05 May To Buy or To Build
We bought our house in the fall of 2013. It’s a raised bungalow, built in 1959, it has good bones and it’s never given us any trouble. We’ve made a few changes over the years, but it still has some of the quirks it came with, like electric baseboard heating.
In November 2016, our son Ronald was born and he took the second of the two bedrooms upstairs. Our daughter Natalie came along in January 2020 and the plan was to have her in our room for a bit, then figure out whether she’d share rooms with Ronald or be relegated to the basement bedroom, being the second child and all.
We knew eventually we would outgrow the house, but by the time April rolled around and we were in full Covid lockdown, spending all our time at home, and sharing a bedroom with a baby, the conversation shifted more and more to making a change.
Eventually, we’d had enough of just talking about it and we were ready make a change, now we just needed to figure out what change to make.
We love our little community. There are a tonne of restaurants, parks, and trails by the lake. We’re currently close enough to do that, and ideally, we could find a spot close enough to still be able to take the kids for a walk and grab an ice cream or a coffee. But, that put a pretty small boundary on the search area.
A new home would also have to check a lot of other boxes – a nicer layout than our current place, a good size yard for the kids and the dog to play in, a quieter street, ideally not a lot of extra work to be done, and finally a price point that we were comfortable with. It’s a lot to ask for, places that check all of those boxes don’t come around very often and the housing market had been getting thin.
We had also been in our current home for about 7 years and started to set down some pretty deep roots. It’s walkable to the village, and we love our neighbors and the general vibe of our street. Cars use it as a bit of a thru street and it can feel a bit dangerous with the kids playing out front, but it really checks all of the other boxes we’re looking for.
Our place also has some pretty good bones so we felt like it was a good foundation to build on. And with a reno, you can customize what you do and pick and choose how far you want to go with everything.
The downside of a reno vs buying is that you’re in a much more complicated project. You have to work with a designer, contractor, get approvals from the city, likely move out and deal with a lot of uncertainties. So the time invested is significantly more, but the cost tends to be less, especially in today’s market.
After weeks of looking for a new home, we really never found something that we both loved. I logged into realtor.com an unhealthy amount, so it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Stuck at home in the lockdown and sharing our bedroom with the newborn, the house convo was becoming almost obsessive. We started to dream about all the things we would do to change our existing home, should we keep the same outer structure, should we add on, what could the layout look like, the exterior? It began to be more and more exciting and we knew it would be next to impossible to find a place that we would have that “forever home” vibe and check all the boxes. Staying put, we would keep our walkability, keep our neighbors, design our home and relax our roots. Plus, it would be a pretty cool adventure to go through in life.
So there it was, we would build. One decision down, one thousand to go.