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What do you really want in your house?

Choosing Your Home

Where do you really want to live? How big a house do you want? It is a good idea to seriously sit down and be honest with yourself about the sort of home you NEED rather than WANT. You home will probably be the most expensive asset you will ever own and it is best to get it right. Many of us have a dream in our mind of a lifestyle we aspire to lifestyle.

Planning where and how you want to live.

There are certain times in our lives when we need to think very seriously about what we really want. I tend to spend a lot of time in other people's houses and while most are very happy I do come across the odd failure.

It is so easy to be seduced by a "nice idea" or even by a perceived image of what a luxury life is. People with money often think they want a big house. Lots of rooms and large rooms of course. But do you really want a large house?

Think carefully about where you really want to live?

First where do you want to live?

Let us consider George (not his real name) who built his country hideaway and is not very happy. Veins bulging purple with hysteria he goes running out of his house shouting at passing people. "Get off my drive" he shouts. "You've built your drive across the path we use to get to the river" the local people shout back. "It's my drive on my land" he responds.

This man is not where he belongs. He'd had this nice idea of a quiet house in the country without thinking it through. Once finished he looked around at the views and when he'd had enough of that he made himself a nice cup of tea and sat down in his fancy new living room. Half an hour later, he was bored. Reality kicked in and he realised no one spoke much english around here, it was an hour's drive to the nearest pub, even further to visit his friends and further still to get some good bread. To relieve the boredom George creates drama on his driveway with any vicim he can find.

It is probably a good idea before buying land to consider your living routines. You might find some nice cheap land but is it in a place that suits your lifestyle? If you are a person who enjoys your own company living on a mountain top might suit you but even a once in a week visit to the pub can be difficult. Living in a nice country area may require a fortnightly two and a half hour drive to the city with a chiller box to get your supplies of bacon, bread, butter sausages, pies, and fresh pastries.

Then of course with a dramatic increase in traffic and the resulting traffic jams it is important to think carefully about the regular haunts you like to visit and how you travel between them. I am aware of people who live in places such as Ungasan who curse the journey past the airport to get to their bank or take their car to be serviced which these days can take up to an hour and a half at the wrong time of day.

If you are new to the area you plan to live in it is worth doing some research about how your new life might settle down. Make a list of the places you will want to visit on a regular basis and how often you will go then consider the route you will have to take. In my regular routine convenience is an important aspect of my life, perhaps you might find the same.

How big a house do you need?

How big a house do you need? You might notice there are plenty of houses that are ridiculously large. One particularly stands out. I think it was the clouds forming in the living room that first alerted me to the shear scale of the place.

This was a typical ostentatious house. Huge wasn't the word for it but the design was (and still is) terrible. From the outside it was a classic country mansion design with a large portico at the front but, once inside, the classic design (a design developed over generations for "practicality with grandeur") was nowhere to be found. You immediately entered a humungous living room with an open kitchen the size of a tennis court in one corner, a bedroom strangely situated off to one side and an awkward staircase up the back. It was obviously designed by a prison guard on a bad day. Once upstairs it got worse with awkward shaped bedrooms placed at strange relationships to each other. I could go on at length about the waste but the key issue was the house's total absence of liveability. It would have been like living in Note Dame and if you remember the hunchback used to climb up and down the gargoyles and swing around on ropes, no wonder he had a bad back.

Big houses should have big gardens although I have noticed there is a tendency these days to build the house right up to the boundaries of the property. All very well if you have open spaces around you but when everyone else does the same thing you end up living in a sea of concrete boxes with no breeze, lots of noise, no privacy and certainly no trees. Is this a nice lifestyle?

How many rooms do you really need?

How many rooms do you need? No I mean really need? Is the Red Army coming to stay? The crew of the USS Dwight D. Wazok going to drop in for a barbie perhaps. Most likely cousin Cedric will pass through once every three years and that annoying man who used to live next door will be visiting once too often. Will it be necessary to open up the Western wing for the guests? Perhaps a second bedroom upstairs or a granny flat at the bottom of the garden might be a little more appropriate.

How big should the rooms be? I remember a house where when you crawled into bed and remembered you left the oven on it was 3 day trek with porters to go to the kitchen and back. Yet another house where the owner had a problem. When the architect gave him the drawings he felt the rooms were too small. He went against the architect's advice and increased the room sizes. When the house was completed it looked as sparse as a Sumo wrestler's buttocks. Sitting on the sofa you needed binoculars to see the television set.

They had plenty of furniture but it simply vanished into such large spaces. Remember the proportions of the pieces of furniture must suit the proportions of the rooms and unless you are going to do a bit of shipbuilding in the evenings or Uncle Bernie with his bad breath comes a calling on a regular basis a vast living room is not very practical.

Working areas are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of ego versus practicality and once again I have seen kitchens in which you'd walk 6 miles just to make beans on toast, add another mile if you wanted a cup of coffee. Kitchens particularly need to be practical with things within reach and we will talk about this another time (see article here...).

Do you really need a swimming pool?

Of course everyone with a villa wants a pool but how many people actually use it? Having been to literally hundreds of houses with swimming pools I can count on one hand how many times I have seen one being used.

So what do you really want in a house? Ronaldo probably lives in a caravan.

Copyright © Phil Wilson October 2012
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