Currently, we live in an average middle class neighborhood, in a little more than average house (we may have over renovated in our area). Recently, we decided we really did need to move on. I’ve always been interested in the homes with large, grassy yards, and 30 year old pine trees or wheeping willow’s out front. I love little porches with swings and the unique colors of the victorian homes. If you live in Phoenix, like I do, you’re probably wondering if I’m delusional. No… they exist here.
We spent months searching the MLS for just the right home. We are possibly the WORST client I could ever have though. I help people buy homes all the time. They want a big closet or an upgraded kitchen. They even search by neighborhoods they like. I can ALWAYS find someone a home. People come to me with their ‘wants’, ‘needs’ and ‘don’t want’ lists and I try to get into their heads instead, and learn about their lives to determine their actual needs list. You’d be amazed at how flexible you can be for the right house.
So, here’s my “Needs” list
4 bedroom min
2.5 baths (so no one has to look at my kids bathroom when they visit)
single story (that’s Todds need. I think stairs would only add variety to my current workout)
Large kitchen (I will do the upgrades, I just want something to work with)
Split floor plan… in fact, I don’t want to have to watch tv at a whisper anymore, put the kids bedroom WAY over there.
Large backyard. I mean, 1/2-1 acre at least. Big.
TREES! Or at least the potential to put trees.
Absolutely NO Saguaro cacti… none. They’re illegal to cut down and I will NOT have a dumb, spiky, useless thing sticking out of my yard. (Have I mentioned my loathing for the desert?)
RV gate, or room for it. This is really Todds need. I could care less for it, but I’ll give him his 2 needs.
Room to expand. You know… just in case I feel like remodeling. So, the lot needs to be wide enough for us to build out. (our current house was 1206sqft, and now is 2500sqft, I believe)
NO HOA! Ahhh… there’s the kicker.
We bought our lot, just over half an acre. We’ve designed the house. It’s perfect. It has everything we want in a house, except for one small thing. The HOA. One of my dearest friends lives 2 houses down from our new lot, so we made the sacrifice. See? Buyers can be REALLY flexible for the right house. However, that whole HOA thing… that’s a big one. We didn’t worry at first because this neighborhood is less than 30 houses, and each one is different. They have a couple rules that we had no issues with following.
1. No desert landscape. In fact, you must have 2 big trees out front and lots of grass. NO problem!
2. No front facing garage. Also, NO problem. I hate it when you look at a house and all you see is garage door.
3. No Sante Fe or deserty (I’m making it a word, so update your spell check dictionary) looking houses. It’s like this neighborhood is made for me.
However… we’ve now met some of the neighbors, and read further into the rules. Most people are ok with an HOA. It keeps the property values up, it prevents people from painting their home blue, or the color of the fire hydrant out front. (current neighborhood issues).
For most, it’s not an issue, the house is already there, no biggy. But when you want to tell me I have to ask to change a light fixture, by submitting plans, waiting for the ok to be mailed to me (snail mail), and then proceeding… Or that if I install a pool, I have to get permission? And also, I have to hire a professional landscape architect to tell you where I’m going to place those trees and grass…What?
The neighbors, while some of them, we love… some of the others are… well, meant to live in a custom neighborhood with meticulous million dollar houses. I’m just not sure WE fit in. Landscapers, pool boys, house cleaners, piano teachers, christmas light installers, etc etc. Do we need to actually higher people for all this in order to fit in around here? We may be WAY out of our league! I get the impression there isn’t going to be a weekly game of Cards Against Humanity going on with our neighbors.
Now that we have the plans, we’re supposed to get the construction loan to build this mini mansion. The lender requires we give them a detailed list of materials. What… like, wood, tile? No… like detailed. What vanities are you putting inside the house? What light fixtures will go in the hall? What kind of upgrades, granite, trim, fixtures etc etc. WHAT!? Not only do we have the pressure on the exterior from the HOA, but now we have to answer to someone on what the inside of our home will look like? Why? I’ve seen what some of those million dollar customs look like in other areas, it doesn’t seem like anyone nit picked over there.
We are simple, down to earth people. We don’t have fancy jobs… we don’t spend money like it grows on trees, we don’t hire someone to put Christmas lights up. We shop for light fixtures at thrift stores, we buy fancy sinks that people took out of their house and gave to a salvage place. We decorate with things we get a Goodwill and I have likely painted that item with my own hands. I refuse to buy anything new because I like to refurbish. It’s not a money thing, its a preference. How am I supposed to tell this man behind the money what my house will look like, exactly, when it’s done. I don’t have a clue.
I’m sure that building a house is always stressful, but we are way out of our element here… We haven’t even gotten to the actual building of our house yet, and many have warned us on the stress that can be on a marriage. We are all too familiar with this as we have lived in a construction zone for half of ours. So, the question is… Is the Mini Mansion even going to happen? I do believe that everything happens for a reason. We may have control over what paths we take, but what’s on the path, is there for a reason. We’re at a fork in our path. In one direction, we jump the hoops and build this amazing house in this neighborhood that I’ve admired for years. In the other direction, we sell the lot and buy a home in a neighborhood more to our speed.
Which direction will we go? We’ll find out. The plans have been submitted for HOA approval. Also, the lot has been listed for sale. Who knows what will be the outcome.