Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The House That £100k Built (Episode 2)

I'm watching the second episode on BBC2 right now, it's exactly the same as the first.

The "self-builder", widowed Sumati (which the voice over pronounces "Timothy", go figure) pays £100k for the land/plot* and spends the rest of her life savings - £50,000 - on building the actual cottage she will live in as cheaply as possible, using salvaged materials etc.

These Homey fuckers, honestly. Why don't they cut the crap and do a series called "The plot of land which cost £100k"? That's the so-called self-builder's biggest problem, designing and building a house and having it built for somewhere between £50k and £100k is the rewarding and easy bit.

* The way the story tells it, she bought what she thought was a habitable little cottage for £100k and had some money left over to do it up and is disappointed to learn it is a wreck. But it is clear from the context that any sane person would have know that the old building was uninhabitable, which is why she could acquire it so cheaply, and the old cottage is demolished in the first few minutes of the programme and she starts again from scratch.


TheFatBigot said...

By the time she's finished the job, realised cheap appliances won't do for a cooking school and replaced all the nasty cheap materials once she's tired of their novelty the total cost will be probably be £100k.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TFB, quite possibly true, but so what? That's what the series is called.

Bayard said...

It would at least be a move in the right direction if they left the plot values out altogether and admitted that the £100K was the build cost, not the total cost. OTOH £100K sounds quite achievable for the coat of self-building a reasonably sized house, so it would be a bit of a non-story if they did.

Lola said...

I can't watch this sort of crap any more for two prime reasons, (so well done you for sticking it out).

1. In a previous life I worked in construction, so I know how to build something to time and budget (and how to price it in the first place), and...

2. I can no longer get past the 'land price glossing' over bit.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, see my reply to L.

L: "2. I can no longer get past the 'land price glossing' over bit."

Ah, but that's my hobby, spotting the LMBH at the centre of any BBC programme about anything.

There was one recently about London's bridges, and the presenter explained how the funds were raised to build the Southwark (or whatever) bridge and then threw in, as an aside "Once the new bridge was built, land values on the south bank of the Thames shot up."

Implied was the fact that the Aldermen of Westminster who did the whip round to raise the money to build the bridge also happened - by pure coincidence - to be the lucky landowners.

Kj said...

MW: the bridge house estates, is a perfect example of "sort of LVT, but not". After the initial building, real estate were alotted to a trust, from which income were supposed to maintain the bridges. Since it doesn´t really cost that much to maintain the bridges, it seems they´re busy wasting it on "charities" and other toffery. So instead of building and maintaining a bridge through taxing what would certainly be a microscopic percentage on land around the thames, you build some separate entity with bells and whistles and more rent-seeking.

Bayard said...

KJ, OTOH, if you own land on the other side of a river from a metropolis, them funding the building and maintenance of the bridge from rents of that land is fair enough. You lay out the money and you reap the reward. It's the neighbouring landowners who haven't paid a penny towards the bridge who are the free-riders.

Kj said...

Bayard: that´s true enough. I´m sure it has happened from time to time that landowners have themselves contributed to land-value increasing amenities themselves.
It´s just not very efficient. As you say yourself, it´s a public good, with free-riders and all. And having a separate org that drags in four times it´s needs, is unecessary. I´m sure it can be argued that some times, things that private initiatives accomplish wouldn´t be done otherwise. I´m not sure of the history, but building a bridge in a city like London seems like a sure-fire public works project to me.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, it's still rent collecting. People only pay to cross the bridge because of where it is and not what it is.

Kj, of course most landowners contribute to lan values, the same as everybody else.

But you can only ever influence the value of surrounding plots of land (positively or negatively), you cannot influence the value of your own plot of land.

Think about a nice house in a nice street with nice people. The family from hell buys a house there, the value of the surrounding houses goes down.

The family from hell then decides to sell up and move away, they can sell it for a high price on the basis that everybody else on the street is nice.

So while that family has reduced values for neighbours in the interim, it has not lost a penny itself.

Kj said...

MW: I was talking more about the example of London bridge. Contributing in monetary terms to projects that influence land values.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj, yes, the bridge itself added value, but the value is the same whether landowners pay for it or anybody else.

And even if the landowners pay for the entire bridge, the chances are they their extra income (whether from land rents or from bridge tolls) vastly exceeds the cost (as your earlier example shows).

And we know that if landowners can fob off the cost on to anybody else, they will do so. That's what governments are for!

Kj said...

MW: that was my point.