Effective Downsizing without Compromise

In the province of Ontario, we have almost 4 million Ontarians who are looking at the prospect of downsizing. We are faced with the question of ‘What do I do?’ Do I sell? Do I move into a condo? Invest in the cottage or country home, and sell my place in the city? Will I get what I want? Will it be a hassle? Will there be enough cash left over after my move to fund my retirement lifestyle?

It is an issue that weighs on the minds of millions of Ontarians today.

We look at some of the issues and share some ideas on how to develop an effective home or cottage design to meet the unique needs of those who want to design size without compromise, and yet keep costs under control.

From a design and build perspective, that next property needs to address some fundamental issues in order to ensure that you get more at the quality you demand, while minimizing the project outlay. You need to be strategic and have a clear understanding of the true economics of home and cottage building.

First some key principles:

  1. Space utilization. How much do I utilize my space?
  2. What is the cost structure of my space and how does in vary from one part of the home to the next?

With those two principles in mind we can start to develop effective strategies to design the down sized home. An example is, shifting high-cost space to low-cost space. Other strategic options can be:

  • Can I increase the utilization of space, in order to shed size in non-utilized or under-utilized space?  If so, I can reduce the overall size of the home or cottage that I need to build by being smarter with my design.
  • Can I reduce the cost of under-utilized space in order to invest in higher- utilized space?

Here is an idea to reduce the impact of high-cost but under-utilized space without affecting the performance of the space:

One of the key triggers, if not the primary trigger, for the Downsizing Strategy is “the kids have moved out”. The second, third, or even the fourth bedrooms shift from 100 percent utilization to 10 to 20 percent utilization. Typically the bedrooms are in high-cost areas of the home – the main floor or above.

In the economics of building a home it is relatively expensive to add a second floor or expand the footprint of a home to accommodate more bedrooms. You invested in the bedrooms originally because they would be utilized 100per cent of the time and the kids would be close to you. It was important at that time but life changes have altered that reality.

A two-bedroom home costs less than a four-bedroom home. You are now faced with the under-utilized and high-cost space, and the thought “downsizing should be easy” crosses your mind… just get rid of the bedrooms!

But not so fast! The utilization did not go from 100 percent to zero, you still need the bedrooms when the kids come for visits, or friends stay over. The new design must reduce the cost of under-utilized bedrooms. But how?

It is a simple idea that takes advantage of relatively new technology and smart design. Design a walk-out basement with an Insulated Concrete Form construction.

The economics of a walkout basement significantly reduces the cost of the under-utilized bedrooms, and the Insulated Concrete Form technology minimizes the “cool damp effect” of a traditional basement.

You now have the additional bedrooms in the walk-out area (unfortunately under-utilized but needed) at a much lower cost structure. Money has been saved to keep or invest in another aspect of the home.

Effective space utilization and an understanding of the factors that drive space costs are key concepts that should drive the downsized home design.

Marty RudmanComment