steak, three grilled shrimp, a choice of potato or broccoli and a salad for under $8?
- Restaurant News: Want to find bottomless-pit deals and all-you-can-eat venues? Restaurant News provides readers with both and more. Investors might find this online news interesting as well, as information about market prices as well as market bargains are side-by-side.
- Chowhound: No matter where you live or what you like to eat, you can learn about the bargains and reviews at Chowhound. Food lovers everywhere gather here to swap expert tips about restaurants, foods, stores, and bars, as well as cooking, wine, beer, cookware, and more.
- Broadway Restaurant Guide for NYC: Maybe you found some discount Broadway tickets (see “Tickets” below) and cheap airfare (see “Travel” below) and you’re headed to New York City. Use this site to find some great bargains on anything from Chinese to Thai foods, all within walking distance to the theater district. This guide provides reviews, tips and a special section called, “Cheap Eats with your Cheap Seats.” What more could you ask for?
6. Real Estate: A 4.5 percent mortgage could be your personal piece of the bailout pie as mortgage rates sink and inspire buyers to sink down payments into real estate. Although rates haven’t sunk that low yet, if you’ve had your eye on a little bungalow you might want to see what it takes to hold off a few weeks. Ask your broker or loan officer whether you can lock in today’s rate but still have the ability to move down should cheaper money become available. Not all lenders can accommodate such requests, but some brokers offer 60-day locks with that option. Others may charge you. Some areas may hit bottom and begin the bounce upward sooner than others (like San Diego), so do your research. You might study auctions or foreclosure markets to learn more about current rates in various areas. Here are some examples of ‘10 cents on the dollar’ real estate property sites:
- Bargain Network Homes: Find a foreclosure for under $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 or more in all fifty states through this Web site. You can search through the site for seven days on a free trial, but you’ll pay for searches after that point. Still, if you can find a true investment at that price, the payment may be worth it.
- RealtyTrac: This is another site where foreclosure deals abound. Try their seven-day free trial, their assisted searches and more as you wander through hundreds of foreclosure options.
- Zillow: Before you make a move to buy, discover what homes are worth in the area of interest. Zillow offers an interactive site where you can punch in a Zip Code to learn more about house valuations in that area.
- HomeSales.gov: This site provides current information about single family homes for sale by the U.S. Federal Government. These previously-owned homes are for sale by public auction or other method depending on the property. Anyone can buy a home for sale by the U.S. Government, but you must work with a real estate agent, broker or servicing representative to submit an offer or bid.
- Trulia: If you search this site for real estate bargains, you might find a gem. Five million active buyers and sellers come to Trulia.com each month to start their real estate search. You can search for houses in your area and save the searches or sign up for e-mail alerts. You’ll be notified when new listings match your criteria, or you can find out when similar houses are sold.
7. Tickets - Sports and Concerts: The economy and a team’s losing season could drive football ticket prices down to more than fifty percent below previous market value. In some cases, such as with the Green Bay Packers, you could get into a game during early December for about $50. Some ticket prices might include tailgate parties or other incentives to boost ticket values. Some baseball teams are freezing prices for 2009, so fans can take advantage now of their favorite seats for the ballgame. In cases like the Hannah Montana concerts, where most tickets have been scarce and prices as high as $3,479 were paid for a single front row seat at a gig in Uniondale, N.Y., the Las Vegas venue for Hannah Montana has been reduced to $14 per ticket by overspeculation. In the Las Vegas situation, people buying up tickets in large quantities with the intent of reselling them, only to find few buyers. As with any other luxury item, research is your best bet. After all, you could easily purchase airfare for two (at reduced prices) and two Las Vegas tickets for less than that one seat in New York. Here are your best bets for finding reduced ticket prices for various events:
- Concert Ticket Bargains: Because this site list so many tickets, you can pick exactly what suits your needs, whether it’s the cheapest “get-in” ticket available or premium seats at bargain prices. Keep in mind that the price may be above the ticket’s face value, and they also have a small service fee that keeps them in business.
- Theater Ticket Bargains: This site appears to be run by the same people who run Concert Ticket Bargains above. Same deal, same great prices, same small fee for the service.
- Just Great Tickets: Just Great Tickets brings on the best deals on event tickets to the top sports, concerts, and shows and events nationwide. Their city pages feature “crown jewel destinations for in-demand entertainment, and each of them has its own unique flair and flavor for action-filled days and memorable nights.”
- Stub Hub: Buy and sell tickets to concerts, sporting events, theater and special events nationwide through StubHub. They provide a safe marketplace, with fast and reliable customer service and their “FanProtect Guarantee.”
- My Ticket Market: If you’re seeking concert, sports or theater tickets in London and Europe, this is the best spot to buy and sell those tickets online. You can find bargains galore here, and you can find a bargain seat on an airplane to get you there in the next category!
8. Travel: The economy is forcing travel bargains, and just about every news article you can find will reinforce that premise with travel bargains galore. So, search for information about bargain travel and peruse the news stories as well. Even Arthur Frommer stated back in October that, “only a chump pays full price for any travel purchase.” No matter whether you’re pressed for time, looking for the best deal or traveling internationally, you’ll find a site to fit your needs in the list below.
- Travel & Leisure Hot Deals: You can’t miss these weekly travel bargains, brought to you by the American Express Publishing Company. Sign up to receive weekly deals on hotels, airfares, cruises, even luggage.
- SideStep: Compare airfares with SideStep, the traveler’s search engine, and check out special flight offers for the best deals on airfare, discount hotels, car rentals and cruise deals to popular travel destinations worldwide. They search over 200 travel websites
to bring you the very best travel values on the web.
- Farecast: Farecast offers unique features to help you know when and where to buy from most major U.S. and Canadian cities to worldwide destinations. Their “smart travel search” also allows you to easily compare, sort, and narrow down flight and hotel results for hundreds of websites. Plus, thanks to their technology and data, you can find out if the lowest fare for a trip is rising or dropping over the next seven days.
- cFares: Known as the “Costco for Fares,” this site doesn’t sell anything. But, they do hook you up directly to airline, agency and wholesale sites to book you next travel adventure. cFares members enjoy rebates that result in “below market” fares.
- Kayak: This is another great search engine to find the widest possible choice in travel options. Book direct or with an online agency. Sign in to save searches, conduct research and have email alerts sent to you about your favored travel options.
9. Vacations: Perhaps the only vacation industry that’s doing well right now is timeshares. As late as October 2008, timeshare travelers were optimistic about the future. But, in other markets such as cruises and skiing, the bottom is in sight and deals can be made. Vacation travelers will most likely benefit the most as the power to book a hotel has swung all the way over to the buyer. Use the list below to find places to stay, ways to get there (slowly) and options for various adventures.
- HomeAway: This site lists more than 118,000 vacation homes in 118 countries, where you can enjoy your vacation just like…well, just like you were at home. Plus, priced between 50 and 80 percent less per square foot than the average hotel room in popular destinations, vacation rentals offer real value.
- Last Minute: With your busy lifestyle, who has time to book a vacation? You might change your mind when you peruse this site. Last Minute offers the best prices for booking an entire vacation as late as three hours before departure on domestic trips. Save time at the last minute by simultaneously booking airfare, hotel reservations, car rentals, activities and even airport parking.
- Luxury Link: Search an extensive collection of luxury resorts and travel auctions by keyword or by destination. LuxuryLink.com is the official source for luxury travel auctions at over 1,000 of the finest luxury hotels, resorts, and cruises around the world. Many of their customers save thousands off of retail prices here.
- Cruise Compete: If you want an easy way to book an inexpensive cruise, try this site. Find a cruise, request quotes and receive competing offers, and then contact an agent to book. It’s that simple.
- iExplore: Chicago-based iExplore is the #1 ranked website for adventure and experiential travel, with over 1,000,000 visitors per month. Given their low cost of operations as an Internet-driven business, the company is able to pass along meaningful price savings and to protect you with their low price guarantee. Not only does iExplore want to take you to the farthest corners of the earth, they want to do so in a way that preserves the local environments and communities they sell.
- SkyAuction: Although this site seems to deal with travel, they also carry great deals on vacation packages. Search for hot travel deals, vacation rentals, specialty auctions and cruises, bid on your vacation dream package and win your dream get-away.
10. Wine: Outside a global wine glut, importers have assumed smaller profit margins in the wake of the dollar’s decline, while traditional wine retailers have been forced to compete with supermarkets and Internet sites. What does this mean? It means that it’s a wine-lover’s buyer’s market right now. Sales of high-end wine are plummeting, wine merchants say, and top-rated wines have found new aficionados amongst those who could only wish for those wines two years ago. Learn more about these bargains at the sites listed below.
- Wine Values and Bargains: This site is brought to you by Wine Country Getaways. It is part of a venture by a couple who, in their retirement, share the best of their passion for wine.
- Wine Lovers Page: Not only will these folks help you to appreciate wine, you can learn about great wine bargains through the discussion group and wine community online.
- Cheap Fun Wines: This site is on a mission to find the most luscious wines on the planet for under $20. You also can find all sorts of wine accoutrements here, including wine racks, glasses and gifts.
- Wine News Review: If you’re worried that the wine you spied at $20 is way too cheap for your taste, check it out at this site. They have information on just about any wine in the universe. Plus, you can find bargains here, along with tips and trends.
- Wine Thieves: How can you resist a site with the tag line, “We steal so you don’t have to”? Wine Thieves make wine simple, fun and affordable so everyone can enjoy it. Their goal is to provide you with unique, high-quality wines from around the world, at the very best prices possible, in an environment that’s open-minded and unpretentious.
Richard Buckminster Fuller invented the geodesic dome in 1947, and his hope was to implement solutions for some of the larger housing issues during that time. You might not be surprised to learn that those issues, which included energy efficiency, a wiser use of resources and a safe residence remain the issues of the twenty-first century. Yet, during the last half of the twentieth century, dome homes, biodome structures and other geodesic forms were slow to catch the public’s attention. Now, however, with hurricane and tornado onslaughts, floods, the inability for the average family to own a safe home for less and a willingness to try something new, the general public has caught on to this “dome home” idea.
Now, designers have planned dome homes, tents, personal mini-domes and fantastical structures that serve as beautiful homes, that save up to seventy percent on heating and cooling and that can withstand many “Acts of God.” While domes have their opponents, their objections - more often than not - have been overturned. Building codes, sound problems, privacy and weatherproofing all have been resolved through compromise, extensions, building in levels, and building with new materials. This type of home uses less material and labor and are suited to mass production. At the same time, as you’ll see below, dome homes are subject to individual flair. Additionally, these homes are friendly to the environments where they’re situated - true “biohomes” that connect people with the earth, if only to help save resources.
The list below contains examples of structures designed by specific companies, homes owned by private individuals, and temporary and permanent dome homes that are built with various materials and methods. One thing you might notice is that most of these homes are wide open to the DIY builder, so all you need is a bit of land in some cases to build a home. Although the homes are listed in no particular order, this does not mean that we favor one dome home method over another or one design above any other layout.
Posted in Features on October 9, 2008
- Energy Structure: In the past, dome builders found it difficult to seal domes against rain. The most effective method to avoid leaks with a wooden dome is to shingle the dome. Energy Structures, Inc., located in Minnesota, has been in the business of building domes since 1980, and they use shingles in their design. This was the first dome company to design and manufacture the double-wall strut, known as the Energy-Strut® for super-insulated dome housing as well. Another complaint in the past was the fact that - since heat rises - the dome shape leaves a large volume that must be heated, yet cannot be lived in. Energy Structure homes contain a special “dome top heat recovery system” that recirculates the air and that saves energy and maintains a constant temperature throughout the dome. The site also contains pricing for various size domes for the DIY builder. The smallest 26′ dome runs about $24,000 including materials and labor. The 44′ dome can exceed $80,000.
- The Dome Home in Big Bear: If you’re unsure whether you want a dome home, you can rent this one to acquire a taste for multi-level dome home living. It’s located close to Los Angeles, California, yet that city seems a world away as you settle into this home’s ambiance. This spacious home comes with a conveniently attached two-car garage offers four private bedrooms (potentially five), three and one/half bathrooms, and has been redesigned and redecorated by professional designer/decorators - even a Feng Shui master. A unique, octagonal-shaped foyer, illuminated by vertically shooting spotlights, leads to a colossal living room with cedar-paneled walls that reach out to the pentagonal skylight windows, which light up the center of the house. You must call for current availability for rentals.
- Timberline Geodesics: Can you imagine owning a home like the one shown at left for about $37,000? You can, along with the cost of labor (unless you’re a DIY builder). The dome size is 35′, with two floors that total 1,994 square feet. Three bedrooms and two baths plus a garage makes this a perfect home for a small family. What makes Timberline homes unique is their plan for extensions from the dome. The extensions serve as space for the two downstairs bedrooms (or an office space), as well as the large kitchen and dining area. If you’re intimidated by the thought of building a dome home, Timberline makes it sound easy. All wooden components of a Timberline Dome are pre-cut and pre-drilled to exacting specifications, and color-coded to make it easy for unskilled people to assemble them with precision and confidence. Two people can complete the framework for even the largest dome in less than two days. The largest piece for a 45′ dome is a 10 ft. long 2″ x 6″, which is easily handled by one person. Timberline offers plans and construction images on their site.
- Good Karma Domes: How can you not live in a home that has good karma? These homes are perfect for the DIY builder, as the paneled domes come with triangles pre-assembled and color coded for easy construction. They take pride in their work, as their designs are straight from Buckminster Fuller’s original patents and tolerate only the finest tolerances. According to this company, Good Karma Domes have been calculated by many independent certified engineers and 3-dimensional space frame computer analysis and tested in real-life extremes; tornadoes and hurricanes. A failure point has not been reached. They also have an unusual set up for the financial options. Once you purchase a kit from Good Karma Domes, you become a reseller. So, anyone you send their way can net you five percent of that sale. They have many options for floor plans, and each one is priced differently. So take your time and browse, but don’t expect a price. You’ll need to call for that information.
- Dome Incorporated: This company manufactures homes for all uses, from small to large, from energy efficient to unusual. Their claims to fame include the patent for a connector for geodesic home structures, a steel frame, and the hurricane-proof geodesic home like the one shown here. They’re also known for their annual summer workshop, where attendees can learn how to design a shelter for any number of challenges. For instance, in 2008, the seminar challenge was to design a shelter for a family of that person’s choosing. That shelter needed to be ecologically friendly with very little impact on the environment. So, while you’ll discover little about this company on their site (but, plenty about the homes that they’ve helped to build through photos and plans), you can learn much about their focus through news about their annual retreats. Prices for the least expensive hurricane and extreme snow load home such as the one shown here run about $15,000 for the materials needed for a 26′ diameter 2v 3/6 Half Sphere.
- Sigler Residence: This dome home, located in Pensacola, Florida, survived Hurricane Ivan without a scratch. Designed by architect Jonathan Zimmerman, the home is constructed from air-formed thin shell concrete structures which are very similar to geodesic homes. But, these shells are more like ‘ballons’ of fiberglass-reinforced nylon or other fabrics that are used to form the energy-efficient structures. After that balloon is inflated, the inside surface is sprayed with rigid polyurethane foam insluation. Steel reinforcing bars are then tied into place against the insulation, and concrete is sprayed to cover the steel. Later, the balloon can be coated with the desired color or texture, and earth can be bermed against the structure. Zimmerman also is building one of these domes in Alaska, where he says it will survive an avalanche. This particular residence is a FEMA-funded project, and it’s for sale for $1,275,000.
- Eco-Dome: According to this site, when you learn to build an eco-dome, it’s an excellent way to prepare for building a much larger structure such as a three-bedroom home. The Eco-Dome is only 400 sqaure feet, but it provides the basics needed for expansion and, when finished, these homes are simply beautiful. The Eco-Dome plan is a part of the Cal-Earth educational and research program. It is an educational construction document developed to be used in conjunction with the Cal-Earth apprenticeship course. So, if you live in the area, you may be able to retrieve and build a plan that has already been approved for your region. An Eco-Dome package includes construction document blueprints, engineering calculations for the 1997 UBC / 2001 California Code, a specification, title 24 energy energy calculations, and the engineering record. Plus, you can get a documentary DVD and video showing step by step construction of the Eco-Dome. Price? $2,400 for a single unit and $3,200 for a double unit (800 square feet), including shipping.
- Kolb’s Dome: This dome was built with the help from American Ingenuity, a company that has been designing floor plans and manufacturing eco-conscious dome home kits since 1976. Their claim is that users can save up to seventy percent on heating and cooling bills, thanks to seven-inch thick rigid expanded bead polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation. Plus the insulation is not interrupted by wood and there is no wood in the home’s exterior walls. The exterior of the dome is concrete that you paint with latex paint. This Kolb dome home consists of an A.I. 40′ dome linked to a 27′, two car garage. The garage first floor is 555 square feet with a 16-foot-wide overhead door and a 680 square-foot attic. The attic floor is fully suspended from the dome shell so their are no columns or supporting walls to interrupt the garage first floor. For the year 2003, the monthly average electrical cost for this home was $48.88. This cost included heating and cooling, well pump operation, hot water heating, cooking, laundry and sanitary. A home similar to this sold for $224,000 in 2006. Yet, an A.I. 40′ dome kit with entryways, dormers and skylights (about 2,000 square feet) costs about $30,000 for materials today.
- Hilltop Dome House: This dome home is one of Las Angeles’ unusual homes. Using ideas once promoted in The Whole Earth Catalog, this pioneering work of vertically-interconnected spaces defies domestic convention. Flexible live-work arrangements are accommodated within the lower levels, illuminated by a dozen skylights, earth sheltered and topped by a green roof for maximum thermal efficiency. The geodesic dome above shelters a vast interior studio volume for meditation, art, rehearsal, performance, or entertaining. The interior area totals approximately 1812 square feet on a site of nearly a quarter acre. The price, which was posted in 2007, was $799,000. See more photos at Curbed LA, including one that shows an incredibly crafted garage.
- Domes Northwest: The home pictured at left is a product developed by Domes Northwest. Note the extensions to the sides and at top. One previous complaint about dome homes has been sound - while the domes are acoustically perfect for musicians, regular folks discovered that a sound produced in one side of the dome could be heard throughout the dome. To counter this objection, extensions provide space that avoids that sound issue, as home offices, bedrooms, and other rooms that require privacy can be built into these additional extensions. Rooms like the one at the bottom of this dome home also provide additional opportunities for solar heating. Visit Domes Northwest’s site to view plans and more photos on their projects. This company takes into account the rising costs of various commodities, so their prices often vary. Currently, a 51′ diameter dome with three openings runs about $31,374 for basic materials. This Wisconsin home currently is for sale for $499,000.
- O2 Sustainability: We wrote about this project in our treehouse article, and it deserves another mention in this article for its earth-friendly and sustainable nature. It uses 100% sustainable materials and does not harm the growth of the host tree in any way. It will fit in any tree, single trunk, multi trunk or even multiple trees in a forest. For example, in the image shown here, the biodome treehouse at left (Interior Tension Canopy) and right (Rigid Exterior Canopy) can be connected by a swinging bridge. If heights bother you, the model can be built on the ground. Drawn, built and presented by 23 year old furniture designer Dustin Feider, these geodesic homes can be built with his help, including the lift system. Prices, however, are not as transparent as the “stealth model” shown in his catalog.
- Yurts: While not built in a traditional geodesic shape, a yurt is a biospace that connects the people within totally to the earth below. The circular design and spacious interior, the yurt - based upon the traditional Mongolian yurt - is conducive to both social activity and quiet contemplation. Modern day Yurts are self-supporting structures that are heated and cooled with the help of their aerodynamic shape. The Colorado Yurt Company, located in Montrose, Colorado, has an online calculator to help determine prices and sizes as well as options. For instance, a 24′ yurt (a little over 2,000 square feet) costs $7,570. If you live in the UK, you can contact Woodland Yurts for a nomadic tent. Their prices start at 900 pounds, or $1,568.67 USD, for a ten-foot rustic. The yurt shown here is a twenty-foot space located near Moab, Utah.
- BioHome: If you yearn for simplicity and the ability to get “off the grid,” then BioHomes may help you meet your goals. They offer every possible device available, including solar-powered toilets, to get you going with your geodesic framework, bubble windows, and insulation that won’t sag, shrink or invite mold, mildew or bacteria. BioHomes’ goal is to “contribute to being part of the solution” to a sustainable world. BioHomes’s pricing includes tubing. For instance, one-inch tubing for a 44′ biohome is $6,400 plus shipping and handling.
- Design Object: Talk about a personal space! This large inflatable “Chill Out” room was designed by David Sevoir in 2001, and it serves as a lovely space to relax both indoors and outside. This personal biodome is seven foot in diameter with thirty-one clear and white PVC panels. It weighs almost thirty-eight pounds, and it requires a compressor (available at most hardware stores for about $30-$40). You can seat up to two adults or three children in this private bubble, so you might want to share. Cost for this modicum of privacy? $400.00.
- Underground Dome: This New Zealand beauty was built by architect Fritz Eisenhofer, who wanted an energy efficient oasis that could withstand the windy coastal weather. He excavated and built the foundation for this home 12-feet below the surface. The home is comprised of five cement domes, and the largest contains the kitchen, living and dining areas as well as a swimming pool that is flanked by a tropical garden and a mezzanine sleeping area. Four smaller domes contain a study, bathrooms and the entranceway. The glass wall, seen here, catches the southern sun, and fans move that heat around the house. The underground atmosphere is conducive to acting as a heat sink, storing warmth for an even temperature twenty-four hours a day and 365 days a year. This home must be priceless, as we’ve yet to find a dollar amount on its head.
- Shelter Dome Tents: If you don’t want to build a dome home, then take one on the road with you. These “YurtDomes” are lightweight and large, made with a strong, tear-resistant fabric and non-puncturing tarp fasteners and leak proof. These tents can serve as family living spaces, camping tents, emergency shelters, playrooms and more. These 14′, 18′ and 20′ Domes can be set up by one person in 30 minutes without tools. The Geodesic Dome that is ten foot in diameter and five foot high (75 square feet) is only $480.
- Flag Pond Hobbit House: Complete with claw-foot bathtub, this Hobbit home, located in Tennessee, was constructed by War Bonnet Construction. Mr. Ansel, the owner of the construction company, has been building domes and has completed 208 structures ranging from eight feet to 92 feet in diameter. Ansel completed this 1400-square-foot monolithic dome home in Flag Pond, Tennessee in October 2004. It’s earth-bermed, and it’s the second underground dome that Ray has built. The owners are fans of J. R. R. Tolkein and his characters in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so Ansel designed the front of this dome to resemble Bilbo Baggins’ Hobbit hole. There’s no sign the owners are willing to sell, but a home such as this monolithic home can cost from $9,000 upward. Here’s an image of an above-ground monolithic structure, sans frills.
- Solaleya Home: Perhaps you would like a dome home that rotates for unparalleled passive solar energy capacity? Solaleya will help you meet that goal and more with their models that have been proven to be resistant to hurricanes and earthquakes. But, if you don’t want to spin like the earth in your home, you can choose a stable model or a “Transit.” The latter model can be added to a home to accommodate guests, to create a studio, etc. The twenty-five foot, three-level rotating model (about 6,307 square feet) costs approximately $534,000 in materials and $335,000 in total build out.
- Joshua Tree Dome: If you want to try out a larger dome home, this large 2500-square-foot geodesic dome sits on five acres with views from one of the highest locations in Joshua Tree, California. Situated very close to the Joshua Tree National Park entrance, this for-rent property is perfect for a family getaway,corporate retreats or classes. It has sleeping accommodations for twelve, with an 800-square-foot master bedroom loft, 30-foot ceilings, fireplace, beautiful wood interior, an all new hickory kitchen designed and built by Will Coon, with new appliances, and a large 360-degree wrap-around deck on the second story. A 2000-square-foot activity wing is attached to the dome, and this building includes a full kitchen, a 40-foot indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, exercise room, meditation loft, lounge area, and bar. The pool opens up to a patio with a barbecue and outside dining area that overlooks its own private valley. While we don’t know how much it cost to build this dome and its adjacent outbuilding, we do know that you’ll pay about $400 per night to stay here. But, this rate is for up to ten people, so break it down to $40 per person, which is cheaper than most motels we know!
- Zendome: This image reminds us of a mini Taj Mahal, with the reflecting pool and majestic illumination of the geodesic dome. This luxury, designed by Zendome in Germany, can enclose a floor space of 30 to 300 square meters. The dome allows up to three circular entrances, and domes can go together to form a ‘domescape.’ While these Zendomes appear delicate and ethereal, more than 1,000 kilograms can be suspended from the framework - so you can carry on with “the suspension of high-wire circus acts, compact cars, or animal cages, allowing for a new world full of possibilities.” The prices for these domes were not advertised, but we’ll wager they probably range between $500 and $1,000 USD.
- Steve Miller’s Ply Sphere: This dome home may remind you of children’s rhymes, fairy tales or your last flashback. Nonetheless, this home is viable, and Miller is a pioneer in plywood dome construction. Plywood domes are very profitable in the sense that the plywood sheets don’t need to be cut or modified. Secondly, the positioning of the sheets is advantageous for water impermeability.The basic building is inherently watershedding, and no shingles are needed. In fact, the shell is so strong that frames often aren’t needed. Read more about Miller’s concepts [PDF].
- Mountain View: This sprawling ranch-style home is nestled into the rolling hills located south of Pueblo, Colorado. Ray and Beth Merrell, owners, enjoy sculpted window openings and a three-season patio dome that frames a view of the nearby mountains. While this home, which was designed by Cloud Hidden, might not look as “in place” in the eastern mountains, the air formed, super insulated, steel reinforced, sculpted concrete home looks right at home in its arid surroundings here. Cloud Hidden claims that their homes are “the strongest, most disaster resistant, energy efficient, and artistic homes that can be built today.” Visit their site to view the spacious interiors in their designs.
- Xanadu: If you happen to travel somewhere near Sedona, Arizona, you might not be able to stop in the area to check out this rainbow-colored personal dome living space. Although the family that lives here wants to turn their home into the “Tour Home of the Future,” zoning laws have impeded their progress in that regard. But, you can visit the home’s Web site to learn more about their home and to view photos of the exterior and interior. This is a multi-dimensional monolithic concrete home that contains ten domes and that was originally designed and modeled after “Xanadu, The Computerized Home of Tomorrow” built in Orlando Florida over fifty years ago. Why did this family paint their domes the colors of the rainbow? To make them stand out! They’re definitely evangelists about these structures and want to spread the word.
- Ballan Dome Roundhouse: One problem with dome homes is that your neighbors may object to your taste and what that dome might do to property values. But, if anyone has answers to those questions and more, it would be Anthony (Tony) Clarke, an Australian dome home owner. Despite several, relatively recent occurrences of high winds that tore away roofs, blew away fences and uprooted trees, Ballan’s Council refused to approve plans for Clarke’s planned domes. Residents in that neighborhood had objected to the unusual, “igloo-like look” of the domes, but - after Clarke found a way around building codes - those same neighbors ask for tours and instructions on how to build these monolithic homes.
- Disappearing Dome: Paul and Barbara Stitt in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, built this state’s first-ever dome home. This is a 55-foot diameter, three-story monolithic home. And, to get around the “igloo-looking” objections, they painted it light blue. Sometimes, during a clear day, it’s easy to miss this house! Their 4000-square-foot home contains two garages and a housekeeper’s apartment (1,500 square feet), a living room, dining room, guest bedroom and bath and storage, laundry and a place for Barbara to grow orchids in the sun room. The cost for this dome home is unknown, but you can discover more about monolithic homes at The Monolithic Dome Institute.
Are you seeking a “green” way to build your next home? We’re operating on the principle that one person’s trash is another person’s castle. While ‘trash’ isn’t always free, using cast-offs to build a home is a great way to recycle. While the homes below use tires, cans, earth, plastic water bottles and other items - or a combination of these items - the possibilities are as limitless as your imagination and your local building codes.
If you’re expecting ‘trashy’ results with this recycling effort, we hope that our choices listed below will surprise you with their depth of creativity, beauty and charm. Although the homes are listed in no particular order, this does not mean that we favor one ‘trash’ method over another or one design above any other layout.
Posted in Features on September 16, 2008
- Earthships: Michael Reynolds, author of several books on the topic of earthships, conducts his business near Taos, New Mexico. In and around Taos, you’ll find several communities filled with homes constructed from used tires filled with earth and stacked up like bricks. The surface is then plastered with adobe or cement so the tires are hidden. But, earthships go beyond the used tire concept to include empty aluminum cans, ecological concepts such as graywater, composting toilets, indoor gardening and solar power. A note to DIY builders: a tire-house building is easy to construct, but it tends to be labor intensive and the wood framing is not simple. Final construction ranges from fantastical to elegant, including this “Castle Earthship,” a basic plan with an advanced version that contains a two-story jungle greenhouse. The price for this type of home would vary, depending upon whether or not you pay for the used tires, your construction help, and the time you have on your hands to do some of the construction yourself.
- Shipping Containers: You can find a wide range of shipping container home/office/emergency shelter/low-cost housing examples on the Internet, but few reach the elegance shown by this example. Leger Wanaselja Architecture finished this totally green container house last year, bringing a more traditional look to the residence that’s located on top of a hill in an East Bay suburb overlooking San Francisco, California. This house defies the usual super-industrial aesthetic often found in this type of construction. The 1350 square foot, three bedroom house incorporates three forty-foot re-purposed refrigerated shipping containers, which provides instant exterior siding, insulation, and a built-in structural frame. The containers were stacked two stacked on one another, and the third cut in half and stacked on itself. The cost for this type of dwelling would depend on the price of the shipping container and other goods needed to complete the construction. You have two options: find a company that specializes in building homes from shipping containers, or build it yourself. As a rule of thumb - according to the Shipping Container Housing Guide - you may expect a price of $1,500 to $2,000 USD for a new standard 40-foot container without any modifications, and with transport and handling included.
- Plane Home: No, we don’t mean “plain” at all. This home, which is now under construction, is going to be built basically from parts salvaged from a Boeing 747. The jet’s wings will sit on thick concrete walls and the nose will point to the sky and serve as a meditation chamber. The first-class cabin will become an art studio and the signature bulge on top of the 747 will be a loft. Every part of this plane will be used to build the home and more than six outbuildings on a piece of southern California property. The architect, David Hertz of Santa Monica, found a decommissioned Boeing 747-200 through Aviation Warehouse for between $70,000 to $100,000 USD, so that hurdle was passed with flying colors. But, Francie Rehwald, the new home owner, spent $200,000 on consultants and plans to spend at least two million dollars to complete the full project. At least the owner knows that this new home will withstand winds at higher altitudes!
- The Big Dig: Located in Boston, Massachusetts, this home was constructed of steel and concrete salvaged from Boston’s Big Dig, using over 600,000 lbs of materials. The Big Dig is the unofficial name of the Central Artery/Tunnel Project (CA/T), a megaproject that rerouted the Central Artery (Interstate 93), the chief highway through the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, into a 3.5 mile (5.6 km) tunnel under the city. The home was designed by Single Speed Design, and it won the AIA/BSA (Boston Society of Architects) Housing Design Award. Standing at over 4300 square feet, the structure represents a modern example of what is possible in sustainable building. Although similar to a pre-fab system, subtle spatial arrangements were designed from highway components. Most importantly, the house demonstrates an untapped potential for the public realm: “with strategic front-end planning, much needed community programs including schools, libraries, and housing could be constructed whenever infrastructure is deconstructed, saving valuable resources, embodied energy, and taxpayer dollars.” The cost is not mentioned, but if the components basically were free, then just cut the basic materials cost (unsure if plumbing was salvaged) from the price of a 4,300-square-foot home to get somewhat close to an estimate.
- Re-Use Your Home: In 2007, Shannon Quimby and her husband discovered that they would need to demolish their Portland, Oregon home. Rather than use a bulldozer, the Quimbys created the REX project, or the “Reuse Everything eXperiment.” They meticulously tore their home apart, and saved their windows, doors, flooring and more to reconstruct their new home. Anytime they needed to replace an item, they made sure those materials were “green.” Although a cost isn’t mentioned, Quimby stated that she and her husband saved “thousands of dollars” in the construction of their new home. If you’re interested in building a new home from recycled building materials, you might want to become familiar with the Building Materials Reuse Association (BMRA). This non-profit organization aims to educate the public about how to reduce consumption of new resources, avoid landfill waste and pollution, create markets and increase cost-effectiveness, and expand job opportunities and workforce development skills as they educate individuals on the deconstruction and reuse of building materials.
- Recycled Rammed Earthworks Home: If you want to get back to the earth, you can use recycled materials, soil, cement and water to create a home like the one you see here. You might, however, want to seek the help of experts like David Easton, a leading innovator of forming and delivery technologies for the construction of rammed earth walls and the owner of Rammed Earth Works. This home is 3,136 square feet with two bedrooms, two and one-half baths and a study, but it’s a modest home despite the size. The home was built with “P.I.S.E.,” or “pneumatically impacted stabilized earth” that was borrowed from the property. A spray mix of that soil, cement and water is held in temporary boxes that, when removed, result in eighteen-in-thick walls that don’t require painting, finishing, or sheetrock. The blocks then are stacked to construct the home. Easton’s company can provide feasibility studies, soil evaluations and mix designs, pre-construction testing and consulting to contractors and owner builders. So, you can build the home yourself, saving costs on some construction if you want. Easton also will rent equipment for you to complete the project. If you want to explore other earth-soil projects, Rammed Earth Works can help you with that exploration as well.
- Cob Mud Hut: If your plans to live close to the earth are a bit more modest than the project shown previously, you can build a little mud hut with what is known as “cob” construction. Patrick Henneberry, owner of Cobworks in British Columbia, hosts workshops on how to build with a mixture of sand, clay, loose straw and water. These homes, according to Henneberry, can last for hundreds of years because the walls can “breathe and transmit moisture from cooking, washing, and breathing.” All the other materials used to build these homes are, ideally, recycled. This includes the lumber, flooring, doors and windows. Expect circular walls for a more natural feel, and great thermal mass - this means that the building will retain heat and radiate it into the house as the day cools down. The price of a house like this would probably be less than a rammed earth structure, simply because it takes less equipment to produce the home. Plus, it sounds like fun - more like a barn-raising than a solitary affair.
- Mad Max Redux: Occasionally, on those weekend trips to admire fall colors or spring buds, you might run across a home that looks like something you’d see in a Mad Max movie. This is what happened to the owner of Mother Wit Writing and Design. On her return from a National Wildlife Refuge near Taos, New Mexico, she saw a “shimmering structure that looked like a church but there was something odd and not quite symmetrical about it, even from a distance of three or four blocks.” As she drove closer, she discovered that this object was a home constructed from recycled boards, windows, rocks, bits of glass, pieces of metal and many aluminum cans. Whether the owner built the house from scratch or used the materials to patch an already existing home is unknown. But, you may admit that this is an original use of recycled materials, and the cost may have been only the time consumed in construction. Before you attempt a project like this, it might behoove you to check your local building codes. No sense in spending time (if not money) if you can’t comply with local laws.
- Water Bottle Home: You may know that there’s a movement against plastic water bottles, as Americans consume about 70 million bottles each day, and the problem isn’t any less in Europe. Those bottles usually end up in landfills, but Tomislav Radovanovic, from the central town of Kragujevac, Serbia, figured out how he could put a dent in the landfill problem by constructing his retirement home from those empty plastic bottles. Note the colorful patterns in the house, a execution that was carefully planned. Radovanovic told the national news agency, Tanjug, that he hopes to enter the Guinness Book of Records and has already sent them an application. The home’s foundation is concrete, but the rest of the house was constructed from plastic bottles. This practice isn’t new, as homes have been built from bottles before; however, most of those homes used glass bottles. The price of this home would be minimal, as plastic bottles are yours for the taking from any garbage can. All you need is a foundation and recycled materials for doors and windows. If you’re truly resourceful, you can make a plastic-bottle floor as well.
- Salvaged Car Ferry: What if you’re not a land-lubber, but you don’t know how to build a boat? The next best thing, perhaps, is to find an abandoned car ferry, hire a top-notch designer like Olle Lundberg, and build a floating home that would rival most modest castles. Lundberg took this advice, but he hired himself when he found a decommissioned Icelandic car ferry docked at Pier 54 in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco, California. Lundberg found the ferry for $260,000 through shiprepo.com, and he spent $600,000 repainting the exterior, rebuilding the engine, converting the electrical system to United States standards and other alterations required to make the ship habitable. He and his wife also pay $1,500 a month in docking fees. But, with two stories and a dining room table built from an eighteen-foot-long slab of cypress left over from the Slanted Door, a popular Vietnamese restaurant Mr. Lundberg designed in the newly restored Ferry Building, what more could you ask for? Maybe another residence built from recycled goods (or, trash)? Well, Lundberg does that as well, as his second home, located two hours north from the docked ferry, was built entirely from materials salvaged from houses and offices that Mr. Lundbergs firm, Lundberg Design, built or remodeled.
Do you long for bygone days? Or, do you have a history or archeology streak hidden within your soul? Unfortunately, unless you like living in a cave (which is entirely possible), many residences haven’t lasted for more than 200 years, let alone for over two centuries. But, some neighborhoods have been around for a few millennium, and antiquity lovers can find a real estate investment in or near some of the oldest settlements discovered to date.
While some might dispute whether one region of the world holds older artifacts than others, the point to this list is to offer neighborhoods, cities and even entire regions that have been occupied continuously since their inception. Therefore, while the western U.S. might offer up the oldest human remains in the U.S. at 14,000-years-old, those nomadic cave-dwellers didn’t settle down in what is now known as the state of Oregon. Hence, Oregon didn’t make the list. (Neither did San Antonio.) Plus, while Rome may be older than Malacca, Malaysia, we wanted to offer a bit of worldwide variety for your reading pleasure. So, we included Malacca and avoided Rome and included the U.S. although this country is, by all worldly standards, architecturally young.
Just because a settlement is ancient, old homes in that area may not be available. In this case, we offer suitable alternatives. Available homes are new properties sited on old grounds, renovations, or properties located safely outside a politically volatile area or located as close as possible to uninhabitable ruins. Finally, although this list is numbered, this does not mean that we value one ancient habitat over another. We did, however, try to place the areas by age, with the oldest community listed first.
Posted in Features on September 10, 2008
- Olomouc, Czech Republic: In 2005, scientists confirmed that bones found in the Czech Republic represent the earliest human settlement in Europe, dating back about 30,000 years. This area already is known for the Mladec Cave paintings, and it’s easy to travel to the site from Olomouc, a city located just thirteen miles south. Olomouc is rumored to occupy a Roman fort site founded in the imperial period. Although a legend, archaeological excavations revealed remains of a Roman military camp from the time of Marcoman Wars close to the city. The ancient town of Olomouc ranks as the second most important and largest urban conservation area in the Czech Republic behind Prague; therefore, any home you may find in this area could hide historical artifacts beneath its foundation. You can view some Olomouc residential real estate, which currently ranges from Kc200,000 ($12,153.62 USD) to Kc62,867,345 ($3,820,330.35 USD).
- Paphos, Cyprus: Jericho, Palestine represents the world’s oldest known settlement, with significant archaeological remains dating back as far as 8000 BCE; but, like most risky investments, the atmosphere in the Middle East currently may prove too volatile for many real estate investors. Instead, you might look to the southwestern region of Cyprus as a possibility, a semi-peaceful area that would allow you to visit ruins from ancient Greece to Egypt (Turkey illegally occupies the northeastern section of this island). Cyprus alone offers artifacts that date back over 9,000 years, and the area of Paphos offers more than just beautiful sea views. This entire area was a Roman capital that dates from 1400 BCE. Plus, legend has it that the city is built on the spot where the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, was born. Enjoy everything that love and money can bring with this four-bed, four-bath executive suite with panoramic views, A/C, touch pad controls, underfloor heating, large pool, electric gates and designer kitchen for 1,550,000 Euro ($2,290,682.56 USD).
- Cadiz, Spain: Historians have long known that Phoenician traders founded Cadiz more than 3,000 years ago. Now, archaeologists believe they have found evidence that this city may be over 9,000 years old, which means that Cadiz could be Europe’s oldest inhabited city – the original Phoenician Gadir (meaning “the fortress”), or Gades in Roman times. The oldest artifacts were found sixteen miles southeast from Cadiz in 2007, but this Spanish city is surrounded by a sense of the centuries for miles. For instance, you can find a 200-year-old villa for sale just forty-six miles east of Cadiz in El Gastor. This villa, shown here, has undergone extensive renovation, yet the owners retained many of the original features. You’ll find beautiful old wooden beams in the bedroom and the bathroom, a wood burning stove and a large hallway upstairs with a seating area and French doors leading onto a small balcony. How much for a bit of history? A mere 129,000 Euros, or $190,894.76 USD.
- Along the James River, Virginia: Claims to the ‘oldest settlement’ title in the U.S. are rife with debate, and this contention would seem laughable when compared to the Middle East - except for evidence of Native American settlements. While it’s well known that St. Augustine, Florida claims to be the oldest settlement in the United States (Spain, 1513, evidence of Native American farming since 500 BCE) and the Oraibi Hopi Reservation in Arizona claims the oldest continuously inhabited settlement within the U.S. from 1100 CE, few historians have recognized the voices of the Monacan tribe. The Monacans lived in villages with palisaded walls, and their homes were dome-shaped structures of bark and reed mats. They would leave their villages every year to visit their hunting camps, they mined copper and buried their dead in mounds, which reveal 10,000-year-old artifacts. When the English arrived in Virginia, they pushed the Monacans west along the James until they were almost extinct. But, their descendants are here today, and the Monacan museum, located in Amherst, Virginia, provides testament to their survival. It is along the James that you’ll find Jamestown and Kecoughtan (now known as Hampton, the oldest continually occupied English settlement in the U.S.). This is where you’ll also find Shirley Plantation, which was built in 1613 (pictured here from a print c. 1900). This is the oldest plantation in Virginia and the oldest family-owned business in North America, dating back to 1638. The history lover can begin in Hampton, near Newport News on the Chesapeake, and work his way to Iron Gate along the James to find homes that easily meet the century-old mark and that have not been designated as historical relics. Some homes even survived the Civil War. But, the oldest homes, perhaps, can be found just west of Richmond, where the Huguenots (French Protestant refugees) settled on an abandoned Monacan Indian village in 1700. Occasionally, one of these early eighteenth-century homes will go for sale in Powhatan County. Prices for the average home in this county usually top at $600,000 USD.
- Schwyz, Switzerland: If you want to know what a timber house looks like after 800 years, take a look at the oldest timber building in Europe, the Niderost house in Schwyz, Switzerland. This house has been dismantled and is in storage, as the Swiss goverment wants to restore it to its original glory. But, visitors to this area can view another house of the same style from the same period, as the Bethlehem house - located on the Ital-Reding Estate - is open for tours. Schwyz is one of the founding cantons of Switzerland, but findings show that Schwyz has been settled for thousands of years. Artifacts that date 5,000 years have been discovered in the northern region of Schwyz in the Hurden and Freienbach areas on Lake Zurich. Individuals who wish to live in something other than a timber building in this region can find ultra-modern digs (price on request) that may, literally, sit on a future archaeological dig.
- Ticul, Yucatan, Mexico: Four-foot tall rust-colored clay pots and leather shoes mark the two major industries in this 3,500-year-old Mexican settlement, located approximately sixty miles south of Yucatan’s capital city, Merida. Originally settled by pre-Columbian Mayans, Ticul has represented North America’s oldest known settlement. After the Spanish conquest of Yucatan, Ticul was established as a Spanish colonial town in 1549. Ticul achieved the status of a city in 1847. Over half the population still speaks the Maya language as their first tongue, although Spanish is also understood. In this city, you will see the old - the Cathedral (shown here), colonial buildings, thatched roof Mayan homes - and some new - the open-air stage, hotels, restaurants, a market, a telegraph office, banks, pharmacies, medical assistance, Internet e-mail services, and tricycle taxis for hire. For individuals who seek tranquil living among ancient surroundings, yet who want to live near large-city offerings, Ticul could be the ticket. Or, if you prefer to live in the general area of Mayan ruins within four miles from Ticul, you might consider this abandoned hacienda. This property holds an existing wind-powered water pump, irrigation tanks, bebederos, corrals for horses and a cave with 1,00-year-old stalactites. While the buildings are in need of major repair, you can purchase the total package, including 907 acres, for a mere $550,000 USD.
- Asmara, Eritrea, Africa: Up until 2002, historians presumed that Eritrea’s capital city, Asmara, was 700 years old. But, scientists recently discovered an entire city under the outskirts of Asmara that dates back 3,000 years. This discovery would make Asmara the oldest settled agricultural community in Africa. The irony to this discovery is that Asmara’s architectural face was revamped during the twentieth century, as Italy (which occupied Asmara in 1889) rebuilt this capital city in the 1930s. The Italians used the city to experiment with new and radical designs, basically placing Asmara in the same light as today’s ultramodern Dubai. Growth continues in this area located south of Egypt and across the Red Sea from Yemen. New condo developments already have disrupted archaeological studies of Asmara’s ancient ruins. But, this growth allows residents to become part of African history in more ways than one. The lovely home shown here is a prime example of Asmara real estate, thoroughly modern “price upon request” living on the edge of priceless antiquity.
- Lamphun, Thailand: If you’re familiar with the saying, “older than dirt,” then you might want to consider purchasing vacant land in what is considered Thailand’s oldest city. The historic Asian town of Lamphun, if not the oldest city in Thailand, certainly is a contender for “longest continually inhabited settlement” in this country. The ancient fortified city was founded, according to legend, in 660 CE, almost six centuries before the nearby city of Chiang Mai and more than 1,000 years before the Thai capital was moved to Bangkok in 1782. Little remains of Lamphun’s ancient city walls, though the heart of the Old City is still surrounded to the north, west and south by well-preserved and tranquil lotus-filled moats. Surrounded by magnificent gum trees (shown in the photo here of the Lamphun - Chiang Mai road) and ancient Buddhist temples, Lamphun offers an ancient small-town feel yet offers the amenities provided by a nearby larger city. While beautiful homes can be had in and around Lamphun, the availability of unoccupied land for sale could provide the real draw for this ancient area. Investment in this particular piece of vacant land, located in Lamphun’s northern industrial district, runs at 25,000,000 Baht, or about $734,365.36 USD.
- Malacca, Malaysia: Located just south of Kuala Lumpur, the historically rich state of Malacca was founded by Parameswara, an exiled prince from Sumatra, in 1396. Strategically located on the ancient Asian spice route that linked China to India and the Far East, Malacca (also known as “Maleka”) provided sailors with a fiendly and open port as they passed by. Eventually, Malacca grew into a thriving trading center, but its independence was cut short by Portuguese colonization in the early sixteenth century. The Dutch then took control in 1641 and then the British in 1824. Although Malaysia declared independence in 1956, English, Dutch and Portuguese styles continue to strongly influenced the town’s architecture. Because the city originally was built from wood, there are no reminders of the power once wielded by the Malaccan Sultanate; however, along the shores of the Malacca River, the scene has probably changed little. Look especially for the Portuguese influence, as this country taxed housing by width. This policy accounts for a building that can be no more than twelve feet across but that can easily extend backwards two hundred feet, hiding an interior filled with a linear succession of high-ceilinged rooms and courtyards. One such replica of this type of architecture - on a lavish basis - is the bungalow shown here, designed with intricate geometry of roof planes and flooring (inquire for price).
- Old San Juan, Puerto Rico: If you’re a history lover, there’s no reason to live in San Juan unless you can live in the oldest part of this Puerto Rican island. This island was inhabited by Taino Indians until Columbus stumbled onto this island’s beaches in 1493 and named it San Juan. Unfortunately, no one knows just how long the Taino tribe lived here (or on any other Caribbean island), so there’s no way to know how long this island has been continuously occupied. Spain colonized the island in 1508 and moved the capital near the ocean, which makes this city the second oldest Spanish colonial city in the “old” New World outside Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Spain ceded the island to the U.S. in 1898. Old San Juan provides an excellent example of Spanish colonial architecture, most of which has been beautifully restored. For example, this Old San Juan sweetie was built in 1808 and remodeled with new amenities. You’ll find four bedrooms, three baths and 4,119 square feet of space in three-story luxury living for just $2,950,000 USD.
Did you forever want to live in a tree house when you were younger? What better way to sleep than directly under the branches of a protective tree among the stars? And, while some tree houses are minimalist by their very small nature, today’s tree house architects have gone beyond small stature to include tree houses fit for hotel rooms, lodges and restaurants. Other tree houses, although small in scale, have risen to the ‘green’ challenge to become ideal tree homes that do little to no damage to its host tree.
Tree house fans, no matter how experienced (or not), can find hands-on information at the annual World Treehouse Association Conference. Michael Garnier, the owner of Out “N” About Treehouse Resort, holds this event every Columbus Day weekend. This conference typically attracts 40 to 60 people, ranging from builders like Mr. Garnier to novices itching to build their own houses among the stars. No matter if you want to purchase an existing tree house or build one for yourself, the value of learning from experts is priceless.
In the meantime, you can peruse the following list, which contains tree houses that are for sale, or tree houses that can be purchased as a mass-produced item or - simply - tree houses that you’d love to live in. Although this list is numbered, this does not mean that we value one tree house over another.
Posted in Features on July 29, 2008
- The Manor: Andy Payne, director of BlueForest TreeHouses, is obsessed with building some of the most innovative and dynamic tree houses for his clients. He and his crew build tree houses that range from children’s fantasy playhouses to treetop lodges, hotels and restaurants. They have built their creations all over Europe from Greece to Italy and France, and Andy’s staff is fluent in French, German and Spanish. The image shown here is called, “The Manor,” a luxury tree house at its most sumptuous. The price tags for these crafted beauties range from £20,000 upward.
- Retirement Home: This retirement home was built in a live oak grove by the team at Treehouse Workshops. It is their largest project to date. This home contains 1,000 square feet and features a full bath, kitchen, running water and a washer/dryer. The railings and siding all were milled on site using felled standing dead oak. Everything in this home was lovingly hand built, including the windows and the stone fireplace. All total, this home took nine months to build. Treehouse Workshop homes usually range in price from $60,000 to “the sky’s the limit.”
- Alnwick Treehouse, UK: The refurbished Alnwick Gardens in the UK features this impressive structure, opened to the public in early 2005. The client, the Duchess of Northumberland, wanted to build an archetypal tree house out of a fairy tale, with an organic feel that would blend in with the trees and landscape. Everything had to conform to building regulations, fire codes and the Disability Discrimination Act. The house consists of a large restaurant with an open fire, meeting space and smaller outbuildings. Wheelchair accessible, the building also an expansive deck and a rope bridge loop behind the house. The building is held up with a combination of a huge network of wooden braces, concrete foundations and two concrete towers hidden within the design. This tree house was designed by Napper Architects and the concept drawings initially were produced by The Treehouse Company. The actual build was carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine Limited at a value of £3.2 million.
- San Juan del Sur Tree House: At some point in your life, you might need to ask yourself whether you want to spend $299,000 on a home in Ohio or on a tree house on the beach in Nicaragua. Think about it - after you spend a day on your Pacific Ocean beach, you climb up for a refreshing dip on your pool and then relax in your hammock as you stare at your new home, which is supported by massive eucalyptus trees with a high curved ceiling that allows for natural air circulation. This home, therefore, contains a passive cooling system and includes solar heat as well. This home contains three decks, and one is completely covered. The parking area above the house is completely fenced with teak logs for privacy, and home itself is built of sustainable woods that blend beautifully into its surroundings. Designed by Matthew Falkiner, this 1900-square-foot home is built within a nature preserve only a few minutes’ drive down the hill to the beach. The house contains two bedrooms, two baths, huge 10×10 screened windows with an ocean view. All amenities are included, so you won’t be roughing it at all. In fact, you’ll only be twenty minutes from San Juan del Sur, a Nicaraguan resort community.
- Ewok Tree House: Tom Chudleigh made a name for himself a few years ago with his Free Spirit Spheres, Ewok-like structures that are suspended from trees. Originally designed as a spherical boat, these tree houses are built with wood and a fiberglass covering that offers waterproof exterior. The interior of the house features a working kitchen with accessories including microwave, refrigerator and sink, and can be tailored by including beds and bronze doors. While you now can purchase these spheres for $152,000 fully decked out, the budget-minded tree house fanatic can purchase other options from Chudleigh through his Web site. These choices range from the basic framework kit to the fiberglass-covered shell to all the add-ons including acrylic windows. If you don’t think you can hang your finished product, Chudleigh offers to hang or take down your house for a fee. Other services include assessment of groves and sites and custom designs.
- Waipio Valley Treehouse: If you know how difficult it is to gain a lease on property in Hawaii, or if you understand the ‘legwork’ it takes to gain access to said property when it crosses through other lands, then you’ll appreciate the price on Linda Beech’s tree house in Waipio Valley on the Big Island. First, available ‘fee simple’ (freehold) land in Waipio is slightly less rare than hens teeth. And, Linda did you a favor by snagging legal road access to her tree house through a court decision rendered in 1998. Once you meander along an abandoned sugar cane road, you’ll see your future property. Linda has stated, “The Treehouse was built by Steven Oldfather and Eric Johnson, who are better known for being excellent boat builders, and they did an outstanding job. It is built on stainless steel pins and it’s just as level now as when it was built in 1973. The tree was then estimated to be 175 years old, which now means that it’s well into its second century.” Plus, you have a toilet and shower and the views overlook Hiilawe waterfall. But, you moved too slowly - this magnificent tree house recently sold for a mere $1,050,000.
- Tree House on Ten Acres: At first glance, it appears that this family is trying to sell a 3,800-square-foot four-bedroom home on ten acres. But, don’t be fooled. You’re really buying a quality cedar siding tree house with cedar built-in bunks and cabinets with brass hardware. The tree house windows are double hung brown aluminum storms with screens, and it has a secure deadbolt lock and a battery-operated security alarm. The solar collector transmits electricity to the 12-volt cycle battery that powers a switch-operated ceiling light and cigarette lighter socket outlets. The view is amazing, as the tree house sits high above Paint Creek near an artesian spring and stream-fed trout pond. You also get that four-bedroom, four-car garage in this deal if you want it. All for the amazingly low price of $1,750,000.
- Treehouse B&B: Ok, so this ‘for sale’ property isn’t built up in the trees; however, this view and the name along with surrounding Douglas Firs, Cypress, Pacific Dogwood, and a multitude of other trees can offer a simulation of a tree house for those who are afraid to climb ladders and walk across swinging bridges. Although this building has a history of a bed and breakfast inn, it is being sold as a primary residence complete with lake views, bears, and an easy thirty-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. This is an ideal home for the sports-minded, as golfing, hiking, mountain-biking, water sports and more are all waiting outside the front door. Call the current owners for a viewing if you’re interested in the $1,239,000 price tag.
- O2 Treehouse: Possibly one of the most eco-friendly treehouses around, the O2 Treehouse serves many purposes. It is a place for reflection, social gathering and day-dreaming; for observing nature, holding group meetings and team-building activities. Perhaps its most intriguing aspect is its ability to adapt to large-scale design and implementation projects. It uses 100% sustainable materials and does not harm the growth of the host tree in any way. It will fit in any tree, single trunk, multi trunk or even multiple trees in a forest. Hanging like a giant mushroom above a forest floor, the O2 Treehouse even comes in stealth mode, much like the ‘predator.’ Dustin Feider, the designer of the O2 Treehouse, has set out to revolutionize not merely tree houses but the entire concept of habitat. For Feider, the tree house is a symbol of the entire sustainability movement and a beacon of hope for man’s survival. While this unit isn’t for sale, a trip to his site will reveal how the O2 Treehouse is built. This catalog also supplies insights into various models, including an on-ground model and a model designed for areas that don’t contain trees.
- Treehouse Chronicles: There are times when you realize your age, your ambition, your competition and your fear of heights. At this point, you may be satisfied with kicking back, reading a great book on how to build a treehouse and just take a nap. In this case, the Treehouse Chronicles: One Man’s Dream of Life Aloft might be your cup of tea, as the house shown is the main subject of this book written by the “treehouse guy,” Peter Lewis. The tree house is a 300-square-foot timber frame hideaway, and the book is a large format coffee-table book that has gone on to win seven national book awards. In the meantime, you can follow the link to Mr. Lewis’ blog, where you can find more photos and details about the house and the book. Once you read on, your age, ambition, competition and fear of heights may mean nothing to you - after all, you deserve as much as Peter Lewis, right?
Have you dreamed of owning a castle? For the price of an average home in the U.S., you can own a piece of history or the whole shebang. Not all castles listed on the market command a fortune. You can find a masseria in Italy, a châteaux in France (or, as you’ll see below, a plot of land on a châteaux property) or a property in Poland for a mere pittance. If you conduct a Web search for castles for sale, you might be pleasantly surprised at the prices you’ll discover.
In Eastern European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, where many old castles and estates were often turned into agricultural buildings, schools or communal housing, some structures may go for less than $100,000. However, many of these properties do not meet American standards for “ready to move in.” They may lack amenities such as plumbing or sewer or they’ve been neglected to the point where it could cost millions of dollars to restore the property. And, as these properties become more popular, their prices will rise. But, if you’re patient, you’ll discover new properties listed daily at many of these Web sites.
The listings below are filed in price range from the lowest- to highest-priced properties, and they include properties that were discovered online during the second two weeks in July 2008. Therefore, they may not be available when you get around to checking out the properties, but you may find more properties to take their places. Their standing in this list is no reflection on value, as this list is just a list, not an endorsement of any property or real estate broker. In addition, the USD prices listed in parentheses below are an approximate value of a given price listed for a given property, based upon currency exchange values for the week of 14 July 2008.
Posted in Features on July 9, 2008
- A Masseria in Italy
The Lowdown: A masseria is a farm or estate, and many Italian masserias once belonged to royalty. This particular Salento masseria is located in the Puglia (Apulia) countryside. It needs vast restoration for its fortifications, which include cultivated lands and terraces. Once restored, this palace could be breathtaking. The price, which seems ridiculously low, seems to be part of an auction scheme, as the Realtor states no prices on the home site, simply, “Reserved negotiations,” whereas other listings show the 1 EUR price.
Why You Should Want This Castle: Although you may pay more than $1.50 USD for this property, if you have the wherewithal to purchase and renovate this masseria, you then could have a wise investment on your hands. Did we mention that this property is located near Lecce, a city also known as the “Florence of the South,” for its rich Baroque architectural monuments and for its location in southern Italy? Speaking of location (location, location), this property is located in a region in southeastern Italy that borders the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its southern portion is known as “Salento,” a peninsula that forms a high heel on the “boot” of Italy. This is an ideal purchase for anyone who loves the countryside and endless water.
Price:: 1 EUR ($1.58414 USD)
- Italian Castle Living
The Lowdown: Don’t let the ‘Castle on the Lake for rent’ title throw you when you follow this link. This late sixteenth-century castle is for sale. Originally created by Cardinal Morigia, this property contains a terraced park, grand staircases, Renaissance-style statues, a swimming pool, tennis court and panoramic views of a lake. It is currently used as a hotel, complete with antique furniture, marble flooring and wood parquet, frescos, five bedrooms with bathrooms and balconies and more for a grand total of 13,073 square feet. Yet, it needs restoration.
Why You Should Want This Castle: This castle is located in Piedmont Ghiffa, an area in northern Italy. This area is popular with tourists, thanks to adjacent Lake Maggiore and to the famous nearby Sacro Monte, a site of pilgrimage and worship for Christians. So, this steal-of-a-deal hotel could make a great investment property for anyone who wants to host guests. Or, just purchase it for the furniture and flip the hotel unfurnished. On the other hand, this romantic-looking property might just steal your heart. In that case, you might hire an architect to scope out the true state of affairs, as this price seems too good to be true.
Price:: 15,000 EUR ($24,000 USD)
- Auvergne, France Châteaux Lot
The Lowdown: If you don’t have the stomach for heavy-duty renovation, but you might be in the mood to build, perhaps this sweet little plot in France will tickle your fancy. This is a nicely-situated building plot located on the grounds of a nineteenth-century châteaux. You can build up to a 200m2 (2152.7 square feet) villa with two levels and a semi-attic for storage. You will have water, sewage, electricity and phone service, and the boundaries already have been marked off with newly planted hedges.
Why You Should Want This Châteaux Lot: It’s located in Auvergne, folks - smack dab in the middle of France. This region is famous for its cheeses, mineral water exports and Michelin tires. Outside these material items, the buyer has full access to the communal swimming pool, sauna and bar area. So, no need to build anything other than your new home.
Price:: 54,500.00 EUR ($86,466.71 USD)
- Bulgarian Castle
The Lowdown: This lion-splashed property is located in a small and quiet European mountain village at the feet of the Stara Panina and Sredna Gora mountains (Balkan Mountains). But, the castle also is centrally located, as Sopot is about three miles away, Karlovo is about six miles distant to the east and it is 41 miles to the city of Plovdiv to the south, which is the second largest city in Bulgaria after the capital city, Sofia. A river passes near the castle village and the region is suitable for hunting and fishing. An asphalt road leads from the village to the castle, which makes this castle approachable during winter. The house is a three-story building with modern architecture, electricity, running water, sewage-system, etc. The courtyard contains a large area of cultivation that includes trees, flowers and bushes. All this crown home needs is a bit of exterior work, according to the sellers.
Why You Should Want This Castle: If you do some research into the area, you’ll learn that Sopot is famous for its paragliding and handgliding, Karlovo is filled with history and roses (literally - this is large-scale rose production, including their famous rose oil), and Plovidv is an important economic, transport, cultural and educational center. All this comes together to provide you with an opportunity to appeal to a wide variety of tourists as you rent out your castle to visitors. Or, if you decide to live here yourself, you can enjoy one of the most ‘ready-to-move-in’ properties on this list.
Price:: 55,000 EUR ($87,125.77 USD)
- Costa Rican Castle
The Lowdown: Before you pass judgement on this ‘castle’ (it is listed as such), look at the price and the amenities first. This property is conveniently located in the Nicoya Península in Costa Rica, with good access and ample public road frontage. It is close to Carrillo and Sámara beaches, and it has awesome panoramic views to scenic valleys. There are three rivers, two are small and one is big, on 481 acres. And, it comes with water and electricity.
Why You Should Want This Castle: Although this castle doesn’t come with turrets, it is located in the Guanacaste region, known for sportsfishing, heavenly beaches, bird watching, horseback riding, excellent surfing, superb snorkeling and truly amazing and breathtaking scenery. The eastern border of Guanacaste is formed by a chain of volcanoes. They offer great hiking and views of the surrounding countryside. Dense and lush forests fill the valleys, and many endangered animals and birds reside here, including jaguars and tapirs. If you’re a nature enthusiast, you could lose yourself in this kingdom.
Price:: $100,000 USD
- Southern Slovakian Castle
The Lowdown: If you’d like four bastions on your castle as well as 35 bedrooms, then this gem - located in the Casoviapolis region of Slovakia in eastern Europe - might be yours. The rooms which were used as classrooms for a primary school during the last half of the twentieth century. The property carries a large park in front with a small pond, and it also is in reach of all the amenities that Trnava has to offer. The history within this town dates back to 1211, if not earlier. After the establishment of Slovakia in 1993, Trnava became the capital of the newly created Trnava Region in 1996. Any person who chooses to purchase this castle also will enjoy access to universities, libraries, theaters, a district hospital and other modern amenities against an historical backdrop.
Why You Should Want This Castle: This structure is large enough to house a single family as well as a few guests. Make it work as a honeymoon retreat, complete with a history that would suit the setting. The first written document about this castle was generated in 1583, when the Croatian nobel, Ungnada, invited other nobles to this residence for his daughter’s wedding. Although this castle has seen numerous renovations since that event, this castle’s Renaissance/Baroque stylings can capture the imagination of any newly-wedded couple. For the price listed below, how could you go wrong?
Price:: 107,000 EUR ($169,711.46 USD)
- XVI-Century Palace in Lower Silesia
The Lowdown: If your style is Baroque built with brick and stone, then this palace from the XVI century (1570) might tickle your historic decorating bone. Located in the Boleslawiec area of Poland (home of Boleslawiec Pottery), this building contains a strong foundation, an asphalt access road, electricity, sewer and water. Telephone lines, Internet access and a full basement makes this private property an absolute steal.
Why You Should Want This Castle: While the property needs renovation, there’s a place for parking and the opportunity to purchase adjoining land. Along with all the amenities listed above, this building easily could be made into a tourist hotel for pottery fanatics. Much of the pottery made in this region is of high-quality, handpainted stoneware. In 1898, the German government established the Keramische Fachschule (Ceramic Technical Training School) to foster development of the art. The added plus is this castle’s terrace with mountain views.
Price:: 125,000 EUR ($198,242.18 USD)
- 19th Century Castle For Sale in Hungary
The Lowdown: This European castle, built in the classicist style, is a gem in the rough. It is located in Kercseliget, Hungary, near the city of Kaposvar (the capital of the county of Somogy) and about thirty-one miles from the Balaton, one of the largest lakes in Europe and often called the “Hungarian Sea.” A water quality survey has been conducted on this property, and the water is spa-quality, the same as two other spas located nearby.
Why You Should Want This Castle: Although this structure was built about 1840, the foundation is strong. Additionally, preliminary construction has begun to convert this building, which has a wine cellar, into a tourist facility. The spa waters add to the possibility that this castle could earn its keep, especially with its close proximity to Kaposvar and to the popular tourist destination of Lake Balaton.
Price:: 150,000 EUR ($237,969.23 USD) (Negotiable)
- An Irish Abode
The Lowdown: The top write-up in this link is the one of interest, as it offers the Brackloon Castle Clonfert, County Galway for sale. Clonfert and its castle is part of the ancestral home of the Maddens and forms a stage of the Beara-Breifne Greenway which is based on the historic march of O’Sullivan Beara in 1603. Attacked many times and captured by Queen Mary’s forces during the sixteenth century, this castle was inhabited until the 1950s. At that time, teachers from the nearby Clonfert School were its inhabitants. They enjoyed four floors connected by a spiral stone staircase that, contrary to popular construction, spirals counterclockwise. The castle is now missing its upper floors and it is roofless, but the main structure appears sound and able to withstand restoration.
Why You Should Want This Castle: If an Irish soul is reading this (especially a Madden), need I say more? But, just to entice you even further, the tower house of this castle is located on 8.5 acres overlooking a stream with opportunities for fishing. Plus, the owner can look for further entertainment on the Shannon, which is fit for sailing and cruising. This castle is situated close to the village of Clonfert, a tiny village in South Galway bordering County Offaly. This village is well known for Saint Brendan’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, the oldest living church in Ireland with an unbroken history of public worship.
Price:: £120,000 ($239,605.18 USD)
- Fortified Castle and Jesuit Estate
The Lowdown: If you want a safe place to reside in the South American countryside, then you might find this fortified castle and 1790 Jesuit estate in Uruguay appropriate. The property is located on a 148-acre ranch in north Uruguayan hill country. Although the land around this area is traditionally known for sheep and cattle breeding, much of the area is being converted to forest. This may be the oldest castle for sale in Uruguay, as it dates back to Spanish colonial era, founded by Jesuits, and later used as a Spanish royal mail stage post.
Why You Should Want This Castle: While the amenities are limited, many parts of this building are the original 1790s construction, including the entranceway. The property contains a quarters for staff, a barn and a workshop. You’ll own cattle installations along with a fieldstone corral. While you may not want to own cattle, these structures possibly could be used for horses. The property is located about 249 miles from Montevideo, which is the largest city, the capital and chief port of Uruguay. A big plus - most of that road is paved! The only problem, really, to acquiring this simple yet beautiful abode is the price. You may need to haggle down $10,000 USD to meet the the $250,000 mark, but this one was just too good to leave off the list!
Price:: $260,000 USD
Who hasn’t dreamed of living on a private island, away from the hustle and bustle of city life? But, how often have you dismissed this dream with thoughts that you couldn’t possibly afford this luxury? Well, you may need to rethink your dreams, because many private islands now are listed for less than $500,000 USD. In fact, you can find islands for less than $100,000. All you need to do is spend a little time searching online for your dream environment.
The point to remember in this situation is that you get what you pay for. Cheaper islands, on the whole, tend to be undeveloped. This means that you may need to acquire electricity, plumbing and land suitable for building to complete your dream of living on said island. Additionally, it may be tough to obtain a mortgage for island purchases, because most islands lack ‘comparables’ for valuation purposes. So, you’ll either need cash on hand or a solid business plan for development that could add valuation to your island (such as a resort).
On the other hand, you can employ such amenities as prefabricated homes, easy-to-install solar power, reverse-osmosis water filtration systems and composting toilets. All these items, which are perfect for island living, are within reach for an island dweller’s average budget. So, keep these plus-side items in mind when you tackle your search. The ten islands listed below will give you a head start, as they lead to real estate businesses that can help you realize your private island dream.
The list below is organized by price, with the least expensive listed first, and the most expensive at the end.
- West Bank Lighthouse: The U.S. General Services Administration actually is auctioning two lighthouses/islands in New York. The one shown here, the West Bank Lighthouse, and the Old Orchard Shoal Lighthouse both are for sale. Both properties are open for bids starting at $10,000, and - as of this writing - no bids have been offered. On the plus side, both lighthouses offer 360-degree water views and both lighthouses retain basic integrity despite neglect. Plus, the new owners will claim a bit of history with either purchase. But, both lighthouses have been neglected, and they will be sold “as is” without warranties. Additionally, both properties require an easement to legally occupy the submerged land, and the properties must be maintained in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and in consultation with the New York State Historic Preservation Office. The Old Orchard Shoal Lighthouse is located approximately 3.5 miles south of New Drop Beach on Staten Island, Richmond County, New York. The keeper’s quarters consist of approximately 1000 square feet of space with porthole-styled windows. The interior is brick-lined in the first three stories. The West Bank Lighthouse is located in Lower New York Bay and is situated approximately 3.2 miles east of Staten Island, Richmond County, New York. This property sits on a man-made island and includes a riprap breakwater which extends westward approximately 100 feet from the lighthouse. There are two pilings which serve as moorings, and the interior is accessed by a metal platform and ladder. Both properties are accessible only by boat. Current price: Starting at $10,000 USD.
- Dolphin Bay Island: This is a small island that consists of 6,000 sq. ft., but it is located in a very nice area near Bocatorito, Panama, with views of Dolphin Bay. Plus, access to the island is easy, with a connection to San Cristobal Island via a strip of mangrove and access by boat within twenty minutes from Bocas. You’ll find a few large trees and some pineapple plants, and the island sits in protected waters with deep water nearby. The island displays elevation, and it is perfect for a single-family home. Current price: $40,000 USD.
- Bereck Island: Canadian islands remain a relative bargain, with several available for less than $100,000. Bereck Island, located on Stuart Lake in British Columbia, Canada, represents one of these bargains. Stuart Lake is the seventh largest lake in B.C., and it is a fisherman’s paradise stocked with rainbow trout, lake trout and kokanee. The island is approximately one acre, and it is surrounded by a shallow rocky shelf on its south side that is exposed during low water level and that is visible during winter. The island is accessible by boat or by floatplane. Bereck Island is zoned as residential, so there should not be any problems building a dwelling. Nearby towns include Fort St. James, which is accessible by paved road and is located about 60 km north of Vanderhoof and 160 km northwest of Prince George. Current price: CAD $65,000 ($64,327.21 USD).
- David Island: Settle down on approximately five forested acres in Guysborough County, Nova Scotia. David Island lies in the bay of Port Felix, about 30km from the city of Canso and near the town of Whitehead. The existing simple 12′ x 16′ cabin was built in 2003, and it does not support a septic system. But, it will provide a roof over your head as you plan for your future residence (which is, in principal, possible). This island could serve as a great fishing camp, provided you bring potable water. The view includes the mainland and other islands, which lie in the Tor Bay direction. Current price: CAD $75,000 ($74,474.55 USD).
- Chris Pinnacle: This sale consists of two islands, which comprise an area of approximately 2.47 acres or one hectare located in Jordan, on the western side of Guimaras, Philippines. One island contains a small bamboo hut with an outside seating area and a concrete pier. While no electricity runs to the islands, it is possible to transport power and water across from the mainland via underwater pipe. The mainland is only a few hundred meters, or a five-minute boat ride, from the island. The larger of the two islands holds a large area at the peak where a house could be situated. This view is magnificent, as you can enjoy the sunset to the west and unusual rock formations along the coastline to the east. The smaller island is in ‘virgin condition,’ and it also contains a flat top. Both islands are within viewing distance of a resort situated a mere 200 meters away on the mainland. This location and ease of access, in addition to the unusual stone formations, the potential for sea-kayaking and diving and snorkeling (yes, coral formations are abundant here) make these islands ideal for resort development. Current price: $100,000 USD.
- Cockroach Caye: If you want to start from scratch, Cockroach Caye (shaped like a cockroach), located fifteen miles east of Belize City, Belize, Central America, is a great place to begin. This unspoiled, undeveloped virgin swamp-free ten-acre property features 500 feet of Caribbean sea front in Cockroach Bay with approximately 300 yards to the eighteen-mile-long reef. The island sits on top of the reef that extends from Turneffe Island, located a mere 300 feet west of this island. The island will need to be cleared for development, as it is packed with coconut trees and mangrove. But, you’ll discover beautiful white sand along its beaches. If you are into fishing, you’ll discover tarpon and bonefish in the nearby flats and in the deep blue you can fish for Marlin, Sail Fish, Tuna , Wahoo and more. Cockroach Caye is part of the Turneffe Atoll , which is about thirty miles long and about eight miles wide, and is the largest of the three atolls in the area. Turneffe is the closest to the mainland and is home to a number of world-class dive sites. The atoll has a scattering of fishing camps, some of which are permanently occupied, and some of which are used only on a seasonal basis. At peak times, when combined with tourists and researchers, the atoll is inhabited by approximately 300 people. If you arrive by air to Belize City, it will take you about one hour to get to your island by boat. The seller is eager, and will consider all offers and can offer some financing as well. Current price: $189,900 USD.
- Lenur Island: Lenur Island is a beautiful and unspoiled thirty-seven acre island, situated in the crystal clear waters of South Malakula, Republic of Vanuatu, Oceania. The archipelago is some 1,090 miles east of northern Australia, 310 miles north-east of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and south of the Solomon Islands. The archipelago is of volcanic origin, and maintains a tropical or sub-tropical climate. The island is surrounded by small trees and a few coconut palms and there is about three fresh water streams that run from the mainland to the island’s harbor. From all claims, this island is the best site for a fishing stop for people who decided to come for game fishing in Vanuatu. It claims the best harbor and beautiful sunset views. Current price: $400,000 USD.
- Eagle’s Nest Island: Who would have thought that an affordable island could be found in the heart of the U.S.? Eagle’s Nest Island, located in Bath Springs, Decatur County, Tennessee, offers over 167 acres of undisturbed hardwoods, stone and sand in the middle of the Tennessee River. The island holds some Civil War history, as Union troops searched for Confederate troops here in 1863. Decatur County and its cities and communities (including Parsons and Decaturville) boasts an active and progressive Chamber of Commerce, fine medical facilities, one of the best paramedic and emergency response teams in the State of Tennessee, a host of volunteer fire departments, an all volunteer, highly professional rescue squad and an excellent education system. The county borders fifty miles of undeveloped river property, a tourism card that brings many visitors to this area to enjoy fishing, camping, swimming and river recreation, sports and hunting. The island is approachable only by boat. Current Price: $350,000 USD.
- Carrington Cay: If you’ve been to Great Abaco Island and fell in love with this Bahamian island, then this treat is right up your alley. This island is located just 300 feet offshore from Great Abaco Island, but it provides the seclusion that only a 1.4-acre private island can offer. Still, you would be located within minutes of shopping and other urban conveniences at Leisure Lee, an exclusive canal community filled with quality homes. Carrington Cay also is located just three miles from the more cosmopolitan Treasure Cay, a thriving luxury resort with a full-service marina, golf course, shopping and every amenity imaginable. The island has good deep water for dockage at western end (eight-foot depth at mean low water), and spectacular views of nearby Great Guana Cay and Treasure Cay. A rare bonus is that due to the prevailing winds, the island is essentially insect-free, and with cable, electricity and potable water available for hook-up from the mainland, it will be easy to establish all the comforts of home on your private island paradise as soon as you sign the papers. Current price: $455,000 USD.
- Katunayake Island: Located a mere two-minute speed boat ride from the west coast of Sri Lanka, this ten-acre Asian tropical island begs for an eco-tourism resort development. Why? For one reason, the buyer is required to divest in an Eco-Friendly operation. Secondly, the convenience of the nearby Bandaranayake International Airport and the short distance to Colombo, Sri Lanka, makes it easy for visitors to gain access to your property. Finally, the island is a beauty, with deciduous woods on the west side and green grasses and swaying trees on the eastern shores. The lagoon is peaceful, and you’ll enjoy birds that nest on the island, great sunsets and sunrises, swimming and fishing from the beaches or rocks, caving and shell collecting. Although the island lacks electricity and phone service (cell signal is available), you can develop connectivity easily from the main road. Current price: $500,000 USD.