Sunday, February 05, 2006

Close, But No Cigar


House-hunting is hard. The time of year makes it worse since there aren't too many houses on the market right now. Yet again, I travelled up to the Portland area to look at a few homes that had come on the market. I knew going up there that they were small. I'm not necessarily opposed to "small" if the space is used well. A functional 1500 sq.ft. home can feel bigger in many ways than a poorly designed 2300 sq.ft. home. It all depends. So, I figured it was worth the drive to take a look - just in case.

The first house I saw was big. Definitely big enough. And as an added bonus, it was all on one level. 2200 sq.ft. on one level? Yeah, it was spacious. And with a huge backyard to boot. But? The kitchen was yucky. It always seems to come down to the kitchen, doesn't it? The counters were new-ish, but the space was miniscule with shallow cupboards. I mean, it was truly a one-butt kitchen. Meaning: only one butt could fit comfortably in the space. And no pantry. And over-priced for the area. And the backyard - while totally huge - was only accessible from the house via the side yard out of the huge family room. You could not see the yard from the house at all because of the additions built onto the house which completely blocked the view. Sure, you got a ginormous master suite, but that's the only room in the house from which you can see the backyard. That's not right. You don't get the benefit of having such a huge yard if you can't even see it, much less watch the kids as they play in it. So, no go on that place.

Next up, this place:

This one is located in a nice cul-de-sac, something I like. It's cute from the front, but again, small. Less than 1700 sq. ft. We were there bright and early Friday morning just as the flooring people arrived to begin installing new vinyl in the bathrooms and utility room. So that was encouraging. They were getting ready to have an open house the next day. BUT, since workmen were at the house, so was the owner. It's hard to really tour a place when the owner is there. You don't really feel free to open drawers and comment on what you're seeing for fear of being overheard. This place was nice, but felt cramped. That's definitely a theme that's emerging in our search. Our price range doesn't afford as much space as we'd like. This place had formal LR & DR, a kitchen with eating area and big pantry, and technically a family room off the kitchen with a fireplace, but you didn't get much room for even a couch. Family room? How 'bout "nook". That would be more accurate. Upstairs had 3 bdrms. There were 2.5 baths in total. So everything we need/want, and yet too small. It was like there was one room too few. We needed one more bedroom for an office if the FR was going to be that little. There was just no extra room for us to spread out. And really, we don't have that much crap. I'm anti-clutter. But this house just wasn't going to cut it, sadly. It reminded me very much of the house we had in Portland before moving for law school. Same floor plan, same overall look. Which was fine when it was just Mr. Chick and I, and it was OK with just Nicholas as a baby. But with two very active kids? Nope.

Then our realtor took us to see this house:

Right off the bat I like the 3-car garage. We have 3 cars. Mine, Mr. Chick's, and a 1965 Mustang convertible that Mr. Chick bought in high school. It's a very cool car, but sadly doesn't get driven very much. Not that that matters - Mr. Chick WILL NOT part with it. So a 3-car garage would be extra-nice. Also, the overall "street appeal" of the place is nice. What's hard to tell from this picture is that the siding is brand new and hasn't even been painted yet. We could pick the color if we bought this house. The yard is big and blank - there has never BEEN a yard put in. It's just flat dirt in the back with a small, rotting deck. A blank canvas, which isn't bad. It's easier to put in a lawn/yard of your choosing than try to fix the mistakes of others already in place. Inside, the formal LR & DR are nice. Big enough. The kitchen is doable - there are plenty of cabinets and counter space. It's not gorgeous, but it's fine. I could live with it. It has vaulted ceilings in the kitchen and over the kitchen eating area, too. Off the kitchen/eating area is ostensibly a family room with a gas fireplace, right next to the single French door leading out to the deck. This family room is even littler than the last place. I mean, really unfunctionable. I don't get it!! This is where people live. This is where the kids congregate. If you don't have the space in the family room you would be constantly stepping over each other. It's official: I'm not a fan of "Great Room" floorplans if there isn't also another family room or bonus room or SOMETHING. Otherwise, the rest of the house was fine. The master was nice with big double-doors leading into it. And it had a huge walk-in closet. My whole life I've never had a walk-in closet, so that would be a treat. So again, this house was just missing one more room and it would have been cool. The FR was the deal-breaker for me. Unless we wanted to pay to build a big bonus/family room UPSTAIRS over the existing kitchen & FR space, it won't work. But the price was good: just $285k. That low price alone makes me want to try to make this one work. And yet, it won't. Not as-is. Bummer.

So, I'm back home waiting for more houses to come on the market. It's frustrating. I know we'll find a good home for us, but I'm impatient. I've already searched the FSBO listings and RMLS listings this morning. I can't help myself.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
Free Counters
Hit Counters

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?