saving significant money?

March 26, 2012

Like other readers I am in great distress, this house was supposed to be done in August and I can't even firm up plans to get solid bids. The plans denote the price, yet no one can price without the plans.If I over plan I may over pay and not afford it. I thought I had come to my final conclusion by hugely reducing my upstairs floor plan from 3700 to 1000 sf. I have 2550 on the main floor, In order to reduce the upstairs I decided the bedroom on the main had to be a true master, thus I would need to add about 300 sf to main living space. I have spoken to different seemingly knowledgable people and most say, I am saving pennies. Please give me another opinion. I assume it has to do with the pitch of the roof and the potential attic space. second issue;My husband insists that the 12K price he was quoted for a suspended garage not including walls mind you is a better price than going over the garage. ques one will I save by reducing 2700 but adding 3-400 on main which also means more basement and 2 under or over the garage? Last question. If I have a sport court in my basement and its just 10 feet of concrete unfinished, and I have no intention of finishing it soon, why do people keep saying it would cost less to create and outbuilding!? which by the way would not be allowed.

Comments (21)

  • PRO
    Epiarch Designs

    anytime you can go up instead of out that will typically cost you less. Going out adds foundation and roof to the additional walls and floors. Up typically keeps the roof the same as well as the foundation, so you are just adding some floor structure and exterior walls. It is hard to really say without seeing anything.
    I also do not know your plan or requirements, however I see absolutely no reason why, in 2500 sqft, you can not have a true master and at least 1-3 additional bedrooms on 1 level.
    There are other things that reduce costs on projects besides square footage. By having a simpler roof shape, less corners in the foundation for example all help to play into reducing costs.
    Who is doing your plans and design work? It sounds like that is the underlying issue.

  • auroraborelis

    Can you share your floor plan?

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  • hairchicky

    I would be happy to share the floor plan if you can tell me where to take it, to shrink it, as I am supposed to let the architect finish as of tomorrow and it will seal my fate. I have drawings but not the super hi tech ones, I guess conceptual. Tells every room and every dimension yet people say they can't quote without the final. I have 2650 on the main floor trying to keep as rectangular as possible approx. 64 wide 46 deep and it has one triangle on back. I have or had 3700 on second floor as it went over the three car garage. I removed 2700 from that area keeping 1000 in the center of the home and added approx 400sf to the right of my rectangle that will probably project slightly forward of the rectangle with and arch. I will post plans if I learn how. asap. as far as bedrooms the only bedroom on the main is a master, I run a small business out of my home and my mudroom that houses this task is a bit oversized I would guess 13 X 15 it is also laundry, powder room 5 X 5 I have a 11 X 11 sunroom, large kitch about 13 X 23 17 X 17 fam. 13 X 16 dining and 6 X 7 pantry, a nook 8 x11 and I think that is all the rooms on first. My master on that floor is 15 X 17 two walk in closets and sitting room/den that hopefully is about 9 X8 and of course a bath 15 X 12

  • athensmomof3

    You can take a picture of the plan and upload it to photo bucket and copy the hmtl link and put it in your message.

    There is very little way that people can respond constructively without seeing the plan. It is very important to get the plan right - don't let the architect force artificial deadlines on you. If you end up with a plan you can't afford to build, you have wasted money on the plans.

    Expanding the downstairs to eliminate the upstairs likely costs more or as much as building it as is. To save money, you need to shrink the downstairs and move what you can upstairs. I would think you could put your office upstairs . . .

  • hairchicky

    here is my plan, i presume. I took the porch off. i took the pantry away, I put the bedroom by the study on the far sice ( right as you look at house) to combine the rooms and make a true master as well as a master bath and closet, then I reduced the upstairs by 2700 sf. I thought I would save money, other than the porch people say I am not saving much I also got rid of the back steps. the left side of plan will go from sunroom to the front making a straight line

    Here is a link that might be useful: {{gwi:1428397}}

  • hairchicky

    new upload of plans

    Here is a link that might be useful: hairchicky plans

  • dekeoboe

    Can you eliminate one set of stairs? How about making the family room square to the eating area?

  • hairchicky

    It took me a couple of hours to post those pics so I left out details that were in some message boxes. I did eliminate back stairs. I cut the fam room to 17 X 17. I moved the bedroom and combined it with the study to recreate a master that is suitable to be a true master, hopefully only adding about 200 sf. I eliminated the pantry. Upstairs is downsized to 1000sf, eliminated bedroom 2 and 4 and master bath and all master closets

  • mydreamhome

    I agree with the other posters above--I don't think you're ready to submit for your final drawings--it will likely be good money thrown away at this point. Any particular reason why the house has to be done by August or was that a personal goal/deadline? You may be able to still make that goal even with waiting a few more days or weeks to pull the trigger on the final set of plans.

    Some pointers on getting accurate quotes from builders even without 100% finished plans:

    1) Make copies of your proposed (not necessarily final) floorplan and elevations to review & leave with your potential builders with square footage listed for finished space, unfinished space and porch space.

    2) Make a list of all your specs--exterior finish materials, type of basement/foundation walls (block or poured concrete), countertops, cabinets, flooring, appliances, bathroom specs, ceiling heights, level of trim detail, stair railings, windows, etc.

    3) After reviewing the plans with the potential builders, ask them if they see any problems with the plans.

    4) Ask if they see any areas that oculd be tweaked to reduce overall cost.

    5) Ask if they see any areas that they would change & why.

    6) Provide any inspiration pics that are very close to what you expect the quote to include (i.e. you don't want a builder to quote you basic starter house level trim when you want dreamhouse level ornate trim)

    7) Let the builder know that you are serious about building this house, are prequalified with the bank (if indeed you are)and you are serious about paying him to build it for you. However especially in the housing climate we're in now, you have to make sure that the house will appraise and that it's within your price range before you pull the trigger on final plans. Then ask him if he would please work you up a quote as close as possible given the fact that the plans are not the absolute final ones.

    8) If the quotes come back too high, ask the builders what the average price per sq. ft. he builds is. If your particular quote is higher than his norm, then ask what is it about your plan that is running the cost up so much. Then ask what he would recommend you change to reduce the cost to get within his average price per sq. ft. (provided you can afford his average price per sq. ft.)

    Here are your plans rotated and placed in the thread--you should get more replies this way...

    Hope this helps!

  • hairchicky

    thank you that was kind I worked like heck to put them as good as they were. I appreciate your input, I value the line up of protocol. Only problem is we were going to contract it ourselves, gp in my area are at 75 if you use their plan to 90 up to 125, they assume if your house is big you are rich and you have expensive taste. Not true! Unfortunately the man wants finishes, I say trim can wait. I want items to fit in my house, Im the laborer he is the computer guy when it comes to jobs, he travels I am left in the mess. 5 business none that are exceptional but inventory from all crowding my every nook and cranny. I just want some space for once. someone here at home suggested I ask a framer as he is the one that could make the roof line validate weather the 1000 will justify the cutting of the sf. I don't know wear to turn. I will admitt I loved the original plan you see above but I cut the porch and many items as you read above. I trying to shave 100K in total. I thought the 2700 upstairs would do it along with porch and back steps

  • athensmomof3

    That is a big house! To cut 100k, you will need to make the downstairs significantly smaller. Cutting the upstairs saves very little money in most cases. . .

    I think the keeping room and den are duplicative. Everyone I know who has a keeping room that size says it is not big enough and no one uses the den. With the den open to your kitchen, I would eliminate the keeping room, thereby forcing people to use your den :). It is no further away from the kitchen than the keeping room, but is larger and more functional.

    This would also even out the weird angle and complicated roof line needed for that space and that is likely quite expensive.

    It looks like you have two mudrooms? I think this plan could be much more efficient, cost less, and be equally or more functional.

  • PRO
    Epiarch Designs

    its interesting to me to see architects still doing hand drafting like that! Step up to the modern world people, use programs like Revit and your time is cut in 1/3 or more and you get a 3d model at the same time....oh well.

    The big issue I see is mainly with the designer themselves. Flow is horrible, unless you enjoy having to walk through working and sittings paths to access other space. I am not sure why 2 sets of stairs heading up should have even made it on the plans to begin with. I realize he/she probably developed it based on your want list, but that is their job to know budget and advise against budget busters and try to make a design to fit the cost. Things like this continue to cast grey lighting on our already hazed over profession. You shouldn't be having to rework the plan to fit your needs and budget...they should be.
    With that being said, how do you know it WILL be over budget if you have never gotten a price on it?

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    I'm sorry, but you very badly need a wakeup call here. For someone "without expensive tastes" this is a VERY large and expensive house to build. As in million dollar build. If your budget needs to be under $75 a square foot to build, then this isn't the house for you.

    Building a home at all probably isn't for you if you need the figures to be that low because you aren't being realistic about the costs or your skills.

    Even a tract saltbox Colonial built in a cheap part of the country has trouble coming in at $75 a square foot. Custom 7000 square feet? Zero chance, even if you GC the build yourself, which from your post, sounds like it would be an epic financial disaster in the making. There isn't any bank in the world that would take a chance on that.

    Go look at existing homes. That is the only way that I know of that you'll find a house for $75 a square foot.

  • mydreamhome

    hairchicky--Don't know what your actual budget to build this is, but I think you need to start there. How much you can afford will tell you what size house & what level of finish you can realistically build. We have all been in the spot where we draw out what we really want, but then realize we ended up with a 7,000 sq ft house there is no way we can afford to build to the level of finish we desire. That's when you take a look at those plans and decide which parts are the most important to you and start the redesign from there. Don't just cut out parts, but write down what rooms and what size you'd like them to be then start from scratch with just those rooms. It's far better to build a smaller house that fits your needs at the quality & finish level that will last vs building a large home with low quality & starter home basic finishes.

    As far as cost to build--I don't know any builder that could do this house for $75 sqft. The closest you may come is a Schumacher or Wayne Homes type builder, but even then you're likely looking at ~$100 sqft. and still with basic finishes.

    I think you will find it difficult to get a loan for a house this big without a very large percentage downpayment--in many areas banks don't want to lend on homes this large because they can't get rid of them and come close to breaking even should they have to foreclose. This will be compounded by the fact that the vast majority of lenders will no longer loan money to 'Regular Joes' to GC their own home--too much risk involved, especially on a project this size. Lastly, with appraisals coming in so low because of the housing market we're in, you will likely have a very hard time finding comps that price out greater than $75-100 sqft. Those that you may be able to find, will likely have a greater level of quality and finish than is reflected in that price--just the way the market is right now.

    Hope this helps!

  • khinmn92

    I would have to concur with the above posts. This is a very large and ultimately very expensive home to build. A few of the numerous things that I immediately see...first,the triangular keeping room/odd angled living area. Do you really need a keeping room, living room and a great room? Leads to complicated, very expensive roof lines; you have numerous very large and very expensive windows throughout; you have 3 fireplaces all located in different areas of the home...think about the maze of gas line installation as well as plumbing to reach all of your bathrooms/laundry/kitchen areas which are not near each other. Plumbing/labor costs gets expensive. The 2nd set of steps...all nice to haves, but if you're trying to keep to a tight budget it's probably best to rethink what you really need and can't live without vs nice to haves. Good luck! We're in the same boat, trying to balance dreams with reality :)

  • gaonmymind

    These suggestion will cut your house in half while giving you an equal up and downstairs. Of course it needs to be reconfigured properly. The flow to get from the foyer to the back hall and kitchen does not function well at all. To be honest I would start over.

    I wrote these as they came to mind:
    - Only keep one fireplace
    - Get rid of the second stairs.
    - Move upstairs laundry in second stair location.
    - Move the art room closet and exercise room to the basement.
    -Push the master to where the exercise room is now
    - The master shower is WAY too big cut it by 2/3.
    - Tim's closet reduce to half.
    - Lauras closet cut by 2/3 and eliminate hidden bookshelf entry.
    - The bedroom on the far left is HUGE reduce by half.
    - Place half the home on a slab.
    - Eliminate the triangle space all together.
    - Make the study bigger and add a bath so it doubles as a guest room.
    -Get rid of the other bedroom on the first floor completely.
    - reduce windows to standard double hung size. Good architecture can make this look great.
    - Reduce the garages to standard size. Get a shed, use basement for extra storage.
    - Do all built-ins later.
    - Use fiber cement and just brick for the water table/ basement.

  • hairchicky

    wow, a lot of info.. on the plans that may not entirely and simplistically answer the question (s) in the first post. First I want to say thank you for your efforts in posting, second I only posted as I thought I found a site based on peoples large sf plans not being punished for needing or wanting that space were able to put their questions without contemptual responses. Those of you who chose to punish me, good luck, the rest of you thank you for your attempts but I guess I have left you with this vaqueness of my issues that I led you to believe I want to change everything. I have been working on these plans for 2 years and if I could have the dream home I would leave it adding some sf to the main floor master to make it a complete master. On the other hand, as of today, i called my architect I took off the porch roughly 30k, I took out atleast 2000 sf upstairs, I moved my rediculous bigass shower to the main floor and one closet, I combined the main bedroom with the study to create a master as I said in an earlier post. I reduced my fam room to 17 X 17. i got rid of the pantry and pushed dining room back and I took the garages and turned them all the same way in a row, since that room was moved. Admittedly the laundry room or mudroom is now too far away from the bedrooms so I am putting one in my master closet. I was looking to cut 100k 70K after the porch. My square foot per a builder is 90 the 75n was a reference from someone who said I had to use their plans. I said no. the house you all are in shock over was quoted at 525k others look at it for a half a second and say 625k I feel I could build it myself for 80k less than anyone. My family is handy one is elec. one is a plummer one is an ac person. I ran a total of 5 business none super successful but all had inventory and the inventory takes up a lot of my house. My dining, current formal liv, 2 car garage and 1/2 my basement are full and i currently live in a 2900 sf home. It is a nightmare, I've been here for 15 years hating every day of it. i just need some peace and ROOM. The space is more important than any finish other than my kitchen and since I like white it happens to be the cheapest of all the cabinets. ROOM ROOm ROOM!!! 3 children 2 dogs and 2 business' will stay but the inventory of 2 others will still take up a garage until it goes to ebay! The other bus will take up another garage and the other will take a room in the house and my current bedroom looks like an office and the office is filled to the ceiling. I can barely walk thru my house and unfortunately im not kidding. Everyone plays sports in the house, people attempt to come here on my day off and get haircuts and I'm too busy helping everyone in the world to get a handle on moving stuff that has no where to go.

  • chispa

    Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper to rent some business/commercial space for your inventory?

  • athensmomof3

    Had the same thought chispa - or a storage unit? Or even a storage shed in the back yard?

    I hate to say it but the plans, even though ours took forever, is much less overwhelming than building! I would take some time to get your current situation more organized and under control, whether that means hiring someone for 10 or 15 dollars an hour to help you go through and sort and move inventory into a storage unit, clear out rooms in your current house, etc.

    Are you selling your current house before you move? Or before you build? To put it on the market, these are things you will have to do any way so it would be worth it to do it now - even if it just helps you go through this process with a level head. You sound very overwhelmed - I know I have been there! I can't imagine building a house and having a house that I couldn't even walk through rooms - I would have a nervous breakdown!

  • gaonmymind

    So sorry that you are overwhelmed. Trust me...I understand. I have been staying with my in-laws, am hugely pregnant and have a 15 month old. Talk about clutter and exhaustion. But we are fortunate since moving from out of state that we don't have to sell our current place( NYC co-op) in order to build. But it has not been the easiest thing not having my own place these past few months. The silver lining is that I get my dream home at the end!

    With that said Athensmomof3 is right. I think really getting your plans right will save you alot of headache during the build. I certainly was not trying to be mean or judgmental, but when I saw the 100k I knew there was a better way to get to your goals and save money. Also the plans lacked flow, although they may contain all your wants. There just seems to be alot of inefficiencies.

    Perhaps you should post your plans with the changes you have in mind.

  • khinmn92

    A 2,900sf house is a good sized home. If the stress you are feeling is coming mainly from the lack of space caused by your business inventory, I would have to agree that you might be much further ahead by just finding a rental unit or small commercial property to rent or even purchase. Purchasing/renting for business purposes would also provide some tax advantages for you. Are you planning to build your new home and then fill it up again with your business inventory? You'll eventually find yourself in the same situation because it's easy to bring things in as you have all this great new space! I think you might want to tweak your plans a little more, but definitely need to decide what to do with your business first. If that is dealt with, you might find that your current home is just fine for your needs.

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