Over the last 20 years we in the building business have seen a consistent move away from large homes. After the 2008 recession, building costs increased dramatically, due to the increased demand for labor and materials, and the adoption of stringent building and energy codes. These cost increases coupled with the demographics of retirees here on Cape Cod, leads to the conclusion that downsizing just makes sense.
Downsizing is often referred to as “right-sizing” – but what does this mean? After children have left the nest, many people realize that their large, multi-bedroom home is too spacious. The costs to heat, manage and maintain a large home and yard quickly causes it to lose its appeal. Many realize that they also have accumulated excess furnishings, décor items, and other things. One of the major realizations in the downsizing process is that all the “stuff” is not needed or wanted. To change a mindset from a large home to a smaller, more efficiently designed home, consider these tips and questions:
- How many people will reside in the home full-time?
- Can rooms be used for multiple purposes i.e. can a loft become a guest bedroom with a sofa bed?
- Take an inventory and determine if the item is really needed.
- Assess current furniture. Will it fit in the new house? Will it “fit” in the new house. There are two aspects to fitting. The first is the physical size of the various pieces. The second concerns style.
- Determine how much storage space is needed. For example, the priority might be a spacious walk-in closet in the master bedroom, but guests do not need much closet space.
- Get Organized! After determining what will be kept, find a logical and organized place to store it. A designer can plan for large shelving units in the basement, or add a few feet to the back of a garage to allow for a work bench and tool storage, or suggest for a small shed to store outdoor equipment.
- Take advantage of space in the new home! Attic/eave spaces can be great storage areas, especially if the home is designed to heat and cool those spaces.
Customers are often pleasantly surprised to find out how little space is needed to live comfortably, especially in retirement. I recommend that customers spend their money where they, as the primary residents, will get the most benefit. So, if a large kitchen, master bathroom with a walk-in shower or master suite is desired, make that a priority; plan guest spaces to be simple and smaller.
~ Matt Teague – REEF, the Cape Cod Builder
This New Cottage, written by its homeowner and its builder, is a tale of color, nostalgia and the challenges of rebuilding a Cape Cod cottage. Watch for it in bookstores soon!