BY KAREN LIBIN, KL REALTY If you’re planning on buying a home soon, you probably have a list of “must haves” and an idea of the general features you’re looking for in your perfect house. Most buyers want the obvious positive features: a good floor plan, nice finishes and a home that’s been well maintained. But there are also several not-so-obvious features that will contribute to how much you enjoy living in a house. Consider these:
Front entry – Many older or smaller homes do not have a front entry; you simply walk into a living room. This may seem okay in the spring, but come winter you’ll discover it means cold air whips through the opened door. Having even a small front entry means there is a buffer from the elements and a place to put your keys, coat and wet boots.
Room sizes and usability – Most people understand that a room can be too small, but a room can also be too big to feel comfortable. Rooms with too many adjacent doors and hallways can also be hard to arrange furniture in.
Ceiling height – Houses with generous ceiling heights feel open and larger while low ceilings can make a space feel oppressive. You can change paint, replace cabinets and move walls, but you usually can’t increase ceiling height. Think of this if you’re buying a fixer-upper. You don’t want to invest time and money in a place that no matter what you do will still feel closed in.
Staircases – Wider staircases feel gracious and elegant, and give more options for what furniture can be moved. Steeper or narrow staircases, often found in quaint homes such as bungalows, come with challenges. Besides limiting what furniture can be moved, they are a potential accident concern; most folks are used to standard tread sizing and have a hard time adjusting to smaller ones.
Sunlight – For some people, sunlight flowing through the windows makes a home feel beautiful and welcoming. At the other end of the spectrum are people with whom it barely registers. For those who relish sunlight, a southeast kitchen and south facing windows in general, will bring joy throughout the year.
Winter view corridors – Typically buyers purchase a home in spring or summer when trees have their foliage. Consider what views will be come winter when the foliage is gone. Will you see your neighbor’s bedroom window or the mountains? Conversely, if you’re buying in winter, consider what views the summer foliage may block.
Indoor/outdoor flow – It is both nice to see and have direct access to your outdoor living area. An outdoor area adjacent to your house feels like another room and makes your home appear larger. If you have to travel down a staircase to a lower level outdoor area you will be less likely to use it, especially for dining. Who wants to carry dishes up and down a flight of stairs?
Lot grade – Sloped lots, though often beautiful, bring certain challenges. If you have small children and want to add a swing set, where will it go? How will the driveway be with snow? Consider water movement: We’ve learned through the last flood that a little bit of grade can do a lot of damage if water flow is not properly managed.
Front walkway/driveway location – A north side walkway or driveway is fine in the summer. But come winter with no direct sun, the snow and ice will have a tendency to build up.
No house is perfect, but some are more imperfect than others. The trick is to find your perfect imperfect home!