There’s a difference between wanting, needing, and having. Once you have what you want, make sure that what you want and have is what you need. ~Unknown
The moment of truth was upon us. The “total” cell in our budget spreadsheet was in bold. We looked at the total figure. 😯 We looked at each other. 😯 That can’t be, could it? Does that include the pole barn? No? OMG!
Yes, the cost to build the house and pole barn came in at a higher rate than we thought. Bill and I had a budget in our head prior to bidding out the house. Honestly, I’m not sure what this imaginary budget was based on. I’m sure at one time we discussed some per square footage prices a couple of years ago. Maybe that’s what we were using? Maybe not. At this point, it really didn’t make a difference. What did matter was what we wanted to do about it. It was time to regroup and make another huge decision. Do we keep this house plan and adjust some things OR scrap it and start all over?
Jill and Jim were so supportive with wonderful advice. They never applied any pressure. Jim always had great ideas on how to save us money with our house plan. His mantra was always the more rectangular the plan without a lot of jut-outs the better because it was cheaper to build. Jill, however, would say, “Mom, don’t let him talk you out of something that you really want just because it’s cheaper. I would never have had that window seat if I hadn’t fought for it!” 🙂
We decided on some things we wanted to keep. Geothermal heating and cooling was high on that list. Yes, it cost more than standard heating and cooling, but the federal government has until 2017 a 30% rebate (taxes) off of the equipment and installation if it is a new build. The rebate would cover the extra upfront cost. We wanted to keep the family room ceiling beams and stained wood throughout. Bill and I appreciate the look of wood. Besides, our home was going to be a craftsman style home.
We found some ways to cut the cost of the build from the preliminary bids. We took the stone off each side of the house and left it only in the front. Bill decided he might do all the staining instead of the painter. The roofer was double what Jim and Jill had paid and we had a smaller home. I thought I could find better prices online for the lighting fixtures and ceiling fans. The trim rep suggested a cheaper option for the sun room divider. We finally got the square footage price down to a more manageable amount. It was still about $50K over our imaginary budget, but Bill and I decided to stick with our house plan and up our budget. 😕
We made another trip down to visit Jill and Jim in September to celebrate the grandkids’ birthdays. Earlier in the summer, Jill and Jim had decided to finish out their large bonus area above their 3-car garage. When we went to visit this time, we got to stay in what we call “our home away from home apartment” for the first time. Who could ask for more? It is separated from the other part of the upstairs where the grandkids’ bedrooms, bathroom, and bonus area are located. It has a separate staircase. It has a huge family room area, a kitchenette (with bar, bar stools, coffeemaker, small fridge, and microwave), two bedrooms, and a full bath! We are early risers and now we can stay up in the apartment and have coffee in the wee hours of the morning without waking up everyone. We are still working on a method of not waking up Maggie (their dog). 🙂
My favorite part when we stay down there is when the grandkids come up to the apartment in the morning. Jack is also an early riser and the first up of the two grandkids. I love it when he comes up the stairs and quietly knocks on the door (or quietly opens the door) and comes in. He always has a big grin on his face and comes and gives me a big good morning hug. Love, love, love!
I do believe this was also the trip when we decided that I could not be the general contractor for our build and Bill started talking about retiring. We were at a restaurant waiting for our food when the subject came up. Jill, Jim, Bill and I were discussing the logistics of a timeline for selling the house, when we would start building the new one, and how long Bill planned to work. There was the usual kidding from Bill that I was responsible to get the house built and then there was the usual look of panic from me. 😯 I’m sure I probably said the usual, “I’ve read three books on it, but still don’t know what this or that means. I don’t think I can do it. This isn’t my strength.” But all of a sudden Jim looked at Bill and said, “With all respect, Bill, Sandy cannot do this.” I cannot tell you the relief I felt.
Jill then said that we needed to think about how we were going to handle this. Who would be our general contractor? Jill said she could help, but she could not be that main person. We talked about maybe looking at having another builder take over the job instead of using Jim’s family construction company. The general contractor they used for their houses had left the company prior to their houses being completed. Jill had filled in that role at the end of their and Jim’s parents’ builds. However, Jill was working full-time at her own business now so didn’t have the time to devote to this. Then Bill started talking about maybe he would just retire in 2013 and he’d be the general contractor. The wheels started turning.
After our trip, Jim talked with a builder and showed him our house plans and specs and asked if the numbers we were getting back were high versus having someone else build it. The builder said for the level of trim and finish that we wanted for our house, he could not build the house that cheap. He said most builders would use painted trim, vinyl windows, carpet in the bedrooms vs. hardwood, and no custom doors and trim. Jill and Jim had told us that one decision that single-handedly rose their budget was using stained wood. But, as I said before, we don’t want painted doors and trim.
The rest of 2012 was a whirlwind of online pricing and buying of anything I could find that would be a better bargain than the prices we received in our bids. I bought all our interior lighting fixtures, exterior lights and floodlights, cabinet drawer slides, and some door hardware. Some websites would have specials over the weekends only. I looked for free shipping and no tax. Build.com became my best friend. They matched prices from other websites. I got a great bargain at Tuesday Morning on four bathroom vanity mirrors. Bill said even if he decides to replace the frames (which I love) with custom frames to match the cabinets, he would have to pay a lot more for the mirrors by themselves. We got very good bargains on the ceiling fans and door hardware from Menards. And, of course, we bought them when they had rebates. You will see from the pictures below, I changed my lighting. I went with Murray Feiss American Foursquare Collection. With some keen bargain shopping I was able to afford higher quality lights.
Jill, Jim and the kids traveled up here and we celebrated Christmas – our last year to have Christmas in this house. And, I didn’t even get out my Christmas dishes! You know why? They were all nicely packed on the storage shelves in the pole barn. They will have to wait until we get into our new house. And, for the last time we used our Charlie Brown leaning 3-1/2 foot Christmas tree on a TV tray. 🙂 It went to the trash the day after Christmas. Our big Christmas tree broke the year before so we decided not to buy another one until we moved in the new house. After Jill and Jim went back home, we set out to do something that Bill and I totally dreaded doing. We painted the family room ceiling. Yuck!
As 2012 came to a close, Bill decided two things. #1 – He wanted to see about drilling for a well on our new property. #2 – He decided to retire in 2013.
Up next: Will there be any more changes to the house plans? Will Bill really retire? Will we find water in them there hills? Oh my goodness. It’s only the middle of March 2013 and it’s been chocked full of goodies!