Our House…Part Three…or, Rubber Meeting Road

11 05 2011

When we last visited our fearless couple (Judy and Hue), they appeared to have found themselves “impaled upon the horns of a dilemma”…

Specifically, as you might remember:

  • Go on a search for a new home that has everything we desire?
  • Bite the bullet and purchase the property we’ve looked at?
  • Expand our current home creating the spaces that are lacking?
  • Remodel our current layout into a more conducive layout?

In reality, Judy and I have been debating most of these options for well over a year. Today, I will explore each and briefly discuss their impact on making a final decision. And, though I indicated last time, that there was no particular order in the list, I will address each in the order listed above.

  • Go on a search for a new home that has everything we desire?

Searching for a different home is, in and of itself, a multi-pronged dilemma. In previous blog entries, I have ranted about the current state of many modern subdivisions.  We can’t imagine, or even bring ourselves to entertain, the idea of looking at anything in these developments much less having any expectation of finding anything that addresses our……here it comes……pattern-of-living.

And, yes, I’ve also spoken about the beauty and charm of older homes and there does exist the romantic notion of lovingly rehabilitating one of these gems into our dream home.

But, what are some of the downsides to this option? First, I’ve already talked, a lot, about our love of the existing neighborhood that we live in and also our great yard; could we duplicate those components easily? Second, why would we consider finding a different house to undertake renovations prior to looking hard at renovating our existing home first. Third (and, perhaps, most important), are you aware of the current economic conditions within the housing market; though there are certainly bargains out there for us to look at, we would take the proverbial bath on our house and it just doesn’t make good financial sense to head down this path.

Judy and I have concluded that this option is, at least right now, the least desirable.

  • Bite the bullet and purchase the property we’ve looked at?

As I mentioned in Part One of this series, Judy and I put in an offer on a piece of property about a year ago. The parcel we selected was in a rural setting, very close to work and family, and had enough acreage that would allow us to have our horses (yes, not just Spaniels and cats, we also have horses) at home (thus saving boarding expenses).

During our due-diligence process, I developed a couple of conceptual designs that really functioned nicely and reflected our pattern-of-living. We also started talking about a master plan for a solar array, perhaps a windmill, a barn, pasture fencing, garden areas, etc. Our plan was to, not only create a comfortable, functional home, but also a sustainable one as well.

So, what happened? Unfortunately, we were faced with the same issue as noted in the option above; that of losing valuable equity on our current home in the sales process. We talked with several real estate brokers familiar with our development and, even though our neighborhood is  still perceived as a desirable area, nearby sales prices had decreased dramatically.

Recently, the price on this parcel has been reduced. This factor keeps this option somewhat alive, in Judy and my mind; at least until other options are fully explored and the home sales market improves a bit.

  • Expand our current home creating the spaces that are lacking?

About a month and a half ago Judy woke me up, in the wee hours of the morning, and said, “I know exactly how we can make our home exactly what we need” (note that we weren’t using the term pattern-of-living yet).

Her idea, in a nutshell, was simple, we would convert the existing, attached Garage into a large Family Room with lots of glass looking out onto the swimming pool; we would remove the walls between the existing Kitchen, Dining, and new Family Room; and we would create a Master Suite in the existing Family Room. The upstairs would then become extra bedrooms for company or, if an In-Law Suite were needed for a period of time, Judy and I could relocate back upstairs. We would then construct a large, detached Garage that could be connected via covered a walkway.

This idea, of course, got my creative juices flowing and in no time, I had a conceptual layout  and SketchUp 3-D model that had us both excited; now, we were finally addressing our……yes, it’s time……pattern-of-living.

A few weeks later (can you say dejavu) Judy woke me up, in the wee hours of the morning, and said, “Are we absolutely crazy? Why would we create more square footage and more volume and more bedrooms when we should be downsizing? Think how expensive that will be!” Well, to say the least, she had me floored; what had I been ranting about in all of my blogs? More importantly, had she been reading my blogs? Yes, we were contemplating creating volume instead of taking what we already have and looking at the possibility of making it better.

Judy and I have, unanimously, allowed this one to “bite the dust”.

  • Remodel our current layout into a more conducive layout?

And then there was one, or so it now seems. And yes, didn’t I intimate, in Part One, that renovating our current home made a lot of sense, due in part to the wonderful yard and neighborhood. But, also because we really have a good, solid structure that can become a great palette for addressing our pattern-of-living and creating our dream home.

We really have all of the square footage that we need, it just needs to be re-proportioned. On the first level, we need to relocate the Laundry Room; we need to open the re-configure the Kitchen; we need to open up the Family Room to the Kitchen; and, just as important, we need to create transparency between indoors and outdoors so that we can create a flow and a dialogue between the spaces. And, as mentioned above, we don’t need so many bedrooms; we can capture the Bedroom adjacent to the Master Suite and reconfigure the space to create that Master Oasis we desire.

Now this is what I’ve been talking about; an intelligent, measured, thoughtful approach to design. By not adding on, we can redirect our spending to material enhancements; and, we can also address other issues such as a new roof, solar panels, new windows, new siding, an updated heating and air conditioning system, etc.

At the present time, this is the direction that Judy and I have determined makes the most sense.

Over the next several weeks, I will be developing new concepts for our reconfiguration of our existing home, I will be developing 3-D models to explore materials and colors, and I will be sharing this information with a few contractor friends to get a handle on preliminary construction costs. As soon as I’ve put together a plan of attack, I will share it, along with some of the rationalizations that drives our ultimate design decisions. There will still be many debates about many aspects of this undertaking as it evolves and I will share those also.

Have I hit a chord with some of you yet? Are you thinking about the need for renovation? Do you just need to update and refresh your home? Are you contemplating a new home?

What is your pattern-of-living?

Seek out a design professional…start a dialogue…dream houses can come true!

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