House Shopping in Japan: Millcreek Homes

The Mrs. and I have been house shopping for a few years now, and we've seen dozens of offerings by the bigger housing companies in Japan such as Sekisui House, PanaHome, Tama Home, and Mitsui House. The designs offered by these companies, while modern and (mostly) attractive, all suffer the same types of flaws, though: their best homes are clearly not designed for young families.

Since moving to 柏市 from 岐阜県, we've been fortunate enough to find some more offerings, including some that offer very western-style homes. One such company is Millcreek Homes, who seems to have something very close to what the wife and I would like to buy in the near future. We were invited to walk through a recently constructed house not too far from here and, while it's not yet completed, it's quite a bit more family friendly than we've seen from the competition.

Here are a few pictures from the visit.

The Exterior

Millcreek House | Exterior (Full)

Millcreek House | Exterior (Up Close)Millcreek House | Exterior (Porch)Millcreek House | Exterior (Kitchen)Millcreek House | Exterior (Front Door)Millcreek House | Exterior (Lead Up)Millcreek House | Exterior (Living Room Sliding Door)

One interesting fact to note is that the exterior panels are made neither of wood nor aluminum, but instead concrete. This rock-like material is used extensively in every construction project I've seen in Japan, but this is the first time I've heard of it being used as siding. When we asked the sales rep about it, he informed us that it's a requirement due to building codes. While it's true that concrete is a lot less flammable than wood, I do wonder how easy it would be to replace a panel or two should they become cracked from earthquakes, storms, or general age.

The Interior

Millcreek House | Interior (Living Room)Millcreek House | Interior (Guest Room)Millcreek House | Interior (The Entrance Hall From Upstairs)Millcreek House | Interior (Washlet)Millcreek House | Interior (Huge Closets Everywhere)Millcreek House | Interior (Looking at the Entrance from the Living Room)

The closets in this home are incredible. You could hide an entire classroom of elementary school children in each, and there were five closets throughout the house. Incredible storage capacity! On top of this, the homes can come with CAT6 cabling throughout the house, which is something I'm seriously considering. I don't want to have wireless access points throughout the house, but instead put some 10GBit Ethernet to use and ensure the bits can fly through the house without bogging anyone down. The wireless will be used mainly to surf the web. Content will be delivered via cables.

The Kitchen

Millcreek House | Kitchen (Wide View)

Millcreek House | Kitchen (Stove)Millcreek House | Kitchen (Island & Sink)Millcreek House | Kitchen (Oven Space)

We took quite a few pictures of the upstairs, too … but I'll save those for another post. This one is sure to take a while to load as it is.

Wrap-Up

All in all, the Mrs. and I come away more impressed with the homes produced by Millcreek every time we visit. While we haven't yet finalized our decision, this company is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition when it comes to who will win our money.

Five Years and Counting ...

Today marks five years since the Mrs. and I first exchanged emails, and to celebrate the occasion we went house shopping at a "Home Village" not too far from our home. Here we could walk through model houses by Sekisui House, PanaHome, Hinokiya, Toyota Home, and a few others. We've been doing this for a few years now, but today we saw a house that was distinctly different from the others. Rather than being of traditional Japanese design, or a Japanese design with heavy western elements, we found a company that builds homes that were designed in North America and constructed with imported materials. It's not cheap, but this is just the kind of house Reiko has been looking for.

Millcreek Homes | NobleThe import homes are sold and built by Millcreek Homes, and the model we saw was from their Noble line. One of the more interesting aspects of today's walk-through was the attention to detail this company has. While many companies have scaled back their model homes, these guys decked it out with everything you would expect to find in a typical west-coast home in the US or Canada … right down to the home appliances and children's toys.

Neither Reiko or I are 100% set on this particular design, as the kitchen isn't quite what we're looking for and the "family spa" in place of a normal bathroom is just overkill, but it is certainly a nice start. Using this as a base, we could likely fill out the inside with a few changes and designs found from other companies.

Here are a few of the pictures from today's visit:

Millcreek Homes | Hobby RoomMillcreek Homes | Kitchen NookMillcreek Homes | Children's Play RoomMillcreek Homes | Family SpaMillcreek Homes | Master BedroomMillcreek Homes | Upstairs Entertainment Room

Some of the pictures didn't turn out so well, but it's easy to see that this place is anything but Japanese. Reiko and I were discussing the home afterwards and agreed that some of the rooms would need to be redesigned to our tastes, and there would need to be a place for a proper guest room (sometimes called a tatami room). The sales person accompanying us through the home gave us quite a bit of information regarding the items imported from the US to construct this house, including Pink Panther fiberglass insulation, but I'm more interested in knowing how well this type of home would stand up to Japan's regular run of earthquakes, typhoons, and foreign dust. It would also be nice if this home could have solar panels installed on the roof without leaving an unsightly 3rd-party collector hinged precariously near the apex …

But those questions can wait for another day. At 50,000,000円 for the house and at least 10,000,000円 for a plot of land big enough to keep both Reiko and I happy for a quarter decade, it'll be a while before we have enough of a down payment. Perhaps in a few years we can actually consider something like this. In the mean time we'll just have to visit model homes, take pictures of what we like, and keep saving our money for the day we sign our names to a 35-year mortgage to build the future home of our family.

Hopefully we won't have to wait too long….