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So Now You Own a Home. Do You Know How to Maintain It?
Home repair classes can help, giving uninitiated homeowners hands-on training. Courses cover a range of skills, from basic home maintenance to more elaborate tasks.
Home  Maintenance  Housing  NYTimes 
7 hours ago by dbourn
Has This Neighborhood in Seoul Figured Out the Secret to Slow Living? - The New York Times
"The decline of vernacular architecture in the face of global urbanization is, of course, hardly new, though traditional Korean hanok are a particularly stark contrast to modern city living. Sit inside one and you immediately notice how sound and light travel differently as they’re absorbed into pine wood beams and diffused through pale mulberry-paper windows. When newly built, hanok are redolent with the bright scent of a coniferous forest; as they age, the fragrance softens toward pu-erh tea and damp bark. Their center of gravity is lower than other homes, creating a cocoon-like sensation; their radiant heating system — the ondol — means that residents sit, work and sleep on the floor.

But while any Korean can describe how a hanok feels, defining what a hanok is has proved elusive. “Hanok” simply translates to “Korean house,” though the term wasn’t used until the late 19th century, which brought the opening of the peninsula’s ports to international trade and, in turn, Western architecture. Before this, the hanok was merely a house. Today’s hanok, with its soot-black scalloped clay tiles laid atop wooden beams, resembles its 15th-century forebears. In 2015, the government legally defined hanok as a “wooden architectural structure built on the basis of the traditional Korean-style framework consisting of columns and purlins and a roof reflecting the Korean traditional architectural style,” leaving acres of room for interpretation."

"Indeed, this nostalgia for a simpler form of living is fueled by the dissatisfaction that many locals have expressed in the face of their country’s breakneck economic growth. Here, digital culture is richer and vaster than anywhere else: South Korea, home to the technology giants Samsung and LG, may have the world’s fastest internet and the highest rate of smartphone use, but amid the country’s accelerated 30-year transition from military state — which it was until the ’80s — to tech superpower, there’s a growing sentiment that somewhere along the road, much of the country’s own culture was lost. The hanok, then, has come to represent a safe vessel for introspection and a reassertion of Korean identity: a romantic return to the national architecture and, therefore, to a mythic, prelapsarian age. Rebuilding these houses is not only a chance to revisit a past that once was, free of influences from globalized monoculture, but also to create a future in Seoul that might have been."

"Tändler designed Lee Eunyoung’s hanok, one of the few one-story buildings in the village. The home is disarmingly simple: a minimally furnished, U-shaped space, encircling a madang. For the four-person family, moving into a hanok wasn’t just an aesthetic choice but an opportunity to atavistically reorient their lives. “We each have five outfits for Monday through Friday, plus one wedding outfit, one funeral outfit and one exercise outfit,” Lee Eunyoung says. The 37-year-old mother doesn’t buy toys for her two young boys, instead giving them paper and crayons or sending them out into the madang to play. This is another way the hanok has made Seoulites reconsider the way they live: By forcing them to decide how much stuff they really need, it inverts the dynamic between the house and the people within it, making the residents accommodate the dwelling, not the other way around. In doing so, they’ve discovered a different, slower way of living. Eventually, Lee Eunyoung’s children will grow up and find their own homes. Maybe they’ll go somewhere modern: a skyscraper, a glass-and-steel penthouse. But Lee says she’ll stay here, in the hanok, for the rest of her life"
slo  seoul  korea  architecture  homes  wood  2018  design  cv  housing  economics  preservation  culture 
2 days ago by robertogreco
California homeowners get to pass low property taxes to their kids. It's proved highly profitable to an elite group
"In 1992, the court heard a challenge to the broad property tax policy created by Proposition 13. Lawyers defending it contended the state was trying to protect elderly homeowners. But during oral arguments, Justice Harry Blackmun questioned why those homeowners’ children received tax breaks, too.

“They get the same benefit and they’re not all that elderly, as I understand it. They’re just sort of a class of nobility in California,” Blackmun said, causing the courtroom to erupt in laughter. “They inherit this tax break and it goes on through generation to generation.”

Still, the court ultimately ruled in favor of Proposition 13. It decided that the state’s unique property tax structure was its prerogative and that it could justify the inheritance tax break on the grounds of supporting neighborhood continuity. But in his dissenting opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens called the inheritance benefit one of the most unfair provisions in California’s system.

The tax break, Stevens wrote, “establishes a privilege of a medieval character: Two families with equal needs and equal resources are treated differently solely because of their different heritage.”

Since then, there has been little public debate over the inheritance tax break. In 1996, voters extended the same benefits to the grandchildren of property owners, a provision rarely used because it requires both parents of the new owner to be deceased. Even so, the inheritance tax break has become pricier than anticipated.

The original estimate of lost tax revenue, adjusted for inflation, was $137 million a year, along with a warning that the price tag would grow every year. Today, the cost has ballooned to more than 10 times that amount, according to a recent statewide report by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The report also determined that about 650,000 property owners in California received the inheritance tax break over the last decade, or one out of every 20 times a property changed hands."
california  tax  housing  history  politics  law 
2 days ago by pacpost

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