When we moved back to this valley city we needed something quickly. We were fortunate to find a two-bedroom condo. However, soon after moving in we were frustrated with how small the place was. Spacial requirements when having children are deceiving. Especially young children. It seems the younger the child the more space you need. And the space isn’t for the child, per-say, but for the ‘accessories’ that the child needs. There is the infant carrier/stroller combination, portable play pen, diaper bag, and toys. Those items alone require a minivan to transport around. So, shoving all of that ‘stuff’ into tiny two-bedroom condo – probably close to the 600 sq feet mark – was almost impossible.
Then there was the baby monitor.
The condos were so close to each other – is there any other way? – that our baby monitor did not just pick up our own child, sleeping softly in her crib, in the other room, but also picked up the colicky baby, located somewhere else in this complex. We could never differentiate if the sound was from our child or someone else’s child, except for those really awkward times when our monitor started picking up the phone conversations from other people’s cordless phones. It was time to move.
We then found a duplex. Much more space. It had two floors and a carport. Now we were able to leave some of the baby’s stuff set up and not worry about tripping over it. There was a sense of privacy and separation as we could sit in our living room and not be in someone’s way who was in the kitchen and someone could use the bathroom without everyone else having to talk loudly in order to minimize the embarrassment. But, privacy seemed to be limited given the unique and perhaps short-sightedness of the original home builders.
Both sides of this duplex were a mirror image of each other. This would be fine if the floor layout allowed for common area along the fire wall that separated the two homes but that was not the case. Instead we had living space butted up against the wall. In particular the bedrooms, and more specifically, the master bedrooms butted up against each other. Even more specifically, the actual layout of the master bedroom in the duplex made it so that the only wall in which to place your bed is against the shared wall.
Do you see where this is going?
Knowing that much about our neighbor was TMI. They loved just as passionately as they fought and we did not enjoy being an audio spectator to either. My wife may have been subject to more of this form of entertainment then I was because not before long she was out looking for another place. In fact, her desire to get out of that place was so strong that she was able to convince the owner of another rental place to sell us the place instead. This new place was a trailer on its own piece of land, in a cul-de-sac with other trailers. It was a run-down rental property that had been treated and up-kept just like you would expect a slum-lord to keep it up – not.
The only thing good about this place was the price. When the dust settled, our mortgage payment was a few hundred dollars less than our current rent. This new home was a win for us. Although it needed some work, we had my family here and her family here. My wife’s father’s career was building houses, and her older brother helped – a roofer by trade. My parents bought and flipped houses for the fun of it, all the time doing the renovations themselves. My wife was also quite handy – a much better and more knowledgeable handy-person then myself, although I had done some construction with her father, building an addition on a church and redoing a roof.
That combination made this home quite the find for us. So we bought it and moved in. However, it would be about a week or so before we were finally brave enough to take our shoes off. As it turned out there was no time to waste, we needed to immediately start renovating this place. The first to go was the bug-infested, pet-soiled shag carpeting that lined every floor in that place. We pulled out a couple dozen bags of garbage that were stuffed underneath the home. Several trips to the dump later and we were finally able to take our shoes off and take a look around.
It would take the next year, and a remortgaging of the home to build an addition, along with a lot of hard work, but what emerged was a completely transformed home. The trailer itself was around 700 sq ft and we built a 400 sq ft addition, which was our master bedroom, complete with patio doors leading out to a concrete deck that overlooked a beautiful mountain landscape behind us. The entire yard was landscaped, with a cherry blossom tree planted just outside our bedroom window. We had a new picket fence installed, new siding and windows, the kitchen was gutted and rebuilt with new appliances, and the list went on. It was a beautiful home.
Home sweet home.