An Existential Housing Crisis

Oh, hell. I don’t know.

I wish I were one of those people who just sees something and says, “That looks good. I’ll take it.” But I’m not. I’m someone who looks at all the options, and honestly, for me, there are too many options. We went out to the ‘Burgh and looked at a modular Cape-style 4-bedroom. It fits the footprint we’d like to build on nicely. It’s pretty. In fact, it’s gorgeous. Great price, and it includes everything except the foundation – cranes, utility hookups, cabinets, finish carpentry, the works. It’s a beautiful house. And still, it didn’t wow me. I didn’t “want it.”

I’ve been looking at A-frames for two weeks. Really, an absolutely ideal fit for the property, and an Alpine-style house would look terrific. But, I’m not crazy about offering passers-by a view of a big, two-story, black roof-wall for all time. There are some weird space issues inside, and I’ve started to feel, “If we’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on a house, I want space.” We love the look of the A-frames, we adore the novelty and the cool design. But I don’t feel like I “have to have it.”

I have a few really nifty frame house plans bookmarked to look at. Oddly, I don’t really care to investigate them right now.

I’ve mentioned that we’re looking into a home loan to a few banker-type friends. Sort of put it out there, talked about talking. You know, I can’t exactly say that I’m excited about it. I spoke to one friend partially in-depth, a prelim conversation. You’d think I would have gotten a little charge out of a finance professional telling me that this all sounds like a good possibility. But I really didn’t have much of a reaction at all.

Maybe we’re not house people. You’d think two creative people could come up with an idea for what sort of house they’d like. I dunno. I’m going to ignore it for a while. I’ll see what a builder friend says. Maybe we need to build a small, basic board-and-batten-box-with-a-bump-out, and then make it what we want it to be. I’m better when I have a starting point anyway. There are also bound to be modulars we can look at on the ground of the State Fair.

Perhaps it’s best to let it work itself out. When something is right, it’ll be right.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “An Existential Housing Crisis

  1. Sometimes I have to study on things for a good bit befor the vision hits me. Y’all need to spend many hours sitting outside in a lounge chairs with cold drinks pondering the lay of the land.

    Speaking of loans, are either of ya a member of the NY Credit Union? Although sure wish you could pay-as-you-go rather than take out a mortgage – debt-free is freedom.

  2. keeping an open mind and waiting for the right plan to slap you in the face is the really really smart thing to do.
    i am glad you can see that.
    It’s not one of those things you can do and then say oops…don’t like this after all. Take it away!

    Relax and have fun shopping! you planned to go through another winter in the 5th anyway.
    It’s a good time to be looking though.

  3. My cabin is a half A-frame. The front sports a “normal” roof line and the back an A-frame style roof line. That helps with the space issue but still gives me that A-frame cabin look and feel. Also, take a look at some of the plans for the “small house” movement.. Some of the those places are adorable and almost make me wish I could build one. Almost.

    CarolynH.

  4. sheri

    “You’d think two creative people could come up with an idea for what sort of house they’d like.”

    yanno that’s the problem right there. most people go house shopping and except for general neighborhood and maybe one or two big features (number of bedrooms, one or two story, etc.) they’re pretty easy. Especially if they are shopping ‘resale value’- that’s a pretty set standard.

    you’re considering your HOME, and that makes it all the more freeing (because you have no one but yourselves to please) and more terrifying (because of the gabazillion options open to you)

    this is FUN. (you and I can just keep reminding each other of that LOL)

  5. themac

    I completely understand where you’re at!! Frustrating, ain’t it? You thought you knew what you wanted, but alas – it’s not. So, you start over again. Maybe spending hours and hours looking at plans proves itself challenging. You can try what I did: think IN the box. How many bedrooms would you want and where? (one up stairs, all upstairs – or all on one level?) Kitchen – open and airy or private and everything with arm’s reach? What do you WANT that you can’t live without? For me, it was a claw foot tub and laundry upstairs. You could have a full basement which could also be a root cellar and a bedroom…

    For now, forget about style and all that finished stuff – that’s for later.

  6. I totally understand what you’re saying. I went through that with our first house, which we had built from a plan we chose. I never did find that “perfect” plan that just seemed “totally right”. We ended up picking a plan that was practical and met our needs, and had a layout that we liked. For about the first year, it was weird – the house didn’t really feel like “me”. BUT, over time we decorated, we made little changes here and there, customized things – we made the place “our own”. But better than that, we started making memories here. Lots of great memories. And it think it was that, more than anything, that made this house feel like “my own” and my HOME. Now this place is so near and dear to my heart. In a way it was like my house was a stranger at first, then as I got to know the house and spend time in the house, and make great memories – now we’re like old friends. So I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes it takes time to fall in love with a place. You might not fall in love with a plan on a piece of paper, but once it’s “yours” and you start going through the seasons and years, then a house can become like a favorite pair of comfy slippers, you know? Our Adk “cabin” I think will be the same way – we chose a plan we liked, but I’m not totally head over heels with it – it’s just a plan. I never did find a plan that just seemed totally amazing to me (though I sure tried!) But I know as we make the place our own and have good times there, I will fall in love with our place. So, just another perspective. But hey – if you find a plan that knocks your socks off, then you are lucky and should go for it! 🙂

  7. Have you read “The Not So Big House” by Sara Susanka? I have all her “Not So Big” books but the one that really lays out the concept is TNSBH – the first in the series. It might help you clarify what’s really important to you. A lot of the houses in the book seem to have a prairie style but don’t pay any attention to that…it’s the NSB concepts that can work in any style home.

  8. Hey, Friends! You really know how to clear my head! LOL I’m going to take all this great advice. I’m going to start thinking in terms of “an empty box” and just think about putting what I want into it. Style and trims are for later. I’ve seen the “Not So Big” books, but never read one, Kathy. So, I’m off to Amazon that one!

    Meant to say and almost forgot – No mortgage. Most likely a construction loan. We own the property outright, and we want to keep it that way, so we’re looking at options that don’t turn over ownership to a bank. =)

    Now. I’m off to totally Zen this thing. Empty boxes with beautiful rooms filling them. My favorite pillow. A diet pepsi. My favorite cabins book. I can do this. LOL

  9. i know you can do anything you put your mind to… And you will know what it is you want when you see it.

  10. Keith

    Haven’t been on in a while, so weighing in late. Go to the public library and get Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language. They should be able to get it through ILL if they don’t have it, if not I have a copy I can loan you. It’s a collection of short articles about what makes spaces work “Light On Two Sides of Every Room” is one of my favorites. It explains why so many modular houses with completely blank walls on both ends have always bothered me. There is another that says that 30% of space should be devoted to storage. It explained for me why I prefer older RVs to newer ones. The new ones are beautiful inside, but they just don’t have the storage space necessary for long term living. They’ve sacrificed storage space for living space. I think it will really help you clarify what you want in a home.

  11. Keith

    And once you know what you want seriously consider hiring a good architect to design your home WITH you. It is money well spent. Not only are they schooled in design concepts and can help you avoid mistakes you would have to live with, but they know codes as well.

  12. Thanks, Keith! I’ll check out the inter-Library loans on those books. Surely one of the libraries has them!

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