For all of the second half of 2017 I kept saying that once Christmas and New Year were out of the way my next plan was to try and find a new home. A family home. A family home that is the right size and shape for our new family shape. I kind of have in my head what I want this home to look like, but unfortunately no matter how good the online house search engine you can’t just put in there something like “it has to feel like we can turn it into our forever home”. And now we’re in 2018, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.
Of course you can search for some simple criteria. Things like how many bedrooms you want, if you need off street parking and whether you’re after a bungalow or a detached house. But even with that sort of criteria houses can still come in all different shapes and sizes. There are different styles and features, and some things just work for you and your family and some don’t.
One trick that I have picked up when house hunting online is to be a fit flexible about what you’re looking for, as you might actually find the perfect thing, but an estate agent could have just described it differently to how you are doing. For instance we need a property with four bedrooms. There are two adults and three children in this family now. So, that’s exactly what I was searching for. Well at least it was until an online search threw me a curved ball and I realised that what we actually need is a house with four rooms that people can sleep in.
A property came up that only had three bedrooms, but the the property had a massively long reception room that ran the whole length of the house and had obviously previously been two separate rooms. The current owners had then added a conservatory to the back of the property too. From the photographs you could see where the large living space had previously been split in two, and we realised that putting a wall back up there would give us all the space we would need. Making use of the conservatory suddenly meant that we didn’t need such a big living room after all. And it seems that three bed houses are significantly cheaper than four bedroom ones.
That small tweak in what I was looking for online has been so much more fruitful. I’m now looking at houses with three bedrooms and additional spaces like conservatories much more carefully. Ignoring an estate agent’s label on a floorplan as to what a room should be and being imaginative about how we as a family could make use of a space instead. How we could turn a property into our home and make it right for us.
I think I’m now channelling my inner Kirstie Allsopp. I found myself in a property the other day telling an estate agent how much potential there was as it would be easy to knock down one dividing wall, put another one up elsewhere, and create a different room layout. The look on his face told me he wan’t really expecting the response I gave him, but then again, why put things like Location, Location, Location on the telly if it’s not to turn us all into Phil and Kirstie wannabes?
For sale board image from Shutterstock.