I’m excited to share this post because after nearly 10 weeks of working with an architect, we finally have mostly finalized a floor plan for cat house! I don’t have an actual drawing yet, but we saw a rough draft sketch and are waiting for the final copy.
So I thought I would hit some of the highlights of what we’ve been talking about for the past 2.5 months!
I was surprised to hear that architect plans take 2-3 months, but now I can see why after living through the experience. We have gone through 4 different drawings with our architect. He originally started with our “wish list” and then has made changes to the plans based off of our feedback. Cat house has been a real gem with new and unexpected issues popping up, all of which have affected our renovation budget.
Here are some of the major decisions we have been trying to work through that have greatly affected our renovation plans…
This could be its own post! We are super cognizant of making sure we are making a good financial investment with our renovation <– the perks of being married to an accountant :)
One thing our realtor really stressed to us is that there is no such thing as a “forever house”. You can purchase a home with the intent of staying there forever, but you just never know what will happen with jobs and life. So while resale value hasn’t been the deciding factor for everything, it is certainly something we have kept in the back of our mind as we’ve made house decisions.
Here are some things we have considered from the investment side of things:
- Houses are primarily valued based off of their square footage, and it is WAY cheaper to build new square footage than what the actual value of the square footage is worth. So basically adding more square footage = better investment. This is especially relevant to us because we have to tear off 800 square feet of a poorly build addition. So we definitely have to make up for that in our renovation.
- The kitchen, family room and master bathroom/closet are the most important rooms for us as a couple, and they are also the most important when it comes to resale value. So we decided that they would be the rooms where it would be okay to splurge a little.
- For the second floor, it’s cheaper to build on top of new construction (vs. building on top of the existing house).
- It’s also cheaper to have a square / rectangular house… even though it’s not as pretty :)
2.) Leaving as much house alone as possible:
We have gone into the renovation *trying* to leave as much of the existing house alone as possible, minus the addition we’re tearing off. Everything we touch or renovate adds to the cost, and as I explained above, it’s much smarter from an investment perspective to use our budget to try to add on square footage instead of changing existing house.
Things that won’t be staying… these stained glass windows :)
Our first 2 drafts of plans basically had us completely redoing the entire existing house, and it was just way too expensive. So we had to reframe our mindset and try to work with what we had, especially upstairs.
3.) Formal living room:
The house has a really beautiful formal living room right what you walk in the front door, and deciding what to do with this room has really been the huge discussion of our architect plans. The room is huge (13.5′ x 27) and has a lovely fireplace. We are adding on a great room in the back of the house, so we knew a formal living room would hardly get used.
This room reminded me of some advice our realtor gave us about not being tied so much to the idea that bigger = better… he said you can have a larger home / rooms but still have wasted space and a floor plan that doesn’t make sense, and you can also have a smaller home / rooms that flow really well and uses space efficiently. I feel like this room in our renovation was a perfect example of that.
We talked about leaving it as a formal living room, but we knew we would never use it and it would limit space for other things we wanted to add (laundry, office, drop zone, bathroom).
We talked about turning it into our everyday family room, but then we couldn’t have it open to the kitchen, which was a must for us. It’s also the very first room when you walk into the house, and we would rather have our family room be in the back of the house.
We talked about turning it into a dining room, but it was SO long/large that we thought it would be awkward.
It was so hard trying to decide what to do with this room, but ultimately we decided to turn it into an office / 5th bedroom with a full bath & closet. We are also using some of its space for a mudroom on the other side. It is a little disappointing that the room is so beautiful as is and we’re changing it (and covering up the fireplace!), but it will be a lot more functional as an office.
Once we decided to do this, a lot of the downstairs house plans just kind of fell into place.
The current upstairs has 3 bedrooms + 3 baths + 1 office and we are tearing off the office + 1 full bath as part of the poor addition.
We knew going into the reno that wanted to add a master suite and our focus has been on the master bathroom (oddly enough, we spend a lot of time in there at the same time getting ready for things?). We love the idea of this shower and having 2 different shower heads!
We wanted so badly to make some changes upstairs, like renovating 2 of the guest bedrooms to add a jack and jill bathroom, and having a spacious laundry room, but the reality was that it is just soooo much cheaper to leave most of the existing house alone upstairs.
We are changing one of the existing bathrooms so that it opens up into the hallway instead of inside the bedroom, but that is to compensate for the bathroom we’re removing. Otherwise the existing upstairs is staying as-is.
5.) Laundry room:
Who knew a couple could have so many different fundamental beliefs about the placement of a laundry room? :)
B loves having the laundry upstairs and I prefer it downstairs. I think because I work so much in the kitchen area that it is inconvenient for me to go up and down the steps just to change loads of laundry. I’d also rather fold laundry in the family room. We joked in our last house because there was ALWAYS a clean load of laundry sitting wrinkled in the dryer, and it’s because I spend all of my time downstairs and would never go back up to fold it.
I love this laundry room!
B won on this one originally, and we tried to put a laundry room upstairs. Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough room to fit the type of laundry room we wanted up there without doing a major renovation to one of the existing bedrooms to make it smaller.
So now we are using our mud room downstairs as 1/2 laundry room.
Once we finalize the floor plan and room sizes, our architect will draw a set of construction drawings that will then have to be approved by a structural engineer. That whole process is supposed to take 5 weeks. Right now with the holidays, we are hoping to be finished by January 1.