Remember the list of things we want in our first house?
Well, here she is, our raaaaaannach (use Bush’s voice here):
When listing our must-haves, we were prepared for a house that does NOT grant all our wishes. We are less willing to compromise on the size of the lot, the two-car garage, or the construction quality. But if we have to pay for cheap upgrades that we will tear down soon, or drive 20 minutes longer to the mountains, that would be OK.
Well, this lady proudly proved us wrong by covering EVERYTHING on our list.
1. She is “small”.
We wanted a place about 1000 sqft with two bedrooms. And the main floor of the ranch house is merely 850 sqft! It consists of two bedrooms, one bath, a kitchen and a living room. A perfect “small” house for two.
The reason I put “small” in quote is because the ranch is actually twice as big. It comes with a full basement that is another 850 sqft, a separate apartment of its own. It has a similar layout to the main floor, with living room, bedrooms and a full bath, kinda like a twin sister to the main floor. The only difference is that there is no kitchen, but a laundry/utility room and a third bedroom instead. We intend to keep it separate from our living space for now, until we have a clear vision for how to utilize the space.
2. She can be very open
The layout of the main floor is very simple. You walk into a big living room with a kitchen ahead, and both bedrooms are on the left side. One bedroom facing backyard is smaller and neighboring the full bath, which will be our bedroom. There is already a window looking into the backyard, and we plan to replace it with a french door to the back yard. A cozy but open bedroom it will be.
The other bedroom is much bigger and only separated from the living room with a non weight-bearing wall. We plan to open it to the living area and use it as Slav’s home office. In order to close it when needed, we plan to install a pocket/sliding/french door between this room and the living area.
I know for most people, the first wall coming down should be the one separating kitchen and living room. Not only we are 99% sure that it is weight-bearing, but we also kind of like to have some separation between the most messy room in the house (kitchen) and the should-be most presentable (living room). Our last NC apartment has a partial wall between kitchen area and the living area, with wide doorways on both sides. We liked that it hides kitchen clutter from the view of front door, while providing more wall space for kitchen cabinets and counters.
Kitchen view in the ranch
Kitchen view in the NC apartment
Living room view in the ranch
Living room view in the NC apartment
3. Big lot. Big yard
The ranch house is sitting on 1/4 acre (10800 sqft). The zoning is considered “Low Residential Density” or R-L, which allows higher fences and more livestock (I am looking at you, chicks!). I know that 1/4 acre is probably not impressive to most of you folks out there, but in Denver, new builds only have 4000 sqft lots, off which the houses usually take a significant bite. The ranch house also sits relatively close to the street compared to new builds, giving us a bigger backyard by comparison.
4. She comes with a two-car garage.
Gotta keep my man happy. Enough said.
5. Walk/bike to every service we need.
We were less willing to pay for the neighborhood to begin with, mainly because that we need to prioritize our budge toward the house itself. But we are lucky (so thankful!) to bank this one too with the ranch house. We will be in a big neighborhood at a corner of a major intersection. Another corner of the intersection is a big park, and the rest two are shopping centers. We are within 15 minutes walking distance (or 5 mins biking distance) to 4 grocery stores, a post office, banks, a pharmacy, and one Chinese restaurant! Fortunately and dangerously, we are also a short walk to Target!
What about the noise level you may ask? We are lucky (again, sooooo thankful) that our house is sitting in exactly the middle of our neighborhood. Lines of houses protect us from main streets on both sides, so we hardly hear the traffic – especially when we are inside. Being on a short street of ten houses, we also have little through traffic.
What makes us most happy about the location, is the 10 mins short ride to I-70. being in the west of Denver, we are an hour to several major ski resorts!
6. Plenty room for upgrades
As you can see, there is has plenty room for upgrade. This 1964 ranch has not been updated for 20 years. The roof, most windows, and all the appliance will need to be replaced fairly soon, which made her $10K lower than its own appraisal. Neighboring ranches with these updates can sell for $40K~$80K more, giving us plenty of room to make her our own while building up some equity.
It is worth mentioning that even though the house is completely outdated, it is actually the most structurally sound house we have seen. All the issues it has are due to its age. Things like roof, gutter, and appliances do not last forever. But in terms of foundation, walls, roof support, this 1960 ranch stands out as the best -maintained. This is exactly what we want – a good bone with ugly fixtures. We have toured another ranch house that we really loved, except it is slowing splitting into halves due to water damage in the foundation (very common in Denver area due to expansive clay).
Overall we cannot be happier with our first home, and we cannot wait to make this classic lady shine. The neighborhood has very good schools (accidental bonus), so the houses here are very sought-after. We believe that she will make a lovely home as well as a fruitful investment.
And the best news? With a decent size of down payment (we saved for the last five years religiously) and thanks for the lower-than-market price, we are able to get a 20-year loan! We are thrilled not to have to get a 30-year burden. The 20-year-old roof and outdated kitchen definitely helped. We cannot help but talking about plans for her and I will catch you up over the next month or so with our plans. The next post on the blog is probably our moving day, which will be early next week! Stay tuned my friends!
Now I will shut up and do my little dance, and let you insert your admiration and congratulatory comments below. 😉