Remember how I was bemoaning the fact that when we moved our new house(s) would be almost as big as this one is?
My reaction to the news obviously had an effect on my husband, because he came back with a new solution - a way to reconfigure our renovation on the main house so that we can live there without needing the second one. That would put us below 2,000 sf - still more than half the 3,500 sf we occupy now, but getting there.
The main house will now have room for a washer and dryer, a second bathroom (toilet and sink), and a mudroom - something that is pretty necessary in British Columbia's wet climate. We might choose to retain the second house as an office for my husband for the first few years, but we won't need to, and that will make a big difference in several ways. For one thing, we'll save money. Even if we do keep the house as an office, we'll shut it down during the cold months, so we'll pay far less on bills than if we were using it as living space. Then, when the kids head out to college we can move my husband's office to a bedroom in the main house and rent the other house out. The additional rent would take a big chunk out of college expenses.
As more children move out it will become easier and easier to live solely in the main house. We'll worry less about the load on the septic system when renters move in. It's a good solution.
I've learned that this is the way real-life problems get solved - by giving yourself time to ruminate over them. It's also a great piece of marriage advice. I find that when I put problems into words they stick in my husband's mind and eventually he finds a pretty darned good solution for them. It's often radically different than the solution I might think of (chucking it all and moving to a yurt in Arizona, for example), but it's usually pretty solid. The trick is to make sure he's aware of the problem (I have to say it out loud - not assume he's aware of it) and then to get out of his way. It takes a lot of trust, obviously, but the results are worth it.