There’s a wonderful discussion happening on the Unclutterer Forums. The topic: Building a new house. Quite honestly, it has me feeling a little envious. Building a custom home has got to be an exciting experience. At the same time, I suspect that it also can be a little overwhelming because there are so many things to consider and decisions to be made.
The process can go smoothly and with fewer hiccups if you do a bit of planning ahead of time. A key step would be to get everything out of your head and to organize all the necessary information in an easy to use system.
Think about changes you’d like to make
Start thinking about the home you presently live in. What seems to be working well? You’ll want to make sure those elements are present in your new home. What are some things that need to be improved upon? Do you have particular solutions in mind? Walk through each room in your current home and record the things that you would like to change.
Keep a list of “must-haves”
Once you’ve walked through each area in your home, you’ll have a better idea of the features that are most important to you. Create a list or chart of each room with the specific features you would like to have (hidden storage areas, extra outlets). Be specific about the things that you think would make each room function better based on your current lifestyle, and include any elements that you would find it difficult to live without. Your list will likely start out as a wish list and then get refined once you begin working with your contractor.
Collect important information in one central location
Speaking of contractors, consider using a binder (with tabbed pages) or a digital notebook (like Evernote or Springpad) to keep track of builders and other professionals (architects, designers) that you want to contact or who have given you proposals. Your binder, digital notebook, or a website like Houzz.com is also a great place to keep track of your ideas. Be sure to also include a copy of your budget in your notebook. That way, you’ll be able to find it easily and see the budgeted dollar amounts as you think about features you want to include in your new home.
Plan your next move
It’s never too early to start preparing you current home for your departure. You will get a timeline for completion from the builders, so you can schedule time to unclutter your current space. Then, when it’s time to pack, you’ll only be handling the things that you will be taking with you. To help you stay on track, consider using a moving checklist.
Building a custom home can be fun and managed without feelings of stress. With a solid plan and understanding of the process, you can successfully see your plans come to life. Keep in mind that you can always get more information before you make any final decisions. There are lots of articles (like 10 Things to Consider when Building a Home) and books (check out Building Your Own Home For Dummies) on building your home from scratch — as well as the mistakes to avoid — that can be great resources for you.
If you were to build your dream home, what uncluttered features would you include in the space?
We moved five months ago, but our decluttering process started over a year ago. In anticipation of our move, we were forced to take stock of absolutely everything in our home. Moving tends to help in that regard. We knew were were downsizing, so the need to get rid of a lot of items was a must. We held a yard sale and we also used Craigslist to get rid of larger items. All of our efforts paid off, and, in the end, we downsized our home and reduced the amount of clutter in our lives.
I thought of all the clutter that we had to inventory when I read this article in the Ireland edition of The Independent. The author forced himself to declutter during his fifth move in as many years. Moving is a great motivational event that should lead to getting rid of tons of clutter. From the article:
I’m discovering that, despite all that to-ing and fro-ing between places over the past half-decade, I’ve never properly culled my mountain of possessions. Instead, I’ve just created a lot of work for myself and the unlucky slave labour I recruited for each move by hauling all this stuff around with me each time …
My guiding rule this time out is: if I haven’t worn it since I moved last time, then it’s getting tossed. I’ve been surprisingly faithful to that guiding maxim, ignoring that little voice in my head that says: “Hey, those X-Works jeans and boot runners could be considered vintage next week, hang onto them!”
Everyone moves, but some of us don’t take advantage of this situation and needlessly transport clutter from one location to another. Make sure you take stock of everything you have, and ask the question, “Do I really need this in my new home?”
The Calgary Herald has a helpful article on saying goodbye to the family home. My parent’s are most likely going to be moving out of their home in the next five to seven years. It will no doubt be an emotional and trying time for them. I’ve made a suggestion to them to have a giant yard sale to get rid of a lot of the things that they have accumulated over the years. (It worked well for us when we downsized.) From the article:
Kathy Roberts says there’s no denying saying goodbye to the family home can be tough, but she believes most of the stress that comes with downsizing is due in part to all the stuff people accumulate over the years.
Whether it’s children’s report cards, forgotten birthday presents stuffed in the closet, or old gardening tools and lawnmowers in the garage, Roberts says homes are a nesting ground for clutter.
Taking inventory of one’s belongings is “often a huge (job) because nobody realizes how much they accumulate over time,” says Roberts, who owns and operates Clutter Busters.
Since my parents will be downsizing significantly, they will have to get rid of quite a bit of stuff. If you have parents who are saying goodbye to a home that they have lived in for quite some time, you might want to suggest that they have a yard sale as a good place to start with clearing the clutter.
Well, we are now moved into our smaller home and it feels right. We’ve only been here two days, but I think we are happy with our decision to downsize. We are living among boxes right now and that isn’t the best way to enjoy the new home. Fortunately for us, my mother came and picked up our daughter so we can get down to the nitty gritty of unpacking all these boxes. (Note: If you have a smile on your face like the couple pictured to the right while unpacking, you may need serious help.)
I always hear people saying, “We moved X months ago, and we are still unpacking boxes.” The obvious remedy for that is to unpack as soon as you move in. Everyone’s schedules are different, but one should make it a priority to unpack as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will find yourself living out of boxes for the foreseeable future. Unpacking immediately doesn’t mean to do it sloppy, either. This is the time to find a place for everything in your home, and being conscientious of where you put things the first time will save you headaches in the future.
The first room that my wife tackled was the kitchen. It was unpacked and organized before the movers were even finished unloading the truck. It was quite impressive. The kitchen is a rather important part of the home and my wife needed the kitchen in order before anything else. After that we unpacked the living room. Generally, you want to unpack the necessity rooms. Those include; bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen. Other can wait, but you may want to get the living room/den out of the way so you can relax while you take a unpacking break.
With everything currently in flux, we don’t yet feel that this is our home. Living among boxes tends to do that. So, rather than procrastinate, we have designated the unpacking of our boxes as priority number one.
No one likes the process of moving, but it is an excellent chance to evaluate all the stuff that you have. Since my wife and I are downsizing our living space by one-third, we had to get rid of quite a lot of furniture and other odds and ends. (Just a quick note: People go for furniture like mad on Craigslist. Last week, we sold seven separate pieces of furniture in the span of six hours.)
We’ve hauled bags and bags of clothing and other miscellanea to our local Goodwill and it has been quite therapeutic to get a lot of it off our hands. Nothing motivates you more to clear then clutter from your home than boxing up all of your belongings. It does overwhelm you, but it will motivate you to curb your accumulation activities for the foreseeable future. I know it has had an effect on our outlook. The accumulation will have to be curbed quite a bit if we are to enjoy ourselves in our new, smaller home.
As we rid ourselves of items that we have absolutely no use for, the weight has literally and figuratively been lifted from our home. It is a great feeling. If you have experienced this, you know what I am referring to. But, if you have not and are holding on to things “just in case,” you may need to evaluate what exactly it is that you are keeping and why.
A lot of things we got rid of had emotional attachments or sentimental value. Since many of these items were stored away for so long, we got by without even knowing that we still had them in our possession. Honestly, it was quite easy to get rid of some of these items because we had forgotten about them. I had the hardest time parting with things that were gifts. Gifts that we never used or wanted in the first place. I felt guilty getting rid of some of this stuff, but I’ve found that the guilt was short lived and holding on to something only to store it away wasn’t treating the object any better.
If you are moving in the near future, make sure to take stock of your stuff. Make the tough decisions and begin to get rid of things that you may have forgotten. It doesn’t make sense to move these things into a new living space.
Moving is stressful, especially if you are closing on two properties on the same day. The amount of things that can go wrong or over looked are innumerable, so it helps to be very organized. Luckily, I’ve got my ultra-organized wife to help me in this endeavor. She has a checklist for every detail: the movers, the insurance, utilities, finances, closing, and packing. I’m a bit less organized. I have a scrap of paper on my desk with a series of names and numbers that I have to contact. I’m not perfect.
Here are some resources that can help:
- Real Simple has a helpful checklist that can make moving less stressful. They also have some helpful tips on hiring a mover.
- Buyer closing checklist from myrealestatestory.com.
- 12 general packing and moving tips at About.com
Obviously, some of the items on these checklists should be handled by your real estate agent. That is what they get their commission, but it is also good to be on top of everything when the closing and moving dates arrive.
My wife and I have sold our home and are now in the market for a smaller one. When people asked us why we were selling, we responded by saying, “This house is just too big for us.” Then, the most common response to our reason was, “You don’t hear that too often.” I’m not exactly sure why we found our current home so enticing. Yes, it has tons of Victorian character that most early 20th century homes have, but the sheer size of the home was double of what we lived in prior to this house.
The houses we are currently looking at cut our living space by one-third. That is just about right in the middle of our first home and our current home. A recent post by Erin highlights the practice of “trading up.” I think my wife and I got caught up in the process of wanting to trade up, and we learned a valuable lesson. After living in this house for four-plus years, we realized that it wasn’t what we wanted at all. Luckily, we were able to sell our home for a reasonable profit and now we are in a position to downsize.
Now comes the fun part of getting rid of most of our furniture. We are going to replace beds with sleeper sofas and maybe a futon. We often have visitors and they need a place to sleep. Now, they won’t have their very own room, but I’m sure they’ll get over it.
This move will also be a great time to go through our belongings and create another opportunity for a yard sale. Our last one was a great success and was a key to uncluttering our home prior to showing it to prospective buyers. We are most likely going to list the large furniture items on Craigslist. That’s probably the easiest way for us to get rid of the now displaced furniture. I’ll continue to write about the process of downsizing as we make our way to our new home.