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Old 12-17-2015, 12:39 PM   #41
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If you can't sell the house and decide to rebuild, could you put an RV on the property and live in it during the build?
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Old 12-17-2015, 12:42 PM   #42
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If you can't sell the house and decide to rebuild, could you put an RV on the property and live in it during the build?
The lot is too small for that, I think.
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Old 12-17-2015, 01:17 PM   #43
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Oooh, what fun! A big project to come "home" to after your big city adventure!

I like the idea of renovating it to be more to your current needs (putting aside old age/mobility stuff for now) and staying in it. The location sounds perfect, to me.

Most important consideration...what will the kitties like best?
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Old 12-17-2015, 01:21 PM   #44
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The kitties love to sunbathe, so lots of natural light is important. Otherwise, they are pretty easy to please.
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Old 12-17-2015, 02:34 PM   #45
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Good luck on your move and new adventure. When we moved to Scotland in 1985 we built from scratch while living in a rental house close by and it was fun watching the house being built over a 6 month period. (the bad memories of any stress during that transition period with kids aged 2 and 4 have long since faded).

In 1992 we bought a 20 year old big house, by auction through a foreclosure sale, in Baton Rouge that needed lots of renovation. More hassle than our buying new experience but we loved the end product and enjoyed living there for 11 years before selling up and moving to Texas. Even though it had new kitchen, new bathroom, wood floors etc, because it was so big it took over 6 months to sell.

We will probably be buying a house in the UK within the next couple of years and have decided that we don't want to buy a house that needs a lot renovation, these days we just don't want the aggravation of living with construction work for weeks or months at a time.

The only advice I would offer is that whatever you decide to do, don't look back and wish you'd done something else, because all options are going to come with a certain level of pain.
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Old 12-24-2015, 11:58 PM   #46
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I do not recommend option 3. It will deplete too much of your nest egg and test your nerves. I'm biased and in the design and construction field. Option 2 is worth exploring and there are plenty of sub options to going that route. You may want to enlist the ideas of a talented architect. It's amazing how an older house can be modernized very cleverly. And yes, consider moving or adding on a master bedroom suite to the first floor. Open up your best views to the outside with expansive Windows Etc.


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Old 01-06-2016, 02:52 PM   #47
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Update: I had the chance to go back to the house and the neighborhood over the holidays.

The area has changed a lot since my last visit, for the better! It's become a bit posher with lots of new luxury apartments and neighborhoods going up all around. There is a new project under construction that will bring a "mini downtown" within walking distance to the house - with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. There is also a new grocery store within walking distance. Some houses in the old neighborhood have been demolished to make way for larger, newer houses. So I feel confident that the area is moving in the right direction.

We looked at smaller, 3-bedroom, 2-bath houses in the area but they are either old and un-renovated, or brand new and luxurious. The latter are marketed to retirees. They are very appealing but the asking price is ridiculous (several times what we could get by selling our larger house).

After touring our existing house, we realized that it can be turned into something nice and we will likely renovate it. The extent of the renovation will be dictated by the amount of money we have set aside for the project by the time we move next year.

Instead of making big structural modifications, I think that we will use tricks popular in Northern Europe in order to maximize the natural light inside the house. Pushing the tree line further away from the house will help too. We might also use reflective landscape elements (like a light-colored fence) to indirectly bring more light inside the house.
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Old 01-06-2016, 03:15 PM   #48
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Sounds great, FIREd! How terrific that the neighborhood is becoming so much nicer. It sounds like a wonderful place to retire.
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Old 01-06-2016, 03:25 PM   #49
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Thanks for the update, sounds like it's all good
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Old 01-06-2016, 03:38 PM   #50
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Update: I had the chance to go back to the house and the neighborhood over the holidays.

The area has changed a lot since my last visit, for the better!
Great news! Way too often the opposite occurs.

Are you going to get a couple of pros in there to come up with renovation ideas? Sounds like you've identified some things you want done, but an outside look or two might come up with options/suggestions you never considered.
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Old 01-06-2016, 04:40 PM   #51
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Great news! Way too often the opposite occurs.

Are you going to get a couple of pros in there to come up with renovation ideas? Sounds like you've identified some things you want done, but an outside look or two might come up with options/suggestions you never considered.
We will see how the stock market performs over the next year, year and a half. I might get stingy if the market goes a lot lower.
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Old 01-06-2016, 05:08 PM   #52
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I think a renovation is a splendid idea, FIREd. The costs of selling and buying alone will pay for a bathroom. The result will be that you have just the house you want and that likely will also apoeal to a buyer if that opportunity presents itself. And you are so fortunate that the neighborhood is becoming a sought-after area, it sounds like.
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Old 01-06-2016, 05:17 PM   #53
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Excellent news FIREd!

Looking fwd to updates.


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Old 01-06-2016, 05:26 PM   #54
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I think a renovation is a splendid idea, FIREd. The costs of selling and buying alone will pay for a bathroom.
As someone who recently moved, I'll add that it might pay for a rather stunning kitchen remodel, along with that bathroom.
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Old 01-08-2016, 03:35 PM   #55
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Great news!! Better than expected.


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Old 01-05-2017, 02:51 PM   #56
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Update:

So the move is fast approaching now, as our lease in SF is up in early April. The house has been sitting on the market for almost 2 years and we have not had any offer. Based on the feedback we received from realtors, most people are turned off by the steep, wooded lot (no real yard beyond the back patio). So we are stuck with it. Since the house still meets our needs, we decided to go with "Plan 2 light" - renovate the house without making expensive structural modifications. Since the property is going to be hard to sell due to the lot it is sitting on, we do not want to sink a lot more money into it beyond making some cosmetic upgrades to make it more livable for the foreseeable future (I'd rather sink the money in our big-city European condo with far more potential for appreciation).

We plan on:
* changing all the flooring. We want to go to hardwood flooring throughout (except the kitchen and bathrooms). Solid or engineered hardwood floors? (some will be installed on a slab, some on a wooden subfloor). In the kitchen and baths, what kind of tiles would you recommend, porcelain or ceramic?
* painting all the walls, ceilings, and trims in "white" to brighten up the rooms. Should we scrape the popcorn ceilings? Many people say that such ceiling looks dated, but most surfaces in the house will be hard after the renovation (no carpets, window treatments, and few upholstered furniture pieces to absorb sound, kind of Scandinavian minimalist). Will the house become an echo chamber?
* Replacing all the countertops in the house. I think that granite might be a bit much for this house, what about Corian? Easy to clean/scrub without scratching the surface?
* replace the bath tubs. I would like to replace the bathtub in the master bathroom with a walk-in shower. Would it make the house even harder to sell down the road not to have a tub in the masterbath? (we plan on keeping a tub in the hallway bathroom).
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:23 PM   #57
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How exciting!

Floors: I have been in my "Dream Home" for 18 months by now. It has engineered hardwood flooring everywhere but the bathrooms. It looks fabulous and seems to be holding up well so far. It extends throughout the kitchen too, which is something I would not have done personally. However, much to my amazement that hasn't been a problem. I don't do a lot of extensive cooking although I do cook in there each day. So far, I was surprised that I have hardly ever spilled any water or food on it; maybe twice in 18 months. When that happened, I just wiped it up immediately and it did not damage the floor.

Popcorn ceilings: Under the circumstances, I'd suggest making that decision based on what will make your stay in that home happiest. It sounds like a lot of work to change the ceilings, and if they don't bother you then I wouldn't choose to change them. If, years down the road, you decide to sell, and if, at that time, your realtor urges you to do something about the ceilings, you can always deal with it then. Who knows what ceilings will be popular by then? I sure don't.

Countertops: My dream house has some sort of man made stuff that reminds me of Formica. Maybe that is what it is. My first instinct was to have granite put in, since I loved the granite at my old house. But, I decided to wait until the present countertops get stained, cuts in them, and/or become shabby looking (they look brand new right now). I have been amazed to find that these countertops, whatever they are, are so much better than similar ones fifty years ago. Maybe the advent of granite made these manufacturers "up their game", so to speak. So far after 18 months, being as messy as possible when I cook and not being especially careful, even (subconsciously) trying to stain them, it turns out that I have zero stains and zero cuts in my countertops. So, I'm keeping them. If/when they look bad, I'll do something but I doubt they will.

Shower: Ask your realtor about what sells or doesn't in your area. I suspect that having one tub in the other bathroom is enough. For me, the change you suggest (to a big shower instead of a tub in the master bathroom) would add a lot to the value.

Echos: Don't know if I can help you there. I have a lot of fake Persian rugs on my engineered hardwood floors, and these plus my furnishings cut back on echos.

Congratulations on your big move!
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:35 PM   #58
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It'll be good to settle in once again.

We're fans of ceramic tile on the floor in hot climates. It is cool and easy to maintain.

Popcorn ceilings are dated, but that's no reason to change. First and foremost, do the two of you like them? You're the one living there, and it sounds like the ceiling won't be the thing that makes or breaks selling the house down the road.

Noise will be an issue, not sure how much the popcorn ceiling helps. Some planters , a few throw rugs perhaps?
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:49 PM   #59
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I'd probably set a budget for what you call Plan 2 light and start working with some estimates for floors, counters and ceilings. This should help you figure out where you want the money to go.

Depending on your taste in granite, there is not a ton of difference in price points between it and Corian, is fact if you can go with the plain jane HD granite you can save quite a bit of money..
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:20 PM   #60
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We are neutral on popcorn ceilings. We never gave much thoughts about them until someone pointed out that they were outdated. We'd probably be fine if they were simply repainted. They are pretty low on our priority list as far as the budget is concerned.
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