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robo random questions thread

robo (z6a)
2 years ago

This is where I will post all my small and random questions about house buying, house designing, and househunting. Also feel free to post your own random questions.

Two questions to start:

Would you ever do laminate instead of hardwood in a mid priced new home with a small child and a big dog? I’ve seen it become more common in my price range. In our climate/area tile throughout is a huge no-no.

What do you think of this house? It’s been hanging around on the market for a year.
https://www.remaxnova.com/residential/halifax-real-estate/5826-pine-hill-drive-halifax-mls-202001176

It would be about the same price as it would be to build, pros are that it’s in the best school district in the city, still close to work, and very close to the best park in the city. Cons are that it is across the street from a moderately busy rail cut (2-3 trains a day), obviously isn’t new, and would require updating over time that we couldn’t afford to do right away (looking at that dismal windowless bath upstairs for example — in my world this becomes the laundry and we convert a bed into a bath).

Comments (108)

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    We’re in about a 2-3 month window where we can negotiate with the builder and go back and forth on home plans. I’d say there’s an extremely likely chance we’ll end up out there. The builder hasn’t been super responsive with my sister so she’s a bit more on the fence, which I understand. You’d rather feel in good hands with such a big decision. But we will both more than likely end up out there.

  • Allison0704
    2 years ago

    First house (did not read all the comments):

    • Do you have 1 or 2 cars? Anything parked in driveway will block car inside garage.
    • A lot of steps to get to front door. Hard for anyone on crutches, bad knees or elderly. Some visitors, older family member might have issues getting into house.
    • Water runoff goes towards back of house. Hill looks steep, so lots of water during a big rain.
    • The DR would fit a round table/chairs better. At the moment, it would take a paper doll to slip into the chair against wall.
    • What is the strange FP looking/bar area to right of the refrigerator?
    • Bad furniture arrangement in many rooms/too much or too large furniture in some rooms. Is it the furniture or the rooms?
    • Is there enough closet space?
    • Not sure how anyone uses the table/chairs on the narrow deck.

    I'm still voting for you to build. Hate the builder isn't being very responsive with your sister.

    robo (z6a) thanked Allison0704
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  • OutsidePlaying
    2 years ago

    I like the tile, but not so sure I would like it for countertops. But that is me personally speaking, and I think I would tire of it over time. If you were talking to Rockybird (recall her fabulous MCM home?) I’m sure she would love it. Floors, yes, I think terrazzo would be great, especially in a multi use or bath area.

    House #3 is very appealing, and unless I missed it, house #2 had no garage. But I get the reluctance to go way over your budget too.

  • texanjana
    2 years ago

    I think the first house is charming, and of course the dream one is amazing. I think those countertops are a classic look. Good luck with your decision!

  • LucyStar1
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Regarding the first house, I would be concerned about having a wet yard due to the slope.

    My house is on a very gradual slope, but the whole area slopes down from a ridge several streets away behind my house. My yard was always wet. It is fine now, but that is after $10,000 worth of drainage work. The drain pipe is hooked up to the town's storm drain which is in the street. I look at it every day and my pipe has been continually draining like a faucet. I live in New England.

  • User
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I like the second house better than the third, recognizing it might not be as functional. Robo, is your DH retired or does he plan to work when your son is in school full time? Would that make a difference in your willingness to stretch the mortgage? (Just asking in case you haven’t thought of all the possibilities—-unlikely but possible. No need to answer, just throwing it out there.)

  • chickadee2_gw
    2 years ago

    i had thought the slope and drainage issue was the reason that nice first house wasn’t selling, but then I did Google Earth and saw how close it was to the container terminal. Those containers need trucks so I googled some more to see if the trucks caused any problems. We moved from our last house on a country road because trucks started using our road as a short cut to get to the interstate. Bells and whistles go off for me when I see lots of trucks. Are you aware of this expansion to the terminal? This doesn’t sound so good.

    https://capebretonspectator.com/2019/06/26/port-truck-garneau-halifax-halterm/


  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    It’s kind of a weird situation with the port. The port is adjacent to the very premium residential real estate in my city. It makes no sense. The truck traffic heads another way and definitely not down this street which is almost like a dead end. But I think being close to the rail cut does make that street less desirable than many in the area.

    With the port expansion another 2 trains per day may run along the cut. Everybody has their eyes on the rail cut and I don’t believe they will end up paving it.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    2 years ago

    I actually kinda like ports. For about a decade when our kids were little, we rented a bungalow once or twice a year on Fisher Island in Florida. Our favorite thing to do, esp the boys, was to drive the golf cart over to the side of the island to watch the port activity. Its very interesting, and the huge equipment looked like dinosaurs. We especially liked to watch the activity at night, all lit up. Just thinking in a year or two Emmet might enjoy such a thing as well. YMMV!

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    DH is functionally likely retired. We’ll see :)

    today in love the life you live edition, I bought a few lamps and pillows at ikea—and a guest bed! And actually set up my guest room properly tonight for the first time in years (I had cannibalized it to furnish my cottage, which sold furnished). Funny how you don’t have many overnight guests when they share a wall with a crying newborn.


    Everything still has to pass the toddler test which means metal lamps with cloth shades instead of pottery or glass.



    A nice thing about taking our time to move is a leisurely and hopefully thorough decluttering and staging process

  • User
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I discovered a really cute, nicer than you’d believe lamp at ikea that Is only $20! It is not a large lamp but it comes in a couple of metal finishes, the base is nicely weighted, and shade is an unobjectionable white and pleated, it comes with an LED bulb and turns on with a smooth action pull chain (Favorite feature). We needed a couple of bedside lamps just for light, not for reading, in two bedrooms so I ordered two in satin brass and hoped for the best. They are great little unobtrusive light. DH appropriated one for his office, then DS wanted one for his desk, so now we have FOUR. I am considering buying a few to use as hostess gifts. Unconventional, but who wouldn’t want a cute little functional lamp? I haven’t shopped at ikea much and found this lamp online. Makes me wonder what else they have :)

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I love the pull chain on that one! I was looking at it yesterday. Easy to switch out the shades as well.


    Two other things I liked yesterday are this dresser and these modern drawer pulls








  • OutsidePlaying
    2 years ago

    We love, love pull chain lamps in the bedroom especially! I had to get rid of the two old ones we had when we bought our lower framed new bed because the lamps were too tall. I bought new inexpensive lamps at the proper height, but they don’t have pull chains and we miss them. I’m still on the hunt for replacement lamps I like. Why is this so hard?

  • User
    2 years ago

    I like those drawer pulls, Robo. The wood dresser looks just a little too deep?


    Outside, if I was ever ruler of the universe I would decree that all table lamps must have a pull chain.

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Outside, check these arstid ones from Ikea (Guessing the same as kswl?) on the small side and classic.

    https://www.ikea.com/ca/en/p/arstid-table-lamp-brass-white-80321380/



  • OutsidePlaying
    2 years ago

    Kswl, I agree 100%.

    Robo, I like those, but DH might think they are a bit too short. I am looking at something around 24-26” max and slender like that though so they don’t take up so much real estate on the night tables. I have a couple in Lamps Plus I sort of like but haven’t ruled out looking at local lighting stores yet. Thanks though!

  • User
    2 years ago

    Oh yes, that’s my lamp! Outside, if you can’t find anything more suitable you could always put that lamp on a stack of books at your bedside. Its dead easy to change the shades to something cute.

  • Olychick
    2 years ago

    I haven't looked at all the houses yet, but re: house #1. I think stairs with young children can be as problematic as for elders. Imagine carrying or helping a toddler and trying to carry something else, (groceries, package, a baby!) up and down the stairs. Every time you have to go back down to the car for more stuff, you have to take the toddler with you or leave him alone in the house. Assuming there will be times either you or Mr. Robo will be home alone with Emmett and running errands. Add a possible 2nd child into the picture and it would make me bonkers.

    Also, as far as trains and port..you can never, ever predict what will happen in the future, how shipping will change, the frequency of shipments or the products they carry. I know around here, where coal was a rarity, several year ago coal started being hauled on rail lines in open top cars and people living near the tracks are dealing with coal dust! No thank you!

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I went to see houses #1 and 2 today...#1 was nice, surprised it’s lasted on the market, but ultimately a no go for me. I already have a strange, chopped up floor plan and this house echoed a lot of the things I already don’t like about my own house.

    #2 was perfect ...if I had about 20 percent more budget. It was beyond our price range and still needed a few things here and there (for example the only tub was a super wide and deep soaker tub that would be hard to bathe Emmett in, and laundry would need to come upstairs).

    my realtor was predicting that I would definitely, definitely be building. Haha!

  • gsciencechick
    2 years ago

    Thanks for the update. At least you went to look!

    robo (z6a) thanked gsciencechick
  • mtnrdredux_gw
    2 years ago

    I was just wondering this today, thanks for keeping us up to date.

  • User
    2 years ago

    Maybe write a cheeky contract and see what happens? Glad you saw them as it further informs the building process every time you see some feature you do or don’t like.

  • lyfia
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    If house number 2 was perfect I’d at least try with an offer even if they don’t accept you at least tried. Maybe they are willing to negotiate.

    as to the tub there, it will be perfect in about a year when he’s able to take baths on his own more and as he grows so it is a short term inconvenience.

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    House #2 got an offer! House #3 had a price drop....only a few dozen thousand to go...hehe.

    My sister sent me this very cool house in her neighbourhood. Love the one level living but the yard doesn’t look promising. If it’s still available when we get back from Fl I might try to get in. It’s a gorgeous neighbourhood set into a beautiful waterfront park but almost no public transit.

    https://halifax.evrealestate.com/ListingDetails/32-Albion-Road-Halifax-NS-B3P-1P7/202004006?s=nytimes


    just about to walk through a bunch of new construction in the Manatee and Sarasota Counties Parade of Homes.

  • bpath
    2 years ago

    Wow, that’s a neat house, but you’re right, there is no yard to speak of. Is it odd to be completely surrounded by other houses? Is there much of a neighborhood feel? On the other hand, that park! “Whimsical Lake”!

  • 3katz4me
    2 years ago

    That is a neat house - tucked into the woods like that is the kind of thing we like. Our last house was like that. We loved the woods, nature and privacy but it wasn't the kind of place where you'd run into neighbors and we never really got to know people on our street in 23 years. We met them and socialized a few times but never developed any kind of neighborly relationship. We don't have kids though. It would probably be different with kids - if there are others of similar age in the 'hood.

    We're going to a few parade homes this weekend as well. Haven't done that in about 30 years. There is a new golf course community and you get a coupon for the restaurant at the clubhouse and get registered to win a round of golf. Something to do on this "warm", sunny day when there's still too much snow to do much else.

  • gsciencechick
    2 years ago

    Cool house but I agree the lack of public transit and walkability would be an issue. But yeah, maybe go see it.

  • bpath
    2 years ago

    Did Mr Robo stay home after all? Maybe he can cruise the neighborhood? Maybe it’s open tomorrow?

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Mr robo is here with me and bravely toured TWELVE model homes with me today! I saw a cute 1.5 story that gave me hope again that we could maybe do one level living.

  • bpath
    2 years ago

    Btw, I just saw that the women’s world hockey tournament was cancelled. Wow, that’s a big loss to the city.

  • Anne
    2 years ago

    Is one level living odd in your part is Canada?

  • lizbeth-gardener
    2 years ago

    There are many well laid out house plans for the story and a half homes that have all living and master on the ground floor and the other 2-3 bedrooms upstairs and the ability to shut off upstairs when kids leave the nest.

  • maire_cate
    2 years ago

    Are there any over 55 communities that you could visit? Then you could see a lot of homes with one floor living areas.

    All of the homes in my over 55 community have 2 bedrooms and 2 baths on the ground floor. My model is one of the larger ones with a 2 car garage and a second floor with another large guest room, a hall bath and a loft (half wall overlooking the foyer) that DH uses as his office. The first floor is around 1750 sq ft and after 2 years I still comment on much I really like this floor plan.

    We didn't want a basement so we made sure we had enough closet space and we do have a small attic but don't use it.



  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    There are no over 55 communities here :) outside of apartment buildings.

    one level homes are not the norm here although they certainly exist. They are not seen as a luxury option.

    I think because we’re in a heating climate, and because everyone has basements and because you often have to blast/dig basements out of bedrock - it just makes more sense to go up than out.


    The suburb we are planning to build in has very small lots and so the width of the house is limited and limiting.


    Very few people, including my own and my husband’s parents, seem to plan for aging in place.

    Losing the iihf is such a sin!! The economy is really taking a hit.

  • eld6161
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    For aging in place, make sure you have a staircase that can easily have a chair lift installed.

    Think about wider doorways and a master shower that goes straight in. And actually it is now popular and looks really good!

    If you are building why not think of things that will be good down the road, especially if they are features that look good anyway?

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    OK SO I got a first draft of home plan from designer. I have lots of changes want to make. what do you think of the changes I propose? Anything outlandish?? I shifted some things around upstairs to make room for a second walk in closet. Most glazing isn't shown but I'd take your suggestions on that too. Yes I'm fiddling while rome burns...spent an extra five hours yesterday cooped up in the very crowded st pete's airport due to flight delays. Not feeling good about covid 19!





  • bpath
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Looks nice. But the master closet is narrow, only leaves your 2’ of walking space in the middle.

    In Emmet’s bath, I’d swap the toilet and tub and eliminate the interior door.

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Oh yeah! I think 30”? but would prefer at least 36”!

  • bpath
    2 years ago

    And maybe put the master closet door at the end, opposite the bedroom door, for maximum hanging space.

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I thought that. But my husband pointed out that the door would never be closed (fair) and the first thing you’d always see from the hallway would be a messy closet (also fair) . I was also wondering about doing two short walk-past closets with a little hallway to the bath in the middle. But then it takes away the opportunity to put a dresser/tv on the bedroom wall where the closets are.


    right now we share one 5x7 walk in so the thought of two is heavenly...


    Agree on the interior door in the other bath! Just overly complicated. I think bath versus toilet might depend on where the window has to be on the exterior. If it has to be in the middle of the wall, I could see the toilet ending up on the outside

  • User
    2 years ago

    Just specify self closing hinges on the closet door, then you won’t ever see the messy closet From the hall or room.

  • localeater
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Think hard about the freestanding tub in the master bath. They look pretty but the cost a lot, freestanding faucets cost more too. They need to be placed far enough away from the wall so you can clean behind them, for me they lose the function over form battle. When we redid our master bath in the old house we put one in because it looked pretty, and there was a big empty space to fill where the previous owners had a spa tub. We needed to vacuum the white dust collector regularly. When we designed the master bath in the new house big walk-in shower, no tub.

    I would consider a walk in shower instead of a tub in the 1st floor bath.

    PS I will be sitting in airports tomorrow so I commiserate

  • OutsidePlaying
    2 years ago

    I kind of like having a blank wall to view from the entry to the bedroom. Leaves room for a soothing piece of art or a small narrow table as a drop zone for things before going downstairs.

    I would perhaps consider a pony wall, even though I generally don’t like them, to separate the sinks from the potty in the master bath. I tend to agree about the large free standing tub, although if you are a tub person, it’s a personal thing. The do take up a lot of space. Same with the downstairs bath. If you have elderly parents or visitors, ask them. Some would prefer a large walk-in shower as they age. Plus you have the tub upstairs if someone wants a bath.


  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I was wondering about a deck tub as well. Less modern looking. Honestly we won’t use it much/at all!

  • localeater
    2 years ago

    If you won’t use it much don’t put one in. Do your perfect shower.

  • lyfia
    2 years ago

    I would want the closets to open much closer to the bathroom so when getting ready it is a short distance to do so and also access what is needed without going into the bedroom. I think I’d add a wall on the back of the stairs and move the master entry out so I could put closet doors to open into that vestibule. It would make every day living easier too when you forget something in the closet and run up to get it there are fewer steps and also easier to put away laundry between the two closets as their entries would be closer to each other.

  • blfenton
    2 years ago

    The bathroom downstairs - do you have to have a tub there? or a shower? Given that it's going to be used by visitors consider doing a powder room instead and making it pretty.

    Master closet = what about a pocket door

  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I love the idea of having the master closet doors be closer to the bathroom. Not exactly sure how to accomplish that. One thing I considered is having two closets come off a hallway to bath but....The house designer pointed out that putting a doorway right in the middle of the wall between the master bed in the bath inhibits furniture and TV placement. Just an example photo I found of that type of layout:






  • robo (z6a)
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I’m the one who pushed for a shower in the downstairs bath. I just want to facilitate one level living if necessary. But the other option would be to leave space to add an elevator. Just thinking that we have aging parents or maybe future needs or surgeries.