Sunday, December 28, 2008

A New House

First, let me say that I am pleased and just a little surprised that I have survived the last couple months... and that I haven't killed anyone else, either. Yay! This is good, considering all the change that has been going on.

Second, I have had an epiphany. It happened while I have been the de facto single parent around here while Kevin has been out of town. Shoveling coal. Hauling ashes. Snaking drains. Changing tires. Etc.

My epiphany: I am liable to live another 45 years. I know. I know. Folks are supposed to have realizations of their mortality, not their longevity. But my paternal grandmother died at 93. My maternal grandmother is 93 and still physically as healthy as a horse. My various female great-grandmothers and great-aunts all lived into their late 80s and early 90s (or are still living). Statistically speaking, my life is only half over.

But what does this have to do with shoveling coal? Well, there I was, hauling buckets of ashes out of the basement... up the steep steps to dump outside on the driveway.... and I suddenly had two thoughts: I don't know how many more years I can keep doing this, and O my gosh, I could be alive for manymany years after these steps are unnavigable!

So I began thinking about the house. We have had a whole bunch of plans to repair, improve, and retrofit the house. New windows here. Insulation there. Solar. Mudrooms. Woodstoves. Upgraded electricity. But you know what? This house will never be anything but an old house; and as I age I won't be able to maintain it. (Snaking out the drain in the basement on Christmas Eve helped convince me of this, elbow-deep in ice-cold water, trying to work the snake through the drain as the water slowly rose and stuff started to float around. I hate it when stuff starts floating in the basement. I'm sure I would hate it even worse in 30 years.)

So.... we are going to build a new house. If we start saving now, in about 15 years, after we have paid off the current mortgage, we should be able to take out another loan to put up a new house. With insulation, and good windows, and solar.... I've even found my dreamhouse: the GlideHouse.
Of course, at approximately $300-400K, it is Not the house I am going to end up with. It's a Green house, so of course it is out of my price-range. Go figure. But I intend to steal as much as possible from it, starting with that South wall entirely of sliding glass doors, and the offset master bedroom that gets a full southern exposure, too. The floor plan I like is about 1400 square feet, so I think I can probably find a way to keep the price down. (Man, the neighbors would start giving tours, if we paid 300K for a house....)
I want something for my old age, so I can stay on this property as long as possible. No upstairs. No basement. Good insulation, efficient passive solar heating... as cheap as possible to heat, since I do not expect to be well off in my old age. Might as well plan for solar electric panels (the Glidehouse is "solar-ready", I want mine to be too when we build it, so we can add solar panels as we have the money. We'll still need a cistern.... I am wondering about those ultra-low-flush toilets... the kind that only take a cup of water....

Anyway, I have a spot tentatively picked out on the property. If I can talk any of the kids into living in this old house when I'm way old, I might be able to stay in my "retirement" house until I keel over.