The right size home

theresasDecember 5, 2004

Hello all, I posted a little question over at the Buying and Selling a Home forum, but I'd really like your input too. My husband and I are selling our cute little energy efficient townhouse since I took a job 34 miles away. The drive through Chicago suburbs is nasty and I have serious, serious issues with the damage a commute like that does to the environment and to my leisure time. The area we are moving to will not have newer construction in our price range, so we'll be looking at houses probably constructed in the 60s and 70s. We are not interested in moving again, so I'm focused on getting a house that isn't too big and isn't too small. Does anyone know of guidelines to help us along? I detest clutter and spending loads of time cleaning, so I'm not a big fan of mega-houses anyway. Still, I don't want to end up with a space that is too small. Any advice would be taken seriously and would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Well....I'd start by saying "how big is your old house"....and was it too big or too small? How about the yard and any attached or outbuildings (e.g., for storage). I'd start by looking at the old one, that you seemed to have liked, and thinking about how that size suited you, and WHY it suited you; then you can look at other houses, even with different layouts and say "well, that one's the same size...but doesn't work because X layout makes this harder" or whatever. See what I"m saying?

    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 6:40PM
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IMHO, two bedrooms and two baths would be the minimum size from that standpoint.

Do you foresee anyone coming to live with you? Is there any chance either of you would need an office in the home? Then you would need a third bedroom or convertible den.

A home which is roomy enough for you will not be cluttered because you will have room to put things away.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 9:47PM
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The one thing about this townhouse I'd change is the combined living/dining area. It's too small for that. And I just don't like it being combined, guess it's a personal preference, but there it is :)

Yes, I do forsee my brother coming back to live with us again. It may not happen, but it's very, very likely. He is not well--he was diagnosed with diabetes 2 years ago after his 3-wheeler accident and has never gotten it under control. He lives with our mother in a remote area of KY where he can't seem to find work, so he has been making plans to move back in with us.

Plus we do plan on having children. I keep hearing stupid things about "laws" mandating how many rooms you have to have for X amount of children. Why in the world would any family be required by law to have more than 3 bedrooms? I think the people saying this are full of it. In fact, I know they are. But considering that they live on our dime (section 8 when they are able bodied workers), I have little respect for their opinions.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2004 at 9:53PM
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I think you should get at least a 3 bedroom place, if possible. Besides the possibility of your brother coming, very often for one reason or another kids need their own rooms. I've never heard of laws about how many rooms you need for X children.

You did not ask for this advice, so pardon me if I am giving advice that is not wanted, but if your brother does come, you would be wise to have an open covnersation with him about his plans to seek work. If he is not working, what would be the expectations for him around the house as far as helping out? This is none of my business, but I could not help telling my feelings.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2004 at 12:19AM
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Much to my chagrin, he will be on disability (diabetes) prior to moving in with us. Until that is approved, he will have to keep paying child support to his wife. I have issues with supporting a Springer-esque person in my home, but he is my brother.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2004 at 8:54PM
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The total square footage of the house that is necessary is dependent on the efficient floor plan and not on how many rooms you need. For example, if you have an efficiently designed house where every corner of the space is used instead of wasted into hallways, stairways, and large closets, you need less to be comfortable.

For example, for the same sq ft, open kitchen/dining/living without walls with built in storage feels much larger than walled off three dicrete rooms that NEED furniture in the rooms. Personally, I think you need minimum of 800sq to 1200 sq for a combined l/k/d to feel spacious. Less than that you start feeling cramped.

For bedrooms, depending on your lifestyle, small bedrooms with built in storage eliminates the need for larger bedrooms. I do not have any dressers in all of our bedrooms. We have built in drawers and shelves in the closets. I also declutter and eliminate what I do not need on regular basis. Each of my kids (2 and 5) have less than 6 ft of closet for all of their belonging. I do not keep toys in their bedrooms.

As you pare down your everyday space, you need to pay attention to out of season storage. I have found that this is very important if you want to live clutter-free. There is no reason why you should dig through ski outfits in your closet in the summer. Either move them up, aside, or to another area. In my case, I use a large basement closet for out of season storage. The storage needs to be heated and environmentally controlled to minimize possible mold, mildew, moths etc.

Our family of three used to live in 1800 sq ft plus garage and it was very comfortable. Our open 1000 sq ft living space was what made the house seem larger.

We went to a party last weekend in a house that was twice as big as ours, and the guests were all in the kitchen/family room and no one used the separate living/dining area. The party felt very cramped even though they had the space. Because of their floor plan, no one used the formal spaces. When we have parties in our house, we can accomodate twice as many people wihtout feeling cramped even though our house is considerably smaller.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 1:53PM
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I don't think there's a simple formulae to calculate the ideal sq. footage of home for each person, simply because some homes waste a lot of space while others carefully use every single sq. foot. There's not obvious limits to space saving either, you can fit a lot in with careful planning, then you can make items smaller, multi-purpose and even fold away for maximum usability.

There's so much to consider about the space and it's functionality that we can only speculate what would work best. You have to see it and consider it in person to make a fair choice what will work for you.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 6:55PM
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I'm just curious why someone with diabetes would be on disability? My sister has had Type I since she was 4 (now 31) and hasn't been on any assistance.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2004 at 10:13AM
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My father had Type 1 diabetes for about 20 years and went blind because of it. He was on disability.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2004 at 9:08AM
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