Pacifica, CA

House Hunt part 6: We might be farmers

Kristen Philipkoski

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Photo by Callum Hill on Unsplash

We crossed a big one off our list this week. Buying a lot and building a modern prefab dream house is not happening. That’s the bummer news.

We might become farmers! That’s the (maybe?) good news.

Here’s what happened in another rollercoaster week of house hunting:

The plot of land I mentioned finding last week in Bodega Bay looked potentially wonderful. It would have given us an ocean view, which I had all but accepted we'd never have again. And it appeared to be within our budget.

The plot was located within a development that has strict design guidelines, so I got a copy of the rules and forwarded them to my contact at Connect Homes. I was thrilled when he said a prefab home could likely comply with the demands which included specific roof heights, exterior colors and a particular structure to lot size ratio.

I told him the model we were interested in—it had to be a single story to comply with the design guidelines so we picked the Connect 6. He said he would run the numbers for us so we could get a ballpark of the total cost.

Prefab Sticker Shock

It turned out to not be the money saver I’d hoped, which is exactly what many people had warned us about but naturally I had to experience the disappointment first hand in order to accept it.

The land was on a slight grade, so it required excavation to create the level ground necessary for a prefab. This, plus any other “extra engineering” would cost at least $100,000. Also, the price of the home was actually $63,000 more than the amount quoted on the website because the pricing on the website is for Southern California delivery. On top of that, it would be an extra approximately $8,000 for delivery to Bodega Bay since it's a bit remote.

A garage, which the development requires, is an additional $94,000, and a driveway to get to it would cost $20,000. Solar is an extra $15,000.

The estimated total cost came to more than $200,000 over our budget.

Moving on.

A Petaluma Farmhouse

Our Sonoma agent, Jennifer Parr, sent us a listing for a farmhouse in Petaluma. It’s on nearly 4 acres with a small barn that can accommodate two horses, a chicken coop, and various other structures for animals and gardening. It’s a little different—ok it couldn’t be more different—from a prefab modern home but suddenly we envisioned our future as small farmers. OK not farmers because that would be an insult to real farmers but we imagine starting small with some fruit trees and maybe some goats?

I did some digging and found potential water issues in the area, so we’re investigating a little more before we make a decision. I’ll let you know next week if we make an offer—and whether it was accepted! It feels very weird to think that in less than seven days we’ll have a future on a small farm, or not.

The other promising development is a home in Pacifica. It’s what we’ve been hoping for all along but it had started to seem impossible for our budget. It’s smaller than where we live now, but the style is very “us” and it’s located just blocks from our closest friends. It seems almost too much to hope for but I’m doing it anyway and again, will update you next week!

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(Photo via Zillow)

The Lure of New Builds

We’ve looked at various new developments in Northern California and I dare you to watch one of those video tours without getting wound up over the his-and-her walk-in closets, actual island-sized kitchen islands and pantries that could double as an extra bedroom.

Of course there are downsides. The homes are often packed too closely together. The location can sometimes be less than ideal, for example, close to a freeway or in a somewhat unestablished area so schools and safety might be concerns. As part of a tract, the neighborhoods might have a cookie-cutter appearance.

That said, we are looking at yet another brand new neighborhood in Monterey County this coming week. It’s much further south than we’d previously considered, but it would keep us on the coast, which is a plus. And the development has about 12 options when it comes to interiors and exteriors, so it seems promising, at least aesthetically.

Here are our options as we see it after week six:

  • A farmhouse in Petaluma
  • A new build in Monterey County
  • A cute house in Pacifica
  • A new build in Cotati (still haven’t ruled out this one)
  • A fixer in Pacifica (we’re waiting to hear back from the owner on when we can see it)

Check out the rest of my House Hunt series: Part 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

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I'm a veteran writer and editor and founder of Mean Magazine and The Mean Podcast for GenX women. I write about everything from fashion to science and everything in between. I’ve written for Racked, Refinery 29, 7x7, SF Chronicle, Wired, Gizmodo and many others.

Pacifica, CA
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