Here is our reasoning:
When we were first looking for houses four years ago, we were immediately drawn to our little green bungalow and all its raw potential. It is the epitome of the "Adorable Spokane South Hill Bungalow," but it was a fraction of the price because it is on a semi-busy arterial. Seeing all the features of a house we wanted long-term at a price we could afford, we put in an offer and the house was ours. Fast-forward four years later, we now have a baby and two incomes, but we never really got to all those projects we imagined because we could never afford them until now. And now that we can afford them, would investing so much time and money into a house on an arterial be the best financial decision? This question lead us to put our house on the market.
Jeff and I started looking for new homes last fall, and began by filtering our search to houses in our budget. This put us in a house that was about the same size as our current house, but put us in a neighborhood with those cheaply built homes from the late 20th - early 21st century that all look the same. It is what it is, so we made an offer on one of these houses. It had a strict HOA, which totally stressed me out because I have a lot of colorful habits that could annoy my neighbors - air-drying laundry, homemade compost bin, desire to build a chicken coop - and all of which were forbidden in the neighborhood. In the end, this house fell through and we saw it as a sign from God.
When we increased our budget to get in a neighborhood with some character, we ended up losing square footage, or getting in a house that needed major work...oh the plight of living on the South Hill! If we increased our budget even more, we found great houses that still needed work, but offered the exact house we currently own, except these houses were only 2 blocks away, off the not-that-busy arterial. This kept us in the neighborhood we love, and the increase in our house payment would have been doable, but adding another child to our family would not have been an option. For that matter, we wouldn't have been able to afford to furnish such a house.
In the end, we stepped back and looked at the situation and realized we felt extremely pressured by others to move. And in the end, other people saw us in one of those manufactured neighborhoods. But we still saw us in our current home. We settled on our current house by living on an arterial, but we were 100% unwilling to settle on another house (and life) just to get off the arterial. The pros of our current neighborhood (friendly to runners, walking distance to everything you could possibly need, 10 minute commute, safe, always plowed in the winters, friendly neighbors) far outweighed the cons (arterial, pot smokers, crazy lady next door who complains when our sprinkler hits her driveway). We could invest in a nice home renovation, then pay down our current mortgage, giving us financial freedom to travel and save for Everett's college education. These are the things we value. Things we don't value are living in a large, perfect house and being owned by the payments for that house.
So now lucky you! You can follow us in our home renovation! And it's going to be fantastic. We are going to turn the basement into a master suite. Demo starts 2 hours ago!
Here are the before pictures to give you an idea of how much work we are talking about.
Standing on the staircase, this is the view to the portion of the basement that will eventually be our downstairs living room. The completely unfinished laundry room is currently behind that makeshift wall. I just realized I forgot to take before pictures of the laundry room...wah waaah. FYI that makeshift wall is painted bright pink on the other side.
Here is a view of the staircase/future living room from the doorway to the laundry room. The staircase will be demolished and rebuilt.
Turning left at the bottom of the staircase, this is the current view. A huge master closet and storage area will eventually be tucked under the staircase/mudroom area, and the current wall to the bedroom will be knocked out and extended to the load-bearing beams you can see.
This area is our future bathroom, complete with a walk-in shower, freestanding bathtub, double vanity...and toilet. There will also be a storage closet where the camera is currently sitting. The storage room will have a door to a mechanical room, which will hide the furnace and water heater.
And this beautiful area is our future master bedroom. Yes, those are spiderwebs all over the walls.
In addition to finishing this space off, we will have all new electricity, plumbing, HVAC, and an electric heater (to make sure the area stays warm in the cold winter months). We spent this weekend clearing all our stuff (read: shit) out of the basement, and now I am very sore. We are incredibly excited, and can't wait to see the final product!