Paranoid gave me quite a bit to think about when it comes to the "build-on vs. move" debate. I'm going to try to answer her very valid questions.
1. How much do you love your house and/or its neighborhood?
We love, love, love our neighborhood. We're two miles from downtown which means a super-short commute for Ryan (20 minutes or so by bus). We have a lot of great friends nearby and the neighborhood mom's group is fabulous. It's a very quirky, diverse, artsy and historic neighborhood that favors local, privately owned businesses which makes me believe that my chocolate business could not only thrive here, but make a nice little profit in a year or so. Crime has been an issue of late due to the whole "tear down the tiny bungalows and put up gigantic houses" phenomenon, but other than my bicycle getting stolen, we really haven't had any problems.
Our house is tiny, but comfortable. It's a two bedroom, one bath and while it was perfect for the two of us or even when we added Sydney to the mix, it's just getting a tad crowded with four people. We've built a lot of memories in our tiny house and that's probably what has kept us from letting go of it before now. Plus, it has character. It's 80 years old and does not look like any other house in the neighborhood. The "cookie-cutter" housing found in other areas is definitely not a problem here.
2. Which will cost more, moving or renovating?
Ahhh.....cost. Short term, renovating will cost us more. We will need to add a second story since we have no room to build out so that's some major $$$$$. Plus, our old house is bound to have some major modern code violations that will have to be upgraded. However, in the long run, adding on will add a lot of value to the house. The appreciation on houses in our neighborhood has been crazy and despite the slowing of the housing market nationally, there really seems to be no slowing here.
However, if we move, we will have to do some MAJOR renovations before we can put it on the market. Our kitchen needs a heavy-duty overhaul not to mention about a million tiny little things to make it marketable. And I mean a million little things....no exaggeration there.
3. If you're working on starting a business, do you really want to be dealing with contractors and living with construction, too?
The business will be in limbo no matter what we decide to do, unfortunately. If we have the major renovations done, we will have to move into an apartment for several months. There's just no living in a house without a roof. So it would be tough to keep the business going through not one, but two moves. However, I fear that if we move to the 'burbs (more on that in question #4's response), the business just will not prosper. After some research, chocolate businesses seem to be located in more urban areas. But, who knows, with some elbow grease perhaps I could make it work outside the Beltway.
4. Can you get exactly what you want in a home by renovating your existing place? How 'bout if you move?
If we move, it will most likely have to be to a suburb; the skyrocketing housing costs in our neighborhood and any neighborhood within 10 miles of downtown are just too much for our one income family. I have to admit that the suburbs (in particular, a suburb I like to call "The Land of Fruit") would be nice because we could have a yard large enough for a swing set and we wouldn't have to worry so much about the schools. We could even afford a house with four bedrooms (a guest room would be nice) or even a pool. However, Ryan's commute would be considerably longer and he would not get to see the kids for more than an hour each day if we moved to The Land of Fruit.
If we renovate our current house, our yard will not get any bigger (unless George finally agrees to sell us his property) and we've still got to sift through all of the bureaucratic paperwork to ensure our kids go to the good public schools. Depending on what the engineer and architect say, we could possibly add a master suite or even two more bedrooms and bath to our current house. So I guess it comes down to yard, schools and commute. Oh, and a garage. It sure would be nice to have a garage for our cars; that would be another plus for The Land of Fruit.
Whew!!! If you've read this far then you've got a lot of patience!
And I'm sure you've got opinions. Please share them.
For Michael, At Nine
2 weeks ago