Buyers are loving their smaller houses

Ah yes, it’s true. Some people don’t want their four-bedroom colonials anymore. They want an elegant, smaller place with all their favorite amenities.

More than that, they need a place that’s easy to clean and maintain, a place without a big yard. What they do want is a home where they can entertain and have parties without being crowded.

These people could be prime candidates for a condo or an upscale apartment, but for many attached housing is not for them.

Enter the two-bedroom cottage style house. Including a private courtyard, it has all the features of a maintenance-free lifestyle in a 1,900-square-foot house. Couples, single people, and singles with a child are the most likely buyers, especially those who go to work every day and those whose work sometimes requires them to travel.

The developer of such a community of homes says they make sense for sophisticated, design-savvy buyers. They get a fully appointed house built as well as a $600,000 home, that costs much less and is more efficiently laid out. He calls the concept “value calculus.” Why spend more to build a bigger house than you want to maintain when you can have a two-bedroom that suits you?

The two-bedroom houses are about 700 square feet larger than most townhomes. They have spacious floor plans and a dining area can accommodate a traditional table and cabinets.

Real estate agents say three bedroom units are in higher demand when you talk about houses. Most people don’t use their third bedroom for sleeping but convert it into an office or hobby room instead.

When you talk about condos, two-bedroom houses are a step up.

How to build ‘sweat equity’ in your home

Save a bundle on projects
How to build ‘sweat equity’ in your home

Homeowners usually have a mental list of projects and improvements they would like to make.
Some are still in the dream stage. Others would be possible if the costs weren’t out of reach right now. There might be one or two under serious consideration, projects that would improve the value of your home.
Sweat equity is a term usually used when you help with the finishing of a new home. It works just as well for a home improvement and could save up to 75 percent of total costs.
On some projects, you can assume labor cost would be about equal to material cost. On others, labor could be up to twice material cost.
A few vacation days would give you the time you’ll need. You also need  tools. Once you have them, they can be used for other projects.
Say you want to remove a wall between the kitchen and dining room. You’ll need a circular saw to cut through wood and wallboard. You could work on a sawhorse, but a Black & Decker Workmate, $95, would be better.
A rotary cutter is a palm-size tool that uses a spinning bit to slice ceramic tile, wallboard, or laminate flooring. It can cut a notch or a  curve. Rotozip at $60 is a good choice.
For this and other projects, you may need a cordless drill and hand tools. They would include your basic hammer and three sizes of screwdrivers in both Phillips and slotted heads, and a putty knife for spackling compound.

Here’s how to preserve your keepsakes

keepsake hoarders Attention all keepsake hoarders
Here’s how to preserve your stuff
Nearly everyone has boxes of stuff they save. Inside them are old letters, newspaper clippings, vinyl records, photographs, maybe an old wedding dress, and old kindergarten drawings.
Now, authors Louisa Jaggar and Don Williams tell what to save and how to do it in their book Saving Stuff: How to Care for and Preserve Your Collectibles, Heirlooms, and Prized Possessions.
First, they provide a worksheet to prioritize keepsakes and determine what to keep and what to toss.
One of the keys to saving stuff is knowing what can damage it.
Light will fade everything from photos to textiles and paintings. Both sunlight and fluorescent light can be harmful. To protect valuable wall hangings, switch to lower-wattage lights.
Temperature extremes, too hot or too cold, make many items brittle. Museums keep their thermostats at 70 degrees.
Moisture will dissolve, stain, or mold your treasures. Keep them in a plastic tub with a tight seal. Never wrap anything in plastic cling wrap.
Air pollution, tobacco smoke, and oily polishes are bad for antique furniture. Use furniture wax to protect it.
Bugs and critters are notoriously dangerous to keepsakes. Maintain your home so mice can’t get in and be sure your windows are screened.
Handling with bare hands can damage delicate papers, fabrics, metals, and ceramics. Wear cotton gloves when handling antique books and papers.
Guard against flooding. If you must store important keepsakes in a basement, be sure they are stored in a tightly closed plastic container.