Now that the structural options are out of the way, it’s time to decide how your house will look. The second part of the production build options is the design. This is the most complicated, most stressful, most expensive, and in a lot of ways, most pointless.
You should be very careful how you spend your money here.
I know, I know, you’re going to get into the design center and you’re going to see all these beautiful options and you’re going to want to spend all the money and blow your budget. I am ashamed to admit, this is exactly what I did.
Luckily, John and I thought ahead on how to avoid falling prey to shock and awe of a beautiful design center. The way that this works with production builders is that you will get two meetings. The first meeting is your “preview” meeting, where they show you the options available for your house and you pick what you want and then they give you pricing. The second meeting is where you finalize your options and pricing and give them a deposit for the materials you picked out.
My number one tip? See if you can get in before the preview meeting to browse alone. Getting in before the preview meeting will give you an idea of what “levels” the items you like are – and give you an idea of how badly you are about to blow your budget. The higher the level, the more it’s going to cost.
How do you know what to spend your money on?
As John and I looked at the design center options, we realized there was a very simple formula for US on how to spend our money.
How much does it cost at design center < How much does it cost if we do it ourself + how obnoxious is it to do ourselves?
This doesn’t work for everyone though, because not everyone has a super handy husband who does this kind of stuff for a living. A modified version of this model would be:
How much does it cost at design center < How much does it cost to hire it out + how long can we live without it?
This formula is how we ended up with what I am lovingly dubbing as the “Franken-house”.
Here is where we spent our design center money:
- Kitchen appliances
- Granite for the kitchen, and master bath
- Upgraded carpet for the upstairs
Here is the list of things we are doing the first month we live in the house:
- Replacing all the vinyl and carpet on the first floor with beautiful puppy paw resistant LVP
- Painting the kitchen cabinets and putting on hardware and crown ourselves
- Repainting the master bath vanity and adding hardware and trim
- Gutting the master shower and redoing with stacked stone (including waterproofing)
- Ripping up the vinyl in the master bathroom and putting in marble tile
- Replacing all the fixtures in the master bathroom
- Putting heated floors in the bathroom
The cost differential between us doing something like that in the design center and doing it ourselves is in the 10’s of thousands. Also, if we do it ourselves, we get cool options we wanted like awesome heated floors.
How much should I spend here?
Now, you’ll notice at the top of this post I didn’t say “you should spend the least amount of money here” even though this entire post is telling you not to spend money here. The truth is – you’re going to spend a significant chunk of change here no matter how you look at it.
John’s and my budget was at $338,000 of $350,000 after the structural additions, and we ended up spending $12,000 here, blowing the rest of our budget and leaving none for the electrical additions.
Don’t be like us, make sure you leave room in the budget for the electrical additions, because they are actually more important than this stuff in the long run, and I’ll explain why in the next post in the series.