Monday, January 9, 2012

Since money is an object...

The previous post was a bit of nice to have wishlist when money would be a plenty. Reality is that the opposite is true. In order to get a couple of things we really want, we opted for a couple of 'downgrades' from what you normally see in new construction. Here is our 'downgrade' list...

  • Half-wall for the staircase instead of balusters: with my wife's head injury the balusters can be a visual distraction, especially with a low winter sun hitting the staircase. In order to counter-act the loss of light on the staircase we added two step cans. It also gives us a nice big wooden finishing to tie it in with the kitchen cabinet color. Plus, a half-wall is cheaper than balusters, hence it landing on the downgrade list.
  • Bathroom / shower style: We opted against the full tiling in the bathrooms and chose inserts. Besides the cost savings it also greatly eases the maintenance by not having to clean grout. 
  • Laundry room counter top: We have been fortunate that we've been able to use remnants  for a lot of the other non-kitchen counters. This really allowed us to enhance the visual impact of all the bathrooms without the large extra cost. However the extra cost for the larger laundry room made us decide to use a more cost-effective laminate. 
  • Flooring: While we stayed with the US Floors cork in the kitchen, dinette and pantry, we downgraded to carpet for the bedrooms, hallway, stairs and office. Originally, we looked at some no-VOC carpet made from corn, but we ended up finding a really good deal on some carpet that will work pretty well. Since we know that we want to change out carpet as we go along, and since we will very likely be adding a new puppy to our family, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to spend  more for the upgraded carpet. For our wet areas, we have been drooling over the Emser Strand 12"x24" tiles for months. We were not as excited about the price. It was easy to downgrade to the 12"x12" which are more economical, but we saved a lot more money by switching to a generic version that still has the same pattern without the through-body color. In the laundry room and D's bathroom, we downgraded further from porcelain tile to an LVT, Luxury Vinyl Tile. Very cost-effective and looks a lot like regular tile. The style we selected looks just like bamboo.
  • Master Bedoom: We are a family of three and we use our bedrooms to sleep. Not to lounge, not for an 'escape' from the family we worked so hard at getting. Hence the size of our Master Bathroom is definitely is size down from the average McMansion size. Still, a 15x15 bedroom is a space that VERY comfortably holds a king size bed, with plenty of room for side tables, a chaise and some wall cabinets.
  • Master Bathroom: Not too many concessions here but we did take out the door between the Master Bath and the Master Closet. It allowed us to put up a full-length mirror in the door-opening to visually enlarge the space and to finally have a full-length mirror in our bedroom closet... 
  • No crown molding: We like more of the contemporary-to-modern style so crown molding was an easy scratch of the list for us.
  • Basement unfinished: Easiest 10% cut of the budget we could find. It also allows our son to have a nice large play area and give us a lower tax rate for the first couple years. Plus, this is something we can easily finish later. 
  • Exterior stone: We cut out a good amount of exterior stone from the initial draft. That draft had a 'grand entrance' look versus the current 'contemporary craftsman' look with front porch. We still have stone all around the bottom of the house, the lower 2/3 of the front and the 2-car part of the garage. 
  • Lights: We have a number of fixtures from local lighting stores but the vast majority of our lights we got from clearance sales at TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Tuesday Morning, Lowes and Home Depot. It really stretched our lighting budget. 
  • TV and Phone cables: We use the upstairs floor as a sleeping floor and therefore opted to only have TV outlets in the basement and main floor. We also have no phone cables since we no longer use a home-phone. We actually replaced all phone cables in the original specs with Ethernet (Internet) cable for basically no extra cost. This allows hardwired Internet into every room. More on this topic in an upcoming post on electronics. 
Not sure about the overall cost savings, but including the basement I think we are looking at over $50,000. It would have been nice to not have to cut anything, but reality is that you easily makes some cheaper choices without loosing a lot of 'value', yet still easily upgradable when we want to. 
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