A couple of houses recently went up for sale on our street and when I saw the home open signs this weekend past I thought I’d take our daughter for a walk and go have a nosey. And then I got to thinking—which never ends well!
We looked at two houses: the first quite new (modern but lived in, on a rear lot like our PPOR) and the second quite old (not quite a “bonus house” but almost, on a large block with the potential for subdivision). Our neighbour’s owner-built house is also unofficially on the market. Give or take a few hundred thousand dollars, we could sell up and buy one of these places instead.
We had a project builder construct our family home in 2008 to one of the builder’s stock plans which we butchered to suit our requirements. After construction, we did a lot of work ourselves, including the painting, the tiling, the carpets, the skirting boards, the window coverings, light fittings, having the driveway poured, the pergolas and decking, the reticulation, the gardens, the paving, the fencing, air conditioning, the ducted vacuum, etc, etc. By my estimation, there’s about $95k of equity (materials, trades, and my free blood, sweat, and tears!) we’ve bolted on to the original $290k build price.
But here’s the thing: while our living areas are of a good size, the four bedrooms are modest (i.e. small) and we both feel we’ll outgrow this house in time as our children grow (funny what kids do to you…). Although this house was designed to be our “forever house” and we absolutely love the location in relation to the city, shops, and beaches and we can’t think of any place better than our particular block and its valley views, we built to our short-term requirements as DINKs, to a budget, and to a medium specification. I said to Gemma recently I feel like we built the wrong house on the right block.
Our house has served us well in the seven or eight years of living in it and it’s home. We’ve built strong relationships with our neighbours and the feel safe and happy in our local community. Gemma’s always insisted we spend an arbitrary minimum of ten years in our living in this house given our personal investment—as in, let’s enjoy the space we’ve had a significant hand in crafting and creating.
I’m not a status symbol type of person and having a large house in a nice area is not on my list of necessities. I do appreciate light and space, however; we can control the former to an extent but are bound by bricks and concrete when it comes to the latter (unless we extend) with our current house. I’ve also got a long list of must-have and wish list requirements for the next family house build… the things that to my mind would make the space in which we live more liveable.
Beyond that it’s just a matter of accommodating the kids’ friends when they have a sleepover, having storage to hide the clutter of daily life, and better flows and ambience.
I’d love to build again and probably would go through the pain of doing a lot of the finish work myself. I’d employ an architect this time around and wouldn’t go near the project builders.
Will the next house be our forever home? Perhaps the idea is a silly one and we’d be better off thinking about matching our home to our current life stage requirements. Of course Gemma and I are both Cancerians and therefore homebodies so just bury me in the back yard, thank you very much!
I suppose a disclaimer is also worth posting: I'm just a guy, I'm not an accountant, lawyer, solicitor, tax agent, mortgage broker, banker, financial adviser, insurance agent, land developer, builder, government agent, or anything else so I disclaim your application of anything I write here is to be applied at your own risk. What I write may be incorrect and you are best to seek your own professional advice (tax, legal, financial, and otherwise) before entering into contracts or spending your money. Your situation is unique to you and what I write here reflects my experience only. This content is not professional advice and is not tailored to your situation. I'm learning too and expect to make many, many mistakes along the way.