Reinventing Your House with a First Floor Master Bedroom

These days, with lower real estate values and the economic uncertainties, reinventing your house may make more financial sense than building a new one. I hate to admit that. Being an architect, I love building new houses. But I understand that selling a house these days can be tough. Real estate commissions, fixing up your old house to get it into condition to sell, and the costs of moving can add up fast. But what if your family situation has changes?  What if your children have grown and left home and you need a house to retire comfortably in that is easier to take care of and will remain accessible even if you should lose mobility? What if your  bathroom is outdated or simply old and you want a new look?Architect William J. Hirsch Jr.

Consider reinventing your house. Remodeling includes all sorts of home improvement projects. Projects that change the characteristics of your house and make it suit your new life situation are more than a simple sprucing up and remodeling. I call this “reinventing” your house. Why not consider reinventing your family house into your retirement house?

Our families and our lives evolve. When you are raising your children, an upstairs master bedroom makes sense. You want to be near the kids in case they need you during the night. But when they leave home and you are getting older, those stairs don’t look as easy to climb several times a day. And you know that as more years go by, there is some chance that you may not be able to climb them at all. Many homes can be reinvented from a family house to a retirement house with the addition of a first floor master bedroom suite. It might take some clever planning and confirmation that there is enough room on your property to do it. An architect can help you with that.  But reinventing means you won’t have to spend all that money on commissions and moving costs. Instead, that money can go directly toward the cozy first floor master bedroom suite with the fancy new bathroom you’ve dreamed of.

Staying where you are and reinventing your house has many other benefits. If you like where you currently live, if you have great neighbors, familiar stores, doctors, and restaurants nearby, if your church is around the corner, and you live close to many of the things you like, why start over? Change your house into your retirement house and let those upstairs bedrooms simply become guest rooms for the children and grandchildren.

Remodeling  and reinventing can cause some turmoil. But selling a house, buying a new one, and moving can be an even bigger hassle. And with the construction industry being slow, construction costs are down.

Spend some time thinking of what your present house could be. Ask an architect for some ideas. He or she might see things you don’t. You might surprise yourself with the possibilities.

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Bill Hirsch

Bill Hirsch

2 Comments

  1. Janet in OK on January 7, 2011 at 11:37 am

    We have bought 28 acres and my parents house is under construction. We plan to start our home in the next 6 months. 20 years ago we removed a sliding glass door and put in a Pella casement window with the shade between the glass. I loved that window for all the obvious reasons. Our contractor tells me that Pella is the only company that makes that “shade” between the glass window. As you know they are very expensive. Is there another company and is the energy efficiency the same.

    • Bill Hirsch Bill on January 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      Janet – I don’t know if any other window manufacturer’s have copied Pella with the blinds between the panes of glass. They may very well have a patent on it. But I can say that they are not as energy efficient as they may seem. The reason is that insulating glass (double or triple paned glass, depends on the dead air space between the panes to act as the insulator.

      Virtually all insulation depends on dead air. The air is the actual insulating material and not the foam, or fiberglass, or cellulose. The purpose of the material we see and touch, like fiberglass and foam, is to keep the air from moving. When air is still (or dead, as they say) it resists the transfer of heat. Thus it becomes an insulator. But if the air can move, it loses it’s insulating capability and promotes the transfer of heat. That’s not good.

      Insulating glass has two or three panes of glass with air between. The panes need to be relative close together, 1/4″ to 1/2″ to effectively keep the air still. The cold air in the gap between the panes falls to the bottom of the window and the warm air rises to the top. The narrow gap between the panes makes it hard for the air to move up and down and it stays relatively still, or “dead.” If the air gap is too wide, the warm air can rise and still leave room for the cold air to fall. This starts what is called a convective loop. This is much the same effect as when hot air rises in a chimney. This convective loop is what happens when you are in the hot shower and the shower curtain blows in on you. The hot air is rising and the cold air is rushing in to replace it. In your windows, once this looping current of air begins, the dead air principle is lost and the window loses its insulating ability.

      In windows with blinds between the panes, the air gap is wider than what is optimal. Convective loops of air begin and heat is transferred out of your house in winter. So although there is a house cleaning benefit to having the blinds within the glass, the energy efficiency is a myth. You would be better off to accept the cleaning issue with blinds and get windows with the proper kind of insulating glass.

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