small houses http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/9189/all en-US This Is How You Downsize Your Home and Start Living a Better Life http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-downsize-your-home-and-start-living-a-better-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-is-how-you-downsize-your-home-and-start-living-a-better-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house-83520941.jpg" alt="small house" title="small house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Although most Americans would probably forgo a <a href="http://thetinylife.com/what-is-the-tiny-house-movement/">200 square foot tiny house</a>, the heyday of the McMansion is fading. As many of us are learning the hard way, bigger houses are not necessarily better. Here's how to ditch your big old house and improve your life in five easy steps. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/growin-home-how-much-house-do-you-really-need?ref=seealso">How Much House Do You Really Need?</a>)</p> <h2>Step 1: Envision Your New Space</h2> <p>What would your perfect small house look like? Think through everything you do in your house and where you do it. It might help to write it all down. Your current, bigger house might have separate rooms for each activity &mdash; an office for working, a playroom for playing with toys, a guest room for hosting family, etc. &mdash; but that's probably not going to be be possible in a smaller house. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-live-large-in-a-small-space?ref=seealso">20 Ways to Live Large in a Small Space</a>)</p> <p>Think of ways to maximize your space and ways to use one space for multiple purposes. For example:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Work at your dining room table and keep paperwork and your computer in a nearby hutch or cabinet.</p> </li> <li> <p>Install a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004O8CIP4/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B004O8CIP4&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">fold-out desk</a> in your bedroom or family room to create a workspace.</p> </li> <li> <p>To create a space for guests, install a Murphy bed, invest in a futon or sofa bed in the family room, or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ZQALKI/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000ZQALKI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">buy a folding bed frame</a> and store the mattress under another bed when it's not in use.</p> </li> <li> <p>Plan on a play/toy section of the family room or living room, rather than a separate playroom.</p> </li> <li> <p>Use <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002KNPFU/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0002KNPFU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">room dividers</a> to designate separate spaces within one room.</p> </li> <li> <p>Install rolling casters (that lock) on furniture to make it easy to move if you need to regularly rearrange the room. For example, if you install a Murphy bed in your family room you may need to slide the sofa over in order to use the bed.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Step 2: Purge</h2> <p>Now that you've thought through how you'll use your new house, it's time to purge. If you're downsizing from a 2,700 square foot house to a 1,400 square foot house, you're going to need to get rid of a lot of stuff. It's a daunting process, but you'll feel great when you have less junk weighing you down. Here are some quick and easy ways to get rid of your stuff &mdash; and make money in the process. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-simplify-your-life-today?ref=seealso">25 Ways to Simplify Your Life</a>)</p> <h3>Sell It on Craigslist</h3> <p>Craigslist is <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-secrets-of-highly-successful-craigslist-sellers">a great place to get rid of larger items</a> that you wouldn't want to ship, like furniture and TVs. (Tip: I wouldn't recommend listing your items for free; I've found that the people who say they'll pick up free stuff are far less reliable than those who are buying something. Even if it's only for $5, it will ensure that the person actually comes to pick it up.)</p> <h3>List It on eBay</h3> <p>eBay is <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secrets-of-top-ebay-sellers">perfect for selling smaller or more valuable items</a> like jewelry, designer clothes and purses, and electronics. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/craigslist-vs-ebay-where-to-sell-10-common-items?ref=seealso">Should I Sell This on Craigslist or eBay?</a>)</p> <h3>Consign It</h3> <p>Consigning is a great option for purses, jewelry, toys, and clothes &mdash; especially women's and children's. Call your local consignment shops before showing up with your goods, though, as most have strict guidelines about what they'll accept.</p> <h3>Donate It</h3> <p>If you don't want to bother with the hassle of the above options (and there is hassle involved with all of them), box up your unwanted items and call your local charity thrift store. They may even pick up your stuff for you.</p> <p>If you can't part with something, put it in a box in the garage or basement. If it's there for three months, and you don't miss it (or forgot about it altogether), get rid of it.</p> <h2>Step 3: Know Your Limits</h2> <p>Odds are, any small house you find is going to need some work to make it your dream home. You may want to open up a space by taking down a wall, or divide a large room into two smaller rooms. It's important to be realistic about how much work you're willing to do or have done to make the house your own. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-diy-home-renovating-for-you?ref=seealso">Is DIY Home Renovating for You?</a>)</p> <p>Here are a few questions to think about before diving into to home search:</p> <ul> <li> <p>What are your must-have features?</p> </li> <li> <p>How much work are you willing to do?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are you comfortable tearing down walls?</p> </li> <li> <p>Are the types of changes you want to make safe and legal?</p> </li> <li> <p>Will you hire a contractor or do the work yourself?</p> </li> </ul> <p>Regardless of how you answer the questions above, remember to keep an open mind when you're looking at houses. Paint colors are easy to change, fixtures are a cinch to switch out, and bathrooms can be updated. Try to stay focused on the layout and the home's potential to meet your needs.</p> <h2>Step 4: Find Your Perfect Small House</h2> <p>Now that you know what you want, it's time to start looking for that perfect smaller house. Most real estate websites allow you to search by square footage, so make sure you plug in your maximum number there. Then narrow the search down with other criteria. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-before-buying-your-first-home?ref=seealso">What First-Time Homebuyers Need to Know</a>)</p> <h2>Step 5: Savor the Perks of Small House</h2> <p>Your smaller house and new lifestyle come with a ton of perks like:</p> <ul> <li> <p>It's less expensive to heat in the winter and cool in the summer.</p> </li> <li> <p>Your property taxes are lower.</p> </li> <li> <p>You have more money to spend on travel, food, retirement, and other things that are important to you.</p> </li> <li> <p>You've reduced your environmental impact.</p> </li> <li> <p>You don't feel weighed down and stressed out because you have too much stuff.</p> </li> <li> <p>Post-purge, you're not surrounded by clutter.</p> </li> <li> <p>You have less house (and fewer bathrooms!) to clean.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Having a smaller house can be great for your mental health, your savings account, and the environment. Happy house hunting!</p> <p><em>Have you downsized from a big house to a smaller one? Any surprises? Please share your experience in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/elizabeth-lang">Elizabeth Lang</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-downsize-your-home-and-start-living-a-better-life">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-a-home-you-can-afford-with-the-mortgage-suitcase-trick">Buy a Home You Can Afford With the Mortgage Suitcase Trick</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter">McMansion to McCottage: Why Smaller Houses Are Smarter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/houses-you-can-build-yourself">Houses You Can Build Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tourist-towns-that-are-actually-great-to-live-in">6 &quot;Tourist Towns&quot; That Are Actually Great to Live In</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-to-do-if-you-cant-afford-your-mortgage-payment">Here&#039;s What to Do If You Can&#039;t Afford Your Mortgage Payment</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing downsize small houses smaller home Wed, 05 Mar 2014 10:36:22 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 1128702 at http://www.wisebread.com How a Big Family Survives in a Home With One Bathroom http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-big-family-survives-in-a-home-with-one-bathroom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-a-big-family-survives-in-a-home-with-one-bathroom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bathroom-1844041-small.jpg" alt="bathroom" title="bathroom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Growing up in an old farmhouse, I shared a single, tiny bathroom with my mother, father, and sister. It was actually a converted closet between two bedrooms. You had to wake someone up to use it in the middle of the night. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-big-of-a-house-do-you-really-need" target="_blank">How Big of a House Do You Really Need?</a>)</p> <p>Today, I am blessed to have a three-bedroom ranch with a bathroom accessible from the hallway and that&rsquo;s large enough for everyone to be in at the same time &mdash; if need be. With a total of seven in the house (soon to be eight), however, I would be lying if I said that it was an ideal situation. Here are my best tips for coping with a single water closet, even with a large family.</p> <h2>1. Close Off the Toilet</h2> <p>Let&rsquo;s be honest; the main reason people need a bathroom is to &quot;do their business.&quot; While we can have the entire family in the bathroom brushing their teeth, we each need privacy when it comes time for private matters. If you have the ability to add a wall and door between the sink area and the toilet, you can entertain more multitasking without losing decency.</p> <h2>2. Add Another Sink</h2> <p>Our 1960&rsquo;s style bathroom has a countertop and mirror that goes the entire length of the bathroom. And one tiny sink. Obviously, we will be adding another small sink to the setup, giving the room a &quot;his and hers&quot; option for hygiene matters. (If you&rsquo;ve ever had to spit your toothbrush water at the same time as a sibling, you understand the value here.)</p> <h2>3. Reward Off-Peak Use</h2> <p>We homeschool, so there isn&rsquo;t the usual rush to get everyone showered, dressed, and out the door all at once. We still have what we call &quot;peak hours,&quot; however, when everyone seems to need to use the bathroom at the same time. If you have some flexibility with when you let kids bathe, encourage them to do so during hours when the bathroom is most likely to be empty. This can be earlier than when other family members wake up, or when the rest of the house is gaming or reading. The reward can be anything from an extra five minutes on the shower clock to access to a fancy body wash to just knowing that there will be enough hot water to see the process through.</p> <h2>4. Remove &quot;Non-Bathroom&quot; Essentials</h2> <p>If you&rsquo;ve ever held together a bleeding knee gash while you wait impatiently for a child to do their number two, you know how frustrating it can be to have to share a bathroom. Luckily, there&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-space-survival-strategies" target="_blank">a common sense way</a> to make sure you are never waiting for a toiletry, towel, or first aid item when the room is occupied. Clear out a small shelf in your kitchen cupboard and designate this as your backup storage for these items. (You could also install a simple hall shelving system between two studs for these items to reside full-time.)</p> <h2>5. Set Up Hygiene Stations Elsewhere</h2> <p>Does it really matter what room your brush your teeth in? How about curling your hair? If you have preteens and teens in the home, they really should be handling most primping activities inside their own rooms, if possible. As far as brushing teeth and washing hands go, keeping a small but clean area for these activities near a utility or kitchen sink can keep the bathroom chaos down significantly.</p> <h2>6. Avoid Creating an &quot;Enjoyable&quot; Bathroom Experience</h2> <p>We all admittedly like to relax a bit when we <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/spa-bathrooms-on-the-cheap" target="_blank">retreat to the bathroom</a>. As a mom of five, you could lose an eye for telling me I must rush when I get the chance to sneak away for a shower or bathroom break. For children, however, there isn&rsquo;t as much as a need to create an atmosphere of serenity in the bathroom. Remove reading materials or distractions that could keep them in the potty longer than they need to get the job done.</p> <h2>7. Embrace and Reinforce Manners</h2> <p>I&rsquo;ve heard of families with one bathroom per child, and they still had issues fighting over them. To me, it&rsquo;s not always about having enough bathrooms in your home; it&rsquo;s about learning to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-dont-people-share-more" target="_blank">get along with others</a>. There are many times in life when you&rsquo;ll be asked to share real estate: in college, on airplanes, or when you marry, for example. Teaching kids that they aren&rsquo;t entitled to anything (bathrooms included) will go a long way in helping them to learn to be patient, regardless of the square footage at their disposal.</p> <p>How many bathrooms did you grow up with? Chances are, it&rsquo;s far less than what you expect from a modern home today. Even if you didn&rsquo;t get the home layout of your dreams, you can make the one bathroom scenario work!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-big-family-survives-in-a-home-with-one-bathroom">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-benefits-of-having-a-roommate-besides-saving-on-rent">The Benefits of Having a Roommate (Besides Saving on Rent)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nanny-sharing-lowering-the-cost-of-personal-childcare">Nanny Sharing: Lowering the Cost of Personal Childcare</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-tips-for-a-smooth-nanny-share">Five Tips for a Smooth Nanny Share</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tips-for-balancing-love-and-money">10 Tips for Balancing Love and Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-reasons-frugal-families-love-boardgame-night">8 Reasons Frugal Families Love Boardgame Night</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family bathroom roommates sharing small houses Mon, 03 Jun 2013 09:48:34 +0000 Linsey Knerl 976254 at http://www.wisebread.com Buy a Home You Can Afford With the Mortgage Suitcase Trick http://www.wisebread.com/buy-a-home-you-can-afford-with-the-mortgage-suitcase-trick <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/buy-a-home-you-can-afford-with-the-mortgage-suitcase-trick" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2921978502_7a0f8414c8_z.jpg" alt="house" title="house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Raise your hand if you&rsquo;ve ever tried to stuff more than you really need into a suitcase. You begin with good intentions, wanting to make sure you have everything you need for your trip. You don&rsquo;t really know if you&rsquo;re going to need that extra sweatshirt, but you throw it in just in case. Before you know it you&rsquo;re sitting on the lid of your overflowing suitcase just to get it closed. Although you&rsquo;re finally able to zip it up, the real bummer is that you have to drag around that heavy suitcase your whole trip.</p> <p>Unfortunately, this scenario of trying to stuff in more than you really need isn&rsquo;t just limited to packing your bags. When buying a home, it&rsquo;s easy to convince ourselves to buy more than we need even though it stretches our budget. As a result we end up dragging around tens of thousands of extra mortgage debt for the life of our 15-30 year loan.</p> <p>The mortgage suitcase trick is simple and can help you avoid buying too much home. Picture your housing budget as a suitcase. Every time you think about adding another feature or upgrade during your home buying decision, ask yourself if you really want to lug around the cost of that feature for the next 15-30 years.</p> <p>While the mental image of a heavy suitcase busting at the seams can be an overspending deterrent, I know sometimes it helps to have more concrete guidelines. So here are four tips that can help you avoid overloading your mortgage suitcase. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quiz-am-i-really-ready-to-buy-a-home">Quiz: Am I Really Ready to Buy a Home?</a>)</p> <h2>1. Know Your Limits</h2> <p>Before you even start looking at homes figure out <a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/how-much-house-can-you-afford/" target="_blank">how much house you can afford</a>. Just because you&rsquo;re pre-approved for a certain amount doesn&rsquo;t mean you have to spend that much or that you can really afford it.&nbsp;</p> <p>It helps to run through some &ldquo;what-if&rdquo; scenarios to future-test the limit you decide on. What if one person decides they want to stay at home with the kids? What if you lose your job for six months? Whether you&rsquo;re looking at a <a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/30-year-mortgage-vs-15-year-mortgage/" target="_blank">15 or 30 year loan</a>, a lot can change in your life during that time, so try to take that into account.</p> <h2>2. Define Your Priorities</h2> <p>There are many different factors that come into play when you&rsquo;re trying to find the right place to live. Chances are you&rsquo;re not going to be able to get everything you want in a home, so it helps to prioritize what is most important to you.</p> <p>This list will come in really handy when you&rsquo;re comparing multiple properties and having a tough time choosing which you want and how much money to offer the owner.</p> <h2>3. Don&rsquo;t Shop Up</h2> <p>My wife likes to watch these house-hunter shows that start with the potential buyer listing off everything they&rsquo;re looking for and what they want to spend. Many times the real estate agent will tell them they can&rsquo;t get everything they want at the price they&rsquo;ve set and will proceed to show them <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-big-of-a-house-do-you-really-need">more expensive homes</a>.</p> <p>Once you see the home that meets all your criteria, you&rsquo;re going to want it. However, if you can&rsquo;t afford it then, you&rsquo;re just making yourself unhappy by looking at it. Two unfortunate scenarios often result from shopping up:</p> <ol type="1" start="1"> <li>Your emotions overcome logic, and you&rsquo;ll break your budget to buy the home.</li> <li>You don&rsquo;t buy it but &ldquo;settle&rdquo; for less and are unhappy with the home you buy.</li> </ol> <h2>4. Beware Payment Justification</h2> <p>When you&rsquo;re going through the process of buying a home, most everyone involved will be happy to tell you that a more expensive property &ldquo;only raises your monthly payment by a little.&rdquo; Your realtor wants you to buy. Your bank is probably happy to lend you more. Sometimes your spouse/partner/friend will even jump on board and argue the case that another $20-30K doesn&rsquo;t raise your payments that much.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;ve done steps #1 and #2, then you&rsquo;ll know what you can afford and what&rsquo;s important to you. Don&rsquo;t <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/friends-and-goals-dont-let-a-blue-falcon-bring-you-down">let other people talk you into spending more</a> than you&rsquo;re comfortable with. You&rsquo;re the one who has to get out of bed and go into work every day for the next 20 years to pay off the mortgage.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ben-edwards">Ben Edwards</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-a-home-you-can-afford-with-the-mortgage-suitcase-trick">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-evaluate-a-neighborhood-before-you-buy">How to Evaluate a Neighborhood Before You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quiz-am-i-really-ready-to-buy-a-home">Quiz: Am I Really Ready to Buy a Home?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-shouldn-t-buy-a-home-if">You Shouldn’t Buy a Home If…</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here&#039;s What It Will Cost You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-process-for-purchasing-a-house-with-cash">The Process for Purchasing a House With Cash</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing buying a house first time home buyer home mortgage small houses Mon, 26 Nov 2012 10:36:38 +0000 Ben Edwards 955494 at http://www.wisebread.com Houses You Can Build Yourself http://www.wisebread.com/houses-you-can-build-yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/houses-you-can-build-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/container_house.jpg" alt="Container house" title="Container house" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Living in an incredibly expensive city has limited my options for purchasing property. I can either increase my income by, say, $100,000 annually, or I can begin thinking outside the box, almost literally speaking. The more I investigate alternatives to buying cookie-cutter houses that are out of my price range, the more I realize the possibilities are almost endless, from building a home from scratch to purchasing prefabricated kit homes that don't necessarily need a stationary foundation. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/twelve-ways-to-become-rent-or-mortgage-free">Twelve Ways to Become Rent or Mortgage Free</a>)</p> <h3>Prefab: A More Traditional Approach</h3> <p>As soon as reality set in and I realized that buying an existing home in my neighborhood was completely out of my price range, I started looking at buying land and building my own&nbsp;<a href="http://www.littlehouseinthevalley.com/little-house-plans-i-adore">little house plan</a>. I'm not a very handy person, so I began searching for companies that will do most of the work for me, which lead me on the path to prefabricated kit home designers.</p> <p>Prefab kit homes range in style, price, and quality. Some companies will arrive at your build site with a mostly completed house, where others will ship you the materials partially assembled with directions on how to put it together. The best way to compare companies is to decide what style of home best fits your family and your budget.</p> <p><strong>Rocio Romero: A Prefabricated Modern Dream</strong></p> <p>On my quest to find the perfect prefab kit home that would cost a little less than buying an existing home in my neighborhood, I came across the <a href="http://www.rocioromero.com/LVSeries/index.htm">Rocio Romero LV</a> kit home. Their homes are very modern in design and may not appeal to all home owners, but for anyone that appreciates their sleek beauty, the cost of $120 per foot is affordable compared to homes of similar design.</p> <p><strong>Cottage in a Day: Quick and Quaint</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.cottageinaday.com/">Cottage in a Day</a>'s cottages literally show up to your build site mostly completed, depending on size and utility connections, and can be ready to go in a day. Their plans range from small and inexpensive to larger, yet still modestly priced.</p> <p><strong>Eco-Cottages: Beautiful Modular Homes</strong></p> <p>Some of the most beautiful renderings of modular homes I've come across, <a href="http://www.nationwide-homes.com/ecocottages/">Eco-Cottages</a> are <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/19-tips-to-cut-costs-by-using-your-oven-efficiently">energy efficient</a> and affordable. They aren't very large, but their flexible construction allows for various build locations.</p> <p><strong>Quik Build: Container Living</strong></p> <p>Ever wondered what eventually happens to those large shipping containers you see attached to trains? One company is reusing them as housing. <a href="http://www.quik-build.com/">Quik Build</a> recycles these containers into three-bedroom, two-bath houses. For under $200,000 you can have your very own Quik Build container home in 10 weeks, just be sure to have your foundation laid ahead of time.</p> <p>You might have noticed from my list that I've spent some time researching pre-fabricated homes! I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit obsessed. However, a very important step in building your own home, even for a prefab configuration, is land preparation. A few of the companies I've mentioned discuss the details on their websites as well as the potential costs, which can sometimes be more than the actual house.</p> <h3>Get Your Hands Dirty: A More Eccentric Approach</h3> <p>If I were handier with a hammer or had the time to spend a summer stomping straw into an adobe-like mixture, I might be willing to take a more eccentric approach to building my own home. I'll admit that I truly admire those that opt for this alternative.</p> <p><strong>Phoenix Commotion: One's Man Trash Is Another's Treasure</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.phoenixcommotion.com/">Phoenix Commotion</a> is a company that helps people build their own homes using recycled materials. Based out of Texas, this company encourages owner participation in the building of some of the most uniquely designed homes I've ever seen.</p> <p><strong>Tumbleweed Tiny House Company</strong></p> <p>Why be tied down to just one location? Purchase a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/">Tumbleweed Tiny House</a> plan. The homes are designed for maximum efficiency and can be built on most trailers. Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. offers build-it-yourself workshops frequently.</p> <p><strong>Living in the Shire: A Woodland Home</strong></p> <p>When <em>Lord of the Rings</em> debuted in theaters years ago, the Hobbit homes reminded me of a fairy-tale setting. Apparently, with enough time, hard work, and some land, you can build your own woodland home similar to Frodo's. One beautiful example is <a href="http://www.simondale.net/house/index.htm">Simon Saville's woodland home</a>.</p> <p>Whether your budget is large or small, or your taste ranges from traditional and conservative to wacky and eclectic, the possibilities for building your own home are only limited by your imagination.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/little-house">Little House</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/houses-you-can-build-yourself">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter">McMansion to McCottage: Why Smaller Houses Are Smarter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-a-home-you-can-afford-with-the-mortgage-suitcase-trick">Buy a Home You Can Afford With the Mortgage Suitcase Trick</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/home-improvements-that-pay-off">Home Improvements That Pay Off</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-decorate-an-apartment-without-losing-your-deposit">7 Ways to Decorate an Apartment Without Losing Your Deposit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-downsize-your-home-and-start-living-a-better-life">This Is How You Downsize Your Home and Start Living a Better Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Real Estate and Housing cheap home design house plans small houses Mon, 21 Feb 2011 14:00:13 +0000 Little House 491308 at http://www.wisebread.com McMansion to McCottage: Why Smaller Houses Are Smarter http://www.wisebread.com/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/173715165_0bc49eb5bd_b.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>According to US census data, the size of the average American home in the 1950s was a modest 1,000 square feet. Today, the square footage has more than doubled to nearly 2,500. If our families are getting smaller and our objects are getting more compact and portable, why do we need all this space? As the recession of 2008 continues to grind away at our lifestyles well into 2011, maybe it&rsquo;s time we slay that final sacred cow of &quot;bigger is better&quot; &mdash; our homes. Here are just nine advantages of small houses.</p> <h3>1. They Fight Clutter</h3> <p>Smaller homes force us to consider what items we own and why we own them. It&rsquo;s easy to fill up large homes, and often it seems like our personal inventories balloon to fit the spaces we&rsquo;re in. The first step in becoming a minimalist may be to minimize your square footage. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-space-survival-strategies">Small Space Survival Strategies</a>)</p> <h3>2. They Promote Energy Efficiency</h3> <p>Don&rsquo;t get me wrong, great rooms are lovely, but I can&rsquo;t help but think about those heating and cooling bills. Cathedral ceilings are dramatic and wonderful &mdash; if there&rsquo;s a corresponding cathedral-sized congregation to pass the collection plate to. A smaller physical footprint means smaller bills, and a house that&rsquo;s well designed and well-insulated will always win the numbers game.</p> <h3>3. They Rein in Taxes</h3> <p>Our property taxes are determined by assessed property value, and value is partly determined by square footage. Though a number of other important factors also affect assessed value, all things being equal, smaller homes equal cheaper property taxes.</p> <h3>4. They Encourage Social Interaction</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to get lost in a big house, or at least be isolated from the rest of your family. When I was a kid, my brother and I shared a bedroom until my parents bought a larger home when I began high school. Though I might have argued the point at age 11 or 12, the memory of falling asleep with by big brother nearby is a cherished one. I think part of the reason we enjoy a strong bond now is due, in part, to all those years as &quot;roomies.&quot;</p> <h3>5. They Promote Good Design</h3> <p>In much the same way that small homes compel us to be conscious of clutter, they also encourage smart design. Space limitations challenge our creativity and drive innovation. Small homes designed for versatility are filled with clever surprises: A staircase is built to house a reading nook underneath; a stainless steel utility table is a kitchen countertop on wheels, a home office, and kids' craft area.</p> <h3>6. They Reduce Maintenance Costs</h3> <p>Larger homes also carry larger price tags for general maintenance like re-roofing, painting, new windows, etc. A commitment to going small also means a commitment to reduced expenses over the life of your home &mdash; and a greater chance of affording those &quot;uh-oh&quot; unforeseen expenses.</p> <h3>7. They Create Better Neighborhoods</h3> <p>Have you ever noticed how different it feels to walk through a modest pre-war neighborhood vs. any subdivision built after the 1980s? The pre-war neighborhood probably has smaller single-story homes that are built close to the sidewalk. They may feature broad front porches, garages tucked away in the back, and dense canopies of trees. By contrast, newer homes are imposing, set back like stately mansions on lots that are barren, deep, and narrow. The garages are more prominent and designed for small fleets of cars, bikes, and lawn implements. A <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-benefits-of-a-walkable-neighborhood">stroll though a pre-war neighborhood</a> becomes a jog in a newer subdivision.</p> <h3>8. They're Cheaper to Build</h3> <p>Smaller homes are often significantly cheaper to build. A conscious attention to detail can lead to lower materials costs and the option of using higher-grade materials. There&rsquo;s less foundation to pour, less floor to lay, and less roof to cover.</p> <h3>9. They Encourage Outdoor Activity</h3> <p>Homes are meant to shelter us from the outside, not to be a substitute for it. Often larger homes can meet all of our needs so completely that we forget there&rsquo;s a yard around all of those walls. Sometimes feeling compelled to &quot;get out of the house&quot; isn&rsquo;t necessarily a bad thing. Small homes can inspire us to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-plan-your-garden">garden</a>, to get to know our neighbors, and explore other neighborhoods.</p> <p>Television and movies suggest we aspire to micro-estates with nothing less than three-car garages, media rooms, and America&rsquo;s newest enigma &mdash; man-caves. But were the homes we all grew up in so bad? What&rsquo;s lost in the bargain we&rsquo;re making to constantly move on and move up? Do we have more time, more money, or more freedom? Or are we simply wandering around our big houses looking for one another?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mcmansion-to-mccottage-why-smaller-houses-are-smarter">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/houses-you-can-build-yourself">Houses You Can Build Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beginners-guide-to-finding-your-interior-design-style">Beginner&#039;s Guide to Finding Your Interior Design Style</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-for-beginners-10-recipes-for-kitchen-newbies">Cooking for Beginners: 10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-save-on-a-long-distance-move">10 Ways to Save on a Long-Distance Move</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Lifestyle Real Estate and Housing cheap home design small houses small spaces Mon, 14 Feb 2011 13:24:11 +0000 Kentin Waits 489923 at http://www.wisebread.com How Big of a House Do You Really Need? http://www.wisebread.com/how-big-of-a-house-do-you-really-need <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-big-of-a-house-do-you-really-need" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/smallhouse.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="345" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For my entire life, I have never lived in a place bigger than 1400 square feet. The smallest dwelling I had was a studio less than 400 square feet which I shared with my parents. Because of my experience of living in small homes I think of anything over 2000 square feet as excessive for two to three residents. Today I want to highlight some of the reasons why I prefer smaller abodes.</p> <p>A small house or apartment has several advantages over giant McMansions. First, it takes a lot less time to clean and maintain so you could have more time to do other things. Second, it uses a lot less energy to heat or cool so you could save money on utility bills and leave less of a carbon footprint. Third, it encourages you to declutter and get rid of your junk because you do not have enough space for it. Finally, the cost of a smaller home is usually less than a large McMansion so you will save money on taxes and insurance. The bottom line is that a smaller home saves you quite a bit of money over an extremely large living space and also wastes less energy.</p> <p>The challenge of living in a small house is that you really need to simplify your lifestyle. You probably do not have room for a giant sectional, but you could make do with a beanbag. A sprawling gourmet kitchen probably would not fit, but a basic set of stove and oven should suffice for everyday cooking. Having a small abode encourages people to use space efficiently, and thus live more effectively. Myscha <a href="/small-space-survival-strategies" target="_blank">wrote a great article about how to do this</a> on Wise Bread. </p> <p>So how small of a house would you be comfortable with? Personally I feel that I have way more than enough space in a condo of a little over 1000 square feet which I share with my husband. Sometimes I feel that it is too big because there is space that we barely use. I am not sure if I would be fine with living in a <a href="http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/houses_xshouse.html" target="_blank">75 square feet house</a> manufactured by a company in California called the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, but I think I would do fine in a place half the size of our current place.</p> <p>I am curious, do you have too much space in your house? Could you unclutter and downgrade into a smaller living space?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-big-of-a-house-do-you-really-need">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/welcome-to-container-city-how-shipping-containers-are-recycled-into-green-dwellings">Welcome to Container City - How Shipping Containers Are Recycled into Green Dwellings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-not-buy-something-just-because-you-can-afford-it">Do not buy something just because you can afford it</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-save-money-by-subscribing-to-an-addictive-game">Could you save money by subscribing to an addictive game?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chinese-money-habits-how-my-culture-influences-my-attitudes-toward-money">Chinese Money Habits - How My Culture Influences My Attitudes Toward Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living Green Living Lifestyle house real estate saving energy small houses Tue, 06 May 2008 23:32:30 +0000 Xin Lu 2073 at http://www.wisebread.com