Monday, April 4, 2016

Show Me The Money

Rolling right along with the A-Z Blog Challenge today, continuing with my theme-HOME. Go here to read Day 1 and go here to read Day 2. If you'd like to see what other bloggers are saying as they write through the alphabet visit the challenge website here.

Day 3-C is for Choice. And Cost. And Costly Choices.

Now you've got your land and your plan and your builder so the next thing you'll need to figure out is your budget.

Okay that's a lie. You'll need to determine your budget before all of the above is set in motion. The builders we interviewed all quoted us pricing per square foot, which meant math. Bother. This is where it proved helpful to hire a builder who had built the plan once before, and who had a working knowledge of what the true cost would be. He was completely confident in his budgeting.  

His budget was of course a little more than we'd originally planned, but welcome to the world of home building. It's similar to the world of wedding planning in that there's always a few little bits and pieces you hadn't considered when you were dreaming the dream. 

Our lot didn't need a lot of excavating, but we had to move more dirt than we thought. 
Yes you pay to move dirt. 

After moving the dirt we added a small (ish), unplanned-for, retaining wall. 

We wanted the master bedroom ceiling vaulted. 

We added stone to the house in areas that were not budgeted for stone.

We selected stone that was slightly above the pricing accounted for in our budget. 

You get the idea.  

Our builder presented us with a grand total, but then broke it down into finish categories. For instance he'd budgeted a certain amount for appliances, tiling, windows, doors, flooring, electric, plumbing, etc. etc etc. 

There are many etceteras in a home build, right down to the port-a -potty that sits on your lot while the house is under construction.  

The trick is to make your finish selections come in at or under the amount budgeted for each and every category. This is no small thing because y'all it is so easy to spend money on paper. Also, watch out when you begin to notice one or both of you saying something like, 'It's only another $1000.' Before you know it you've said that ten times and it's no longer 'only another $1000'.  

We're working hard to stay within the confines of our budget. The stone is a notable exception, but we'll have stone on the exterior of our home, plus stone on fireplaces in the kitchen, great room, and screened porch so we want to really love it. Choosing stone is not like choosing paint. We'll be living with this selection for a long long time, and it's something that would be absurdly expensive to change down the road. 

Going in we had this crazy notion that we might underspend in one category and then would transfer the savings over to another category and come out even in the end. Um, yeah. No. 

Mrs. Bob the Builder kind of patted our hands and smiled a lot as she told us it almost never happens. But have no fear, she will keep us on task, and she has. Mrs. Bob the Builder has been immensely helpful in keeping us in line in every category. When we veer too near the edge she steers us toward a solution we'll be happy with and that also falls within our budget. 

A home build budget is not something you can wing. Every penny must be handed over and accounted for, so you want to be comfortable with your pricing. I will tell you that without exception, every person we've spoken to has told us they spent more than they intended, so budget for that too. 

I feel like when you're building a home there's a lot of pressure to get it right. Make it perfect. I think we all know there's no such thing as a perfect house. It's impossible to think of every single solitary detail on the front end, and there's always going to be something else you can add or do differently. 

I think it helps to keep the big picture in mind as you go along. When I picture myself living in this house I don't think about the bathroom faucets or the electrical outlets or the color on the window cladding (yes, that's a thing). 

When I picture myself living in this house I imagine hubs and I sipping coffee on the deck as the sun comes up. I think about friends and family coming to stay, cookouts on the patio, and cornhole played on the side yard. I imagine having long, leisurely conversations with my grown up girls while cozied up on the screened-in porch. I imagine grandchildren yet to be born strapped into life jackets, laughing with glee as the boat leaves the dock.

When I think of my house I don't think of a house... I think of home


  1. It all sounds overwhelming and yet you seem to be just taking it in your stride.

  2. A whole lot of work for you and hubs, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Bob the Builder and their crews, but what joy will follow! Yes to HOME!

  3. When I think about building my home 44 years ago, my biggest regret is not having a full basement. My husband didn't think it was worth the added expense. But unlike adding a dishwasher a year later, I am forever stuck with half a basement and no access from below to utilities. And since I have vaulted ceilings, no one can walk around upstairs to work either. Better to stretch the budget at the outset.

  4. I'm enjoying these posts very much! Nothing else compares with the joy (and, at times, anguish) of building a house from the ground up.
    Kathy (Reflections)

  5. Exciting and nerve=wracking at the same time. Be sure to be at the site on a regular basis to make sure the builder is doing what he is supposed to be doing, with no oops!

    1. We're there several times a week, so no worries!

  6. This is all so interesting and sounds kind of overwhelming...but it sure sounds like you've got some GOOD people handling things. I think the only way I could handle it would be handle each day as it comes and each decision and question as it comes. If I thought too far ahead I'd run screaming, lol. It's going to be soooo beautiful though I have a feeling, and it won't be long and you'll be making it a home instead of a house. Have a good week!

  7. Oh, my goodness, you are exactly right on every word and yes, we did indeed go over budget and Hubby said that we weren't. :o)) We've only found a couple of things that we wish we had done but thankfully they are small items. We did our best to think of everything possible since this house is "it." I'm so enjoying these posts!

  8. so exciting--can't wait to see the finished project!!

  9. Joyce... we've never built a home and I always wanted to because after living in 7 houses we know what we like. The building process seems a lot more glamorous than it actually is. Can't wait to see the final product! Enjoy your week.

  10. Yikes! And this is why I won't build a house. You are taking on an amazing project!

    Paula from
    Smidgen, Snippets, & Bits

  11. Unfortunately the price is a big part of the building a home. This is why my husband and I have opted to save that for a little later down the road. We are both engineers in the architectural industry so hopefully by the time we build we will have a lot of connections.
    @AllysePanaro from
    The Frog Lady