Sunday, June 24, 2007

New Home (to you) Must Haves

When we go out house hunting there are certain rooms that stand out for us in importance. Here's our list:
The Kitchen

It need to be grand. It need not be granite. It need not have stainless or even hardwood floors. But it does have to have two things: good storage and good workspace. I am flabbergasted at times by how little counter space exists in some galley-style kitchens in older homes and newer condos these days. Maybe it's reflective of the sociological trend of eating out and ordering in. Or maybe it's just that everything comes pre-packaged these days and you need not have the prep room. I like to cook. I need the space. We won't compromise on this one.

The Bathroom

We're not unrealistic with our expectations in this room. We'd like to have two of them, but that isn't necessarily realistic in our purchasing options. Where we live now has the nicest bathroom we've ever rented. That's because it has a full tub (rare in suite's for rent in our experience). Ms. HHV likes to soak, she'd love a jetted-soaker tub, but will settle for a tub instead of a shower stall.

Again, no need for granite counter tops. But cabinetry ideally is real wood, not melamine or wood facade with metal drawers. Like in the kitchen, we'd expect hardware (drawer slides and hinges) to be metal, same as the handles. Wandered through Home Depot or Rona lately? This stuff is cheap. Sure you can get cheaper, but in a small place, that extra couple of hundred spent can make all the difference in impressions of these two rooms.

We'd like to see a really good exhaust fan to protect our investment from steam-caused mold. On that note, we'd love to see a glassed-in tub enclosure and concrete backer board instead of drywall. Those are pretty rare these days as the building code makes no mention of them and they are pricey additions.

The Bedroom

We don't need big, but big enough to fit a queen bed and a chest of drawers. The closet needs to fit all of her shoes and my shirts too. We actually prefer carpet to hard flooring in this room; it's nice on the footsies on those cold winter mornings.

Wooden Windows

When I was much younger, I worked in a wooden window factory. I never proved much talent for woodwork, but I did fall in love with the craftsmanship that can only be found in quality wooden windows.

That said, wood windows require maintenance that isn't necessary in most other incarnations of the looking glass. I won't be heartbroken if I can't find them, but they'd be there in my dream home.

The Garage (or storage)

We're pretty good about not being pack rats. We don't need a ton of storage. But we do live pretty active lives and it would be great if I had a place to store my bicycles--I'm forever looking for new ones. Anyway, I'm none too handy, which is OK because I'm plenty handsome :) so I don't have much of a tool collection, but a place to put my dirty cycling stuff and bikes, and a place for Ms. HHV to banish me and my stuff to when she needs some space to do yoga or whatever would be high on our list of expectations when shopping for a new place to call home.

What are your must haves? How much will they influence your decision to purchase? Would you pay extra for any of them? Can your home be an emotional purchase or is it simply driven by economic fundamentals (to all you bears out there)?


Village said...

I haven't been touring places. But I keep an eye on MLS. What I look for are places with potential. I'd rather not pay for someones flipper remodeling job. I mean, if it's me flipping it's all about appearances, not actual quality.

There does appear to be some low level Condo's appearing on the market at sub-$200k range. Seems good news too me, hopefully it's a sign of an on coming glut. See some 2 for 1 sales when my lease is up. ;)

hhv said...

i know what you're saying about the condos... we're seeing about prices about $10K less than in february on average... makes me glad we waited. Can't wait for the fall, I'll wonder if we'll be able to resist temptation?

Village said...

I think it's easier to resist temptation when you are proven right. If a consistent downtrend shows up, it's easier to wait knowing cheaper and/or better places will come available in your price range.

It's especially nice when your $250k (or however much you want to spend) continues to buy more. You may not be spending less, but getting more for your dollar.

Gil said...

Hi--Some good preferences. A couple suggestions not found on the standard lists when buying condos--from my experience. 1)It can be worthwhile to get some rough estimates for calculating costs of some renos--i.e cost psqft for countertop changes etc--they can be surprisingly low and allow cheap corrections of sellers mistakes that may turn you and other buyers off; 2)How noise sensitive are you? Are parking lots outside the window? Ask to see the unit in the evening as well when people are at home with everything on and walking around. Are there rules for when you can run appliances. Does it have a modern, quiet dishwasher--a plus. 3) Can you barbq on the balcony?--since you won't be able to afford to eat out. 4)If it is small, can you see how a wall--murphy--bed might be used in bdrm 2-thus also a study. 5)How much light gets in those windows? Winter moods and Summer heat. Is it positioned to allow a windcross flow movement? 6)If on a top floor, fine no noise, but if a flat roof, check out insulation and ventilation in roof/attic--can become super hot in summer if not done right.7) If is older and not an open area design, check to see if structually and strata rule wise the living/kit area could in the future be opened up--modernizes and can add an immense sense of spaciousness. 8) Assume any appliance over ten years could go anytime. 9) Think about those grocery bags&baby(?) going up and the garbage that goes down--the routes. (10) If there is a wood fireplace, will a gas insert later be feasible? Have fun. G