Hudson Valley Real Estate / New Construction / Real Estate Stories / The Catskill Farms

Build a New Old House in The Catskills?

Catskill Farms Interior

Build a new old house in the Catskills? For a buyer looking to build a retreat in the Catskills – a  new old house – with character and charm and none of the worries that come along w/owning an antique home, the thought of the building process can be daunting.  But there’s a great solution to the problem so read on!

Twelve years ago I fell in love.  It was a Catskills cottage style home with a huge dose of character and charm. A 2 story river rock fireplace in the living room with cathedral ceilings was the spectacular focal point. A beautiful new kitchen with period details and original old style bathrooms with a perfect claw foot tub in the master bath. OMG I was moving in! I claimed the Arts and Crafts style  sun room as my pottery studio. Complementing the charm inside were mature flower gardens, decks, a stone patio and terracing.  Located on a quiet country lane only minutes to the village of Woodstock with winter views of the Catskill mountains. I loved this house!  Given the fact I spent at least 8 hours a day, every day selling real estate in the Catskill Park, I had a pretty good idea about the market, what I wanted, and where I wanted to be, so this was as perfect as I could get in my price range.  After inspections reality started to sink in…  I reassessed. The house was dark on the inside because it was sited poorly to optimize sunlight,  the bedrooms were a little too small, the land was not as usable as I wanted and there was only a one car detached garage that would be too far from the house in winter. The layout was a bit unconventional and the dining room a waste of space in my opinion. The conclusion of the reassesment? I had to abandon ” almost perfect”. I wanted “perfect” – a perfectly sited, new old house, with the spaces and finishes that I wanted. So I would have to build.

For me the process of building was an incredibly rewarding artistic experience but most buyers eliminate the option because they feel overwhelmed by the details, the cost of building and the time it takes to move through all the steps to line up their team of professionals. While a good Realtor, who understands building, will guide you through the land purchase and can recommend a list of experts to put together a reasonable budget range to work in, that’s just the beginning. These are the first 14 “I have to do” steps before a shovel goes in the ground for your new home. Some of these steps are part of the fun part of building (*), some of these steps are the not so fun part of building (**), but fun or not you usually you have to do these without the help of anyone else.

  1. I have to find the land (with a realtor) *
  2. I have to determine a suitable house site (with an engineer or builder)
  3. I have to get a Board of Health approval for a Septic (with the help of an engineer)
  4. I have to get a survey if there is none (from a surveyor)
  5. I have to buy or give direction to design house plans,  (from an architect)*
  6. I have to get the plans stamped and approved (by the building department of the municipality)
  7. I have to finance the purchase (with a lot of restrictions from the bank or pay cash)**
  8. I have to close on the property (with a lawyer)
  9. I have to get electric and cable to the site (from the electric company)
  10. I have to have the house site and drainage field cleared (with an excavator)
  11. I have to put in a driveway (with an excavator)
  12. I have to drill a well (with a well driller)
  13. I have to get construction bids for building (from general contractors)**
  14. I have to submit plans to get permits for building (from the municipality)

Now you are ready to start building! AS long as you’ve timed the season right because you cannot break ground and pour a foundation after the ground has frozen, so in Upstate New York no building starts from about December 15th through April 15th.

For the second home buyer the idea of building is even more daunting because its much more difficult to coordinate the team from a distance.  How would you like to just skip all the

Catskill Farms Interior

A “new old house” by Catskill Farms

steps except the fun part? Impossible? Until recently I thought so as well….BUT, I have found a company that has built over 100 homes for the second home market that are the perfect country getaways with attention to style and details that exude excellent taste in design and materials.  Their houses are exactly what comes to the imagination when you say “new old house”.  Artfully placed salvaged materials alongside modern green building practices.   Catskill Farms has designed, built and sold 62 new old homes in Sullivan County over the past 4 years.  And now, lucky for those of us who want to have “perfect” without the pain, they are offering architecture and homes for sale in Woodstock and Saugerties, NY. Coldwell Banker Village Green Realty has just entered into an exclusive relationship with the company for building homes in Ulster and Greene Counties. Take a look at what was just printed about Catskill Farms in the New York Daily news:  The best part is they can help you with those 14 steps.  You can skip “how do I get electrical service to my property?” and go straight to “what do I want my bathroom to look like?”.  Viola!  Your perfect new old house!

I do not get impressed easily and rarely will pass on a very strong endorsement of a product or service unless I believe in it 100%, but these homes are very well priced and “perfect”. If you have exhausted your search, long for an architypal American farmhouse or cottage but are fearful of the maintenance, renovation and repair they require, or take a look at Catskill Farms homes and think “I want that!”,  I encourage you to explore the possibilities.   Contact your Coldwell Banker Village Green agent for an introduction to Catskill Farms today.  There is nothing quite like owning your own piece of heaven here in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains.


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