I think the most common question we get from perspective clients is…where do we begin? Do I need a plan or blueprint to bring to my builder before I get pricing? And if I need to have the blueprint before I have a cost estimate…how do I know that I can afford it in the first place. It is this unknown that can really hinder a project.
Many a client has spent hours
(read…every spare minute for weeks if not months)
on their blueprints. They have measured the room sizes compared to what they currently have and then envisioned the furniture in each nook and cranny of the blueprint only to have the builder give them a cost estimate that is ‘ridiculously higher’ than they would ever want to spend. And now these same ones face a delimia…they have already dreamed of living in this house…I mean they can see themselves living, loving and laughing in these very rooms, but it is way out of their budget…and they have already spent a large portion of money on these blueprints…what is a person to do?
The first place to start in this building process is to have a very good idea of what the bottom dollar is that you want to spend. We tell our clients to remember that this home, as lovely as it will be needs to fit your families budget…because you will still want to go on vacations together, and save for college, and live life… most importantly you want to be the one to own your home…it is not fun to have your home owning you! The budget has to be realistic for the build or renovation. Too many people run out of money at the end of the build because they do not have a good grasp on the actual cost of the project. We also warn our clients that those seemingly harmless $100 or $200 impulse purchases add up very quickly! Have a plan and stick to it!
We had one client who had gone through the design process two times, they approached a builder who gave them a general cost for the build per square foot. They planned accordingly…they calculated their budget and then figured out how many square feet they should plan on building…they designed their home…they laboured over the room sizes and they picked colours for the rooms. With plans in hand they made an appointment with this builder. They could not wait to meet with him…after all they were finally in a position to build their dream home! They met with him and told him their plans…and then they waited to find out the price. Devastation! They told me they felt like the wind was knocked out of them…it couldn’t be! They followed his advise, and choose a house plan accordingly..and his price was way more than they were expecting! They could not afford this house after all. So back to the drawing board they went…they downsized, and dreamt..with less excitement this time. Again with prints in hand…butterflies in stomach…they waited for the price…still too expensive…how could this be? They had listened to him and then shrunk the square footage. What were they supposed to do now? They already had purchased the lot…and they felt trapped.
Through a referral of a friend they called us and described their ordeal. We set up an appointment to talk it over. We talked about what they wanted in a home. What rooms were most important to them…and we also talked about the budget. They showed me what they were wanting to build…and they had been told that it was too expensive. As a builder looking at those plans I gave them a quick look and I immediately knew that there was no way that those houses would fit into their budget…you see besides square footage there are a lot of other things that go into pricing a house or renovation. Some of these elements bring a greater cost per square foot than you would expect…and that is what was happening. These people had great taste! The homes they had designed were beautiful…just not right for their budget. So we began to draw up the house plan as we talked…we got to know what they wanted for their house.
We were able to design a home that fit into their budget…and the best thing was…they loved it! You see we think that it is much easier to save money on a project by deciding what our budget dictates…before the build starts. We do this everyday, when we go to the grocery store if we want to stay in a budget, we make a list of the most important items to the least important…we purchase them in that order…with house building we design them in that order too, after all we want your home to reflect who you are.
With our clients as many others have also experienced, they just didn’t know what elements were driving the cost of their home up…in fact we were able to build them a bigger home then they originally thought but with some of the features tweaked.
Oh, and the old blueprints…that cost them thousands of dollars…they used them to line their bird-cage!