Monday, November 24, 2014

Buying A Home | Is Smaller, Smarter?

We almost did it, something I think we would have regretted, buying a big house.

My whole life I have lived in a small house, but for many years I built massive custom homes in neighborhoods like Fairbanks Ranch and Rancho Santé Fe California. I always wondered what was the perfect size home, and after many years I thought I had a handle on what I needed. 3000 square feet seemed the perfect size for a house. 10,000 square feet was ridiculous.

We raised our two kids in a 1500 square foot house, one bathroom, and two bedrooms. For years my wife and I slept in the living room so our daughter could have privacy. There is nowhere to hide when your house is small. Your kids can’t retreat to the far corner of the house, or hide in an upstairs room. You are together almost all of the time. Vacations with your spouse are a treat, even if its an over night stay at a convention.

Now as we approach the next chapter of our life as empty nesters we looked at houses in the 2500-3000 square foot range. We even went into escrow on an amazing 2300 square foot house that had an additional 1000-foot finished basement. Thankfully we fell out.  In the end we decided that location was the most important thing for us. For most of my adult life I have commuted at least an hour (sometimes three) each way to work, the California way. In addition we wanted an efficient home. I always wondered how much it cost to maintain a 10,000 square foot home?

A box on a postage stamp lot.

For years it seems the market has dictated a house design that works on square footage. Under utilized dining rooms, family rooms and extra bedrooms promoted consumerism at it’s finest. Every house looked the same in most neighborhoods we looked at. In addition the houses contribute to urban sprawl, and don’t encourage community.

After an exhaustive search we found a modest ranch style house built in 1962. The community is small and situated on one-acre lots with meandering streets that restrict access to the homes without a gate. Built in the 60’s the homes are just outside the city limits, but offer access to the entire city in minutes. The best part is that Angie works only one mile and I work only five miles from the doorstep. While it may sound extreme I have always wanted to work close to where I live so I can walk or bike to work. After spending most of my life sitting on the 91 freeway in Orange County, California I am happy to walk.

Oddly the house is on par with our last three homes coming in at 1500 square feet. I guess 1500 is the magic number for us?  Green building seems all the rage for new homes, but I have often wondered if a re-imagined older home is a more conservative approach? With that in mind the old Ranch home will receive a complete make over the next year. My Son said that the house was spectacularly boring, but he was confident I would be able to put lipstick on a pig.I invite you along as we re-imagine our Reno 60's Ranch home.

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