Written by Bob Davis, published in the Sunday, July 16, 2017 edition of the Houston Chronicle.
For many of us we look forward to the day when our kids are finishing school, starting their careers and moving out of our house. But there is a lot to consider before you decide to downsize your home. Even though many of us joke about getting a small enough place so our kids can’t come back home; if we are honest, is that what we really want to do? That would also mean they can’t come to visit if they live in a different city. Which also makes it more difficult to see future grandkids. For us, we have always lived in a different city than the rest of our family. We have lived in 4000 sqft houses and we have lived in 2000 sqft houses. The reality is that when we lived in smaller houses we were not able to accommodate family coming to visit and we were not able to see them as much. The same thing will occur with your children and grandchildren if you downsize too much.
If you do decide to sell your home and move to a smaller house you certainly need to consider the cost of your next house. Many times, our homes are paid off and we are only having taxes, upkeep and utilities as our housing expenses. The cost of a new home can be more than you receive when you sell your house; which means you may end up with a mortgage again. If that is the case; perhaps it is best to stay where you are and remodel to make the home more suitable to your new lifestyle.
Many homeowners are considering projects that make their current homes more open for entertaining; with larger, more modern kitchens; possibly an outdoor kitchen and seating area. Even in Houston there are cooling systems that can be incorporated to make outdoor spaces more comfortable. Maybe you have always wanted an area for an office, craft room, man cave or theater room; bedrooms can be remodeled or reconfigured to incorporate these ideas. If executed correctly a bedroom can be repurposed and still function as a bedroom if you have guests. A murphy bed mounted on a wall works great for this and they come in many different styles that look like built-in cabinets. This allows you to make guests comfortable but not so comfortable that they don’t leave; in the case of kids.
Sometimes it may be as simple as updating the house in general, especially the kitchen and bathrooms. I don’t know how it was in your family; but I grew up with 2 older brothers and I don’t think my mother owned anything fragile that wasn’t glued back together at least once. And even in my own family; we have 3 boys, it was not always practical to have our homes decorated the way we could now. Updating and decorating may be all that is needed.
Another option that many baby boomers are considering is to share a piece of property with their children or other family members. Think about it; what if you built a house that looked like a single-family home but functioned like a duplex, with 2 separate entrances and living quarters. You could be close to your family but still have the privacy of your own living quarters. When the family situation changes the house can be remodeled into a conventional single-family home. Or if the property was big enough you could build two separate structures with a common court yard.
There are numerous options to consider when you find the nest is empty. Consult a qualified contractor or an architect to help you find the option that is best for you and your family.