Category Archives: Second Homes

Cairo Farmhouse for $115,000, with studio and paddocks

This 1890 Cairo farmhouse, in the hamlet of Purling, has a tempting price tag for the amount of space and interior detail. It’s not quite big enough to be called “rambling”—a quality I love in an Upstate farmhouse—but with three bedrooms, two baths, a separate studio, and a horse paddocks, it’s certainly roomy from a city dweller’s point of view. The house is in “town,” but set far back from the road, and Purling has a decidedly country feel.

The house has some nice original detail—wavy glass windows, original moldings, plank floors—plus a deep front porch and an antique wood stove. The condition is listed as “average,” though we’re not sure what sort of work would be needed here, other than updates.

The biggest drawback seems to be the off-the-beaten-path yet not-quite-rolling-countryside location. If anyone takes a look, let us know.  Stats, additional pics, and map after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

UPSTATE JANE: Keeping Warm and Keeping Modern, In An Upstate House

Why is it always such a difficult process to merge form and function? Since moving into my new home Upstate full-time, I have discovered an ugly fact. I was aware that this new home heats with oil (much to my chagrin and irritation) and I assumed down the line I would have to make the necessary environmentally friendly and energy-efficient changes for our budget and my peace of mind. What I didn’t realize, is that to fill my 275 gallon tank of oil, I would pay $800.00. I also didn’t realize that this 275 gallon tank would last me a month. This is not cranking the heat, but keeping the indoor temperature around 65 degrees. My last house had 3 smart heating solutions. It had a propane back up for creating instant heat when coming inside, it had zoned baseboard heat (rarely used, but on thermostats, convenient and efficient) and it had a wood stoves.  All this combined to a very inexpensive heating source. We were also weekender’s and the old home was 1100 square feet as opposed to 2000. It is something to seriously consider when looking for a home, especially larger homes than 2000 square feet. I just think back to the old mansions I had been pondering!

Fast forward to full-time living and working from home, with a more expensive oil based central heating system, and you are slapped with $800.00 a month during the winter. Well considering our mortgage payments are not much more than that, we cannot “wait” to make the changes, we have to do it…well…NOW. I needed to get a woodstove insert for our large fireplace to act as a furnace/primary heat source.

 

I recently visited a local shop, and was quite disappointed by the lack of modern or contemporary wood stove inserts for your fireplace. I assumed I may have to pay more for a design that would aesthetically work in our modern home- but I assumed there would at least be one option.  Though not at this store, there are some cool modern free standing wood stoves and fireplaces, see my URBAN JANE post) At this local store I found country wood stoves (great for a different style home) heavy cast iron stoves that protruded far out of the fireplace, and then typical wood stoves with scrolling and ornate details. The salesman suggested I just place one of these wood stoves in front of my fireplace. These solutions are fine for a farmhouse, or an older home- but a home that is about clean lines and modern minimalism an ornate wood stove sitting in front of a linear limestone fireplace, just can’t work.

I was then shown gas fireplace inserts to use propane with. Now propane is the more environmentally friendly option over wood (to some)since it burns cleaner and less carcinogenicity, but it is not necessarily a renewable “green” resource.  It costs about the same to heat as with wood, (Unless you scour for your own decent fallen trees and cut it all yourself and stack 50 cords out back for years down the road.) These models were much slicker looking, and granted they come with no muss or fuss, less maintenance, and can be controlled by a thermostat and timer just like a regular furnace. However, you don’t get that real fire feeling or sound or smell. Is it worth it?

I decided there must be a more attractive wood stove insert out there than this shop was showing me (even though they claimed there was not) When I asked him  about Wittus (whom they did not carry)  he claimed they did not make a wood stove insert like that, and that in Europe they will heat with 3-4 free-standing wood stoves. I then realized I needed to do more of my own research since I knew for a fact that there were some great models in Europe, and there must be some available here to purchase in the U.S.

Below are a few models I have found that are contemporary to modern and offer a high BTU output. They should be able to heat a 2000-2500 square foot home in the winter. However, remember they will not heat your water, so you are still left with your oil heater if you don’t replace it for a propane or electric hot water heater.

The first model is a Wittus wood burning insert- and though expensive (I have read approximately $4,000.00) At $800.00 a month for oil, it would be worth it.

The Optifire Zero Clearance Fireplace (up to 50,000 BTU and heats up to 2500 square feet in the greenest manner possible)  and the H530 insert (up to 30,000 BTU and heats up to 1500 square feet respectively)

The next is Morsø 5660 NA woodstove Fireplace Insert (up to 50,000 BTU and up to 2200 square feet) The viewing window for the fire is smaller and the surround is larger, but this is also a more environmentally friendly stove. It runs approximately $3100.00

They also make another less expensive model which has the same BTU and space heating qualities but it slightly smaller for $2750.00

The last woodstove insert is the FPX 33 Elite Plus Wood Insert wood insert (heats up to 2000 square feet) but does not seem to display all the green qualities. The price seems to be a bit lower though, in the $2000.00 range before add on’s.

Now for the Gas Fireplace’s. These typically cost less money but depending on whom you speak to are more environmentally friendly, are more fuss free, yet also don’t kick out the jams like the wood stoves do, although they claim the same BTU and square foot coverage.

The FPX 34 DVL GSR Insert (up to 40,000 BTU and heats up to 2000 square feet)

two different surrounds with decent looking fronts, both the same fireplace

The next is the Avalaon 33 DVI Gas Fireplace- heats up to 2000 square feet and 40,000 BTU’s

Avalon Gas Fireplace

The last is the Napoleon Inspiration GDI44 heats up to 2500 square feet at 44,000 BTU’s- Remember these are just the inserts you see (not the “fireplace hearths”)

Five Figure Fridays! Now Here’s An Idea…

It’s always fun to stumble across a listing that you’ve seen in real life.  Even more delightful is finding one that you’ve ogled repeatedly in the real world, and discovering that it costs less than a hundred grand.  So imagine my delight at running across the listing for this property, which I eyeball every time I drive up Route 23A in Palenville.

The main building

Less than ten minutes from Exit 20 on the Thruway, this compound sits right at the base of the steep pass that leads up past Kaaterskill Falls to Tannersville and Hunter.  There’s a main log cabin house/lodge, a recreational building, and six (!) cabins with en suite bathrooms on 1.5 acres.

A smattering of cabin/bungalows

The condition is handled with a terse “It needs work.”  Fair enough.  With that out of the way, it’s a terrifically retro-charming place.  It looks like somewhere my grandparents would have stayed on their 1949 drive across the country (in their Oldsmobile sedan with three kids and two dachshunds).

A camping hut!

Brick red siding and all-pine-all-the-time interiors?  A gigantic river stone fireplace?  Sign me up.

A riot of knotty pine

Best of all, with all those buildings it feels eminently shareable.  So I started back-of-the-napkin brainstorming: six like-minded folks or families kick in enough to buy the place and fix the big issues in the lodge/rec building.  Everybody gets their own cabin, to fix up as they please.  Weeks in the main lodge are split up timeshare-style – everybody would get eight weeks a year.

Load up the rec building with foosball, pool, skee-ball, etc. and turn the kids loose.  Did I mention there’s a stone fire pit in front of each cabin, and a koi pond?  The pitch writes itself!

Of course, on sober reflection, an acre and a half is close quarters for six families, especially when the tiny camping cabins probably don’t have, um, kitchens.  And it’s right next to a busy trunk road – like, RIGHT next to.  And who knows what shape the main systems are in.

Sigh.

Still, it’s a fascinating property.  Anybody been dreaming of running a rental cottage business?

After the jump: property stats, plus a bunch more photos.  Enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry

You, Too, Can Get Paid to Live Here

A couple of weeks back we got an email from a professional property caretaker, asking us to spread the word about his services. And we got curious… just how does one become a caretaker, someone who gets to hole up in the guest house of a grand mansion while the owners are away (which they mostly are)?

Pat Linnan tells us all about it. He’s cared for great estates but also, you know, kept the pipes from freezing on some more modest second homes, as well — something many of you ask us about. Read on if you want to know what Pat does, and how he does it! If you’re interested in hiring him to check up on your pad, send him an email.

UPSTATER: Tell me how you came to live upstate. Are you a native, or did you relocate from elsewhere? Where upstate have you lived?

PAT LINNAN: I’m originally from Western Pennsylvania.  A small town called Clarion out towards Pittsburgh.  I was living in Atlanta and was looking to find a caretaking position slightly closer to home – my cousin told me to look in the Catskills.  He lives in Philly and has a lot of friends with properties around Hunter. I’d never been to the area before but moved to the Hudson Valley four years ago and have settled right in.
U: How did you start being a caretaker? What kinds of properties have you cared for?
PL: The first few positions were tied in with renting or working a regular job.  I exchanged property maintenance for housing, or kept an eye on the place if the homeowners had to be out of town for an extended period of time.  My cousins also have a property management company in Vail, CO, so I was always aware of the market while I was growing up.

I’ve been a property caretaker for quite a few different types of properties.  The first place I was a caretaker for here in New York was a rather manicured historic estate on the Hudson River.  Currently I’m caretaking a non-working farm estate.  In Charlottesville, VA I was caretaker for a bed and breakfast property north of town and in Breckenridge, CO,  I was supervising operations for a snowmobile company set on an old mining claim in the mountains above town – I lived with a few friends in a cabin there so the owners could have a presence on the property during off hours.

U: What duties does it entail? What services do you offer?

PL: Each property is different depending on what the owners need/are looking for.  Sometimes it’s very minimal – stop at the house once a week to make sure the heat is on and there’s no water in the basement and do a quick walk-through.  Other properties require you to work 50 hours Monday through Friday and be on call on the weekends for snowplowing, etc.

U: When you’re taking care of an estate, does it leave you time for smaller jobs?

PL: The property I’m currently caretaking does.  It is fairly low maintenance  and the lawn care, housekeeping, and pool are all outsourced.  I live here and manage things but have a flexible schedule otherwise.

U: What do you charge for your services, especially for weekend homeowners?

Read the rest of this entry

Repost: Athens Waterside Retreat, $549,000

I was just going to write this place up for Athens week when I remembered that Alia had already done so. As she noted, it’s all about the kitchen. Actually, no, it’s not all about the kitchen. It’s about the acreage, the water views, the beautifully outfitted guest house. As she pointed out, the former mushroom far was featured in Saveur a while back. Taxes are $8,060 — pretty good for 16 acres.

156 Washington St Athens (Gary Di Mauro) GMAP
Asking Price: $549,000
Beds: 2 + guest house
Baths: 2
Taxes: $8,060
Land: 16.2 acres plus 10.4 additional acres available for purchase.
Features: River views, barn, guest house.

Greene County Pick of the Week: Athens Country Retreat with Upstate’s Most Gorgeous Kitchen

Ok, the $549,000 price point on this country house is more than I usually allow for my Greene County cheapies, but I couldn’t resist this kitchen. It looks so Tuscan, and not in that cheesy Sopranos-way that usually shows up in American interpretations of Italy.

I’m not alone in my love of this home’s entertaining spaces: the house, built on a former mushroom farm, was featured in Saveur a few years back. The home is new, but it doesn’t quite look it. I think the builder did a great job of using the barn inspiration. The property comes with a ton of land as well as the option to buy an additional 10.4 acre building site. My main quibble is the bedrooms look tight—and I’d like more of them at this price. There is a guest house, but I love having house guests and sleepovers and the feeling that we’re all in it together if a serial killer comes …

Stats and map on the jump. Read the rest of this entry

Five Figure Fridays! “Green” Cabin Breaks the Magic Barrier

For all the years I’ve been trawling Catskills Craigslist looking at properties, this place has been on there, hoping for someone to appreciate its unique charms.  Over the years I’ve watched the price fall from well above $200k down through the upper and then lower $100s.  And today I saw that it has broken through into the purview of this column: $99,000 (as the seller points out in the ad, this is “not a misprint”).

Facade

It has been variously (self-)described as a “green” cabin and a “hippie” cabin, and the ad consistently refers to it as a “handmade one-of-a-kind work of art.”  And therein lies the rub, because Art is subjective.  There’s real design inspiration all through it (rough sawn plank shelves pegged to bark-clad logs, pull-out apple baskets in place of kitchen drawers), but sometimes the execution falls just short.  You look at the bathroom vanity, with a shower head supply pipe instead of a traditional faucet, and you think man, if I’d built that myself I’d be awfully damn proud of it.  But paying for it is something else entirely.  It’s like living in someone else’s hobby.  At the same time, it’s not so bananas that your critical eye is overwhelmed by sheer wacky charm.  So I can understand why it’s been a tricky sell.

Bathroom

That said, it is a truly striking property, with “massive log posts and beams” and lots of lovely flagstones.  Sure, the distribution of doors and windows on the wide front facade is a bit haphazard, but it’s got radiant flooring, a wood stove, solar (!), low-VOC everything, and 1.6 acres with a lake view.  And personally, I’m kind of in love with the charming Hobbit-chic design.  At $229k, the above quibbles seemed like reason to stay away.  At $99k, this is starting to look like a screaming deal.

Log Spiral Stair

More pictures and info after the jump.

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A City-Style Amenity for Upstaters: Gourmet Grocery Delivery

Think of it as Fresh Direct, country style. Eureka Market, which I’m very excited to check out, has it’s own Direct service, and will stock your upstate New York vacation home fridge with groceries and local eggs and produce… and have it waiting for you for when you arrive, for a nominal delivery fee. Eureka, indeed! The market also has a bakery and cafe in Grahamsville, which caters to a variety of tastes: pizza, wings, and prosciutto, arugula, gruyere and tomato on brioche (a sandwich that costs only $5.50!).

On January 19th, Eureka Market will host its first “Meet & Eat,” to help both weekenders and full-timers get to know each other. “The idea is really more to set up a communal dining situation and let people expand their acquaintanceships,” they write. “It’s also a low-pressure way for singles to gather, so if they make a love connection, all the better!” If you’re interested in attending, send them a note.

By the way, the market is owned by the folks at Red Cottage, a company specializing in high-design rentals that our own Upstate Jane wrote up a while ago. They’re definitely a great resource for second homeowners upstate!

Five Figure Fridays! Double Your Pleasure

This week on Five Figure Fridays we’ll feature properties that are suitable for sharing.  Each one has either two buildings (or, you know, trailers) or at least a 2-family layout.  If you have friends you really, really like, maybe one of these will catch your collective fancy – or, if you’re hoping to rent out your property to defray costs, this could give you more options and eliminate the “I don’t want people touching my stuff” factor.

That said, to stay under 100 grand for two properties requires a compromise or two.  Details and more pictures of each property are after the jump.  From highest to lowest:

West Shokan - 2 Cottages, $99k

Two modest cottages, but for weekenders they’ve got great charm and potential.  Looks like a lovely front and back yard as well.  Some terrific paneling and rustic built-ins.  The real quandary would be fighting with your co-buyers over who has to live above the garage.  $99.9k.

Livingston Manor - Cottage plus Duplex, $99k

Same idea but with noticeably less charm.  Largeish Tudor main house, plus additional duplex for a total of three separate properties.  Need at least major cosmetics, if not more serious work – but the utility-to-price ratio is great.  Livingston Manor has a lovely creekside “downtown” area.  $99.9k.

Kingston 2 Family - $95k

This is a 2-family duplex in Kingston.  Not the best pictures but looks altogether livable.  Fenced yard and in-town location with all municipal utilities.  Kingston, right off the Thruway with easy access to Rt-28, makes a great gateway to Woodstock, Phoenicia, etc.  $95k.

Olive - 2 Mobiles, $75k

Sure, it’s hard to lower your sights from Upstate Jane’s architect showplaces and Lisa’s astonishing stone real estate porn, but I say neither has the Boogie Nights appeal of these two trailers in Olive.  Garage, carport, central deck and a full acre, with taxes still reported below $2,000/year.  Park an orange ‘Vette out front and tell everyone they’re not old, they’re vintage.  $75k.

Liberty 2 Family - $59k

Finally, can someone please explain prices in Liberty?  Is it the taxes ($5,800 for this in-town duplex)?  Is it the proximity of the old resorts now being perpetually flogged on Craigslist as “luxury condos”?  There are a ton of lovely old houses for astonishingly little money.  Case in point, this adorable two-family with beautiful wood floors for just $59k.

After the jump: links and stats for each, plus a big gallery with a bunch more photos.  Happy sharing!

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A Labor Exchange for the Catskills

Has anyone gotten on board with Catskills Time? It’s a co-op of sorts, in which you offer your services, earn points, and can spend them on services that someone else is offering. These kind of time banks always insist it’s not bartering — I’ll do your taxes, you fix my plumbing — but that’s mostly because you don’t trade directly with another person. You can offer home baked goods, picture framing, errand-running, ditch-digging…whatever it is you can offer in time. Might be a terrific thing for weekenders who would like to swap some services in exchange for having someone check regularly on their home or perform other caretaking dutues!

There’s an orientation potluck on Sunday, January 15th at Stone and Thistle Farm1211 Kelso Road in East Meredith.

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