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Does size matter?

(37 Posts)
fatpony Sun 06-Dec-15 12:08:01

Has anyone gone for a small house over a bigger one and regretted it? Our purchase of a big Victorian has fallen through this week so viewed more houses this weekend and saw two we really liked. House 1 is a small Victorian four bed (1,100 ft2). Very beautiful interior/carpentry but nothing that can be done to add room (loft extension already done). House 2 is 1,600ft2 three bed with no loft extension yet. Needs immediate cosmetic work and - money allowing - some ground floor work to make a big kitchen-diner (no extension needed though). We love the area around House 1 more - access to green space great, friends about 10/15 mins walk away. Both areas have equally good schools [good/outstanding]. But...we're wondering if we would eventually get a bit frustrated/claustrophobic in House 1. I know it's not tiny tiny but we're selling our flat which is 980ft2 so not far off. Anyone had a similar experience? It's DH and I plus 13 month old baby, probably have another in a couple of years time.

potap123 Sun 06-Dec-15 12:16:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JeffreySadsacIsUnwell Sun 06-Dec-15 12:36:04

Wow, 1100 ft2 for four beds? How big are the rooms? Sounds pretty small to me, especially if that's with a loft conversion done already. I think if you have just a barely-walking toddler at the moment, then you're going to find an increase of 100ft2 not enough (over three floors - so the square footage may well be including stairs/landings which you don't have in your flat, the different EAs seem to work it out differently - but even if not, vertical space isn't quite as useful as lateral, no good having a toddler's playroom on the top floor and you can't knock through ceilings!).

I think you'll find that in 6 months' time, as your toddler starts acquiring big toys and taking up more space, trundling up and down with buggies/walkers etc, the smaller house will feel rather smaller than your current flat. Add another child to the mix and it will feel much smaller than your current flat. Whether or not that's too small depends on your reasons for moving - location, or space? If you're moving for more space, then house 1 won't offer that.

Re green space / outside space, does either house have a garden at all? Is house 2 anywhere near a park/woods/other public open space? Think about how much time you spend inside the house vs outside it too. Personally we've not used the garden once since the beginning of August - it pissed it down for Aug, then term started and the DC were back at school/nursery. We have been outside at weekends, but generally for a whole day outing somewhere, not just 20 mins in the park. We did used to spend a lot of time in the park (mostly me pushing the buggy to get a DC to sleep) but once mat leave finished/ the DC were at school/nursery, there just isn't time. This time of year it's practically dark when they finish school at 3.30pm, so the DC and their friends play in each others' houses.

Re friends - again depend on how far house 2 is, but I will say that as the DC get older, you will find your social lives dictated by THEIR friendships... Football/swimming take up weekend mornings, birthday parties use up afternoons... I do still see friends very frequently, but now most of my friends are other school/nursery/toddler class mums.

Assuming that location 2 isn't a complete dive, and that you want somewhere to live for a few years rather than somewhere to sell when DC2 comes along, I think house 2 offers more potential long-term.

fatpony Sun 06-Dec-15 13:44:04

That's really useful advice and food for thought. Att' is the floorplan. The owners have been very clever with design/thinking about storage etc. Thanks.

potap123 Sun 06-Dec-15 14:25:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ftm123 Sun 06-Dec-15 17:44:15

Hi Fatpony. I seem to be your mumsnet stalker, please don't be alarmed! Because I spend way too much time looking at local property, when doing night time feeds, I happen to know, by floor plan, the exact two properties you are looking at! Not a stalker, honest.

For house #1 I would be concerned that they did not put a toilet on the top floor, given the quality of polish for sale I suspect this was not done because it was very difficult to sort out the plumbing.

We made the choice for large property and haven't looked back (well not because of that choice - long story). Previous owners had stripped all period charm out of our Edwardian house - but, in a surprisingly logical move, we decided that over time that was something we could add back. Potential for more space can never be changed so was more important. Location is also something that can't be changed, so do think very seriously if that is a compromise you are prepared to make. For house#2 the 257 will help get you to nearer what I presume is your preferred area.

In our previous house we comprised on space (not quite sure what we gained in the compromise) and the house never really worked for us - we looked to move as soon as little one was on her way. The problem we faced as a couple was lack of storage, which just meant stuff not away, which meant mess. Once baby arrived it was chaos, she has more stuff than we do!

Something else we considered when looking at houses, was that we wanted 3 bedrooms on the same floor. So that if we have two little ones we could sleep on the same floor as them, with the option to swap bedrooms around when they are a little older. I actually haven't stalked you enough to know what your family situation is, I am just assuming, based on the average house hunter I saw when looking myself you either have a baby or expect one soon.

Artandco Sun 06-Dec-15 17:47:42

That seems small! People always say we must struggle as live in a one bed flat with children, but our flat is 1500 sqft. That's bigger than the 4 bed your looking at!

Surely that's not right? Are all the rooms teeny tiny?

FreeWorker1 Sun 06-Dec-15 17:53:07

Don't buy a 4 bed under 2000 sq ft. The cramming of bedrooms into a tiny space really doesn't make a house bigger. The 3 bed will suit your needs better. The small 4 bed will always be cramped.

In continental Europe people by houses on the basis of square metres of space not numbers of rooms. Unsurprisingly the UK has the smallest houses in Europe.

Titsywoo Sun 06-Dec-15 18:01:29

2000 sq ft?! I lived in a 1600 sq ft house as a child and it was more than big enough for 5 of us. I now have a 1260 sq ft house and it is comfortable but I will be adding another 400 sq ft and that will be a really good size (3 beds only but a massive kitchen diner and equally large separate lounge plus a utility and 2.5 bathrooms.

This isn't America - 2000sq ft will cost a pretty penny over here.

mamapants Sun 06-Dec-15 18:03:15

Seems like a normal sized family house to me confused

FreeWorker1 Sun 06-Dec-15 18:09:12

Sorry I don't mean you have to have a 2000 sq ft house. What I am saying is don't pay 4 bed prices for a house that is really a 2 bed size.

Better to get 1600 sq ft with 3 beds. Its a sensible sized house for 3 beds.

We have lived really quite comfortably in 1000sq ft flat with 2 children and then found a bonkers 4500 sq ft house to rent whch was silly and we literally didn't live in half of it. Now we have downsized again.

My advice is get the size you need at a sensible price and forget how many bedrooms as long as there are enough of them. Empty bedrooms are just a waste of time.

ftm123 Sun 06-Dec-15 18:35:34

To further what freeworker says, it is not just floor space being proportionate to number of rooms, it is also it being proportionate to number of floors. 1100 sq ft as a 3 bed on two floors would work much better than as a 4 bed on 3 floors. It is essentially a very nice 2 bed house, with the ground floor space appropriate to that, with a large loft conversion. I suspect once your family is bigger than what is appropriate for a two bed, although you will have enough bedrooms you won't have enough family living space downstairs.

FinestGrundyTurkey Sun 06-Dec-15 19:09:29

I always look askance at those massive executive type detached houses with integral garages for the same reason. Often 5-bed & 3-4 bath with only one living room & a kitchen-diner. Madness. (Assume they usually end up paying to convert the garage into living space hmm )

fatpony Sun 06-Dec-15 20:01:22

Thanks all. The funny thing is all the houses in this particular area are like this -basically two bed cottages turned into 3-4 beds by an attic extension but not much increase in ground floor size to compensate. Was just saying to DH, makes you wonder how all these Victorian families coped, guess they just had a load less stuff!
Ftm don't worry at all, Rightmove is addictive and I appreciate your comments. Are you in Leytonstone then? The other house which needs a ground floor rejig (other thread) is one of the ones where they want offers in by 10am Monday (tomorrow) so just pondering what to do. Managed to scare ourselves from googling the road names - two people murdered in a car on the adjacent street last year! Time is not on our side due to the sale on our dream house in Forest Gate falling through.

ftm123 Sun 06-Dec-15 21:25:17

Hi, yes I am in leytonstone, moved in late September, and still haven't shed the rightmove habbit. I stumbled across leytonstone quite late in house hunting, having initially looked further out along the central line. I had always thought of leytonstone as really rough so it took some research to realise that the north was different to the south. Before purchasing house number 2 I would check out the area at different times of day, I don't know that street, but the area does become a bit rougher to the south. If otherwise you are happy I would do this after putting an offer in.

I know a couple of houses in bushwood that did not sell after their open days, despite the queues outside to see them. This included one which I was encouraged to offer 40k less on. I know of two houses which sold subkect to contract above asking price, one in upper leytonstone on forest road (? Street name) one in the lakehouse estate, however at least one of these fell through and the house is back on the market. Neither of these two sold on open days (I was told of higher offers and asked if I still wanted to view).

There are some houses in the area sitting empty or let (probably not legally, based on experience) until they reach the price the owner has in mind.

Good luck with whatever you decide. I didn't look at walthamstow or forest gate as transport didn't suit. Let me know if you want any more estate agent stories...

catbasilio Sun 06-Dec-15 22:09:16

Hmm, we live in about 840 sq.m., small 3 bed house, five of us and we are fine! Most of mumsnetters must live in castles then!
Out of the two options the 2nd one seems more sensible. Check out the area again and again.

potap123 Sun 06-Dec-15 22:33:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fatpony Mon 07-Dec-15 09:14:05

Yep we like South Woodfood (Waitrose!, cafes!, a cinema! etc) but stuff - in our budget - either seems too far north, in proper Woodford, or on one of the roads which ends on the north circular. So noise and pollution. I do keep a beady eye on the area though. Thanks.

HeadDreamer Mon 07-Dec-15 09:22:52

I didn't think it's that tiny! I agree some of you must be living in castles. All the rooms are big enough for a single bed + storage. Only problem I see is that lack of toilets. There's only one family bathroom isn't it? I hate waiting for DH in the morning before work. One of the must have when we moved was another toilet!

HeadDreamer Mon 07-Dec-15 09:30:34

But I agree on every point ftm123 has made. If you can afford a bigger house, then you should have a bigger house. You can't change locations, and if there's no room for extension, you can't change that either. People can make smaller houses work, but that's because if you can't afford it, you make it work. But if you can, you'll resent making the compromise. Having 3 bedrooms on the same floor is a "very nice feature" when you have two small children. It's all very well and good to say your little ones have to share. Again, if you can afford it, you want that luxury. I have a 4 and 1 yo. They are in different rooms, even back when we were in a 3 bed with a 2m x 2m room. The 4yo sleeps very well, so there's no way I want the baby to wake up DD1. If you only have 2 bedrooms on one floor, and if you plan to have 2 children, then you'll end up having to have the baby go from your room to the older child's room. Do you feel comfortable having a 2/3 or even 4yo on a separate floor? My 4yo sometimes still wakes and walks to our room, asking where her bunny is. (It will either be under her bed or in the bed clothes). On the other hand, a 4 bed with 3 on one floor and 1 in the loft would work well. Once the children are older, you can move the master to the top floor.

ftm123 Mon 07-Dec-15 09:36:26

Fatpony, noticed in the news this morning that the guy behind the tube station incident was from the same estate as the shootings in May. Not far as the crow flies from house number 2. This is London and there are rough patches everywhere, and you can't judge a place on a single lunatic, but thought you should be aware. If nothing else be aware of the impact this should have on house prices! Part of the house price spiral seeems to be house sold for x on desirable street, so nearby less desirable house tries to also sell for x, people from outside area do not realise it is less desirable so pay x. House comes on the market in desirable area and wants x + 10% because it is more desirable than the house which sold for x.

Back to does size matter. It is personal , so how much space do you currently have? Does it suit you? How much more will you need in the future. Also be aware of layout. My old 800sq ft two bed seemed a lot smaller than size suggests. Very spacious hallway and landing with badly positioned stairs, so much smaller rooms than you would think (double and single). Also the shape and layout of doors, windows and radiators made it hard to have any storage in the living room. (If anyone is following and wondering why I had no space in a two bed for a baby - I worked from home and needed one room as a home office).

Good luck!

onecurrantbun1 Mon 07-Dec-15 09:57:40

catbasilio thank goodness you said that! I was beginning to think i was missing something - think our 3 bed was 850 sq ft and this one (4 bed) is 1000 sq ft ish with bags of room, 3 reception room and 3 loos... layout must make a difference!

Property 2 sounds the better option in terms of space and potential, but if you're planning on sticking with 2 kids and won't "need" loads more space I would go with the house you love but be prepared you may have to have one of those Saniflo loos put onthe ttop floor as a compromise!

Good luck and let us know how you get on this morning

Wiifitmama Mon 07-Dec-15 14:08:33

For me, it is all about location. You can live in a small space and make it work - especially if that is what you are used to. I live in zone 2 NW London in a 3 bed flat of 1000 sq ft with 3 children and a husband. Eldest teen is in tiny room to himself. Two other boys share. I work from home from my bedroom. I love my flat and love the location. So it works. However, we have just been lucky enough to put in an offer and have it accepted on the house next door. So we keep the location but move to a house that is literally more than double the size of our flat. Everyone gets a bedroom, there will be a room to rent out and two office/studies. Am I glad for more space? You bet I am! But if the opportunity had never come up would I have been happy where we are? Yes, because that is what we have always known and the location was more important to me than anything else.

Bearbehind Mon 07-Dec-15 14:57:17

4 bedrooms with only 1 toilet would be a deal breaker for me as there's nowhere to even put another one.

namechangedtoday15 Mon 07-Dec-15 15:06:37

I agree, location is everything. But I'm a little on the fence here because I do think its better if at all possible to have the space to extend / convert the loft as your family grows.

But I also agree with previous comments that a house should be balanced and 3 storey houses (where the loft has been converted to add bedrooms) and modern town houses are odd (in my view) because as others have said, it feels much smaller than a 4 bed house on 2 levels - the footprint of the house will usually be bigger in a 4 bed /2 storey house than in a 4 bed /3storey house.

Having said that, I don't think 1100sqft is small - its bigger than the average UK house. There does seem to be potential to add a loo on the top floor and in the cupboard under the stairs (we have a tiny downstairs loo in there).

I guess it comes down to area, how much additional space you think you'll need, whether you have the funds to pay for the immediate work on House 2. Difficult decision.

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