Monday, March 21, 2011

Get Your House Hunting Shoes On!

For the past several weeks Reid and I have settled into a nice routine.  After I get off work I drive like madwoman to his office all the way across the city, park, and wait.  He comes out at his leisure and hops in my car and we take off to go look at the magical dream land that is for sale houses.  Since the hubby comes straight from work he dons his size 15 steel toe lace up boots, and let me tell you getting in and out of these houses has become a debacle.  So, the first thing I learned on my house hunting adventure was: wear shoes that are conducive to getting in and out of easily.  It will save you the trouble of fumbling endlessly in the doorway. 

These are some other tidbits I have taken away from our short time hunting:

1. Consider the layout of the house.  Question if you will be willing to knock down walls and take names (yes please!) or decide you want to keep the existing structure.  If you are willing to put some elbow grease and a sledge hammer to work, you need to know if the wall is load bearing, which means it is essential to keep the house from falling down.  If you have your heart set on an open floor plan that hinges on knocking a specific wall down, figure out of it is even possible before you fall in love.  Having figured out those small technicalities decide whether the flow of the floor plan fits your lifestyle.

2. If you have gotten past the floor plan stage and decided it is workable, picture your furniture in the house.  Now, I know you shouldn’t buy a house based on furniture but if there are a few must have pieces that you cannot part with think about whether the will compliment the house or leave it crowded.  Exhibit number one: our monster sectional couch.  When my mother was saying “don’t by furniture before you buy a house” I thought, what does she know?  Apparently everything.  So now we have a sectional that spans 10 feet in each direction.  Although it fits the hubby and I perfectly it has thrown a kink in the situation considering most living rooms we have looked at are 12 feet wide.  It poses a bit of a problem.  Also, consider that if your existing furniture won’t work are you willing to part with what you have and get new pieces?

3. Imagine yourself doing your daily routine in this house.  Ask yourself questions like: how far away is the bathroom from my bedroom? Where will I put my coat when I come home? How easy will it be to maneuver around the kitchen? Do I really need three living rooms? Yes, some houses we looked at, usually split levels, have had 3 living rooms.  We decided that would be too much living and too much furniture we would have to buy that would go unused.  Doing this step saves you bitterness and resentment after you figure out the technicalities in the house that won’t work.    

4. Realize that things can be changed, especially cosmetics!  We have toured some homes that have nasty stained carpet, holes in the walls, crazy retro kitchens, and the list could go on.  These are all things that can be upgraded to your taste with a nice little facelift.  Sometimes it’s actually ideal to come into a house with flooring you HATE and know you can change, rather than having flooring that is nice but not your style.  In these cases you feel a whole heap of guilt changing out something that is perfectly good.  Now, if the damage is more structural, like floor joists, a collapsing roof, or a little mold problem, these things are going to be costly and a risk on your part!

5. If you have decided that a facelift is in store for your potential house, assess if there is room in your budget to complete the changes.  If you find the perfect house at the top of your price range BUT it needs new floors, new kitchen, and some bathroom updates, these expenses might be too costly for you to stomach with your house payment and you may be waiting a looong time for that dream kitchen and be stuck with orange countertops.  What the hubby and I have found useful is when we are strongly considering a house we make a list of all the updates we would want to do.  He, because he is good like that and experienced in matters of construction and reno, will come up with a rough estimation of what these re-do’s will cost.  We will then split the list into “immediate” and “eventually” and see how that fits with our mortgage payments. 

6. Evaluate the outside lot.  If nature is not important to you and you are used to being snuggled up to your neighbors, skip this tidbit of advice.  The hubby and I are not used to city living so we want plenty of privacy from neighbors.  Now, in a city this is a hard thing to find, but some elements such as the spacing between houses, an added fence, or enough tree cover so your house is camouflaged, are some elements that help us feel like we are in our own little lot of solitude.  We happen to be looking in the winter which is GREAT because we are able to see how the lot looks without any leaves on the trees. If you happen to be looking in summer, imagine what kinds of things you would be able to see through the trees, and make a decision if you are okay with that. 

As our house hunting adventures continue we keep learning more and more about the house hunting process.  These are the principles that are guiding us towards our own chunk of house paradise.  Does anyone have any other guidelines they used in this process?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you!