Either the ultimate or the most basic tweak - YOUR OWN HOUSE!
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Old Pa

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The stats say Head-Fi’s average member is a 15 year old guy. I don’t know if things around your casa are like they were like they were when I was 15, but I used to hear a lot of “Turn it down!”, "Why are you wasting your time with THAT music?”, and “When you OWN the house, THEN you can have things the way YOU want them”. You know what, guys? They were right about that third thing.

We’ve had a thread about the comfy chair as a major audio tweak, and we alluded to a good-sized room of solid construction that you don’t have to share with a lot of other activities. Let me tell you about the ultimate (or the most basic) audio tweak; a stand-alone, modern, solid residence that you own.

STAND-ALONE: no common walls, far enough from other folks so that if you keep the windows closed you can listen just as loud as you want whenever you want.

MODERN: yes, indoor plumbing. Your shack should be built to building code and have adequate electrical service including at least 20A/12ga circuits and plenty of them. Modern construction also facilitates moderate rehabilitation to maximize audio pleasure. Forced air with A/C and filtering allows better equipment and listening environments. Finally, let’s face it; modern houses built after 1950 have generally bigger rooms.

SOLID: There are all sorts of model audio building construction concepts out there if you’re building your own and cost is no object; we’ve seen the floorplans. For the rest of us, the minimum requirement of solid and non-resonating construction in an existing structure goes a long way towards audio satisfaction.

OWNED: Although my wife and I agree that the best life-move the other guy ever made was to get married, buying the house is right up there. If you are living somewhere that isn’t worth owning, then you probably could do better on someplace to live, too. If you are a tenant, then you have a landlord with an agenda that does not perfectly match yours and limitations on the changes you can make (or are willing to make) to the structure.

You may think this tweak has too much to do with listening to speakers, but the concept hit me last night while listening to Freddie Hubbard’s “Hub-Tones” on my Senn 600s hooked up to the new MOH-R. The thought that got me going on this thread was this: how much better music sounds over my hardware in my house. None of the hype, sensory overload of critical listening to a confusing array of hardware, or feeling that you have to be analytically critical in your listening and there’s going to be a test. It’s all subjective, but if you haven’t gone for the ultimate audio tweak of a house (with the qualities described), then you still have a LOT to look forward to in the future.

 
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TimSchirmer

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I live buy the old south german saying "work hard and buy a house"

Someday, I do hope to be able to afford a house of my own.
 
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Calanctus

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Seems very sensible. Some audio books have chapters on custom construction of rooms/houses (e.g. Robert Harley's Complete Guide to High-End Audio). The only thing is, there are lots of hassles associated with home ownership, including maintenance, bills, insurance, whoever else is living in the house (no one who lives by him/herself is likely to own a house, unless you're a widow/er), natural disasters, mortgages, the risk of property depreciation...but for a real audiophile maybe it's all worth it.
 
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Old Pa

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I waited to buy my first house until I was 32 years old. If I had it to do over again, I would have done it more than a decade sooner.

The key factor seems to be when the prospective homeowner knows (1) she/he is going to be in an area for at least 3 to 5 years and (2) knows the areas housing market. Well located housing tends to appreciate, reducing to 3 to 5 years the time needed to amortize closing and loan costs. After that, the homeowner has positive equity and one of the few government subsidized investment programs left. And that's besides having a place to live and listen to music!

Maintenance and other owner expenses exist with any residence; you pay for these as a renter, too!. As an owner, you at least have the opportunity to control these costs somewhat. "House proud" pretty much is the exclusive domain of owner occuppiers; don't look to a landlord for this.

It doesn't hurt if you actually like being a homeowner (which I do) and having that control over your destiny. Kind of like picking and choosing the audio hardware and music software you are going to enjoy.
 
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erix

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Home ownership is great. I got my first when I was 26. In no time I had painted interior walls olive green, put corrugated metal on one whole wall, painted clouds on the ceiling in the kitchen.. All the (cheaper) architectural ideas I wanted to expermiment with but couldn't at an apartment.

The first possesion of mine I moved in that house, on the day it closed, was my piece-of-Sony reciever and my Klipsch KG4's - There goes the neighborhood...

Anyway, the maintenence, taxes, and other surprises are annoying and intrusive to your lifestyle but it is still worth it to have your own home.

Even when this happens:

I found out I have to hook up my house to the brand new sewer and water lines they just put in the area that used to be my street. Seems my septic tank (circa 1959 and not *quite* up to code) has an overflow pipe that runs 100' from my house and dumps into the ditch on the other side of the road. This bums me out 'cause I always try to do the green sort of things and here I find out I've got a baby superfund site across the street from my house that I made!

So now I have to pay $10K 'access fee' to the city to hook into their lines. I have to pay $1K for the parts to hook into their lines. I have to pay my friendly plumber $5-6K to dig up my whole front yard to run the new lines to my house and switch my existing systems over.

But wait, there's more.

They capped-off the line and now my system needs to be pumped ($80 a throw) when the tank is full until the sewer line is finished and tested and my house is switched over. I'm looking at about three weeks of trying to use as little water as possible cause the tank only holds 200 gallons....

The city will float me a 10 yr loan (at 7% - bastards) for the access fee and parts. It'll be added into my property taxes. The rest of it I have to come up with.
On the upside, my house will be worth about $10K more and if I refinance it at the current low interest rates I might be able to keep my house payment the same even with the increased property taxes.

Ah well, such is the life of a homeowner. At least I get to drive my lawn tractor once a week.

ok,
erix
 
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Old Pa

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(clouds on the ceiling?) And you've got some place to listen to your music. That's one reason I was out of my parents' home by 17 . . .

It was not my intention for this to be a homeowners' bitch thread, but since avoiding these situation for some people is how I earn some of my daily bread, here goes. The bad news is where ever you buy or build now a days, you are going to be subject to some level of government regulation, principally through the building code and public improvements that get billed through special assessments. The good news is that in your regulating political subdivision (city, county, or state), you can find out existing (and maybe even future) "hidden" costs of these types before you buy if you look in the right places so that you can factor them in to the purchase price. That kind of search is something I orchestrate when I represent buyers.

But, either owning or renting, you are going to face these expenses if you live someplace. The successful landlord passes them on to you as rent increases; if he/she is unsuccessful, then you get a new landlord and/or a new place to live. The successful homeowner would rather control these costs by (1) having knowledge of them at the earliest possible time, and (2) by controlling the payment process in so far as is possible. This is always better than having your landlord do it and then bill you for the costs and for his/her trouble. Homeowning may not always seem that way, but it is getting control of that part of your life. {It also gets people into local politics, and one of the few truthes that passed Tip O'Neil's lips was that "all politics is local".

As an aside, with existing housing, you also know to a larger extent who your neighbors are, what the neighborhood looks like, and what other land uses are being pursued in the vicinity. New houses are sold on the idea of having it your way, but most homeowners find out that "your way" always involves some level of compromise, too. Finally, new construction almost always involves initial costs and repairs over and above the fair market value of the property. Instead of needing 3 to 5 years to get "right side up", you have to plan on 7 to 10 years of living in new construction (generally) before you're on top of the water.
 
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raymondlin

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The only perks of my job is to be able to design and built my own house to my liking, I don't like the idea of renting, it's like money given away. I rather buy a piece of land and built something I like, it's cheaper too as I won't have to pay to 8- 12% architect fees (standard).
 
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Calanctus

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When I mentioned the burden of maintenance (among other things), I wasn't thinking of the money required, but of the time and effort. Money can be increased with effort--time, to me, is much more precious, and my effort is best spent on things that please me rather than obligations of one kind or another.

But it's true that renting leaves you with no asset gain. Isn't there a way to combine the best of both worlds--condominiums or something??
 
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Old Pa

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Calanctus: It's that common wall conundrum that spoils mad audio moments with either (1) apprehension or (2) police visits (or maybe both).
Having had both, I say go for stand-alone.

I am trying to remember time I have spent better than working on the homestead. I get some of my best thinking done when I'm mowing the acre. I feel self-sufficient and like a Jeffersonian citizen when I've succeeded at some homestead DIY. You have to get the work done anyway; why not get it done exactly the way you like it for less money? Time is precious to me, too. That's why I spend what time I can AT HOME.

I like fulfilling obligations. That action adds to my value and self-esteem. I'm just not very good at allowing others to assign my obligations.

Let's get back to the point; YOUR audio sounds its best at YOUR shack. It's funny, but it works. You have things the way you want them in your own place AND THEY ARE YOURS. Finest kind.
 
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Calanctus

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Old Pa, thanks for your post. You've given me something to think about.
 
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Old Pa

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Calanctus: I didn't mention one thing; it takes a while to find the right shack for you. Plan on a cycle of a couple of years. Start looking now. Pick out areas you like and walk them. See if they are for you. See what kind of houses and yards there are and get used to the values. House values have held up in the recent economic downturn; some call it a bubble. House prices will go down, and if you know your area and what you want (and have saved the downstroke), you'll be ready. Good luck.

An aside; around here, folks have not forgotten 9/11/01. We think you guys took it on the chin for all of us. On 9/11/02 (and all days before and after), our thoughts are with you.
 
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Driftwood

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Sigh, seems like my place doesn't meet most of your criteria, I have common walls, I am in a historic district and I have a landlord. I guess brick walls are solid though.

However, I couldn't be happier!
Ok, so maybe if the power situation were a little better here...

but those who heard me talking about my move know how excited I am to be in my new place. It is fantastic, like something out of a movie...

Sometime I'll try to get around to posting pics.

Driftwood

</self-centric post>
 
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Old Pa

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I rented for a long time; sometimes you have to rent to live where you want to live. In fact, you could not have told me during my early renting days the benefits of a house that I would appreciate later. Brick walls in a historic district; sounds nice! So, Driftwood, we're happy that you're happy, but you still have even better things to look forward to some day!
 
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kwkarth

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We're in the process of buying a new (to us) place and I can hardly wait to move in. We looked for a long time. First I would find a place I loved but my wife hated it, then it was the opposite, she loved it and I hated it. FINALLY, we found a place we both loved! A very private completely wooded lot. The whole back wall of the house is thermopane glass. The view is beautiful and restful. The house is on 6 levels. (forced exercise) I love it! I agree with you Old_Pa!
 
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