Fans of old-time movies might recall 1949’s “Beyond the Forest,” where Bette Davis sourly surveyed her rundown residence and uttered the immortal observation: “What a dump!”
Fast-forward to today and many people moored in their homes have found themselves taking a long, hard look at their residences and echoing Davis’ sentiments, if not her iconic quote.
As a result, architect Steven Kratchman has been more than a little busy lately fielding inquiries from homeowners across the region who want to make changes to their houses.
“We’re seeing a lot of master planning of single-family homes,” he said. “People want to add amenities to the property: a pool or a hot tub on a deck and outdoor areas and sun-shaded areas are popular things, and adding porches either all around the house or on some sides. A lot of houses are built right up against a cliff or a hill, so people are looking for retaining walls.”
Kratchman, a Croton resident whose architecture firm is based in Manhattan, added that many clients have been eager to carve out home office space that will enable privacy – especially if their work requires videoconferencing or telephone calls that cannot be interrupted by children wandering into the digital meetings or household noise creating background distractions.
“There are still people who are not going into the office and families with one or two spouses needing to work from home, so they need some place where they can work or at least do calls,” he said. “They want some control over their space – the backdrop, the view, natural lights – and that’s one of the things that people are seeking.”
Kratchman also noted that stay-at-home pandemic mandates served to reacquaint many people with their kitchens, which have resulted in inquiries and projects based on kitchen enlargements or upgrades. But Kratchman also pointed out that many of the residential properties seeking his input are being forced to take a quantum leap from the design styles of previous generations into the must-haves of today.
“They’re built in the ’70s and ’80s and they don’t have the amenities that the newer developments do that are popping up all around them,” he stated. “There’s a lot of housing stock where even 30 years old is outdated these days. Not everybody is interested in a project and they shop around, but they quickly see the value have properties surrounding them. We find that most people realize that staying put is an option, so they have to figure out how to enlarge it.”
While Kratchman is not lacking for work, he acknowledged the early stretch of the pandemic created a crimp when state mandates forced contractors to temporarily halt some of his works in progress.
“They can’t stop for long because it’s very expensive to keep a job site safe and protected,” he noted. “Even if there’s a pandemic going on, you have to finish things. Things are easing up and we’re seeing more starts becoming unfrozen. But it’s definitely not the same as it was.”
However, not everyone tapping Kratchman’s expertise is looking to make their upgraded domicile into a forever home. A number of clients are seeking his help to make their property more appealing for a near-future sale.
“Whatever the case may be, they can’t get people into the front door to look at it and the value is decreasing,” he said. “We are hired to tune it up and to show them what kind of amenities they can add for a good value, to give them new curb appeal. We can help them go from the garage to the front door in a rain- or snow-protected manner, or enlarge the swimming pool or make the swimming pool accessible to older people. There is so much that can help the brokers sell to new buyers.”