It’s a delicate balance to figure out what exactly your needs and your wants are. When you’re building a house, it seems like everything you want feels like a need. It’s at the point when you run the numbers that you quickly decide “ehhhh….maybe we can do without x.”
It’s the general basics of sales. “We have what you want.” And of course, everything comes at a premium. This is why I suggest that before you even get wrapped up in the house buying process (whether buying existing or building) that you find out from the bank what you can afford and then look at what you feel comfortable paying every month. You should also take into consideration how much money you have saved for a downpayment. If you’re confused or torn on what you should do, you can always check out financial gurus like Dave Ramsey, Clark Howard, and Suzie Orman to see their thoughts on how much house you should buy. I’m telling you though, this part is super important to do first. If you do it backwards, you will only end up with heartache.
We had a very hard budget going into this and I was very honest with our site agent, Rhonda. I told her “I want the most for the least.” Everyone laughs when I say that. I’m not sure why. Her job is to ensure we get what we want. My job is to be as forthcoming with that information as possible. So when we decided we wanted the up charges of a crawl space, a back deck that went the length of the house and a wider driveway, we had to figure out what we wanted to give up to stay on budget. When you’re making this consideration, it’s important to figure out how handy you are. My husband and I totally renovated our old home so we aren’t scared of some work. Did I want to do a full renovation, heck no! But some of the features we really liked were cheaper if we did them ourselves.
Case in point: the staircase in the model home had these beautiful iron stair balusters, but they were a significant up charge. White, wooden balusters were the standard. A quick check of YouTube showed me the process of replacing them and another check of Home Depot’s website showed me what they cost. Wowzers! It was a no brainer for us to drop that from the bottom line and do it ourselves.
It’s also important to take into consideration features that you don’t use. My example for this is in the master bathroom. The master bathroom in this home has a garden tub and a separate stand up shower. Had I not told Rhonda of my wanting more for less, I never would’ve known that the bath tub was even an option. We don’t use the bath tub. Ever. The kids’ bathroom has a shower/tub combo so if something required a tub, we had one. So we ended up saving a lot of money by eliminating the bath tub in the master bathroom. By doing so, we got a larger shower and a linen closet. Now I’m sure there are some people who can’t wrap their head around not having a bath tub in the master bathroom, but we are totally good with it. I mean, seriously….why would I want to pay for something I don’t use? To each their own though.
In addition to picking out or eliminating those hard fixtures, you will also determine where you want to have your lights. I know. It seemed strange to me too because I’m like “Uh….doesn’t every room need a light?” You get a set number of lights/rough-ins included. Anything after that would be an up charge. If you’re savvy with electrical work, I would suggest going the rough in route. That’s where you’re going to save money. If you want them to put in extra light fixtures outside the standard, that’s obviously going to be a pretty significant up charge. Getting rough ins and shopping places like Target or Home Depot for your light fixtures will save you money. Another consideration for rooms such as your formal living room and your study (if you have one) is lamps. Lamps give that cozy feel and they’re pretty cheap. You could totally not have an overhead light and simply use lamps. It’s an option. Oh and just as an FYI, your cable and internet hook up allotments work the same. Be strategic in your placement so you don’t have to spend more.
The site agent is there to discuss your needs and to show every possible scenario. I always ask. If there’s something you’re wanting, something you’re not wanting……ask. The worst thing they can say is no.
Check out part 2 to see what we decided on our design choices!