solution?

I had this whole long post started, but I scrapped it because mostly I was just going on and on about the same stuff I usually go on and on about with the whole "long term plans" issue. Basically, it comes down to this: we aren't 100% sure about staying in Madison, but we can only last in this house as is for another year or so before it just won't work. Well, I suppose there's the option of telling our parents every time they come to visit they have to set up a tent and camp out in the back yard because there is simply no room left, but that hardly seems fair.

So we have come up with a plan that will solve this space problem of ours, at least for a few years: finish the basement. This is something we looked into after I found out I was pregnant with Daniel, but at the time our mortgage was brand-new and we simply couldn't afford it. Now we might be able to afford it, what with interest rates being lower than they were when we bought the house. It depends on what kinds of estimates we get from the contractor (we know a guy...), but it's possible we could refinance without upping the monthly payments too much. Whatever we borrow is bound to be less than the extra moola it would take to just plain buy a bigger house. Besides, the thought of getting this house ready to sell and maintaining that level of order and cleanliness when the kids and I are always around to mess it up is frankly overwhelming. We can't do it.

And before you all start giving me advice on real estate, let me say this: I am fully aware that major home improvements always cost more than you get back in resale value. That's not what's important. What's important is making this house livable for the next 3-5 years while we decide what's next, whether that be relocating to a different state or staying here and finding something really permanent.

I am happy with this plan. In fact, I am impatient and want it to happen NOW. I know better, though. We have to get estimates and make sure this is something we are comfortable with financially...but in the meantime, every time I descend into the depths to do laundry (which feels like a dozen times a day) or throw on a sweater to play with the kids down there, I daydream about what it could look like and how much nicer it would be.

Comments

Pam said…
Sounds like a good plan! :-)
katie said…
good plan! finished basements are very nice to have. and they are appealing to buyers. plus, if you're ambivalent about the next step, that's no time to do something that feels like it should be really permanent!
kathy n said…
pop the top!
(but refinishing the basement is probably more sensible and less costly). We looked into 'going up' when we designed our addition... it sounded like fun, but was way more expensive and would've disturbed the rest of the house quite a bit.
Anonymous said…
When we moved into this house in Georgetown, I had the same feeling every time I went into the basement. I thought, I wish this was finished! Especially with the slanting-down stairs and the bathroom open on two sides--no doors, and the annoying step at the bottom of the stairs that you have to step over every time you left the no-doors bathroom. The ugly sagging shelves, concrete floor, etc. But we did it finally and it was a very pleasant place. Now it's too full of stuff, but that's another story.
Oma
Jessi said…
I am all about the finished basements. It's in our plan eventually. I want a huge family room down there and a craft space for me. I think about your mom's basement all the time, actually and how much I loved it down there. That's what I want.

I think it's totally worth it, too. Not to give you unwanted real estate advice, but you're essentially expanding (possibly doubling depending on your basement size) your livable square footage, which will have a pretty good return. As long as you don't use fancy schmancy materials, you probably will get your money's worth out of it.

Good luck!
Rachel said…
This was us last summer...we added on our screened-in porch to increase our play area, and to be able to stay in this house...it worked out really well--can't wait to see the finished product!
Sounds like a great idea! If you and/or your hubby are at all DIY-type people, you can save money by doing some of the work yourself. I've always wanted a finished basement, but I can't think of a time in my life I had a basement at all. Can't really have them down here, because of all the wells and aquifers down here.
Suze said…
Jenn-Jenn, alas we are not DIYers, at least when it comes to home improvement. It took a week to hook up the washing machine correctly when we moved in. It may end up costing more, but I'm for hiring someone else to do the work! (Except painting. I can paint.)
Becca said…
When I read your previous post the other night, I was going to ask about this. I think if you have a basement, it should be finished. As noted, some finished basements can double the squarefootage and increase the home's value quite a bit.

I think this is an excellent solution! If I didn't have a home with a concrete slab foundation, I would do this.

FYI, average ROI for basement renovations is 75%. Make sure you should check on permits and local code and know the points at which the basement stops being a basement; in some cases, adding a guest room, bathroom, and/or kitchen classifies the basement as an apartment which has its own code requirements.

(for those with HGTV, yes, I am totally hooked on Holmes on Homes. I consider it my education for when we look for another house)

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