Florida Lifestyle Homes of Fort Myers, Florida, notes trend among luxury property owners to tear down older, well-located ranch-style homes, replace with custom luxury models

FORT MYERS, Florida , February 19, 2012 (press release) – Florida custom builder Florida Lifestyle Homes of Fort Myers has noted a recent trend among luxury property owners to replace older, well-located ranch style homes with custom luxury homes more in tune with today's desired styles and features.

There’s a phrase from a popular 1990s song which could very easily herald the trend to “tear down” homes in older neighborhoods and replace them with new construction: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Many Southwest Florida neighborhoods were built in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. At that time great locations were available at very reasonable prices. Restrictions on development were not as onerous as they are today, allowing developers to build on large, well-located homesites. Many of the developments provided sidewalks, street lights, water and sewer, as well as deep water river access canal sites and riverfront sites.

The building trend in those early years was geared toward long, low, single story ranch style homes, typically with two or three bedrooms and under 2,000 square feet of living area. These communities are now developed with comparatively small, outdated homes with features no longer desired by purchasers who can afford a well located deep water canal site with river access. In times past, some new siding, a new tile roof, and updated fixtures was all it took to meet changing tastes. However, now these homes are so outdated that there is no way that cosmetic changes can make them acceptable to the current market. All they have going for them is a superb location.

What some owners choose to do is a “tear down.” The older styled homes, even many with quality features and recent renovations, are torn down to make way for newly built homes commensurate with the value of the site. These new custom homes are all built with the features luxury home buyers desire.

That is the choice homeowners Jim and Lynda Saxon made. They purchased a deep water canal front home in Town and River, an exclusive south Ft. Myers neighborhood, in the summer of 2002. The home was built in 1963 and over the years had been upgraded with the addition of a pool, boat dock with lift and a new tile roof. Just three lots from the Caloosahatchee River, the homesite is perfectly situated to accommodate the Saxons’ love of boating.

They had become acquainted with Southwest Florida in the same way so many residents do – by vacationing in the area. They bought a timeshare on Sanibel in 1985 and about 15 years later began searching for a permanent home. After several months spent driving neighborhoods and looking at homes for sale, they found a gem in Town & River.

“We bought this house lock, stock and barrel,” explained Jim. “Completely furnished, right down to the dinnerware. It had been professionally decorated.” They loved everything about it.

The Saxons also grew to love their neighborhood, a microcosm of about 20 homes on a cul-de-sac offering privacy and the luxury of waterfront and riverfront living. Although part-time residents, they formed close friendships with their neighbors and looked forward to eventually retiring in the upscale, genteel community.

“This location is perfect for our lifestyle – close to the airport for our frequent trips, right on the water for our boating,” Jim added.

“But our family kept growing,” said Lynda, and a decade later they realized a two-bedroom home would no longer suit them. They wanted a third bedroom. But to get that extra living area, they would have to comply with permitting regulations that limited the cost of proposed improvements to less than 50% of the fair market value of the non-conforming structure prior to the improvement. As with all older waterfront homes, the value of the property was in the land, not the house itself, and building the addition the Saxons wanted was out of the question.

They resigned themselves to the idea that they were going to have to move, and began the search process all over again. But they kept coming back to the fact that they loved their neighborhood. They asked a neighbor, a professional real estate appraiser, who they should talk to about what some people might consider to be a drastic option – tear down the existing home and build from scratch. Two companies were recommended to them, “but when we talked to Bill Ennen, president of Florida Lifestyle Homes of Fort Myers, we knew he was the builder for us.”

As it turns out, they weren’t the only ones in the neighborhood to choose this option. Where their street takes a gentle curve toward the river, only 4 homes are the original structures. Eight homes, in addition to the Saxons’, have been demolished, with construction complete, underway or set to begin on 6 of the sites. The remaining 8 homes have been so extensively remodeled they don’t even bear a resemblance to their original design.

Where the Saxons once owned a 2 bedroom ranch style house of approximately 1,600 square feet, they will soon be living in an elegant custom two-story home. They will enjoy many of today’s Florida lifestyle trends in their new home, such as an outdoor kitchen and a custom-built pool with a tanning shelf and bubbler at one end and a whirlpool at the other. The views from their new second story master bedroom are breathtaking and the Saxons are making the most of their location by including a screened lanai off the master bedroom. Sweeping views of the river will be just steps from their west-facing master suite.

The new home will be in keeping with the size and style of the neighborhood. The majority of the remodeled or newly constructed homes on the street range from approximately 5,000 square feet to over 10,000 square feet. The Saxons’ custom design will offer 3,744 square feet of living area and 5,310 total square feet. The exterior will be embellished with precast columns flanking the entrance which opens to a dramatic foyer with a coffered ceiling. Volume ceiling heights, 8’ solid core doors, furniture-style kitchen cabinets, and exaggerated base moldings will all create the impression of a home that lives and feels larger than its actual square footage.

Ample work space in the island kitchen and an unimpeded traffic flow into a massive great room with a bar/entertainment center will further enhance the Florida lifestyle and reflect modern design principles. Two large guest suites, each with private baths, and a den with custom waffle ceiling detail are all situated to take advantage of the view. A 3+ car garage with tandem parking and a laundry chute from the second floor are custom touches that will provide functional ease of living.

All of this on a lot that once held a small ranch style two-bedroom home! But a tear-down is not always just about style. The Saxons will also appreciate a home that has been built to the current elevation requirements, has impact storm-rated windows and sliding glass doors and today’s high efficiency components. Dual zone high efficiency air conditioning and Icynene® insulation will all reduce energy use and, in turn, monthly utility bills for the life of the home.

“We continue to receive inquiries from homeowners considering tearing down and rebuilding rather than renovating their existing home,” said Brad Kiraly, director of sales for Florida Lifestyle Homes of Fort Myers. Like the Saxons, these folks have realized that the well-known real estate mantra of “location, location, location” is true. As Southwest Florida runs out of buildable waterfront and other highly desirable locations, “tear downs” will become the norm, not the exception.

For more information on Florida Lifestyle Homes of Fort Myers call 230-561-8022 or visit flhfl.com.

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