Your Low-Tax Dream House
A New Approach to Slashing the Cost of Home Ownership (May have cover scuffs)
By Steve Carlson
This is a small-press classic, first issued in 1989, that has helped thousands of people to build or remodel better houses for less money. We’ve not only kept it in print, but actually slashed the price of the book itself, to just $6.95 if you buy it from our Web site!
The book was acclaimed by Better Homes and Gardens as a source of “Strategies that can save you money!” A review in Practical Homeownernoted: “In this excellent book, Steve Carlson describes why basic decisions, such as the kind of roof you choose, should be looked at in the context of tax burdens as well as the usual considerations of durability and style.” It was later picked up by a big press (Avon) and republished under the title The Best Home for Less. The Avon book has now sold out, so the original small-press edition is back in demand.
Carlson offers a unique approach to holding down all costs of home ownership. He starts by looking at the arbitrary rules that property-tax assessors use in determining the “value” of the house for tax purposes. Then, he designs features in ways that allow the best-possible house with the lowest-possible property taxes. In the process, he follows many diversions to assure that you get maximum value, every step of the way in building or remodeling your dream house. Among the things you’ll learn from this book:
- How to easily decipher the complex ins-and-outs of property tax assessments
- The “magic date” for construction that can save you thousands of dollars
- The most cost-efficient designs, which also look good and serve practical needs
- How to slash to the bone the cost of building great kitchens and baths
- The optimal locations, from the standpoints of price and quality of life
- Making the most out of both finished and unfinished spaces
- Cheap heating and cooling
- The advantages of an old-fashioned cold pantry
- Making the most of sweat equity
- The advantages of avoiding built-ins
- And much, much more.
Note: One of the advantages of the book originally was extensive research by the author on the property-tax systems within each state. Obviously, state laws, municipal ordinances, and local conventions may have changed since 1989, so some of those specific provisions are no longer current. However, the conclusions drawn for building and remodeling better homes for less money are as valid today as they were when the book was new. And if you are interested in the specifics of tax assessment in your community, the book is still one of the best sources of information on what to look for and where to find it. Most of the remaining copies have slight scuffs on the cover, and we are selling them at a deep discount. At the low sale price, you might want to order copies for any and all of your friends who are thinking about home ownership, or who are eager to move up to a dream house on a limited budget!
Table of Contents
Introduction: Low Taxes and Affordability
Section One: Getting More for Less Money
- Taking Control: A Low-Tax Strategy
You can reduce all costs of owning a dream house to a percentage of the going rate. This will require a few months of effort, but the long-term savings can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Tax Assessments: Deciphering the Smoke and Mirrors
By understanding how houses are assessed, you can make the system work for you, rather than against you.
- Location, and How to Avoid It
Yes, there are still some real estate bargains. The best location for your dream house may be temporarily disguised as a “pink trailer.”
- Timing and Scheduling
The amount of money you spend is heavily influenced by when you spend it. Through shrewd timing, you can save thousands of dollars in mortgage payments and property taxes.
- House Design: Keeping it Simple
An affordable house begins with an affordable design. Extra corners and angles add more to your tax burden than they add to the resale value of your house.
- Exteriors: Paying Taxes to Please Tourists
Extra flourishes and symbols of luxury on the outside will have a disproportionate effect on your tax burden.
- Interiors: The Moveability Rule
Three out of four tax assessors agree: by observing this rule, you can add classy features to your house without raising your tax burden.
- The Wet Rooms: Kitchens and Baths
How to build a piggy room, and other ways to avoid losing money down the drain in kitchens and baths.
- Cheap Heating, Cheap Cooling
Expensive central systems were a prerequisite for comfort in drafty old houses. Today, you can get more efficient heating and cooling at less cost, and at a lower tax assessment, without sacrificing comfort or convenience.
- Unfinished Space: Low-Cost Luxury
Unfinished space is cheap to build and has a low tax assessment. By making good use of it, you can have a better house, with fewer square feet of expensive finished space.
- Sweat Investments
Sweat may be the most valuable investment you ever make. You can reduce the price of your dream house by tens of thousands of dollars, even if you’ve never lifted a hammer or saw.
- Manufactured Housing
Frozen dinners will save you money, if the only alternative is to hire a cook. Likewise, manufactured housing will save you money, if the only alternative is to hire a general contractor.
Fixing up a run-down house can be far less expensive than building from scratch. A low-tax remodeling strategy makes good use of what is already there, and avoids tripping the levers that can raise assessments.
- Case Study One: Building from Scratch
This is the story of a large, attractive, dream house built on a ten-acre lot with lake frontage. The total cost was about the same as the price of a new trailer on an average lot.
- Case Study Two: Remodeling
This is the story of a house that was bought at an unusually affordable price, but needed a lot of work. With a low-tax strategy, it was converted into an outstanding, and affordable, place to live.
- Home Businesses, Burial Plots, and Other Unique Tax Issues
Farms, home offices, fallout shelters, hogsheads for storage of tobacco leaves, facilities for raising bi-valve mollusks, and any other unique features of your dream house should be taken into account when you develop a low-tax strategy.
Section Two: Residential Propery Tax Summaries
Introduction to Section Two
How to use the information listed for your state, and how to obtain further information on assessment of properties in your community.
Property Tax Summaries for Residents of….(list state by state)