What Phase of House Are You In?

It’s been said that we will own four houses in our lifetime, what phase are you in?


With your first house you are so excited to be a homeowner. Most likely, you’ve been renting for a while and you are anxious to get out from under the landlord relationship and invest your money wisely. For most people, their first house is better than a rental, but it has a lot of “projects” and it is good enough for two people but still pretty small.


Transitioning from a couple to having children was an interesting process. It’s just two of you then suddenly there are three – with a whole lot of additional furniture and equipment (not to mention toys). This is a transition that typically says to a couple, “We need a bigger space!” And through those years of parenting, you do need more space and it needs to be a designed space conducive to raising a family. Mostly, you just need space to breathe, play, relax and grow together as a family. For some people this will be the house that they will live in for a long time, raising their children as they grow from being the size of a sack of flour to larger than their parents. I try to guide my clients who are creating these homes to not just think about the toddler needs but also the teenager needs.


The empty-nest years represent a time when two people are left living in a large home that they no longer need or want. A lot of people at this time will sell the large family home and create a higher-end, custom home that suits their individual needs. When I work with couples in this phase, we are accommodating adult children when they are visiting but mostly, we want to make sure that the space is conducive to their new lifestyle, hobbies and interests. I always encourage my clients at this age to consider creating a space that can become a first-floor master bedroom for “Aging in Place”.


The “Final Home” is sometimes considered a retirement home or a place where aging can happen in different housing phases in one facility as independence dwindles and physical needs increase.  Sometimes, this might mean moving in with older children into an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit). Through the years of business, it has been interesting watching how we treat aging in the housing industry and it’s nice to see now that there are several different options.

We moved to our current house in Portsmouth in 2010 when my children were 15, 11 and 8. This meant that we were downsizing from our large family home where the kids were little and could roller skate inside and had an acre of land to a small bungalow on .154 acre in downtown Portsmouth. The transition at that point was a bit non-traditional, but the kids were ready for something different as there are huge advantages for teenagers to being able to walk to school, sports and dates as they gained their independence.  Our renovated bungalow has the kid’s bedrooms, bath and family room on the second floor, so I often call it my “Pine Box House” meaning, they are taking me out of there in a pine box. I can easily age in place in this house and plan to do so. But…plans are just plans. Life happens and who really knows, but we can always plan ahead and see where life takes us.


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