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home-buyer workshop :: lakefront

D and C are looking to purchase a lakefront home.  There are very few water-front homes available in our immediate area so it is a unique opportunity for them.  The lake is a part of a state park and the location is perfect as both of them love the outdoors.  The downside is that the house is outdated and neither of them are thrilled about how the house is laid out.

The 50 year old house is a one-story ranch on 2 acres (filled with mature trees and shrubs).  An attached garage was converted into a family room.  It also has 3 bedrooms, 3 full baths, an open plan living and dining area with a separate kitchen and study.  There is a partial unfinished basement, three fireplaces and an in-ground pool.

Their wishlist includes adding a second floor, creating an in-law suite on the first floor, updating and possibly enlarging the kitchen and building a detached two-car garage.  Finishing the basement and updating the rest of the interior are also on the list.  It could be an intensive 6-9 month project or multiple projects done over several years.

I offered them three options for the consultation: a four-hour workshop, two-hour workshop and a simple one-hour walk-thru (no sketches included).  They chose the two-hour workshop.  I met with them at the house and spent an hour getting a tour and taking some key measurements to be able to sketch out a ‘scaled’ first floor plan (meaning roughly accurate and measurable).  We talked about their plans for the house, how they might use the rooms, what improvements they would want to make and whether they could live with the house as-is until the improvements could be done.

After the walk-thru we met up at the local coffee shop so that I could sketch out a rough plan of the second floor and discuss their project further.

Their main goal was to get an idea of what spaces would fit if they built a partial second floor over the existing house.  The second floor sketch would work by building a stairway up over the existing stair (near the kitchen) that goes to the basement.  As you can see, even with a partial second floor there is enough space to get a master suite, two bedrooms with a jack-and-jill bath and a loft that can be used as a play space and/or home office.  With the construction of a second level, the bedrooms on the first floor could be renovated into a large in-law suite now or sometime in the future.

Other things that were discussed…

How can the living room, study and family room be used effectively or differently so that there is not redundant or unused space?

Should the family room be changed back into a garage?  It could, but an additional detached garage would still need to be built to store 2-3 cars, a riding mower and various other items.

The family room could also become a first floor master suite or an en-suite guestroom as there is a full bath there now.  Radiant heat would have to be added to the floor as it is a slab-on-grade and very cold.

Adding space ‘out’ instead of ‘up’ is not really an option because of side yard setbacks from the property lines and the close proximity of the in-ground pool in the back.  Adding up would also be cheaper because it eliminates the need for new foundation walls.

We talked generally about cost and I threw out a ballpark number for construction of the second floor and most of the interior improvements.  Their meetings with a few local contractors confirmed where I thought they might be relative to cost.

Using my real estate license I accessed our regional real estate listing system and looked for a few comparable properties to help them determine what a fair offer would be on the house as-is and what appraised value they might hope to achieve once some of the improvements were done.  At the time we met they had not yet hired their own agent, but that professional could have provided them with that information as well.

D & C saw the potential in the property and had a vision for what it could be.  I simply helped put their vision down on paper.  Following our workshop and their meetings with contractors they put an offer in and it was accepted.  They are now in the process of inspections.

Usually the architect or designer is the last person to be called in when a buyer is looking to purchase AND renovate a house but for a modest sum you can bring one in early to get a clearer sense of what can be done to improve the house and make sure all the ‘numbers’ work.

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