Yesterday Denis and I dropped off the kids with a friend for a playday and headed over to Duncan, SC to visit the model home of the house we hope to build this year. We went in with a critical eye to see if this was really the home we wanted to build. We were there and I think we both came away convinced that with a few minor modifications, this was definitely the house for us.
The kitchen in the new home will be bigger, with more cabinets than our current kitchen, and a much larger island. We currently have a total of 25 cabinets between the uppers, lowers and island. The new kitchen will have 32 cabinets. It originally had 36 cabinets, but we’re taking out 2 uppers and 2 lowers in order to accomodate double wall ovens.
Rather than have a bonus room over the garage, we’ve opted to have a walk-out basement instead – half finished, half unfinished for storage purposes. We will also have a full bathroom in the basement as well. The space will be easier to keep cool in our hot Southern summers, and can function as playroom, home gym and entertainment space. We’ll put our sofa bed down there so when we have company they can have the basement to themselves. The basement will also be bigger than the original bonus room over the garage, which was very narrow and had sloped ceilings.
The other bonus to building a basement rather than a room over the garage is that our kitchen pantry can become more than just a closet under the stairs – it can be a *walk-in* closet with the space made by removing the stairs leading up to the bonus room. This makes us both happy because our current pantry is stuffed to the gills and half the time we can’t see what’s in the back. Having a bigger pantry means we can have more shelves to store not only dry/canned goods, but those kitchen tools that we don’t use often but still want ready access too (such as our blender and Denis’s extra BBQ gear, which is currently housed in our laundry room and garage).
I had hoped to flip the right side of the house to put the garage on the back of the house, but in walking around the model house we realized that it just wouldn’t work. The dining room area (which we don’t plan on using as a dining room) just became this large unusable space between the front door and breakfast area. So we’ll keep the garage on the front, and use the dining room area as a small sitting area and library nook.
We also realized that the changes I made to the kids’ rooms are perfect, and we’ll go forward with those. The original plan had a jack and jill bath for them, which I didn’t want. So I did some minor mods which moved the bathroom to the hallway AND gave the kids their own linen closet and the house a front closet for guests’ coats (which the original plan did not have).
The rep working yesterday was helpful and gave us lots of information. The house as shown, with all the bells and whistles, was $350K to build. That did not include site work such as digging, adding utlities, backfilling, landscaping and driveways. So you figure if you include that, that model home is a $400K home at a minimum.
That’s more than a little above our budget. That’s WAY above our budget, actually. However, we don’t WANT all the bells and whistles that the model home has. We hated the tray ceiling in the master bedroom. We don’t want moldings around the windows. We don’t need the top-of-the-line windows they installed in the house. We’re not going to use multiple exterior finishes like they did (they had a mix of shingle, vinyl siding and brick). All those things add up – and provide us with a cheaper house in the process by NOT having them. We don’t want interior columns ($1,000). We don’t want a fireplace ($3,000). We don’t want a tub in the master bath ($2,000). Those things also equal more discounts here and there. And there’s plenty more where those came from. So with diligence I am confident we’ll be able to get the mortgage down to the level we want, with a combination of cash on hand, value of the land we already own outright, the $$ we get from selling our current house AND taking advantage of builder incentives (a couple times a year they offer $50K in free upgrades – when they next offer this deal (probably in August or September), we’ll sign the contract to build).
As I said, visiting the model home a second time was helpful because we went in with a more critical eye and rather than being wowed by the home’s general appearance, we took notice of where the air vents were, and how many plugs were in each room, and how tall the cabinets were and whether the height was functional for us (they were WAY too tall and therefore NOT functional for me, in particular), just to name a few things.
One thing I noticed? The entire house used New Venetian Gold for their counters in the kitchen and baths. Even more proof that picking that for our current kitchen countertop was the way to go!!!
Will we be able to be in by Christmas? Denis is doubtful, and it all depends on 1) how quickly our house sells, and 2) when the builder offers their $50K in free upgrades deal. If that offer doesn’t come out until October, then obviously we won’t be in by Christmas. And I’m okay with that. We’ll just have to find someone else’s house to throw our annual White Elephant party (taking a year off is NOT an option, and nor is hosting it in the apartment we’ll most likely be living in if our house sells in a timely manner).