Almost 2 years ago my hubby and I bought this giant house on a huge lot in the UNM North Golf Course neighborhood, with the dream of it someday being Grand Central Station for us and our future children. In truth, it is ridiculously oversized for two people, but I'm a contractor and designer, and I couldn't help but see loads of potential both for our family and as an investment.

As I look out over our almost half an acre in the middle of town, and our giant basement with room for activities, and can't help but feel that we are squandering all this space for no good reason!

Because work for me in my field of construction has been SO slow, and I am here all the time, I have been researching ways to use my property in more productive ways. Through my research, I have found few ideas that inspire me or seem appropriate for our needs. So far the only things I've thought of are having classes, either indoor or out or community gardening. That being said, I thought that DCF would be a great resource for helping me brainstorm on ways to use our space!

Back Yard: Approximately 70' x 180' (average lot in the UNM area is 50-75' wide by 100-125' long including the house and front yard). The back of the house is almost due south facing.
We have recently removed a ton of trash and dead trees/stumps, the sprinkler system needs to be totally redone (but we want a plan first before we install it) and it is basically a blank slate right now, except for a fantastic big shade tree. I have some construction materials which we will soon be moving into a new fenced off storage yard.

The Basement: The Rec room is approximately 16' x 35' with 9' ceilings. There are 2 bedrooms down there, both with great windows, one I'm using as an art studio, the other as a guest room. There is a kitchenette and lounge area, a 3/4 bathroom, a storage area and a sauna. Nothing is pretty but it's functional. It has a separate entrance through some french doors to the backyard.

Any ideas or questions would be welcomed!
Thanks Fixers!!

Views: 59

Comment by Camian on September 25, 2008 at 12:07pm
Hostel.... hmm. I wonder how specific I could be about who could stay. Really I would be concerned about noise into the night, and we are not really walking distance to anything, but I think there are bus stops on Indian School and Girard which are close. The noise thing, and lack of a full kitchen were the main reasons we opted to not take housemates. Tell me your thoughts.
Comment by Kelly on September 25, 2008 at 12:30pm
Garden! Grow your own veggies. This is the perfect time to plan/start your winter garden/cold frame/hoop house. And if you do the planning/soil amendment/irrigation layout, etc. now, you'll be ready when the spring comes around for next year.
Comment by Brendan on September 25, 2008 at 12:38pm
I feel your pain- we used to have a terraced 1/3 acre back yard in the foothills. Doing something with it consumed 4 years of our life. Here's a picture of 20% of it in early spring from 2005.

Features included flowers from early spring through late fall, shady spaces (man made and trees) to put patio furniture, grape vines, a vegetable garden, xeric area, lawn, a place to enjoy city views, entertain, relax, while leaving the open-space-feeling. It was a monster, but we had a 7 zone watering system which made it manageable.

I'd suggest a variety of appropriate-to-the-climate fruit trees around the property perimeter, foundation friendly plants near the house that won't go over the roof top, and solar water/electric on the roof. Also, a shaded patio, swimming pool and 4-lane bowling alley.
Comment by Camian on September 25, 2008 at 12:49pm
Well, to clarify, we have long term plans for the backyard, including a garden, water catchment, solar on the Large area of south facing roof, and lots of lovely little areas of interest, but I guess I was hoping that I could somehow involve the community until we did that in the future. I feel guilty having so much land, in such a central location, and I feel like I should share it! I certainly am not asking the community to come "do my yard for free" but I wonder if there are people out there who say, "If only I had some room in the city, I could...." Even if I'm wrong, I appreciate all the ideas.... Keep em comin'!!
Comment by Camian on September 25, 2008 at 12:58pm
well, because the house is so big, I don't need extra retreat space, I already have it. I would love to rent the space out to an artist or writer! Any ideas on how to find those peeps? Also, I totally envision having yoga/meditation/exercise/dance/play classes in the big room, but not sure if carpet would work.... If I have to pull it up, I'm open to that.

I have big ideas for a great playground outside and a loft/play area inside with a tire swing and theatrical area. My dad built me a loft when I was little. It had a bed upstairs with all my stuffed animals, and below was my changing room with a window cut through the wall. My sisters and I had HOURS of entertainment with that window, playing puppets, drive-thru, office, and all kinds of shows we would put on for my folks. I definitely want that for our kids too!
Comment by Brendan on September 25, 2008 at 1:01pm
Did you see today's post about donating fruit? We're rapidly approaching the time of year where it's 1) appropriate to plant trees/shrubs for next year and 2) nobody wants to, so they're all on super discount sale. Get those trees while they're inexpensive.

The hostel idea is pretty neat- but you might also consider renting to a UNMH or law grad student. Grad students are less destructive and low maintenance. Plus, the rent can go into a home-improvement fund.
Comment by Camian on September 25, 2008 at 1:08pm
Do you think we could rent it if we don't have a full kitchen? There is no stove/oven down there, and it would be a semi-pain right now to put one down there....
Comment by mombat on September 25, 2008 at 1:14pm
you are in north campus and close to everything-even with no kitchen you could rent it out. Just take that into consideration when pricing it.
Comment by Bluegoo on September 25, 2008 at 1:15pm
Build a full house out back and rent it ? You would have to get rezoned but it would be a a fuller use of limited land inside the city limits.
Comment by Bluegoo on September 25, 2008 at 1:24pm
Only need to run a 240 V power line for a eletric stove or a microwave. Not as hard as you think.


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