DEAR ABBY: "Paula in Tucson" wrote that she's short, under 5 feet tall, and plans to build her dream home with cabinets customized to suit her height. However, her mother is vehemently against it. You suggested the mother might be worried that her home would be so uniquely customized it could adversely affect the resale value, and that she consider having the shelves and cabinets made adjustable as is sometimes done for people with disabilities.
Please tell that woman to stick to her guns. I have a friend who did exactly what Paula wants to do. Several years later she had to move because her husband was transferred. They decided to place an ad in the Sunday paper for an "Open House for Short People." On Sunday morning they were shocked to find cars lined up on both sides of their street and prospective buyers fighting about who was there first.
They sold the house that same day to the highest bidder. There are many short people in this world who find most houses uncomfortable to live in. -- FRIEND OF A SHORT PERSON IN FLORIDA
DEAR FRIEND: Your message was repeated by several architects who were kind enough to write. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I have been a practicing architect for 40 years, and I've built facilities and homes to ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) standards.
A lot of people build their dream house later in life. A house built with stock cabinets 6 inches lower, sit-down counters, 36-inch doors and other design features that could later be wheelchair-accessible will allow enjoyment of their dream home for 15 or 20 years longer than otherwise, should the person later become disabled.
Further, such a house would bring a premium price on the resale market. In fact, I'm sure Paula's mother would someday in the future, as age takes its toll, be extremely happy to visit such a house. -- ARCHITECT IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR ARCHITECT: Thank you for sharing your expertise.
DEAR ABBY: Paula is building her dream home at 43. This could be her FRP (final resting place). It should be designed to suit her needs. Forget about the resale value. In 20 or more years, when someone buys it, it will be time to install a new kitchen, and the new owners can have standard-height cabinets and countertops put in during the remodeling.
As an architectural designer, I cannot tell you how many people are preoccupied with the resale value of their homes, when, in fact, they're never going to move! Of course, if there were something totally off the wall or out of the norm, that should be taken into consideration. But the most important message here is, design and build for your own needs, not those of some fictional future buyer. -- HEATHER IN WORCESTER, MASS.
DEAR HEATHER: I concede your point.
DEAR ABBY: Paula's mother needs a large slice of MYOB, pronto! That woman is a meddler who should stop trying to run her adult daughter's life. If Paula is paying for the house, by golly, she should have it exactly the way she wants it. That mother sounds just plain jealous to me. -- HEATED IN HOUSTON
DEAR HEATED: It's interesting how we read things through the filter of our own experience. I thought the mother was being motherly.