What It Means To Have a Functional Home, According to a Real Estate Advisor

published Aug 5, 2022
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Watch any home remodeling show on TV and you’ll see homeowners lament the purchase of their dysfunctional home. While the cameras roll, they point out all the things that aren’t working.

It might be coats, shoes, and backpacks strewn about the living room due to a lack of a dedicated entry. It could be that the family gave up on home cooking because the kitchen made meal prep too challenging.

To avoid this — and find a home that is functional for you — real estate advisor Lindsay Bacigalupo CEO and owner of Engel & Völkers Minneapolis has some suggestions.

“Talk through your current lifestyle and the things you love about your current space,” Bacigalupo says. “Then get out to see a handful of different floor plans and designs. As you’re walking through it and talking through it, you’re talking through the functionality for the space.”

What Makes a Home Functional

“No matter who my buyers are — whether you’re a single person or a couple or you have kids — having a mudroom space is one of the most functional pieces of a home,” Bacigalupo says.

Needs might vary based on where you live. In places like Minneapolis, with four distinct seasons, each household member needs coats and shoes for each — and somewhere to put them.

Credit: Viv Yapp

Mudrooms can also serve as a place to hold sports gear, science fair projects, and boxes that need to go out to be recycled. As you look at homes, consider coming home after a long day. Is there a place to take off shoes and coats that will work for you? If not, can you envision an alternative shoe storage solution?

After that, what makes a home functional will depend on the occupants’ lifestyles.

Make a Home Functionality Wish List

Bacigalupo recommends making a wish list for your new home and then looking at a few homes either online or with your real estate professional. As you look, you’ll naturally talk about how the space might work for you. Think about how you’ll use the following areas.

  • Primary bedroom: Consider the location of the closet and bathroom — particularly if you have a partner with a different sleeping schedule.
  • Kitchen: Whether you prefer closed-off or open for entertaining, check that there’s enough space for your cooking habits and space for your food, dishes, and gear.
  • Laundry: The newest homes have a designated laundry room near the bedrooms. But some people prefer laundry on the main floor, so it’s convenient to keep up with it throughout the day.
  • Storage: Consider your hobbies. Make sure the garage has enough space for tools or kayak storage if that’s important to you. A holiday enthusiast should confirm there’s enough storage space for seasonal decorations.
  • Location: Where the house is located is an important factor in designing a life that works for you. Consider the distance to work or your child’s school.

As buyers look at homes, they start to prioritize what is going to be most important for their day-to-day life, what they’re willing to compromise on, and what they might be able to change to make a home more functional.

If you’re planning changes to a house, though, it’s smart to get a price before making an offer on the place.

“If it’s something we know we’re going to need we need to do it right away, I always recommend having a conversation with someone who does remodeling to try to get a ballpark estimate,” Bacigalupo says.