Planning your home

Finding common ground between your desires and the marketplance


It wasn’t that many years ago that folks here didn’t give a thought to home planning. Go back 100 years and the people who lived here were smart enough to look around at what the land provided and what they could take from it. Life was simpler then although not easier.

To the Native Americans, home planning consisted of building up – or multi storied structures – as can be seen at the Taos Pueblo, where ladders were the key to their approach to planning. The enemy can’t get you if they can’t get to you. Makes sense to me.

Hispanic builders mimicked the Pueblo and used the mud and straw the land provides in great abundance, at little or no cost, and created what they could for shelter. Often a house might start with one room, which does not require much planning. And another room might be added when the family grew and there was manpower available to do the construction. Folks didn’t worry about great rooms or entertainment spaces. They just added on.

Things have changed, even here in Taos. With prosperity came bigger homes. Those that choose to build here still tend to use what Mother Nature provides. Adobe remains a preferred building material for those that appreciate its benefits and can afford the cost. But larger homes do require some thought and planning, and the choices that abound allow one to be as creative or as boring as one wishes.

Basic threshold decisions have to be made. For example, those that choose to build a home uniquely tailored to them may have trouble when it comes time to sell. And there always comes a time to sell, even if one ignores that fact. Yet many still only think about their preferences either because that is their priority, or maybe because they have the economic freedom to not worry about the exit strategy.

I know of three cases of properties that are on the market that are difficult to sell because of their uniqueness. One home is in the foothills, and quite lovely, but it was built as a one-bedroom home with two offices, one for each of the owners. And while attempts have been made to stage it otherwise, it is what it is. And there are price limits on a one- or two-bedroom homes that don’t apply to a 3-bedroom - or more. And that very lovely property languishes on the market as the seller and the market view it differently.

Another example is a property that consists of two domes. Set on a lovely river frontage parcel, it is truly a unique property. While they will find their buyer, the broader the appeal the easier the sale. So a 3 -bedroom, 2-bath, 2000 square foot home, in Vista Linda, will likely go quicker than this property. In the case of the example I offer, the asking price started well over $1 million and now it is well below. It will sell but it hasn’t yet.

The last example is really sad to me. We had a well-known photographer who created a structure more art gallery than home. It cost him quite a bit of money to build, and understandably he wanted to get his money out when it was time to sell. His asking price made sense to him, but he died before it made sense to anyone else. According to what I read in The Taos News, this once special place is now occupied by squatters, and they ain’t paying rent!

I also see folks who over improve their properties. They create the spaces and structures that enhance their lives. Those same additions may cause the seller to price their homes far above the value of the land and home.

In today’s world, some folks still choose to do things themselves. But with codes being what they are, and safety, hopefully, a priority, there are several layers or choices one has for home planning. We have designers and architects and contractors, all of whom can guide the process. Planning today is made easier with software programs that allow one to be inside a virtual home, something that not too long ago with impossible.

It all starts with what your goals are. How much uniqueness are you willing to allow after considering the impact on your sale later? How much economic freedom do you have in planning your exit strategy? But some never go through this process. They create what they want, live their lives and what happens later, happens, Heck, this is Taos, so there is a lot of living in the moment—and that is somewhat inconsistent with planning. At least to me.

Planning a home, or building a nest, has always been fun and exciting for my wife and me. We’ve created a few already and hope to plan one more. We will try and keep in mind what our buyer might want, but it won’t rule the


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