This year it was easy for Laurel, my wife, and I to visit most of the newly-built Salem houses in the 2022 Tour of Homes, because there were only three. Seven of the eleven homes in the Tour were in Dallas and one was in Monmouth.
Here's photos, and my commentary on them, for the two houses in south Salem that we visited. We passed on a house in NE Salem. The Tour of Homes runs from Saturday, July 9 through Sunday, July 17. Hours are noon-6 pm on weekends, 6 pm-9 pm on weeknights. Free admission.
This is a $785,000 house at 3311 Felton Street S. Our first impression was, "Wow, sure doesn't look like it should be that expensive." But we haven't bought a house since 1990, when we paid $145,000 for a 3,200 square foot house built in 1973 on five acres in rural south Salem.
So, yeah, times have changed. Building costs have risen. Land is more expensive. Tastes have evolved toward more costly materials. For example, our kitchen originally had formica. When we remodeled, the countertops became marble.
I realize that lots have to be smaller in order to accommodate the density needed to comply with Oregon's land use laws that protect farm and forest land by establishing urban growth boundaries around cities. But for $785,000, to us this seems like a really skimpy yard.
Naturally every new house these days seems to have a walk-in closet. In our 1973 house, you could walk into our bedroom closet if you pushed the hangers aside, but you'd only make it a few feet. So this is another feature we envy.
We then headed to this $715,000 house at 6074 Evangelista Avenue S. If you visit this Tour home and use GPS, be aware that Google Maps only had Evangelista Street, no Avenue. So we and quite a few others ended up perplexed at the street address after Google Maps said "you've arrived at your destination." No, the tour home is on a new avenue a ways further up Evangelista.
A room at the front of the house had the most appealing view. This is a problem with building houses with garages in the front next to the street. If cars were parked behind houses via an alley, as in the Fairview Addition development, the living room area can look out onto the street, which in this case would have made for a more attractive view.
One reason we go to the Tour of Homes each year is to get some perspective on our own house -- which both pleases us and irritates us, given its age and lack of some modern features. However, after I parked my car in our carport (no attached garage) I had to take a photo to show what a difference there is between city living and country living.
Yes, there's pluses and minuses to each. What concerns Laurel and me, though, is that nowadays new houses in Salem often lack even a slight connection to nature. Our problem is just the opposite. We have so much nature around us, it's a pain to maintain and keep under control. Especially at our age, 73. But going to the Tour of Homes reminded us of how wonderful it is for us to be able to live where we do.
Inside, our house has a warm feel with all the wood that was typical in houses built way back when. I shudder to think what all the lumber in our house would cost now, though I've heard that lumber prices have fallen from their shocking peak a while back.
So once again, we came away from a Tour of Homes visit feeling good about our own house. But I still wish we had a fireplace and a covered seating area outside, and Laurel would love to have a genuine walk-in closet.
UPDATE: A commenter on this post shared an interesting New York Times story from 2000, "In Portland, Houses Are Friendly. Or Else." A few excerpts:
They have seen the enemy creep into the settled, earth-toned neighborhoods of this city -- the boxy transplants from the suburban netherland. Houses that turn their backs to the street. Houses that embrace a nesting pair of monster-size sport utility vehicles and little else. Houses that give no idea where the front door might be.
Snout houses, they call them, all garage and muscled front facades. And for the last eight months, Portland has made the snout house illegal, going to a frontier of design dictate where no other big American city has gone before.
...In this ever-quirky city of just under half a million people, the term ''snout house'' has since been shunned as offensive to people who live in snout houses. But the offending structure has been clearly defined in the city code: the garage cannot dominate the front of the house or protrude; the main entrance has to be close to the street and clearly identifiable from the sidewalk; and the side of the house that faces the street must have a certain minimum of window and door space.