Choosing a place to live (Denver, Colorado Springs: to rent, HOA, houses)
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A guy that I work with is from Denver and he told me that it is common knowledge that you will shovel more snow if your driveway faces north. I had automatically assumed that it was from some sort of weather patterns, but now that I think about it, it's probably from the sun being in the southern hemisphere during our winter and it casting shadows to the north?
Also, if we decide to move to CO (we've narrowed is down to Austin or the Front Range - yeah, I know, opposite ends of the spectrum ), we'll plan to rent for a year and then buy our first place, I noticed that there are very few existing ranch style homes and even fewer being constructed. Is there a reason for this? Is it a space issue or maybe heating?
What other factors should be considered when looking at a place to rent or buy along the Front Range - ie. better to be closer to the mountains or further out towards the plains in regards to wind and snow? Cellars or walk out basements? Humidifiers?
Garages are probably actually used to house your vehicles (a foreign concept to us in CA ) So, if a person owns toys like snowmobiles and motorcycles, it's probably best to have a 3 car garage?
1. Snow Shoveling. My home faces south. Recent storm came from North, with much wind-blown snow. Once the wind got beyond the house, it dropped a lot of the snow, thus I had a 2-foot drift right outside my garage door. But with the sun shining brightly the next morning, most of it melted right out. The back of my home faces the North, stays in shade, and I still have snow out in the back yard. I don't use the back yard during the winter anyway, letting it stay snow-covered is not a problem. I like that my home faces South, it gets direct sun and melts the snow and ice, quickly. Since this recent storm came from north, with strong winds, the accumulation on my north side was very minimal, the wind actually scoured the snow right off the grass in many places, leaving little or none. Thus, in this most recent case, you shoveled less if your garage was north-facing. Storms may come from any direction but the sun ALWAYS shines from the southwest. For most folks a south-facing home/garage seems best.
2. Renting first is a good option. I like it here more than TX, due to low humidity in Summer, milder summer temps, and IMO, more to do, more variety. For all my reasons for coming here, see: Why Choose Colorado Springs?
3. Ranch-style homes. There are lots of them here, I'm in a new one, and they are building lots of them.
4. Mountains. Too close to them and you'll be looking right up, and only at the one you're up against. Go a bit east of I-25 for grander views. Snow and wind should not vary too much between close to mountains or ten miles east on the plains. Further east you go, the more risk of funnel clouds, as this weather pattern comes off the mountains so quickly that they usually go further east before they can develop. Even so, the risk is very slight, nothing like tornado alley in OK, KS, TX, etc...
5. Humidifiers. Yes. Especially in winter, else we get bloody noses and static electricity. We have two.
6. Basements. Very prevalent along the Front Range. Many are walkouts, but it depends on the lot/slope. North of Denver, many builders won't finish a basement, you must DITY or hire someone. Here in the Springs, many builders will finish a basement if you wish, $$$$.
7. Garages here are used for vehicles. Most new SFHs up here have 3-car garages, as per community HOA requirements. Most communities with HOA covenants require RVs/Boats be garaged in structures approved by the HOA for being compatible with the home/neighborhood, else you need to store these in commercial storage yards, which are closeby. We're required to not park on the street for more than 24 hours, and to keep our garage doors shut all the time unless working out there or in the yard. That being the case in my area, the rate of car theft and theft from garages is near zero, and our rate of cars being broken into for the electronics is near zero. Neighborhoods up here look wonderful, as you can see the houses and landscaping, picture perfect, a treat for the eye. Back east, my neighborhood looked like a used car lot, with a line of cars on both sides of the street, yuck.
I'm not sure that a North facing drive really means more shoveling. It can depend on when you shovel. If you need to go to the work in the morning, you are likely to be shoveling as much snow as the guy across the street with a South facing drive. The difference is that if you wait until later in the day when the sun has had a chance to do some snow melting, then you will have more snow left on your drive than the guy across the street. I'd rather shovel in the morning and not drive over the snow, compacting it into ice, which then makes it harder to remove later.
The main problem I see with North facing drives is that the sidewalks and the gutters remain icy. The gutters can accumulate lots of ice and it is hard to remove.
Also, if you end up with a long drive and/or lots of sidewalk, I think it is worth the expense to get a snow blower. That, of course, will save you lots of shoveling.
I have a large 4 gallon Vornado that works pretty darn well along with an Ultrasonic Sunbeam I purchased when I lived in Denver. Some of the HVAC companies sell whole house humidifiers as well. I recommend that if you buy a house. Expensive but less maintenance than the portable ones.
But yeah, needed as you will be shocked (oddly enough) by the alumimum (yes really) drywall returns at the walls. That's noooo fun.
I have a northwest facing driveway and the only reason why the snow may stay longer is because of the monster tree in the neighbor's yard. However, despite city code (don't turn me in) I only bother with it when there's a blizzard like we had last week so I can get my car out. I live on a corner lot and the side of the house is facing sort of north and east. I didn't bother (and usually don't) shoveling that. The snow plows came through and pushed a lot of the snow on the sidewalk...no way was I going to shovel a 4-5 foot drift that the city created. I am kind of a rebel.
What's this "Austin, Colorado" you talk about? Austin, Texas? Two different animals. Haha.
As for the Front Range, it's pretty much the begining of the Great Plains. I think it's better to live closer to the mountains than in the Plains of CO. But then again I am not a fan of prairie. Much more into desert type areas or full mountains.
I have a two car garage, only one car fits into it at the moment because I have so much other stuff in there. Heck I notice in my 'hood more often than not you will find that people don't even park their cars in the garages. Going through my neighborhood it's mostly because there aren't a lot of storage possibilities in tract housing.
I currently live in a tri level home. It was built in the 80s but one thing to understand about many areas of the Front Range is there is extremelly sandy soils here. It varies from mile to mile but the houses that don't have full basements is mainly because of the soils here. Full basements don't typically do well with very sandy soil. The house I live in is settling a lot harsher than many would with the soils here. Having worked in construction selling windows and doors along with a brother that is a soils engineer, I have a small grasp on this stuff. However, with that said, most of the builders as of late are very involved in making sure the home they build can withstand the fluctuations in the soils here.
Hope that helps you a bit.
But yeah, a humidifer (or two) is essential in the winter.
Oh, one thing I like about Colorado Springs, City owned utility so they can't make a profit. They buy the commodities (gas and electric - when the electric is demanding more than what they can provide for the city) in advance and really try to keep prices down. Not so with other utilities like Excel that has to turn a profit for its investors and stock holders. If I were to be living in Denver again, I would hate, hate, hate to see my electric and gas bills the last three years.
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