Building the Not-So-Small House

So we thought we were going to build a smaller home in a couple years.
Walking through the model home in March it certainly FELT smaller –
but maybe it felt that way because it was even more open than our
current floorplan (which is more open than our house in NJ was).
However, it turns out that our dream home is actually about 400 sq ft
BIGGER than our current home.

Oops.

Still love the house, though.  Still want to build it.  Still moving forward.

On Saturday Denis and I spent just over an hour meeting with the
homebuilder about the house.  During the first 30 minutes I peppered
the rep with question after question about their company, their
practices, their programs, their warranties, their workmanship, their
scheduling, and their materials.

Then we moved onto the fun stuff: the house design.  What I loved
during that time was the fact that he told us dollar for dollar what
our changes would cost.  EVERYthing had a dollar value.  Want to add
interior square footage?  It’s a mere $88/sq ft.  Want to add garage
square footage?  Only $38/sq ft.  Like that coffered ceiling in the
great room?  That’ll run you about $4500.  And so as we nailed down
the essentials of the structure we wanted to build, our price kept
adjusting.  No fireplace: a savings of a few thousand.  No columns?
Another grand saved.  No jetted oversized tub in the master bath?  No
problem!

After about 30-45 minutes of this back and for, his next client
arrived for their scheduled meeting (we were an hour late due to race
traffic on Saturday).  So we had to end there.  However, for the most
part we now have a number for the house we want to build, with the
main structural extras that we wanted (bonus room, extended great
room, storage space in garage, coffered ceilings in great room).  I’m
happy to report that that price is well in our range for what we
wanted to spend.

Other components will add to the price, namely the additional
upgrades.  Hardwood floors, granite countertops in the kitchen, higher
end fixtures, additional cable/jacks/plugs throughout the house,
security system, audio/visual system.   But our hope is to wait until
2013 and then wait for their “$20K in free upgrades” promotion (which
they run a few times a year).  Because sometimes they offer $25K, or
$30K.  So it’s quite possible we can get most of our additional
upgrades for free, which would be fantastic.

So yes, the house we’re hoping to build will be bigger, not smaller,
than our current house.  But the difference is that in the new house
we won’t have wasted space.  No dining room that never gets used.  No
formal living room that is used only one night a year.  Our master
bedroom will actually be smaller than we currently have, but the
master closet will be bigger.  Both of the kids will have slightly
bigger bedrooms (only 1 sq ft longer each, but still longer than they
have now) AND with more closet space.  Our office will be 10×12
instead of the current 9×9.  And the kitchen will definitely be bigger
– which will be fabulous.

But during our walk through the model, I never noticed that.  I just
noticed how open it was, how lovely it was, how perfect it was.  I
noticed how airy it was (love the 11′ ceilings that are STANDARD for
this floorplan), and yet how private it was.  I never for a second
thought, “This place is bigger than what we have now!”  In fact it was
the opposite – the model home felt cozier.

And so now we wait, and save, and improve our current house, and plan,
and dream, and count the days until we’re ready to sign on the dotted
line. Yes, the pricing we’ve calculated now will change – and I’m
sure our expectations will change as well. But I know the time will
pass quickly, and I can’t wait for the ride to begin!

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