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The Tampa Building Booms You Need to Know As an Investor!

Over the years, the Tampa Bay region has experienced several building booms, each fueled by a different source and producing unique architectural styles and trends. As a real estate investor in the Tampa Bay area, it's important to know the characteristics of homes and buildings built during these different periods. Properties from each of these periods present their own challenges and opportunities when investing. Here are a few of the major construction booms that have influenced the area's growth:

1920's Boom: Tampa experienced a significant construction boom in the 1920s as a result of the city's development as a major center for the cigar business. Many impressive structures in the Mediterranean Revival style were built during this time, including the Tampa Theatre and the Tampa Bay Hotel, which is currently home to the University of Tampa. Homes built during this period include many bungalow style homes we see in the areas of Ybor City, Port Tampa City, and Hyde Park. Typically these homes have had their electrical upgraded over the years from their original knob and tube wiring. These homes are also normally built on pier and beam foundation. The crawl space offers easy access for plumbing repairs. However, many of these homes are now 100 years old and do require some foundation repairs. Luckily, pier and beam foundations are relatively easy to fix through a variety of methods.

Post-World War II Boom: After the war, as returning veterans settled down and the area's economy diversified, the population of the Tampa Bay area grew rapidly. Mid-century modern architecture, with its sleek lines, flat roofs, and big windows, flourished throughout this time period. The homes built for returning GI's were typically 2 to 3 bedroom block homes built on slab on grade foundations with low pitch roofs. The advantages to these homes is that they are incredibly sturdy and stand up well to high winds in hurricanes. The disadvantages of these homes is that they typically used substandard materials in their construction, particularly in regards to their electrical and plumbing. Galvanized steel plumbing is typical in these homes, and at nearly 75 years old, has mostly outlived it's lifespan. Many of these properties will need to have their slabs dug out and new plumbing installed. Electrical wiring in these homes tends to have at least some cloth covered aluminum wiring which presents a fire hazard. Quite often when renovating these homes all of the plumbing will need to be replaced. Cheap single pane aluminum windows also can often still be found in these homes. Luckily, affordable vinyl replacement windows with impact glass and low energy characteristics can provide savings both on homeowner's insurance and your energy bill, a major selling point when flipping a house.

1980's to early 2000's Boom: The Tampa Bay area experienced a significant construction boom in the 1980s through early 2000's, which was fueled by a robust economy and a flood of migration to the Sun Belt. Neo-traditional architecture, which aimed to combine contemporary conveniences with classic designs like Craftsman and Colonial, became more popular during this time period. The Westchase neighborhood in Tampa and the Heritage Springs development in Trinity are two famous instances of this design. These homes tend to feature solid bones, requiring mainly cosmetic upgrades. Since these homes were built prior to the modern Florida Energy and Building Code, additional value can be created by replacing the older windows with modern energy-efficient impact windows. One item to look out for in homes from this time period is Chinese Drywall. There were a number of homes built using drywall imported from China with toxic materials in it, and if found will need to be remediated. The material emits a gas which will make the home smell like rotten eggs. A good way to check for Chinese Drywall is to check the copper coils on the air conditioner. If these are corroding, there is a good chance that there is Chinese Drywall in the home.

4. Boom following the 2008 Recession: Since the 2008 Recession, the Tampa Bay region has had another period of swift growth, fueled by low loan rates and a robust economy. Modern architecture is making a comeback in this era, with sleek, minimalist structures that put an emphasis on utility and energy efficiency. Although it is rare to find houses from this era that are priced appropriately for investment, their design styles provide excellent inspiration to modernize an older home. In particular, the homes built from the post-war period, in particular mid-century moderns, inspired much of the current building trends in modern architecture. Updating these homes to closer match their newer counterparts can prove to be a very profitable endeavor.

Each of these building booms have left a distinct mark on Tampa. The properties from each period offer unique opportunities and challenges when attempting to update them for a modern buyer. The best way to approach these properties is by working with someone with experience in the area who can identify challenges before you close on your investment property.


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