Help this old confused woman~~~PLEASE

phoggieMay 1, 2012

Most of you know my situation....DH passed, have a large lot, sold this house, no place to call "home" and I need to do something~~

I was thinking I would build (and Summerfield has drawn a great plan), but this morning I got a call from a gentleman who also lives in the housing development and he put some pointed questions to me:

Do I really want a 1600 SF house at my age? Why don't I build a 2 bedroom/2bath duplex? Do I need that 3rd bedroom? Do I need a dining room? What are my NEEDS vs. wants at 70 years old? etc.... So now I am in such a state of confusion because IF I build, I need to go on with it while the builder is making a slot for me. I can't front the cost of the entire unit, and know of no one who wants to build the other half....they can not be rented out in that HOA.

I guess I am just venting and wishing some magic answer would come to me. There is absolutely nothing to rent and although a friend has offered me to stay with her, I want my own space. There is nothing in that little town that doesn't have some steps and my arthritis prevents me from doing steps etc. I am still upset that the owner sold that condo out from under me when I asked for a mold inspection.

So I am turning to the wise counsel of this group of friends who have been so supportive through this....THANKS to everyone who has stuck with me at this most trying time of my life~~

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I have been with you virtually on the forums as your life has changed. On the duplex idea, I would just like to remind you that living in a duplex is kinda like living in an apt. The quality of your life will depend way too much on who it is in the duplex and their overall noise level and daily routines. At this point in your life, maybe you don't need a dining room, but you could use that space however you wanted: office, crafts, what have you. Same with 3rd bedroom.

If you have the ability to build, the builder is ready to go, and it seems like it is a good solution for you in the place you want to live, go ahead with it. I think a lot of people go too far in downsizing and then regret not having a bit more room. With us, we never would have predicted that one of our children would need to return home; now we face building again to provide some space for two generations to each have some privacy. You can live with a bit of extra space, but it's hard to live with a bit too little space.

Best of luck to you as you adjust to all the curves that life has placed in your road.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:02PM
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Phoggie- You don't seem that old or confused to me...or I would suggest you move into an Assisted Living facility. You're just feeling overwhelmed, as anyone would, with building a house...let alone with the year you've had!

This 'gentleman' who also lives in the development...does he have a duplex...or maybe build them? Does he have anything to do with rentals?

Honestly, if you can afford it, I would build the house Summerfield designed (or close to it) and think about the added space being wonderful for you...and for resale. Duplexes are great, if you can keep the other half rented out, and if there are no problems with the tenant(s), and if you're not the person living on the other side.

This is just my opinion...but I think you should do what feels right, in your heart. Or to put it another way...go with your gut! You love that plan (or seem to) so build the house you want and enjoy the next 20 to 30 years in it! Think how easy it will be to sell such a lovely home, if you or your family, ever need to. And, stop thinking you're anymore confused than anyone else would be, in this situation. You're a strong, smart, mature woman...who needs to do something for HERSELF, for a change. Don't worry about everyone this for YOU! And enjoy it! :)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:31PM
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Thanks friends for your kind words of encouragement. I just came from a friend who lives in a duplex....I actually went there to see if she likes living there, etc....but oh my, she is so cramped in space and says she misses storage that she had in a house. I hate clutter and this would drive me up the wall~~~so unless the one I build would be more spacious, I don't think that would work.

LL...there is NO renting in this HOA where I would build...everything must be owned and maintained by the person who is living in the dwelling.

This HOA is "supposed" to be 55+ age people, but is not stated as so in the rules of living there. LL...If I get to enjoy it for 10 years, I'll be thrilled...I am already 20-30 isn't going to happen. When it is sold, it will be sold to 55+, so I don't want to get it so big that it is not going to be easy to sell when the time comes....but as my kids said, "You build what YOU want and let us worry about having to sell it when you are done with it."

I guess I am still stuck in the "old school" and think I "need" to leave something for my kids...but except for one family, they are doing much better than I would ever hope to be.

LL, you are right....for what I have been through during the past years, I am no more confused that most people would be. I asked a friend (who is much younger than I) what she would do and she said that she would have no I'll just try to follow my gut and see what the bids are on "Summerfield's house" and if I have to cut, try to work out something with him or let my "spot" go in his building line-up and find another plan and builder later....but I don't want to live with my friend too long...I feel I need my space where my family can come visit and feel like they are not intruding into someone else's home.

Thanks so much for your thoughts and keep them coming.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 5:59PM
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Do you WANT to become a landlord? Do you NEED the rental income? If the answer both questions is no, then I say forget the idea of building a duplex!

I can't imagine why the gentleman who called you would suggest that you build a duplex unless maybe HE is hoping to rent half of it from you someday. LOL! Instead of a third bedroom and a dining room that (maybe) you don't "need", if you build a duplex, you will have an entire extra apartment (living room, kitchen, dining room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom!) that you definitely DON'T need. Unless you happen to like being a landlord, you won't even get any pleasure out of owning it. And unless you need the rental income, why do it? You certainly can't take the money you might earn with you when you go.

Building a 2 bedroom/2bath duplex will require you to spend more and build a larger amount of square footage but you would end up living in a smaller space with the hassle of keeping the other unit rented (and caring for the inevitable problems that landlords face) OR have a half empty building whenever you don't have friends/relatives building. Plus, if/when you ever decide to sell it, I would imagine that a duplex would be less marketable than a nice 3 bdroom cottage. So, I just don't see what the advantage would be for you.

The design that Summerfield did for you would let you close off the extra bedrooms and save on heating/cooling (and cleaning) when you're not using them. But they would give you the option of having your children/grandchildren come to visit you without having to sleep on a fold-out couch or go to a motel. You may not use a dining room everyday for dinner but you may occasionally want to invite a couple of friends over for a sit-down meal. And even if you don't want to do that much cooking, it is a whole lot easier to host even a casual pot-luck dinner if you've got a dining room table to spread the foods others bring out on. And a three bedroom cottage on the lake should definitely be marketable if you ever decide you need to sell.

And dear, may I point out that for the past 50 years at least, you've been taking care of other people's needs and wants. Now that your children are grown and your husband is no longer with you, you are no longer responsible for meeting anyone else's wants/needs. Yes, you are 70 years old. But if you are reasonably healthy, you could easily live another 25 years. However, it is unlikely that your health will remain as good as it is right now and it is certainly not likely to get any better. The time will probably come eventually when you won't be able to do the things you WANT or continue to live the way you WANT. If/when you wind up in a nursing home, if you're lucky your NEEDS will be taken care of. But no one is likely to give all that much consideration to your WANTS.

So, right now, RIGHT NOW, you have a window of opportunity to indulge YOUR WANTS and there is no reason whatsoever that you should not do so. To the extent that you can afford it, why should you give up anything you WANT just because someone has suggested to you that maybe you don't NEED it.

If you don't WANT the 1600 sq ft house that Summerfield designed, then don't build it. But if you do WANT it and believe that you will enjoy living in it and you can afford to build it, then I say to H-E-double matchsticks with whether you "NEED" it or not. Go build it and enjoy it!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 7:22PM
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Bevangel- I completely agree! :)

My mom finally got a home 'just for her' a few years ago...and she loves it! She has it decorated the way she likes it, has the outside the way she wants it, and for the first time ever...has a home that is just perfect for her!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:12PM
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Don't regret the fact that you lost that condo. There is probably a very good reason that the owner sold it out from under you--it probably had mold and he knew it wouldn't pass.

The beauty of building is that you can make your house wheelchair accessible so you can stay in it many more years. You are not it a wheelchair now, but if you'd break a hip or had some surgery, you could recover in your own home.

In our neighborhood, we have been talking to 2 different families with 1800 square foot homes. Both have said that it's too small when the kids come for the holidays; they were both selling to upsize. I'm sure others will be in your same boat when your house will need to be sold.

As far as leaving an inheritance, property is making us more money than money in the bank. As the population ages, your home will gain in value, especially if it's as hard to come by as you say.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:18PM
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Phoggie - I would love to sit down with you over a cup o'joe and talk through this dilemma. For now a cyber """"HUG>>>> must suffice.

Still Waters brings up an excellent point about a house becoming too small when the kids visit. DH and I are empty nesters and are building a 1959 sq. ft. ranch with the main floor for US. The lower level, another 1300 sq. ft. is for the kids and their families. It will eventually have two bedroom suites, a large family room and kitchenette. Our only mistake was the decision to not put a washer/dryer hookup in the lower level. Foolish me was trying to save a dime or two.

After a family health crisis, DH flipped a switch and told me we are finishing the main floor to include everything we want. This is a major flip because our builder declared bankruptcy 6 months into the build and walked away with a sizable sum of our money. We have been cutting and cutting and cutting to the point the house is no longer our vision.

My point, build a house that allows you to age in place. We are in process of doing this with a few exceptions and I look forward to staying in our home for many years.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:06PM
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Oh cyber friends~~

THANKS for the of right now, I am still thinking of the single family home. BUT, I know of a widowed lady from right here in this town that wants to move to my "back home" town and she is very intereted in building the other half of the duplex with me IF I decide to go that route.

The gentleman who called me regarding a duplex certainly does not want to live in the other half.....he was the original developer of the HOA and says that there is always such a demand for 55+ living out there. My lot is 28,000SF and it is zoned duplex if I want to go that route.

But as for "right now", I am going to wait until I get the bid back for Summerfield's house (love the last one she did...perfect....check out the last drawing in "calling summerfield AGAIN).

This duplex will also be handicapped steps, I would allow me to age in place. This friend is older than I, but very active and good health...and I think she would make a great neighbor.

The developer of the HOA also draws plans and he has a plan for a duplex already done, so when I get back down there, I'll at least look at it.....he did the condos and they are lovely.

THANKS again.....and I appreciate all of your help and concerns.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:34PM
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Just a thought, if you cannot rent, how is your friend going to pay her share. I would suggest very strong not to do so, I would think more of a single house, but large enough to have your family stay overnight etc IF the HOA allows it. You need to find this out ahead of time before you do so. Personally it is nice to have someone close in case of an emergency, but! actually having someone living there and not be able to pay rent, and PLEASE do not sell part of the house to them, could cause legal problems later. We have a duplex, but one of my kids lives on the other side, but we have it set up that if and when we cannot live here it will automatically go to them as part of their inheritance.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 4:35PM
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Me again. Take some paper, make list for yourself
Ideas, How many bedrooms? Why? Bathrooms? How many full, 1/2 or 3/4 ? What do I really really need to keep? What do I need to keep in storage? How big kitchen? Do I need place to eat in kitchen? Living/dining/family room combination? Other Words, list ALL your ideas that you want in your home and even get your family to help. Even grandkids have ideas we never know of. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Is there more than one lot in this development? If so, maybe your friend can build there.

It's difficult enough to qualify for financing...I wouldn't complicate things by bringing another person in. Duplexes and condos will not have the same value as the lovely home Summerfield designed. I really like the recent changes to the office and master bath layout :)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:39PM
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Okay....I'll try to explain better~~~

I own a 28,000 SF lot on the lake in our "back home" town..
IF, IF, IF I would decide to go the duplex route, the other lady would be BUYING half of my lot...we would EACH pay the entire amount for OUR OWN BUILD. I WOULD NOT be renting to her. We both would be responsible for our own half of the duplex....just as it would be if I bought into the condo. No renting is permitted by the HOA...everyone MUST OWN their own unit~~

NO, NO, NO, I would never build anything to rent out...I do not want to be a land-lord to anyone.

Conods and duplexes for the over 55 are in high demand because it is a very beautiful area and only that age group will live no noise, etc. of teen-agers etc.

The lot is so large that it will require a great deal of mowing expense, etc.....and of course, taxes will be greater on a single house than a duplex. Just so many things to think of.....and IF the builder can do Summerfield's last revised plan for a reasonable price, I do plan to do would be my first choice, but if the bid price is more than I can handle, I'll see about doing a 2/2 duplex.

LL~~ didn't Summerfield do a great job?...I emailed her and told her the changes that I would like, and woohoo, she came up with it for me :-)

You all are so kind....and thanks.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Phoggie- If you like the idea of a duplex, have the space, share the maintenance costs...and the other gal's financing won't be any problem for your build...then why not build Summerfield's house as a duplex?

Here's the plan (so people don't have to switch back and forth) and it should be easy enough to put the garages side to side. The only window would be over the vanity (which isn't really necessary) and you could take out that side door, and have outside access to the garage, from the porch instead. Just an idea :) From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 9:57PM
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Oh, and I think you could put the outside HVAC, in the back, outside the master bathroom (by the toilet) and have them near each other, for both houses. Even without a fence (don't know what's allowed in the HOA) you'd still have privacy in the backyard, with the way the master bumps out from the rest of the house.

Hope this gives you something else to think about...and some other lucky person would be able to live in Summerfield's plan, too! :)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 10:10AM
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LL~~I know you have been making changes to your you see anything I am forgetting?...or would make this house more livable for one person?...or an older couple when I am done with it?

The only other "small item" I would make different would be to bring the upper cabinets a bit longer over he bar the first bar stool or so....I need upper cabinets because of my back.

Is Summerfield an architect, or does she (I guess it is a "she") just like to come up with fantastic plans that helps us so much?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Phoggie- I think it would be fine to have the upper cabinets come over further. A bit more wall, between the entry and the kitchen would give you room for a bench and even a few hooks, if needed.

I really like this plan and the only thing I can think of is to maybe have a door from the porch, into the garage...and I'd probably make it a single door at the front entry, opening against the closet. If you needed to trim the budget, you could take out the little windows, in each of the bedrooms...and the small one in the dining room. The extra light is nice, but four less windows would save you a little more money.

I'm not sure what Summerfield does (when not helping us) but I am certainly thankful for all that Summerfield has done for me and I know many GWers have been helped by the wonderful designs! :)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 4:54PM
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Summerfield and the rest of you wonderful friends~~

This house is sold....check in the I am happy to announce that I got a very favorable estimate from the Amish contractor, and I am planning to go ahead with the
build of the last plan that Summerfield did for me....she is amazing!!!! and I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

Estimated time to start is late Aug or early Sept. and be in before Christmas!...merry Christmas to myself!

I feel that my departed DH's spirit is leading me to build on our lot....he loved it there, so I am leaving his hand prints on this house but taking his spirit to my new build.

I am sure I will have so many questions later, but I know I can count on the wonderful people of this forum for help.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 2:33PM
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Congrats Phoggie! I'm so glad your house sold and you can afford to build your wonderful new home :)

Summerfield's plan is amazing and I know you'll enjoy living in such a lovely place with that beautiful view!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 3:26PM
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Congrats Phoggie! I am so happy for you.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 10:32PM
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That's great! Congratulations. Summerfield's plans are usually fantastic - you'll be lucky to actually live in one!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 4:14PM
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Hope it all goes well for you.

best of luck

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 7:58PM
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