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Old 05-08-2014, 12:05 PM
151 posts, read 194,007 times
Reputation: 111


Hello city-data peeps.

We have just bought a small house in Fairfield (town of) and are going to expand it to suit our needs. The lot is .25 acres, almost all in a nice flat backyard. It is one of the last little cape houses on the street.

When I look at the expansions being done in the county, I do see a lot of McMansions but I also see more modest conversions on my new street. I personally think it looks odd to have a big old house on a smaller lot, but I guess it's common.

We would be very,very happy with a 2200 sq. foot house, and it leaves budget to make it really nice with lots of built-ins and millwork, etc. But I'm getting lots of urging (advice?) from people (who dont have an interest either way) to go up to 2800 "for resale value". That a nice 2200 sq foot home is like an over-improved starter home and a 2800 is more of a 'forever home'.

While I'm reading about how smaller homes are becoming more popular, I am curious for feedback on this. We really plan on staying in this house a long time, but I dont want to be foolish. Anyone have any thoughts, like "as long as the kitchen is big no one cares about little bedrooms" or "as long as there is a bathroom in the master no one cares about ____" etc.

I guess I want permission to ignore these conventional wisdom people. I just dont want to do something silly, like make it 2299 if all the search engines start a new tier at 2300.
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Old 05-08-2014, 12:14 PM
Location: Coastal Northeast
15,030 posts, read 20,907,860 times
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I see nothing wrong with ~2000 sf in Fairfield, especially in a modest neighborhood. You don't want to overdo it by making the home larger than other homes in the neighborhood, because then your resale value will suffer. Even in wealthy Darien, I think 2,200 square feet is perfectly fine, as long as it suits the neighborhood.

If your family would be very happy with 2,200 square feet, then make it 2,200 square feet. It sounds to me like you're being pressured by those who like to keep up with the Joneses.
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Old 05-08-2014, 12:20 PM
4,787 posts, read 8,188,262 times
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KidYankee is spot on -- never over improve for the neighborhood. You never want to be the largest home in an area of small houses. 2200, well thought out square feet is plenty for most people, especially on a little lot..
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Old 05-08-2014, 01:41 PM
129 posts, read 110,450 times
Reputation: 92

Just remember you can always add millwork and built-ins later down the road. Those small kids grow larger, their friends grow larger, all their belonging grow larger, you may wish you opted for larger room sizes in the future, especially a larger mud/laundry room!

Good Luck!
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Old 05-08-2014, 02:01 PM
Location: Coastal Connecticut
13,865 posts, read 16,698,761 times
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My house is just short of 2200 square feet and I feel like it's really spacious. I don't have things like a separate dining room. I have 3 really nicely sized bedrooms, one of which is a huge master bedroom.

If you have more than 2 kids, you'll definitely want closer to 2800. Otherwise, I don't think it's going to affect your resale too much.

That said, all those details and millwork and fixtures won't add value as much as space.
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Old 05-08-2014, 03:21 PM
151 posts, read 194,007 times
Reputation: 111
Thanks everyone. Marylandmom2011 great point, my boys are little and supposed to be 6'4" each! I am totally down with the mudroom - trap the clutter at the door!!!

I said moldings and millwork but more importantly I want the house loaded with built-ins so I dont need as much furniture. But that is a personal preference and I get that it wont drive resale value the way space will. Good point about adding detail later.

I just am planning roughly $200 per sq foot and pressure to add $100K+ is daunting. I guess as the footage goes up the cost per goes down...

thanks everyone
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Old 05-09-2014, 10:48 PM
Location: Connecticut
23,118 posts, read 38,041,985 times
Reputation: 6350
Congradulations on the new home. I am sure you will love Fairfield. It is a great town. To answer your question, it really is your call. you say the house is one of the last in the neighborhood to be untouched, which is great. How big are the other homes? That should give you an idea of how big to go. I would not go larger than the mid range of those homes.

As for size, I can tell you when our kids were little,we thought our 2,300 square foot home was a good size. The house is well laid out with little wasted space so it did feel a bit bigger than it was. Except for one small bedroom )10 by 10) our rooms are all pretty good sized. The smallest being 11' by 13'. Still as our kids grew and we made more friends, our home felt small. We finally added on to create a large kitchen (20' by 21') and I feel it is a decent sized. We now have 2,500 square feet.

To get an idea of how much space you will need, make a list of rooms including bathrooms you want and then assign a size to each. Add in some space for hallways and closets and you can get an idea of the size home you should shoot for. Remember you are likely only doing this once so be sure to think long term.

Given that you are planning a sizable amount of work, you may want to consult an architect or designer. $100,000 does not go far with major remodeling and expansions. A decent kitchen wil eat up a lot of that budget. Add bathrooms and a mudroom and your budget will likely be gone. Good luck, Jay
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Old 05-10-2014, 06:38 AM
4,488 posts, read 3,862,099 times
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Stylo is correct - built-ins are a nice feature that will make your home stand out from a similar home of the same size, but it won't make up for being smaller overall unless the overall size is really close (like 2,200 vs 2,250)
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Old 05-10-2014, 07:36 AM
9,276 posts, read 6,432,991 times
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DG, my sweetie has done a lot of additions in FFld. He was a contractor in CT for about 16+ years. We are now in Atlanta but he knows the area well. Even now when I showed this thread to him he said the same thing you posted about the McMansions on small lots and he mentioned the fluctuation of the market in Ffld. The bottom line is being content with what you have.

If there's anything we can do to give you ideas, etc, just pm me. He's a great guy, an amazing builder and he would be glad to talk to you or look at pictures and give you ideas. I put together a simple website for him that features some of his additions, though we were driving by when I took the pictures. It was years later...

Get lots of opinions and ideas. Even if you have someone you feel you want to use, it's a great idea to get something to bounce if off of.
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:20 AM
Location: Connecticut
29 posts, read 27,995 times
Reputation: 12
My house in Ohio was 2200 square feet. As long as you have an open floor plan, it feels very spacious. My current house is around 3000 and is a little bigger than what I thought.
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