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All You Need Are Four Walls and a Roof

All You Need Are Four Walls and a Roof

Sep 9, 2019 2:55:00 PM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply

Humanity is failing its fellow brothers and sisters when it comes to housing. The World Resource Institute estimates that nearly 900 million people in the world live in slums or inadequate housing, while Habitat for Humanity places the numbers living substandard housing above 1.6 billion. Compared to most of the developing world, America’s poor would be considered rich because they at the very least have doors, windows and running water in their home. The affordable housing crisis is taking America’s trend toward the rest of the world instead of lifting it up. There is a belief by many who have more that those who don’t should work harder. However, they fail to realize that most people are doing the best they can despite limitations in education, economic circumstances, family structure or some form of actual physical or emotional challenge. Few people choose to be poor.

While many in the baby boomer generation criticize millennials for a host of different value propositions, one thing admirable is the minimalist trend of this generation. Young couples today appear to focus less on name brands and more on value. Plus, with websites like Etsy, there is a move toward original, handmade products like in the days of our grandparents. A lot of millennials don’t care for the opulence of their parents’ home because their focus is more on their social and living experiences. Honestly, when you take your last breath, what will matter — the size of your home or the life you have lived? This new generation seems to understand the price and quality equation better than any other. They are okay paying more if they get long-term quality.

It is evident that the cost of housing, debt-laden United States economy and millennial generation will change housing over the next 20 years. If they are the principal drivers of housing, the actual structure of the typical American home will change to reflect these forces of change. The biggest way housing will change is probably the commoditizing of the structure. At its basic form, a house consists of four walls and a roof, which protects you and your family from the elements. Starting with four walls and a roof, what else do you really need in a home? A basic kitchen, bathroom and living area are needed. Honestly, instead of a 2,000-square-foot home, many of our grandparents did this in about 650 square feet.

The items you don’t need in a clean, decent affordable home are a garage, government mandated landscaping, granite countertops, ceramic tile floors, multiple bathrooms, and much more. All you need are four walls and a roof.

The paradigm for homes will have to change and so will the government requirements. Recently, a local Lake County politician pushing an affordable housing initiative said, “We need to require these affordable homes to have cement siding on them, so they will look nice — have some architecture.” This is a great example of why affordable housing is no longer affordable in most areas of America, especially in Florida. The local ordinances and regulations are requiring every home be constructed to a gold standard when in reality there are millions who can only afford a bronze standard. Mandating building standards and codes along with the imposition of unfair impact fees is creating a real housing crisis that most government officials are willing to take responsibility for.

Most millennials are renting, not because they want to, but rather they can’t afford to buy a home. Affordable housing must become a priority for our society and the politicians to prevent this continued march toward substandard housing. Imagine, if you had no where to live, a place with four walls and a roof sounds pretty darn good. Make affordable housing affordable again. De-code, de-mandate, and eliminate unfair impact fees, which are disproportionally unfair to smaller, lower cost homes.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply. He is also the host of the Around the House TV show on LSTV and LakeSumterTV.com at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and at 7 a.m., Noon and 6 p.m. Saturday.

Topics: first-time homeowner