According to Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition (it’s old)
House (Noun): – A building that serves as living quarters for one or a few families.
Building (Noun): A roofed and walled structure built for permanent use
These are pretty basic definitions that offer no elaboration – no specific qualities or characteristics.
So what do people mean when they say they are “looking for a house”? Just three or four walls and a roof? In the past a cave would do.
These days it is a good thing to be very specific, unless the house you’re looking for is one you’ll “know when you see it”. My advice to house hunters is to be as clear and concise as possible about your needs and your wants, and within your budget (remember to qualify with a lender first!)
It seems that in the past each geographic location had its special kind of house design, based on the weather and ability to obtain building materials. Styles such as the salt box, Cape Cod, ranch, bungalow, cottage, “rambler”, Mediterranean, traditional, Santa Fe, and so forth, began to infiltrate into other places because the style was familiar, held special meaning from childhood, or was just preferred. So today across the United States most styles of houses are available, and not necessarily typical of the geographic area.
The house I grew up in was a small, one-story ranch style Sears floor plan. My father and his friends, not a developer, built it on an individual lot, purchased separately, not in a development. He and my mother held the American dream in building on this lot. My mother loved Early American/Colonial furniture but I prefer straight lines, modern, and eclectic furnishings.
My first house was one I had rented, and later bought – a story and a half Cape Cod style, in a cookie-cutter neighborhood. My purchase was based on affordability, and knowledge of the house – its structure and systems, and the condition it was in.
When I was older, with teenage children, I looked for a house that could provide enough space for the possessions, activities, and hobbies of four active family members, all adult size. One Memorial Day weekend we looked at 22 houses in a new (for us) community we were moving to 250 miles from our first house. The bottom line for the one we selected was that “it met our needs”. The price pushed our financial envelop, but we found we could afford it. It was big – we moved from 1200 square feet – two bedrooms in the half-story (attic) and 1 ½ baths to 2200 square feet, four bedrooms, three baths, and a full basement.
While the slick realty magazines show all the upscale houses for sale, and while the TV house design shows offer some interesting makeovers, with upscale materials, it’s a good idea for a home buyer to be realistic about their circumstances. If you can’t afford a stainless steel and granite kitchen, don’t look there! Some folks want and need a move-in ready home because their lifestyle requires it, and basically that’s what most homes for sale are these days.
Personally, I’ve been disappointed that today most homes on the market are “move-in ready” because I like to put my own stamp of ownership on my environment. What I suggest is to be open to a good deal that might be hidden by the wrong colors, flooring, and so forth. Be creative! Don’t be stuck on one style, one location, one price, and so forth. Be open!
That bigger house we moved into hadn’t had any improvements for the 20 years since it was built. I had the opportunity to make changes in a personal way, and to plant the trees, shrubs, and gardens that I wanted. It’s pretty rare to find something like that today. If you aren’t interested in a “do it yourself” home, that’s okay. There are plenty to look at that are ready for you!