House Hunters

We’ve been looking at new homes for the last month. It would be nice to downsize a bit and have more funds for travel, paying bills, projects, decorating and generally enjoying life while we’re still alive.

We started out looking at existing homes, and have spent several Sundays as a family visiting open houses in the area. There are some really nice neighborhoods, with really cool old houses, many of these homes were built in the 1920’s. But out of everything we’ve seen so far, there was really only one house that stood out to us. It’s a pretty neat Georgian colonial built during the first quarter of the 20th century. It was the first house we visited. And after several weeks we even went back a second time. It spoke to us in a way, but the reality is it doesn’t save us any money and we’d be in the same spot we are in now. Additionally we wouldn’t have any money to decorate it (it’s a larger house) or to fix up anything. We like its little quirks and it was beautifully decorated currently. Real nice neighborhood too. Great back yard.

So with that house off the list, we switched gears and looked at a couple developments where new homes were being built. Ha! the family of course was universal in our love of new construction. What’s not to love, everything is fresh, smells good and contemporary floor plans have come a long way. Builders are beginning to design home interiors to be more in line with how humans really live: more office space, less focus on wasted space or vaulted ceilings. We actually found a development or two that would work for us, and found a few floor plans, one in particular, that would be perfect for us. One thing I’m noticing is that in smaller floor plans, builders are finally getting rid of formal dining rooms, separate dinettes (and living rooms). Replacing them with offices or omitting them altogether. This is exactly what we did when we built our current house. We use our fancy dining room table EVERY day! The old dinette set actually sits in the basement. Also builders are adding lofts to the second floor that are PERFECT as a game room for the kids. It basically negates the need to finish off the basement of a new home, thus saving money. Or we could use the basement for a home theater someday. Other great features include larger mud rooms and laundry rooms on the second floor. All good stuff.

The thing we hate about new builder homes is the exteriors are awful. The put a ton of value into the interior at the expense of homogenizing the exterior. Builders have turned all these homes into big boxes with a bunch of tacked on details that neither make sense nor add interest. In fact one great neighborhood we looked at, with good floor plans, isn’t even an option because the home exteriors are so grossly fake and boxy, it was too depressing to look past them all. It was like a bunch of building for people waiting for death to rescue them. Depressing as f*ck.

flat box house piceture

Example of box house design trend we’re seeing. It saves cost but the aesthetics are so forced they look fake.

I’m not picking on anyone, but builders need to do better than this. Throw some money at the foundation to get some setbacks within the facade. Don’t build the box over the garage. Have dormers and details that make sense. It’s to the point where maybe get rid of the old colonial facades and if you’re going to build a box, accentuate it all and maybe go modern. We can do better than this as a society.

So I’m going to start doodling at night while we watch tv. We have a floor plan we like. I might tweak it a bit or explore alternatives. And I’ll play with the exterior a bit.  Additionally I’m going to look at vacant lots for sale in our neck part of the state. All we need is a small lot, and a small house. Once we kind of have an idea we can reach out to a builder and get an idea if we can do what we want in our budget. We’ll keep looking at existing homes too just in case.

 

 

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