I know what you're thinking. Yes, we're of sound mind and yes, we have internet access. So with more horror stories than we could ever possibly read in a lifetime at the ready, why would we decide to renovate + add an addition + live through it all?
Before I answer, let me take you back to the beginning. Like way back.
When I was a child, we moved around a lot. With songwriting parents and an adventure seeking Mama, we didn't stay anywhere longer than a year or so. While I wouldn't change a thing about my upbringing, I sometimes wished I wasn't the "new kid" all the time. I always figured whenever I had kids of my own, I'd give them a home they could grow up in... in a neighborhood where they'd have the same friends from pre-k through to college. However, as an adult my wanderlust came naturally. I moved all the time - finding a job I love with a global company who shared my desire to stay flexible and follow the work. I moved up and down the west coast well into my early 30s - never buying a home because I was afraid to be tied down. I knew someday I'd want to be back in Portland... but when someday came, I was afraid to commit.
When we moved back to Portland in 2010 pregnant with the twins, I knew we were home. Still, renting seemed like a fine plan. That way, we had options, right? After the boys were born, I wanted to be involved in community service but didn't have time to organize activities - so I joined the Junior League of Portland. They're a community service organization committed to promoting voluntarism and developing leadership skills in women. One night, early in 2013 I attended a JLP training on finances. The expert who facilitated the training had some tough words for me.
"You're in your 30s and you're not a homeowner?" he asked, shocked and appalled.
"Uh. Well... I um... I like to move. What if I want to move? Seems like a big commitment... (additional unintelligible yammering)..."
"Well, let me give it to you straight" he said, abruptly. "You are never going to retire."
"Never?" I asked, in barely a whisper.
He went on to make great points about longterm investments and the importance of real estate.
That night served as a wakeup call. I realized I had to start acting like a grown-up, at least from a financial standpoint. So a few weeks later, Eric and I set out to find our house. We targeted SW Portland for it's proximity to everything, good schools, and it's low-key and wooded vibe. We stumbled into the Maplewood neighborhood - neither of us ever having known it existed. We found a house we loved and didn't hesitate to make an offer. An adorable little 1300 square-foot bungalow with a detached garage on a big, fenced, grassy corner lot. Was it small? Sure - but it would make a great starter-home. We figured we'd stay a few years and then buy our "real house". Get to know the neighbors, get that pre-market intel when someone was going to sell a bigger home... and voila. We'd move!
What we didn't anticipate was how quickly home values would rise here - nor how scarce the inventory would be. We were quickly priced-out of the idea of buying a large home in this neighborhood - and by the time we realized it, we were attached. So, we had three options:
1 - Stay in a too-small house in a neighborhood we adore.
2 - Move out of Portland into the burbs into a big house.
3 - Turn this little house into our "real house".
So, here we are. Firm believers in the ideal that location is everything. We're a two-block walk to the twins' fantastic school. Near friends, a cute coffee shop, and multiple parks. We're a quick drive, bike or bus ride from downtown - and an easy 30 minutes from the airport (which for my job, is a must). We have a big lot (over 1/4 acre) in the city and room to build, so what the heck.
Join us on this wild ride as we live through our renovation and addition project with twin little boys, two cats, and a chinchilla.