So Tiffany and I have started to look for a new house. There’s nothing wrong with our current house, but if we ever want to have kids, we’re gonna need more room. Plus, we’ve done all the renovating and remodeling that this house can take, so Tiffany needs a new challenge.
There’s a house we have our eye on in the same neighborhood. This is good, because we want to stay in this neighborhood. We really like it here. There’s a long road to travel before we get to the point of completing any transactions, but we know where we want to be going.
Tiffany and I have looked at a lot of houses in the four-plus years we’ve been at this address. Early on, before we performed major surgery on the kitchen and master bedroom/bathroom, we looked at other houses to get ideas about what we could do and what we shouldn’t do. Later on it was just plain old curiosity on our part. Going to realtor open houses around here is somewhat of a spectator sport. Most of the agents know us on sight by now.
We’ve seen a lot of new houses, and a lot of old houses that have been refurbished and added on to. I’m always amazed at some of the things that builders do. Since this is a desireable neighborhood, all the new and refurb construction is aimed at the high end. Builders like to put a lot of money into flashy things like countertops, moldings, and light fixtures. They clearly hope to impress young couples with more money than sense and older couples who’ve sent the last of their kids out into the world and want to return to civilization from the wilds of the suburbs.
The thing is that while they spend all this money and attention to frou-frou things like that, they often don’t give a lot of thought to how real people will actually live in these dwellings. I see houses with very little useable wall space because of odd placings of windows and light switches. Houses with 3000 or more square feet will have only three bedrooms, all of which are way larger than most people need.
Today we saw a house that was a refurb. It used to be a smallish bungalow, but it’s on a big lot and has since been expanded on the ground and had a second story put on. It has a large kitchen, which is nice, but was one of the poorest designs I’ve ever seen. The sink is a long way from the stove and refrigerator, with a countertop in the way. The fridge is crammed into a tiny space because it’s underneath the stairway, but to the left of the fridge is a pantry with a normal height ceiling. Instead of swapping the place for the fridge and the pantry, this arrangement would force you to have a smaller fridge than you would want. If they’d consulted someone who actually uses the kitchen to cook, they’d have changed the peninsula countertop into a center island with a gas cooktop and moved the space for the fridge closer to the sink.
Another time I saw a brand new house that had a little enclave on the second floor that was intended to be a computer area. It had a built in desk on one wall. Problem was, the phone jack was on the other wall, so if you wanted to hook your computer up to the Net you’d have to run the wire across the floor. Not very bright.
The house we’re looking at has a few problems – no large closets, a small master bath, one odd light-switch placement – but for the most part you can imagine someone living there. Most of what’s wrong should be fixable or at least livable. The ironic thing is that it’s been on the market for several months. The builder didn’t splurge on doorknobs and fixtures, which perhaps made the house less attractive to those who notice that sort of thing. Perhaps their loss will be our gain. We’ll see.