If you downsized your house, please tell me your story

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Posted 11/23/2012 by readsomething in NSBR Board
 

readsomething
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Posted: 11/23/2012 4:00:08 PM
Our house is 2,200 square feet. Two bathrooms (one up, one down -- we don't have a dedicated master bathroom). Four bedrooms, with an odd large-ish room off our bedroom. We think it was a leftover from when the house was converted briefly into apartments during WWII.

We are looking into smaller houses. Smaller houses, smaller mortgage. Less upkeep, and a more modern layout. Our rooms are small, and the kitchen is off the dining room, and both those rooms are not connected to the living room. I'd LOVE one huge area, even like a loft space, where the kitchen/dining/living are all together, then the bedrooms (and a hall bath plus a master bath) are down a hallway. Our house is two stories. and I'd love a ranch. I'm done with going up and down the stairs to put away laundry, get a glass of Coke, etc.

The problem is that we'd probably have to leave our neighborhood, which we love. The location is great, the neighbors are fab, but the houses are of a particular style/era which means no ranches, and most of the houses in good shape have teeny rooms, which is the problem we're trying to get away from.

So ... have any of you done this? What did you do, how did you do it, and how did you get rid of your stuff? My overall motivation, in addition to those other things, is to get rid of our stuff. If we just really do not have room for it ... then we just can't keep it. We'll be forced to get rid of it. (Except for my scrapbooking stuff, though, right?)


Heather
Finally Four of Us
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Epeanymous
PeaFixture

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Posted: 11/23/2012 4:18:30 PM
We moved from a cheap Southern city to an expensive West Coast city, so we had to downsize or commute. I hate commuting and we both prefer city life, so we decided to buy a smaller house when we moved.

We used an antiques consignment shop to get rid of the big furniture that wouldn't fit, and we Goodwilled a lot of kitchen supplies that wouldn't fit in a smaller kitchen. I got rid of a lot of other things that took up floor space. We had bookshelves and cabinets built into this house, and if it doesn't fit, I get rid of something else. We still have a little too much stuff for this house, but the "too much stuff" is 90% toys.

x2mom
PeaFixture

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Posted: 11/23/2012 4:21:19 PM
Haven't downsized, but, as far as getting rid of stuff, it depends on whether you are just
trying to find a good home for your unwanted stuff or would like to make money off of it.

If you just want to give it away, do you have children or young relatives who need things?
If so, I would let them come over and take away what you don't need anymore. Free usable stuff means a lot to the younger generation who are still trying to establish a home.

If trying to sell, for the larger things such as furniture I would try craigslist. If it doesn't sell there, then for nicer furniture, a consignment store and last resort a garage sale.

Good luck!

Madi & Me
BucketHead

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Posted: 11/23/2012 4:51:13 PM
We rented a large house for a few years before getting into our current home -- it's older (has been in the family for dozens of years) and smaller but it's suitable for us. We can modernize things over the years as funds become available, but for now, we're happy with what we have. The house fits our family and our budget. Having a smaller home means less upkeep and less stress for us financially, physically, and emotionally.

When we transitioned, we lost a room and a garage (our's is converted to a livable studio) so DH and I promised each other that we'd donate, sell (Craigslist or yard sale), or trash items we absolutely did not need. If we hadn't thought of it or used it in the last six months (seasonal essentials aside), or we had double of anything, we considered it dispensable.

Really take the time to mentally prepare yourself to sort and rid yourself of any extras. It can be an emotionally challenging yet rewarding experience. In the end, I imagine you'll be quite happy with your household purge! Best wishes for a happy transition!

Compwalla
Pastafarian Pea

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Posted: 11/23/2012 5:57:54 PM
Paring down what we had was pretty easy for us. We moved to a tiny island and could only bring 2500 lbs of household goods with us. They issued us furniture when we got there so the 2500 lbs was for our stuff - clothes, kitchen items, TV, linens, towels, toys, etc.

We put over 1/2 our stuff in long term storage and I sorted out what I thought we'd need for the two years and shipped that. We spent two years and three months on Terceira and during that time I missed exactly ONE item that got put in storage: the big platter I served turkey on at Thanksgiving.

When we moved back to the states, we were in a small temporary place waiting for base housing. The stuff we had on the island arrived at our new place quickly and aside from missing our couch and living room furniture, it wasn't too bad. We had everything we needed.

Then the truck arrived with the crap we'd stored all that time. The guys unloaded box after box of stuff we hadn't seen in over two years and hadn't missed at all. (save the aforementioned turkey platter!) The boxes were stacked to the ceiling in every room of the tiny place. DH and I made a command decision that we didn't need all that stuff and spent a week going through everything. He took five or six pickup truck loads to donate and we only kept a tiny bit of what we'd stored. It ended up being more than 1/2 our stuff that we got rid of. I've never looked back.

The decision making process focused on paring down multiples and getting ridding of things that only were good for one thing. I had nine pyrex pie plates. No one needs that many. I had multiple sets of pitchers and tumblers that had been wedding gifts. We never used them! Out they went. All the pointless tchotchkes? Gone. If it was a mostly useless dust collector that didn't have any great sentimental meaning, I donated it. Two can openers? Got rid of one. Clothes we hadn't worn in three years? Buh-bye.

One thing I read was to box up everything you are on the fence about. Then put the box up for six months or so. Whatever you take the time to dig out of the box, you actually need. At the end of the six months, whatever is left in the box you can get rid of. We sort of did that on a huge scale when we left everything in storage. It works!

Ten years later and I have absolutely no regrets. We have operated in a less-is-more mode for the most part ever since. I like stuff, don't get me wrong. But I don't hold onto old things and we don't accumulate more than we have storage for. We have four bookcases in various parts of the house. When a bookcase starts to get overrun, this is not a cue to buy another bookcase. It's a cue to get rid of books. Ditto with my son's toys. When they start spilling out of the bins in his room we don't buy more bins. We go through the toys and purge until they fit in the bins. I bought new dishes to replace the ones we got as wedding gifts. We broke stuff here and there and the minute I bought new dishes, I freecycled the old ones.



Virginia

I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. --Susan B. Anthony

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Burning Feather
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Posted: 11/23/2012 6:01:10 PM
We downsized at our last house. We went from a 4,000 s/f house with high ceilings and vaulted rooms to an 1800 s/f home with 8' ceilings. We took ALL of our furniture with us and quite frankly, I have no idea what we were thinking. Not only did we have too much stuff (duh) but the scale was all wrong. The furniture was made for large, open rooms with high ceilings, not smaller closed in rooms. We ended up selling all of it and starting over.

We learned a big lesson from that move and this time when we moved (9 years later) we sold everything instead of dragging it across country and hoping it worked in the new house. And while the new house is just slightly larger from a square footage standpoint, the rooms are very open to each other and the ceilings are higher so it feels much larger.

My recommendation would be that if you are going to consider going with a smaller amount of square footage that you at least look for at least 9' ceilings or vaulted ceilings and more open rooms - it will lend to a larger feeling.

You may also have to consider how you can make one or two rooms do double duty. One of our rooms will be the guest room, but rather than take up valuable square footage with a room that is necessary but rarely used, we will invest in a Murphy Bed and also a really nice (large) sewing cabinet for me to use for crafts and sewing. The Murphy bed can be tucked away the majority of the time but when we have guests, the cabinet can be folded and tucked away so that it's just a table for a lamp and toiletries for our guests. The initial investment in both of those is pretty large but we are getting twice the bang for the buck out of the square footage, which in the end is much more expensive than what we will pay for those two pieces of furniture.


Carla




Burning Feather
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Posted: 11/23/2012 6:07:02 PM

Then the truck arrived with the crap we'd stored all that time. The guys unloaded box after box of stuff we hadn't seen in over two years and hadn't missed at all.


Yes! Don't store it. DH's best friend had some stuff in storage for 10 years because he moved around monthly with his job. When he got hurt at work and had to make a life change, we offered to go through that stuff with him and store some of it. As it turns out, when he brought it all to our house to go through it, we ended up storing only 1 item and we sold all of the rest of it for him at a garage sale (and he wasn't even invested enough in it to care what he got for it). And that 1 item we kept for him? When we moved, we told him he had to deal with it one way or another and he decided he didn't even want that one item, so we sold it with our household goods before we moved.

He spent 10 years paying monthly on a storage unit full of stuff he didn't even care about and that was worth far (FAR) less than what he paid to store it.


Carla




grandma28
BucketHead

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Posted: 11/23/2012 6:28:41 PM
we moved from a 2 story home with basement lviing also, down to a 1000 sq. foot home.. wow!!!.. we got rid of ALOT of furniture and stuff..some we gave to our kids, some went to goodwill,, and u have to be creative with storage..less really is more. and we went from 2 car garage to a shed.. wow.. hubs got rid of alot of tools, he cant use anylonger anyways.. he is now disabled. so just the basics for sure.!! i miss having more room at times, but for the most part, i love it.. less to clean also!!!
connieb

readsomething
Got Samoas?

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Posted: 11/23/2012 6:51:45 PM
Thanks for all the advice, everyone!

BF and Virginia, I was hoping both of you would weigh in because I've followed your stories over the years.

My dream would be, at this point, to find a gutted shell of a 1,200-1,500-sq. ft. house that we could make our own. We could figure out where the walls would be, for instance. We have definite ideas and preferences on interiors (we both like our antiques!) and we could do something really cool, I think. Other than bedrooms and bathrooms, I'd like a minimum of walls at this point.

Getting bogged down with storage units is a potential nightmare in this scenario. Some of our stuff is a pricey, huge collection of political memorabilia that DH has collected over the years. He sells the extra stuff from lots he buys on eBay. I know there's no way he'd want to get rid of that in one fell swoop, because there's thousands and thousands invested in it. He also collects paper, and I'm working on him to set some lots up for me to sell for vintage scrapbookers. But he really has a huge collection.

Our industry is one that's in an upheaval, and one advantage of downsizing NOW is that, if DH loses his job, we'd have less to worry about, in terms of a BIG house to sell and a TON of stuff to get rid of. I'd rather do it now than do it later when we're in panic mode.


Heather
Finally Four of Us
Regional vice president of the National Sarcasm Society (Like We Need Your Support)
Senior Executive Vice President, Dunder-Mifflin Paper Co., Scranton PA
"Every time I use a coupon, Satan gets another one of his toenails pulled out."

Georgiapea
Mom to the Wild Things.

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Posted: 11/23/2012 7:17:34 PM
We will be moving to slightly smaller living quarters some time next year and I'm very concerned about where our furniture will go and what I'll have to give up. The good news is we will have an 800 sq ft basement so there will be storage space. Right now the things that will go into the basement are crammed into our utility room.

My new kitchen will be tiny though, in comparison to the one we have now. The new utility room will be right off the kitchen and will double as a pantry but at least it won't have saws and hammers stored in it!

There will be a lot of compromise in that most all the rooms there, are smaller than the ones we have now.

HannahRuth
PeaFixture

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Posted: 11/24/2012 12:32:06 AM

We downsized from a four bedroom and a study, 2 and a half bathrooms, three living areas, formal lounge/dining with a double garage attached. At the time DD and DS were leaving home and moving on in the world. We thought this house was too big.

The bigger house as in a fabulous area with the gardens and properties kept nicely, the neighbours are great - we are still in touch regularly with these old neighbours - and we are really sorry we moved.

The house we are currently living has three bedrooms, study, lounge dining and a family room with kitchen at one end of it. Two bathrooms. Double garage attached. While it still sounds a reasonable size I hate it. The area is not as nice, people don't seem as house proud, it has much more traffic noise, the neighbours are nice enough but because the age group is different they are still at work, have younger children, it is just so different.

With the move we have sold, given away or donated furniture, tools, garden equipment, jut really anything that we no longer could fit in. Some things I was really sad to see go.

If you move do you have to worry about changing schools, medical services, out of school hours activities? All things that need considering as well.

Good luck with your decision.




readsomething
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Posted: 11/24/2012 12:45:56 AM
We would have to change a lot, I think. Our public schools in this city are not that great -- our current neighborhood has one of the best elementary schools in the city, so if we were to move, that'd be a consideration. We are looking online at houses in a neighboring city, with the choices narrowed down to the best public high school in that city. DD is only 9 now, but she only has one more year of elementary school to go.

At the moment, she's in a local Catholic school. We had some reasons for that, but if we were to move to the adjoining city, she'd definitely be in the public schools in the adjoining city. The school she attends now is just too far away from the nearby city. People do make the drive, but that's not something we'd be interested in doing.

The other issue is the drive: We're 10 minutes from work right now. In the adjoining city, we'd be ... up to 45 minutes, depending on traffic. DH's commute is at off-peak hours, so that's good. And I could probably adjust mine to off-peak, mostly, as well.

We want to free up money in our monthly budget to travel, to do more FUN stuff. And I don't want to feel so tied to the house investment anymore. That possible reason for that is that I've BTDT with the big house (we had rental properties at one time, too). I'd love to own something much smaller and be able to know that we could travel. It seems that we're paying a LOT for housing, relative to our budget. I know a lot of people do -- but we're not in SoCal or NYC, so I feel like we should be able to investigate some options that are more in keeping with what we want.


Heather
Finally Four of Us
Regional vice president of the National Sarcasm Society (Like We Need Your Support)
Senior Executive Vice President, Dunder-Mifflin Paper Co., Scranton PA
"Every time I use a coupon, Satan gets another one of his toenails pulled out."

readsomething
Got Samoas?

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Posted: 1/11/2013 7:52:16 AM
I wanted to bump this thread and give an update on where we are in our downsizing.

We talked to our mortgage guy (from having had a six-plex apartment building that we converted into condos a few years ago).

We are in the process of getting prequalified for a mortgage to buy a new, smaller place. The hitch is that we won't be able to keep our current home as a rental, which we had planned to do, but we will need to sell it. So we are planning to sell off some of our crap, in order to make this house easier to stage to sell.

We are still looking at houses in our preferred area (neighboring city with better schools) to get an idea of the market, with the hope that there is a bigger selection in the area we want in the spring.

We will DEFINITELY need a storage unit at some point, and that scares me. I don't want the storage bill to become a long-term part of our lives. I will want to set some parameters on that -- a time limit or something.

I'm excited, DH is excited, and DD, who is 9, is excited. Her best friend lives two houses down but is 13, and they are growing apart a bit as the bestie gets older. So DD's only stipulation is that we move to a neighborhood with lots of kids her age. She's a social butterfly.

I've been studying decorating mags and renovation blogs like crazy. I am really looking forward to a smaller, more open house. Can't wait!


Heather
Finally Four of Us
Regional vice president of the National Sarcasm Society (Like We Need Your Support)
Senior Executive Vice President, Dunder-Mifflin Paper Co., Scranton PA
"Every time I use a coupon, Satan gets another one of his toenails pulled out."

**buglvr12**
StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 1/11/2013 8:55:11 AM
We are in kind of the same situation as you. We are actually closing on our old house next Friday. It is 2319 sq. feet 4 br/ 2.5 baths which isn't huge. It was 2 story which I have never liked. We are currently trying to find another house. I found one that I just love. It's modern and the living/kitchen areas are open like you described.

It's only about 200 sq. feet smaller than what we currently have but it's laid out much different. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths but the bedrooms are much bigger. It's very simple and I just love it! It doesn't have a formal dining room and we would have to get rid of some furniture which I am fine with. It's a cusom home and made so well. I've already looked at it and I'm hoping DH gets back in town today to go look at it.

Good luck and let us know what you decide!

readsomething
Got Samoas?

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Posted: 1/11/2013 8:59:56 AM
Oooh, buglvr, post the link to the listing. I'd love to see it!

Are you getting rid of stuff? Storing, selling, etc.?

I've been checking out the Ikea catalog. Looking for ways to store and display our stuff in less square footage. I'm excited, but we have a long way to go before we are ready to MOVE, sigh.


Heather
Finally Four of Us
Regional vice president of the National Sarcasm Society (Like We Need Your Support)
Senior Executive Vice President, Dunder-Mifflin Paper Co., Scranton PA
"Every time I use a coupon, Satan gets another one of his toenails pulled out."

sagehelena
PeaAddict

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Posted: 1/11/2013 9:24:52 AM
Hi Read,
I did just what you are talking about and have never been happier. I got divorced in early 2012 (amicable, two tween DD's, shared custody) and we sold our shared house, which was about 2000 sq feet, plus an unfinished basement. Moving was terrible! We had SO much junk that we didn't need. Multiples of everything, extra furniture, argh! I must have made 20 trips to the Goodwill. And guess what? I don't miss any of it!

I ended up buying a small brick midcentury ranch (I live in Denver). Three bedrooms (third is very small, but DD loves it). It has one bathroom right now. The bedrooms/bathroom are off a separate hallway. The main room is a living/dining combo, with the kitchen as a separate room at the dining end (would like to open a half wall possibly). There is a small enclosed former breezeway that now functions as an office for me.

The house is about 1200 sq ft. I am currently adding a family room and second full bath, accessed from dining room and office. This will add about 450 sq feet to the house. This house has zero storage. I have had to be very clever about creating some, and staying downsized. There is no room for more stuff! The bedrooms have small, but not terrible closets and that is it. In the office area, I put in a huge wall unit, custom created from IKEA, that has shelves, cupboards, seven drawers, etc. It is AWESOME. It holds all my office and crafting supplies. I will be adding a similar unit in the family room. I just bought a large storage coffee table from West Elm, that can hold extra blankets. I am adding storage in the new bathroom for towels. Creating more storage in the garage as well.

Houzz has great small space ideas. I could go on forever, and would be happy to share my expansion/floorplans or pictures. This is an ongoing project over here and I love it! I feel SO liberated by this downsizing, it really makes you place a value on what you keep around!


*Amanda*

eebud
Doxie Pea Mom

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Posted: 1/11/2013 9:48:52 AM

We will DEFINITELY need a storage unit at some point, and that scares me. I don't want the storage bill to become a long-term part of our lives. I will want to set some parameters on that -- a time limit or something.


We had to do this when we were moving but we were able to clear out what we knew we didn't want while we were going through everything and putting it into storage. We donated a little after we empty storage but most stuff that we didn't want was already gone. Our goal was to be out of storage within a month after we moved into our new house. I am not sure if this is doable for you though considering what you said above about some of the collections, etc. I would definitely make a plan of how long things will sit in storage though. Time can get away quick and before you know it, it has been sitting there for 10 years like BF's friend.

Good luck finding your new home!! My home is probably similar to what you are looking for but maybe a bit larger. It is one story and the living, dining and kitchen are all one big room which I love!! We have a formal dining room too which is one of our favorite areas of our house. All of my homes have been one story and I love having only one floor instead of constantly going up and down stairs.





Hans on left, Bud in middle, Gretchen on right

**buglvr12**
StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 1/11/2013 10:00:15 AM
web page

Here is the link. Hopefully this will work.

Well, before we put our house on the market we got pretty lean on our stuff inside the house. Now....my dear sweet husband had a garage FULL of stuff. He has 2 storage units (10 x 15) full of his stuff from the garage. He also has a spot at the storage place for his 2 trucks. Our household stuff is in ONE 10 x 20 unit. LOL!

sagehelena
PeaAddict

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Posted: 1/11/2013 10:17:06 AM
That is a lovely house, bug, just my style, very beautiful!! Your size is what I downsized from, haha! Although it is just me and my DDs half time in my little place. Congratulations on your place!


*Amanda*

**buglvr12**
StuckOnPeas

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Posted: 1/11/2013 10:22:46 AM
Thanks...but it isn't ours yet. I still need to get DH on board with it. He thinks we need a bigger house, land, shops, etc. That lot is big enough for him to put a shop on and I definitely don't want a bigger house. DS will be leaving for college in less than 2 years and DD is in Jr. High now. It's mostly just me and my dd now. DH works offshore and is gone 2 weeks out of the month and DS is busy with school, work, friends, activities, etc.

So....I'm hoping to take DH to go look at it today. I know he will like all the high end stuff.


Shannon

sagehelena
PeaAddict

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Posted: 1/11/2013 10:28:26 AM
Ah! Well, good luck with the DH! That house is amazing for the price, quite a bit cheaper than mine and all done out wonderfully. I hope it works out!


*Amanda*

Seanna.
PeaFixture

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Posted: 1/11/2013 3:48:22 PM
Oooh, Shannon, I love that house. The wall colors are awesome. You could move right in! Gorgeous house and you can definitely tell it's custom.

We have two storage units right now (just got the second one last week), both 10 x 10. The plan when we move will be to load those up at the same time as what's left in our house and move it to our new place. I hate the idea of storage units, too. The only time we have one is when we are prepacking/staging to move. When we moved last time, we had the mover guys we hired just load that up too, and it worked out great.

We probably are technically downsizing this time around. Our house is almost 4000 feet, way too much. Ridiculous. First I tried to look at houses around 1500-1800 sf but that's not going to work for us right now, because my mother still lives with us and logistically it's just not going to work. So now I am looking at approximately 2500 sf houses. Because I work from home, we really need 4 bedrooms and that can create issues with a smaller place. Right now I am really interested in a house that is about 2600 sf. I'm not sure it will work for us but my husband checked it out today and said he would be ok with the neighborhood (that's a big deal for him) and that he liked the house. He's going back to look at it next week with a realtor.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the downsizing part, even if it's not as much as I wanted to downsize. It's been a lot of fun getting rid of more crap around here!


When I went to edit my signature, the "Edit Signature" title was spelled wrong. So that was distracting and I forgot what I wanted my new signature to be.

Georgiapea
Mom to the Wild Things.

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Posted: 1/11/2013 4:50:24 PM
Glad you checked back in with your downsizing progress. We were fortunate enough not to have to sell the house we currently live in to buy our 'town building'. We have 2 other rentals in another state and one of those has been sold but we are carrying the contract so there is no 'windfall' of cash.

We plan to move things into the new place and what doesn't fit will go. We currently have a sofa plus a sectional in our large living room. Only the sectional will fit in the new living room. Maybe the light rattan sofa will go on the balcony. If not, I'm sure a family member will enjoy having it.

PunchPrincess

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Posted: 1/11/2013 10:21:44 PM
I've enjoyed reading the stories about downsizing and wanted to toss in something that's been going on in our town. A contractor/builder has been buying 40 to 50 year old homes in our settled neighborhoods and then taking them down to just the core first floor. Then he rebuilds with all the new bells and whistles that everyone wants. He has been very successful and has the houses sold before he is finished rebuilding them.

So if you like your neighborhood, schools, etc., this is a great way to upgrade. You will want to work with your neighbors since there will be noise, dirt piles, etc., and they will be living with your construction too, but won't get a great new house at the end. If you take them into consideration as far as landscaping, privacy fences, and timelines, it's a great way to rework your life without uprooting everyone.



<*********************************************************************>

PunchPrincess ( def. A long, long time ago when I first started scrapping I discovered punches -- round, square, squiggles, cars, etc. You name it. Like coat hangers they multiplied, under the bed I think until they were threatening to take over that precious space that we all covet and refuse to cede to other family members. Thus I became PunchPrincess. )

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