In the last few months, I’ve had at least two conversations with people who bought the wrong house. Yes, the wrong house. Both houses were over $1 million and after the client moved in with their family, they discovered things they didn’t like, didn’t work, or didn’t suit their functional needs. So, I thought about what you need to consider when buying the right house.
Residential Functional Needs
The first family I spoke to bought, a house in East Brunswick, in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. It had a sunken lounge, three bedrooms and a very dark colour palette. The client didn’t like the sunken lounge, didn’t think there were enough rooms for their needs and hated the colour palette.
This means they have to spend a lot of money to rectify these issues. When I met with the client it become clear they needed at least four bedrooms. Three bedrooms and a space for working. But both the husband-and-wife work from home, so while they can share a study, they occasionally need to take private calls in another room.
With a small child the sunken lounge was dangerous without a rail and they wanted another room for their parents or guests to stay for an extended period. While changing a colour scheme is a reasonable change, living in a new home with an inadequate number of spaces is more difficult and expensive to rectify.
Another example was a young family of three who bought a house in Ascot Vale. A suburb in the inner northwest of Melbourne. Similarly, they bought a house that didn’t suit their needs. Specifically, the laundry was downstairs (think basement) but they wanted a laundry on the main level or ground floor to use as the main entrance to the house. A drop zone, mud room type space.
So, they talked about turning one of the living rooms on the ground floor into a laundry which will be an expensive exercise, when you consider plumbing.
Another client in Ivanhoe, bought a brand new Metricon home and after only 12 months are spending hundreds of thousands on an extension because the ensuite is too small.
How do you live?
I think the best way to ensure you buy the right house, is to simply make a list. What do you love about your existing home? What are the current functional problems in each space that you hope to overcome in your next home?
Who uses the space? For what functional purpose? What times of the day? What are prepared to compromise on? Bearing in mind there is no such thing as a perfect space.
It’s not rocket science but I think it’s an effective way to make sure you buy the right house that requires minimal adjustments. Nobody wants to over capitalise on their primary investment. Of course, there are other important factors to buying the right house such as location, budget, amenities but having a good think about function is also crucial.
These are the questions I ask my Melbourne interior design clients and you can easily ask these questions of yourself. Better yet, speak to an interior designer. A one off consultation about a prospective house you’re considering can be really revealing and rewarding.