photo by Sheri Dixon

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Resale Value Bugaboo

So we're building this house.

I may have mentioned that before a time or seventy.

This little house is everything that our little family desires for us to be comfortable. You'd think that would be a good thing, an understandable thing, universally. But we found out differently.

The young man with the computer program who turned my drawing in pencil on graph paper into an actual blueprint kept trying to draw in a dishwasher. I have three dishwashers, and their names are Ward, Alec and Joe. In my entire life I've had one mechanical dishwasher and I hated it. For the most part I used it to hide dirty dishes till I could wash them by hand. It WAS handy for cooking Lake Trout, though...

While doggedly drawing in a dishwasher I didn't want, he also kept leaving out the second stove in the kitchen- in addition to the gas range, we have a wood burning cook stove.

Causing the most consternation was the HVAC closet. When asked where it was going, I said, "We don't have one". Which he couldn't wrap his head around, since how can you have a house without central heat/air???

Like this- the house is site specific- set and arranged to take advantage of every ray of light, every prevailing breeze, every one of the hundreds of trees around it.
Considering our climate is truly temperate, most of the time the windows will be open. When we do need artificial cooling or heating, we have window air conditioners (one for each of the two bedrooms) and heaters- both wood burning and propane.

Why heat and cool rooms you're not using? So I told him we are installing "Zoned Temperature Control" and averted the explosion of his head.

Showing the blueprint to my best friend (lets call her Cathy), she asked where the refrigerator is in the kitchen. I told her it's not IN the kitchen, it's in the pantry, along with the microwave cart. The kitchen is in the actual center of the house with the dining room/kitchen/living room all being one big space, and I didn't want a big stupid fridge sitting in the middle of it, and the pantry is right off of the kitchen. Putting the fridge in the pantry makes it...exactly as far away from the sink, work area and stove as it is now in this house.

Cathy sighed (she's done alot of that in the 30+ years I've known her) and said carefully, "Sher, what about resale value?"

Here's the thing.

We're not going anywhere.

This house is not an investment, not being built to look like the houses around it, not supposed to impress anyone.

It's our Home, and once we move into it, we're not leaving.

And yanno, in years past that's how people built their houses. The old houses were filled with character, color, quirks of all sorts to shelter and nurture the people who were going to live there- not till the market went up, but for generations.

New houses are built in neighborhoods where one house pretty much looks like the next one, except for differences so slight as to be inconsequential. The interiors are stark, neutral, and once stripped of the portable things of life- furniture, things hung on the wall- revert quickly back into what they were built as- gigantic totes to hold stuff temporarily, till the next step, the next job, the next transfer, the next move.

And I can't help but wonder if our Housing Industry is a symptom or a cause of some of our societal ills- our pervasive sense of impermanence- of never setting down roots too deep- because while roots are unsightly on An Investment, they Anchor a Home.


  1. Can't wait to see photos and read all about your adventures in your new home.

  2. I love this post. Good for you. Can't wait to see what color you paint everything!

  3. ha. did you know Behr makes little sample cans of paint that are big enough to do a door? less than $3. think they'll look at me funny when I tell 'em I need NINE different 'samples'?