"After three years as the editor in chief of Dwell, a shelter magazine based in San Francisco, Karrie Jacobs had had enough. Homesick for New York and frustrated with the editorial direction of the magazine she had helped to launch, she decided it was time to make a new life for herself. For Ms. Jacobs, that meant finding a place that felt like home. In her post-Dwell career as a freelance writer she did not have the deep pockets of her subjects. But as an architecture critic she could not buy just any old house.
Her book, 'The Perfect $100,000 House', published last week by Viking, chronicles her 14,000-mile road trip in the summer of 2003, the year after she left the magazine, in search of an architect who could deliver the stylish, custom-made house of her dreams for what she considered a reasonable price: $100 a square foot. That figure was more a rough estimate based on instinct than a reality based on hard numbers. (Last year the median size of a new American home, according to the Census Bureau, was 2,200 square feet, and the median single-family house price, according to the National Association of Realtors, was $219,000. Although no one with a passion for numbers would decide that the median home thus cost $100 a square foot, that number sufficed to make her point when it came to writing the book.)
She found options worthy of serious consideration in a handful of cities, including Crestone, Colo.; Perryville, Mo.; and Troy, N.Y., but not in design centers like Manhattan and San Francisco. To even look at New York, where she had lived for most of her adult life, 'seemed tragically pointless,' she said."
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