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Bungalow Beauty

Buying
Neighborhoods as unique as original apron sinks

Your sister and her three kids just moved to the suburbs where everyone has their own bathroom. Your best friend purchased a high-rise condo in the heart of the city with a Starbucks on the bottom floor.  But you want something in between: a free-standing home with a yard, preferably within walking distance of yoga studios, sushi restaurants, and community bookstores.

Oh, and charming. It has to be charming. 

If this is your list of must-haves, you should be  in the market for a bungalow. Typically one or one and a half stories, these older, smaller homes near city centers offer charm, accessibility, and often times, land large enough for urban gardening or, say, backyard chickens. (Yes, that’s a thing, and people actually do it.) The big comeback of urban living over the past decade means that small families, singles, retirees, and investors are snatching up the cute little bungalows faster than you can say chickens.

They’re adorable. Think nooks and crannies, flower boxes in the windows, a large shade tree in the yard.

But before you jump the gun, consider the pros and cons of purchasing one of these charmers.

Pro: They’re adorable.  Think nooks and crannies, flower boxes in the windows, a large shade tree in the yard.

Con: The bedrooms, usually adjacent to the living space, are often small.  Nowhere near the size of that large master bedroom with the sitting area in your sister’s suburban McMansion.

Pro: Older homes often have unique architecture and superior build quality, and since most bungalows have already lasted several decades, you know they were done well.

Con: Sometimes those old beautiful trees mentioned earlier have deep root systems that cause damage to pipes. And older homes are also likely to have outdated or eroded pipe materials.

And some suggestions:

—When purchasing an old home, be sure to bring in a structural engineer and get price estimates from contractors for all the work that has to be done.

—Make sure the house meets requirements for safety and health. This includes tests for lead and asbestos.

—Prepare to meet the unexpected somewhere along the way.  Older homes can come with any number of surprises.

—After you’ve consulted the experts, done your due diligence, and set your heart on The One, have fun! We can’t guarantee it, but we’re pretty sure your sister and your bestie will sigh with envy at least once.

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Elizabeth Salaam
Along with her work as Senior Contributing Writer for Girl's Guide, Elizabeth Salaam writes for the San Diego Reader. Her work has also been published in Elle Magazine. | Most inspired by: Contradictions. | Favorite room in my home: The Master suite. The windows have views for days! | Best design idea I may never do: Adorn my enclosed toilet room with library book wallpaper and a chandelier. | Will never: Bungee jump. | Have always been: Rebellious. | Dying to: Live in a Paris flat with herringbone wood floors.
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