Here is the My Lesson In Motivation (tongue-in-cheek) Home Buying Guide:
Step 1: Fall madly in love with an architect and decide to buy a house with him (or her – in my case, it was a him)
Step 2: When looking at/purchasing a house with said architect, let his imagination run wild with possibilities
Step 3: Listen to those possibilities with an open heart and admiration for your partner’s genius
Step 4: Reign those wild fantasies in by imposing a strict timeline/deadline and a strict budget!
In reality, this plan basically did work out for us. My wonderful architect is not a residential architect, I’m sure that makes a difference. Instead, mine works in the “science and technology” sector (read: he designs crazy lab space for research scientists at universities and pharmaceutical companies). I think it worked out nicely because he wasn’t a snob about residential design, but understood it well enough to recognize a home’s “good bones” or hidden disasters. He was also looking for a house that would grant him a few hands-on projects. The downside was that he’s used to dealing with multi-million dollar budgets… which we don’t have! (see Step #4)
Additionally (which would be a more serious suggestion), we created a “needs and wants” list. Here’s an example of our list:
Need: A yard
Want: A LARGE yard
Need: Bedrooms on a separate floor from livingroom so when Mr. Light Sleeper goes to bed early, he’s not disturbed by Ms. Night Owl watching tv
We reviewed it with our realtor as well, which was a good idea because he could ask things like “which would you rather: a house with a new roof or a house with a new kitchen.” That was easy: roof! Our rental has an avocado colored kitchen and we’ve been living with that for 4 1/2 years, but we’re sick of living there because the roof leaks…
We ended up getting a house with all of our “needs” and some of our “wants.” Plus, the wonderful architect still got a house with projects to keep him busy.
One thing I’ve personally found funny is that everyone we show the (still empty) house to (with the solitary exception of my mother… who has been SUPER awesome enough to help us with all of our projects so far), says something along the lines of “well, have you considered doing this…?” to which, T always responds so politely, “Oh, that’s a good idea.” And I giggle in the corner because apparently our friends and family don’t realize that they are talking to an architect who has envisioned that house a million different ways. (Seriously, he did a mock-up of a dream kitchen that was so detailed I was in the rendering as a reference for scale. And while he had built a tv into the wall so “we could watch cooking shows,” he had placed a more likely, still image of a Patriot’s game on the tv since neither of us actually like to cook!)
Or our loved ones ask “Why aren’t you doing this…?” To which, one of us will reply “well, we considered it, but then Jen’s wallet started to cry, so it was tabled to a later date/moved down the priority list, etc.” (again, see Step #4).
We also casually shopped for houses for 4 years and had a good idea of what was out there, what we liked, and what we didn’t like. I think that really helped… but might not be a possibility for everyone…
If you came across this page because you’re actually thinking about buying a house: good luck! Happy house hunting!
Or to my regular readers: what would your home-buying suggestions be?