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Jul. 28, 2010 - A "home" is a "box" you live in

Before you go out looking for a home to buy, draw yourself a basic box floorplan of what you want.

The "ideal" house today, in most any area of the Country...the one most often wanted by the "Average Joe" if they can afford it, looks something like this.

You can change the room sizes to match your budget, but you should expect a home like this to cost $700,000 give or take, depending on where it is. In Bothell you can get it brand new for about $600,000. In Redmond on Education Hill you can get it for about $700,000. In Bellevue it could cost as much as a million dollars, mainly because the areas where new housing is built also comes with a "view consideration" price tag or "status neighborhood" price tag. 

This type of "ideal" home is near impossible to find in Seattle as the lot size needed to build this house is rarely available. In Kirkland I would say you could have it for $800,000 and up, depending on the neighborhood.

I am surprised to see local builders in the Seattle Area, excellent quality builders with sound reputations, offering homes that eliminate some of the main features of "the ideal home" without reducing the price tag. So be careful not to overlook some of these main components unless the price is low enough to warrant "giving up" some of these features.

Just because "you" don't care about a formal dining room or a formal living room doesn't mean the house is not MISSING these features, and it should be priced accordingly.

The bedrooms would be on the 2nd floor of this floor plan, and the math is shown at the top with the main floor at 1,386 and the 2nd floor at 1,760, since "the box" of the second floor goes partly over the garage. You can change the total square footage and price by playing with the room sizes. Just remember that when you are finished, it still has to be a box and the second floor must be supported by the first, so you have to adjust various rooms in unison. Try adjusting the total depth and width...and then the room sizes to fit that new "box" configuration.

The house should have at least 2 1/2 baths with two full bathrooms up, the master being what is called "a five piece master bath". Toilet + 2 sinks + shower + tub = 5 pieces.

For the highest of resale value, there should be 4 bedrooms up and three baths up, so the occupants of the 3 bedrooms do not ever need to use the master bathroom.

There is no huge rule for the 2nd floor layout, so I'm not showing that, but know that most people like the master bedroom and bath to be in the rear vs. the front of the home. There is often a discount if the master bed or bath is on the street facing side of the home.

VERY IMPORTANT: Rule of Thumb for a two story house with NO bedrooms on the main floor and at least three bedrooms up, is regardless of total square footage, you want to have 1,000 sf on the main floor if at all possible. Do not value 800 on the main the same as 1300 on the main, even if the total square footage of the two homes is the same. NEVER, EVER value square footage below the main level at the same price per square foot as the main or bedrooms "up" vs. bedrooms "down".


Now let's go to the REALITY side of Seattle Area Housing.

The diagram above gives you the basics of the Evolution of a Home.

1950s = 3 bedrooms, 1 bath as the norm. usually there was a laundry room IN the garage. Often the garage was a 3 sided "carport" vs a full garage with a door. There is no master bedroom per se, and there is no "family room". Neither term was "invented" yet.

1960's and 1970s, pretty much the same but with a full level UNDER that basic house. If the main floor sits on the ground/lot level, it is called a "1-story with basement". If the main floor is raised about 4 feet or so, it is called a "split-entry" But basically the same main floor footprint plus a lower level with no second floor. The first "family rooms" appeared on the lower level, often sharing the same fireplace chimney as the main floor living room.

By the late seventies and early 80s, the first "master bath" appeared. It was very small with only a shower, a sink and a toilet. But the parents didn't have to walk into the hall in a towel :) The first family rooms off the kitchen on the main level also appeared at this time.

By mid 1980 the true 2-story home became the norm for home builders. The main drawback of an "80's" home is not the floorplan. It is the extensive use of dark "earthtones" for doorframes, doors, and baseboard. In the Seattle Area those homes can feel too "dark" for people who live most of the year with no sun. Gold everything was the norm. Gold doorknobs. Gold casing around the shower in the master bath. Gold faucets and gold light fixtures. Even gold "sills" between the carpet areas and the vinyl floor areas.

The 1990's became the decade of "light, bright and airy". More windows. More white moldings and doors and window casings. White...and Gold Fixtures. The very early 90s have some tell-tale drawbacks. Mauve and gray. 4" white tile. Too much grout on the kitchen counters and lots of gold colored light fixtures, faucets and doorknobs. Some of those are "leftovers" from the 80s.

2000 and beyond of course is "The Decade of GRANITE!!" More people overpaid for a home, simply because it had granite countertops, than most any other feature of the home. A close second from around 2003 on would be "stainless steel appliances".

I'm going to write a 2nd post using these floor plans differently, to discuss what you SHOULD NOT pay more for, on Rain City Guide...so I'll end this here. 

You would be wise to draw your own "box plan" of home and test it against "reality" of your price range, before going out to look at homes. Make it your standard "doodle" until you come up with the right combination for you and your family.

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Jul. 28, 2010 - RE: A "home" is a "box" you live in

Posted by Sam Fetchero

Wow. Great, simple explanation. Love the brief history lesson in home floorplan evolution. This will be very useful as I ponder entering the market. Thanks!

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Jul. 28, 2010 - RE: A "home" is a "box" you live in

Posted by ARDELL DellaLoggia

 Thanks Sam. Glad it was helpful. Many of my clients whom I have explained this to over the years have asked me to write a book on some of these things.  I told them a blog post or two or three or more will have to do. :) Not interested in writing a "book". Maybe an e-book...but not one that is printed on paper. I like being able to update and add as styles change.

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Jul. 31, 2010 - RE: A "home" is a "box" you live in

Posted by walidmrealtor

Interesting. I'd never considered the home search from this point of view (drawing the box). I like the history you've included as well, that's pretty cool, especially the evolution of terms...living room v. family room...lol

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Aug. 11, 2010 - RE: A "home" is a "box" you live in

Posted by ARDELL DellaLoggia

 Thanks Kevin!

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ARDELL DellaLoggia of Sound Realty on Seattle Real Estate process and market including Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Green Lake and most areas around the top of Lake Washington North of Downtown Seattle. Phone: 206-910-1000 - Mailto:ARDELLd@gmail.com

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