The Blog

Civic Pride

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It has been a long time. Much has happened but the opportunity to express a little civic pride is one that can’t be avoided. There is no doubt Kansas City is electric right now. The turning of the trees, unseasonably warm weather and of course the magical Kansas City Royals have combined to create brilliant energy.

Athletics are simply a diversion from everyday life. But the success of our baseball team has certainly placed our city in the national, if not worldwide spotlight over the past year. Many correlations can be drawn between the city and its team. The history, attitude and potential of both the city and its baseball team are are worthy of celebration. This is all excellent news to Makitecture as there is no greater feeling than to be a part of the party. After all moving Kansas City towards its potential is the core mission of the business. Makitecture relishes this opportunity to use the nearly complete 4524 Eaton, the first factor of Eaton Squared as a conduit to showcase its fanaticism.

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We are so very proud to be a part of Kansas City and to be represented by the current iteration of the Kansas City Royals. Win or lose, its been a ride like none other. Go Royals!

4458 State Line

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Last night Makitecture was pleased to be part of an introductory meeting for 4458 State Line, a proposed mixed use project in the heart of Kansas City’s “Antiques District”. The location is within a small node that was traditionally composed of neighborhood friendly structures with businesses on the main level and apartments above. These buildings support the Spring Valley neighborhood to the west and West Plaza to the east.

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Following in that vein 4458 State will house Artworkstudio, a local art consultation firm, on the main level and will offer two one bedroom apartments above. The north side of the site contains a strip of parallel parking to serve both usages and an access drive shared with the neighbors to the north. Alley access to the west provides the potential for an accessory structure framing a courtyard in the middle of the site.

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The design team (D A Group Incorporated, Turley Design Group and Makitecture LLC) feel the project will be a pleasant addition to the neighborhood. The main level will be clad with masonry and glass and the upper level will feature wood siding. It will accentuate the streetscape at the corner of 45th and State Line and provide quality commercial and residential spaces. We are excited about this project and believe that it will add value to an already blossoming neighborhood.

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9718 Canterbury

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9718 Canterbury is located in Lee Gardens, a nice neighborhood in eastern Overland Park. Lee Gardens is very similar to the adjacent Leawood neighborhoods, but with slightly lower taxes. Recent sales average near $300,000 and peak near $400,000. With an asking price of $185,000 there is plenty of room for improvement. The home falls within a very solid school district and has good access to the well sized and newly remodeled Ranchmart Shopping Center at 95th Street and Mission Road.

As is, 9718 is a reasonable home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms located on a nice site. The home’s living area is its largest issue. It is roughly 22 feet by 11 feet with minimal fenestration. The only source of natural light is a french door that leads to an enclosed porch, another poorly proportioned space. The square footage of both the living room and porch are adequate but their long and narrow configurations are difficult to furnish. The current kitchen, while by no means spectacular, is a serviceable galley configuration that opens to a narrow and somewhat ambiguous eating area. The dining area is further compromised by an abrupt entry to the garage. All bedrooms and baths are reasonably sized but closets are not exactly plentiful. A deeper than average two car garage provides good storage space for lawn and garden equipment, or even a small shop. Drainage issues have most likely led to some recent corrective measures to the foundation. If the foundation is found to be viable, the living area can be corrected and turned into an asset.

Two proposed solutions take advantage of the existing enclosed porch. Both grab the space and incorporate it into the conditioned living area creating larger and better proportioned spaces all around. And both make minor changes to the bedrooms (the master gains a closet from the southwest bedroom which gets a new closet). The porch’s existing roof structure and foundation make this modification relatively cost effective.

The first solution is fairly straight forward as it maintains the kitchen’s current location at the front of the home. To improve function and spatial definition, this scheme relocates the laundry from the basement to the area at the north end of the stairs. This creates a proper transition space from the garage to the house and helps define the breakfast nook and the new living and dining area. A large round dining table is the perfect fit for the new dining room, freeing space for an ample living arrangement. For the most part, the window openings of the existing porch remain. But they now fill the living and dining areas with natural light.

The edgier second solution moves the kitchen into the living area. A larger window opening is created at the front of the home to create an “away” space in current kitchen location. This space could function nicely as a dining area. However, as the public loosens its grip on the formal dining room concept, this space could very easily function as another living area or study. This new space is defined to the north by a nicely appointed mud room near the garage entry. The new configuration at the rear of the home contains space for all living functions. Cooking, dining, and living areas are collected in one large, open space. A new patio is poured on the south side of the existing deck providing additional outdoor space close to the kitchen.

While the first solution creates a large living space the edgy solution makes a substantial lifestyle move. The double wide kitchen counter with storage on each side make cooking a new experience. Several people can work on the same surface at the same time and it becomes very similar to the community table at some newer casual restaurants when it is time to entertain. Additional storage is found around the corner at the coffee bar to the north of the stairs. Wooden slats screen the basement stairs that lead to an existing supplemental living space with a fireplace.

5325 W. 72nd Street

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The newest listing fix is 5325 W. 72nd Street. It is a two bedroom, one bath ranch in the Prairie Village subdivision. The home was built in 1950 and other than some wall to wall carpet, it probably hasn’t changed much since.

The home has a few strong assets. Of primary importance is the school district and overall location. The home falls within the following school track:

Elementary – Prairie School
Middle – Indian Hills
High – Shawnee Mission East

These are not only some of the best schools in the Shawnee Mission district, but also the entire metro area (feel free to compare) and they are actually located in a part of the city with mature trees! The home is within walking distance of great parks and the Prairie Village shops. The shops have a department store, grocery store, drug store, gas station, banks, restaurants, and some nice retail establishments. The location is also close to the Country Club Plaza and 15 minutes from downtown.

The second asset is the basement. It is currently full of stuff and in a messy state, but the bones are strong. It has cast concrete foundation walls (a rarity in this part of Prairie Village) that appear to be crack free and true (a near impossibility in this part of Prairie Village). And finally, the home’s HVAC system has been recently updated.

The home has been well maintained and remains in good condition for the most part. It may need a new roof and may have some drainage concerns to address. The windows are most likely single pane, which could be a consideration. The landscaping needs to be replaced and the entire home is devoid of any real outdoor living spaces. The roof over the front stoop is supported by wrought iron columns that were typical of the era.

As with most homes in the area, the layout does not conform to the way we live today. The living area is reasonably sized but the dining areas are petite at best and the kitchen is more of an afterthought. The kitchen and breakfast area can be separated from the “formal” areas by a pocket door which only enhances the claustrophobic spaces. The bedrooms are reasonable and have adequate closet space but are littered with windows placed solely for the benefit of the exterior. This makes furnishing the spaces a challenge.

The home is need of a complete finish update including walls, floors and bathroom fixtures. But the real solution to the home’s woes is a less is more attitude towards walls and careful casework and furniture design/placement. Some rework of the front porch, the removal of the wall between the dining area and kitchen and the addition of a sliding door to replace the window over the kitchen sink (this would require enlargement of the current opening) represent the only major modifications to the architecture. This design attempts to avoid items that would require costly changes to the serviceable exterior cladding, freeing funds for other items.

Along with some new columns, the front stoop could be extended to the garage and covered by an extension of the garage’s roof plane. This would provide more living space and a proper buffer between public and private space. It would also mitigate the home’s currently “garage proud” front elevation. A new deck and patio flow from the home’s kitchen and dining areas, boosting the home’s livable area at a relatively low cost.

By removing the wall between the dining space and the kitchen and adding the sliding door at the rear (south), the living area is transformed into a single open and light filled space that slowly reveals itself around the corner. Upon entry you are greeted with a view through the spaces, onto the deck and out to a generous yard. The dining area is outfitted with a 36 inch tall table matching the counter height and stools that slide under the table to allow the table to function as an extension of the kitchen when necessary. The new kitchen includes  a full height  pantry cabinet and refrigerator surround on the north wall and cooking and cleaning stations to the south. The existing door and stoop at the west end of the kitchen provide access to a new outdoor cooking area. General lighting for the kitchen is provided by a new cove above the cabinets and task lighting by an under-cabinet source. Additional storage could be built into the dining area. The progression of living spaces could ulitmately continue to a second living area on the lower level.

Over the past year, comparable homes have sold anywhere from the low 80’s to the mid 160’s depending on condition and assets that may have been added over the years. The current asking price of $119,000 is high based on the comparable sales.

This design is proposed at a turnkey price of around $150,000 given an acquisition price much closer to the home’s actual value. Another $20,000 would buy an additional living space, bedroom (with code compliant egress window) and bathroom in the basement. Obviously these prices are estimates at this point and could move up or down based on acquisition costs, discovery of current unknowns, and contingency items. But it is a nice price for a beautiful, updated and fully functioning starter home in Prairie Village.

8324 Hadley

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This month’s home is 8324 Hadley, a townhome in the Greenbrier development. Greenbrier and its counterpart Gramercy Park are 1960’s multifamily developments modeled, in “Disney” fashion, after Beacon Hill in Boston.

The developments feature efficiently designed two and three bedroom townhomes with guest and some reserved parking at the front of the units. Rear loaded detached garages are accessed by an alley in a configuration similar to most typical urban neighborhoods in the United States (see most of the city of Chicago for a Midwestern example). One of the greatest features of this type of plan is the rear yard formed by the units and their associated garages. This personal outdoor space is what separates the townhome from other forms of multifamily housing. This housing type is a nice balance of privacy, low maintenance and low utility costs.

The property is approved for HomePath Mortgage Financing & HomePath Renovation Mortgage Financing. A HomePath Mortgage allows a buyer to purchase a Fannie Mae-owned property with a low down payment, no lender-requested appraisal and no mortgage insurance. Expanded seller contributions towards closing costs are allowed. HomePath Renovation Mortgage allows a buyer to purchase a property that requires light to moderate renovation. The one loan amount includes both the funds for the purchase and renovation — up to 35% of the as completed value, no more than $35,000. Both are available for owner occupants and investors.

The prices of these units have been trending upward over the past year with typical asking prices in the high 90’s and selling prices in the high 80’s to low 90’s. The depressed asking price of $73,500 coupled with the availability of low cost money with very little down and no mortgage insurance costs make the property a good value, particularly to first time buyers and those without loads of liquid assets.

It does need some work. The wood at all openings could use paint, the storm door should be adjusted or replaced and the landscape must be tamed both in the front and at the rear. The flooring is less than desirable. The faux parquet floor (vinyl tile) on the main level is in good shape but it is vinyl tile. The remainder of the unit, including the basement and upper level bath is covered with carpet that has certainly seen better days. The kitchen is not the most attractive feature of the home, but it is serviceable. It would probably benefit from the reduction of the scroll designs. At some point a reconfiguration with new cabinets would be ideal.

As stated the units are very efficient. For the most part, the existing plan functions well. The living and dining areas are good sized and the bedrooms are large with ample closet space. The townhome has over 1200 square feet on the main and upper levels, more than enough space for a two bedroom unit. The full basement could easily accomodate another living room, bedroom (this would require modifications to one of the existing basement window openings to create code compliant egress) and full bath (the basement already has a half bath). The kitchen feels compact because it is enclosed. The upper level bathroom is small and the shared configuration requires an extra door that may be more of a liability than an asset.

Along with new flooring and paint throughout the below sketch suggests some minor remodeling (see orange areas). The main level would benefit from a new screen wall at the front door, the removal of the wall between the kitchen and dining room (initial exploration suggests that the wall is not load bearing) and the addition of a breakfast bar and/or serving counter. More significant changes are suggested at the upper level. A slight shift to the existing bath enlarges the existing walk-in closet in the master bedroom. The door from the restroom to the master bedroom would be infilled and a new master bath would replace the existing closets between the bedrooms. The new master bath has the potential to significantly increase the property’s value and would certainly improve the livability of the unit.

The property is open to offers by owner/occupants only for the next week or so and beyond that will be open to investors. It may sell below asking price but most likely will not be on the market much longer.

Schraeder Residence

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Another post about some signs? Yes, we have to start somewhere.

This project is already listed on the Projects page in the home design category. The hope is to move it to the development category. Since the initial design the owners purchased a home that they have come to love and appreciate. They have determined that the best course of action is to put the lot on the market and asked if Makitecture might help by putting some signs in the ground indicating “what could be”. We hope this helps the right buyer visualize one of many options for the site. As always we would be happy to help the new owner realize their dreams with a home designed specifically for their wants and needs.

On a similar note, Makitecture has received a number of inquiries on the 4524 Eaton project. Responses have been positive but some are sensing that the target price point is a little out of their grasp. Makitecture exists to help all people achieve satisfaction with their living environment. With its Realtor® component, Makitecture can find the right piece of ground for your new home. There are probably infill sites in the place you want to be, sometimes you simply have to inquire.

It’s Alive!

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4524 Eaton is a bellwether project for Makitecture LLC. It is a speculative property that applies sustainable, modern architecture to an urban infill location. The project is located between the Country Club Plaza and KU Medical Center in a very stable Kansas City, Kansas neighborhood. Common sense design and sustainability strategies have produced a home that will function well and feel rich. The sign is installed and the initial content at is available. Please take a peek when you have a chance.

The long term goal is to generate demand by introducing a high quality, modern product to an underserved urban marketplace. The hope is that, once experienced, high performance modern buildings not only have a place in the urban mixed use and residential market, but that they are actually the preference.

7215 Linden

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7215 Linden in Prairie Village was held open this past weekend. When choosing a home to hold open, I like to look for homes priced on the lower end of comparable homes in the neighborhood, good bones and as much room for improvement as possible. I usually like to take the sketchbook and see if there might be a way to cook up some value.

7215 meets all the criteria and has the benefit of some additional space that appears to have been added in the 1970’s. Most homes in the area suffer from functional obsolescence. 7215 Linden is no different. The kitchen may have been considered adequate at the time the home was built, the single bath dates to that same era, and the closets are very small.

For this study, focus was concentrated on the kitchen and the adjacent dining area addition. The kitchen and dining area are carpeted (other than the bath, the remainder of the home has newly refinished floors). The kitchen layout is spartan at best and the cabinets have certainly seen better days. The lighting is not adequate and is only made worse by the wood paneling. The one nice feature is the vaulted ceiling over the dining room. Most people choose not to see past this existing space and I really can’t blame them.

The sketches indicate two different approaches, a modest remodel and an extensive remodel. The modest remodel freshens the space by replacing the wall paneling with gypsum board and the carpet with wood flooring to match the remainder of the home. The new kitchen presents a sleek look by moving the refrigerator to the north wall in a gypsum board alcove and installing a galley kitchen with separate  cleaning and cooking counters (this was chosen over the “u” shape because it is more cost effective and eliminates the corner cabinets that are often inefficient).

The extensive remodel adds square footage to the home. While a nice feature, the tandem garage is not exactly large enough to handle two full sized cars. So instead of watching the rear part of the garage become a repository for needless baggage, this scheme opts for an additional bedroom. The new bedroom would be inexpensive space to claim as the area is already under roof and a footing and foundation exist at the location of the new wall between the garage and proposed bedroom. The kitchen would slide into the current dining area creating space for some additional support spaces. The sketch indicates a new half bath and a main level laundry but one could choose to add a full bath and leave the laundry space in the basement.

The below images represent the ideas in the modest remodel. The majority of the lighting is handled indirectly with inexpensive fluorescent fixtures installed on the top of the upper cabinets and within two light coves over the breakfast counter. The remainder of the lights include the recessed lights over the counter, task lighting under the upper cabinets at the cooking station, and a pendant fixture over the table (this and the backsplash at the cooking station would be the places to spend a little money). The windows on the south wall were adjusted in the model to create local symmetry with the dining table.