Basement lets empty nesters enjoy hobbies

Michael and Kathy Jessee didn't want to give up their basement when they downsized from a home of 19 years in Johns Creek.

The empty nesters, who have two adult sons, sought the ranch-style floor plan that other active adult buyers desire, but they needed a bottom level for their hobbies.

Michael, 56, who works in IT, and Kathy, 57, a payroll and accounting manager for an engineering company, chatted about their decision to purchase a new home by KM Homes in Cumming's Parkside at the Polo Fields.

Q: Why was having a basement so important?

Michael: I have lots and lots of toys. I've got a wood shop. I've got a pool table. I've got a drum set that is rather large. We also wanted to have some spare quarters down there in case family came to visit. We're building a craft room for Kathy down there also. Everything I was finding was a master on the main, which is great. But the footprint on the basement of the ranch is unbelievably big.

Q: How quickly did you find the house you bought?

Michael: We looked a long time, but we found it early and just kind of kept comparing back to this particular house. It was this house against probably 15 or 20 different neighborhoods. When I realized I was comparing back to it so often ... I said let me reconsider that house. It was a no-brainer at that point.

This neighborhood is awesome. It's gated, so it's secure. The home is four-sides brick. As a ranch house, we have cathedral ceilings in almost every room. It really makes an open space.

Q: Were you set on staying in the area?

Kathy: We had talked about moving further out and getting some land, but we're getting older. I didn't want to leave my friends. I said to him, as we get older, if we're both out in a house on a couple of acres further away and if something happens to you, I don't want to be out there by myself. This is only 10 miles from most of our friends. We wanted to move out of Fulton County and into Forsyth County and not have to drive a long way to work in Cumming. I work only three miles from the house.

Q: What do you like about the floor plan?

Kathy: One of the things I love the most is it's a split plan — master on one side, two bedrooms on the other. We are going to put a master bedroom in the basement. But in the meantime, if someone were to come visit, I wanted to have a door directly to the bathroom so you didn't have to come out in the hallway and go into the bathroom. I wanted our visitors to have more privacy. They put a door for us.

Q: How did this home or neighborhood remind you of past homes?

Kathy: The one thing we loved about our house in Johns Creek was the whole back was trees. It was natural and wooded. This subdivision offers that. Our lot looks out to trees.

Q: What else did you consider when looking at neighborhoods?

Kathy: The other thing to do is you look at the demographics of the neighborhood. [Another neighborhood] was more young families. We were kind of looking for something that was maybe a little bit older and not huge [Parkside will have 49 homes when complete]. We had just come from a swim-tennis [community]. Although we really enjoyed that, we didn't really think we wanted to support that with our monthly dues going forward.

Michael: The more we [looked at] this neighborhood, the more everything fell into place and we realized we could live here for the rest of our lives.

At a glance

Michael and Kathy Jessee's new home in Cumming's Parkside at the Polo Fields has three bedrooms, two and a half baths and about 3,000 square feet (excluding the basement). They purchased it in March. Homes range from the high $200,000s to low $300,000s.