Changes In Riverside Homes Over The Last Century
Houses have changed a lot over the last century. The availability of building materials, changes in technology, the development of indoor plumbing, heat and electricity. Changes in family size, the invention and ownership of automobiles, transportation options, and the general rise in our standards of living have all played a role in the evolution of our homes.
Although I love the history of Riverside, this article is certainly NOT a historical resource but more observations from my many years of showing homes in our city. So… let’s take a look at what amenities a first time home buyer might expect to find in Riverside through the decades.
Many first time home buyers start their house hunt requesting a charming vintage home, perhaps a Victorian, a Craftsman’s or a Spanish style bungalow, something built in the early 1900’s. They drive the neighborhoods, enamored by the adorable exteriors of these lovely homes. Showing historical homes is always an adventure. I have seen older homes, lovingly restored with original wood floors, built in china cabinets, old iceboxes, incredible original hardware, claw foot bath tubs, the old style windows with beautiful moldings, the list of charming details goes on and on.
However, with all this charm come many features a buyer may not have considered. First is the size of the home. Average homes during this time period ranged from 700-1022 square feet. Most families at the beginning of the 20th century lived much more simply and personal privacy was a luxury reserved for the rich therefore many of the homes were smaller with two or three bedrooms, often with one bathroom, tiny kitchens, and floor plans that were not made for big screen televisions, computer stations and lots of clothing, storage or cars. Many vintage homes include outdated room additions and garage conversions that while not up to code were grandfathered into the square footage, cracks in the walls, outdated electrical and plumbing, no garages or only small shed type garages, root and tree issues, lack of air conditioning, and decades of neglect.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s Riverside experienced an upswing in home construction. In this time period, the average American home buyer was evolving, they were desiring more space, more closets, more bathrooms and the builders responded. You will notice there were more “tract” homes built during this time and fewer homes had the custom wood, arches and character of the previous decades. During the 50’s and 60’s there were larger homes with more family space, the average size home was closer to 1000 square feet and starter homes with up to 1400 to 1600 square feet. More families desired personal space and the concept of having more bedrooms was blooming. While family sizes decreased, home sizes increased. Master bedrooms had their own attached Master bathroom. Homes were being built with more modern amenities, instead of floor heaters there were wall heaters or centralized heat. Since most families had at least one car, homes typically were built with garages attached.
During the 1970’s homes were even bigger. More homes were being built between 1500- 2000 square feet, some with 4-5 bedrooms, a few with 3 car garages and most homes during the 70’s were being built with central air conditioning!! Our appliances evolved as well, now homes had built in dishwashers! Shake roofs were quite popular during the 1960s and 1970’s which suited the popular Ranch style homes in the area. With the growing popularity of television in the 50’s and 60’s, the Family room became more common in the 1970’s. Families wanted an area just for the kids to watch television and play games that didn’t interfere with the formal living area.
During the mid 1980’s home builders in the area introduced many new floor plans and home building increased greatly. Open floor plans with cathedral ceilings and decorative windows accentuating light and airy floor plans were growing in popularity, cabinet colors got lighter and two story homes that maximized the lot size were prominent. Tile roofs became very popular as it was considered a life time material. Many homes were being built with three car garages as most families had at least two cars or more. Most homes built in the 1980’s came standard with central air conditioning. Home owners associations were popping up all over with amenities such as community pools, spas, parks and greenways. Once again, home sizes increased, bathroom counts increased, bedroom counts increased.
By the 2000’s technology, excess in our standards of living and social status affected the way we lived and built homes. During the next decade we saw the advent of computer niches, media rooms, areas for large screen televisions, upgrades in the standard building materials (granite, travertine, stone, etc), four car garages and upstairs laundry rooms to name a few features. Huge tract built homes with over 3000 square feet are now commonplace. Creative floor plans with open kitchens, great rooms, maids quarters, casitas, court yard entry’s, decorative niches, electric fireplaces and bonus rooms are now commonplace. Many people now own what our ancestors would have considered a “mansion”. Yet our family size has not increased.
As the years have gone by, Developers have begun building new communities further and further out on the outskirts of our cities. Because these areas were undeveloped we have seen a rise in special assessment taxes and community facilities districts fees that are additional part of the homeowner’s tax bill. These fees are passed on to the homeowners to pay for developing the community. Although I have yet to find a buyer who “likes” paying special assessments, those wanting a new community will have to realize this is part of the package.
I have a saying “there is a buyer for every home”. Consumers come in all shapes and sizes, different financial back grounds and have different values. While some are happy to have a smaller vintage home with charm they can lovingly care for or restore, others want a home that is brand new and contemporary. Some may require a large lot or large garage while others will sacrifice these things to be in the right school district. Whether big or small, expensive or economical one thing is for sure, Home is where the heart is.