Let’s Be Realistic and Crunch Some Numbers

Last year sometime I took it upon myself to read The Brand New House Book by Katherine Salant. There is a lot going on on her website and I’m sure I’d always find something interesting to read there, but let’s get started on this book of hers. It is my own “idiot’s guide” to the home design process. I enjoyed the book enough that I took notes. Yes, I am that dorky, but I figured it was better than the alternative of paying over $20 for the book when all I needed at the time was the notes. Book buying can wait until there is more money in the budget to do so.

I’ll probably reference her work later on again during this process but I wanted to share some of the information gathered in her book. In Chapter 3, she discusses how much it will cost and I have listed those items below:

National Association of Home Builders
-lot is 1/4 to 1/3 of the sale price (I’ll be using the 1/3 aspect so as to not price ourselves out of the neighborhood)
-structural framing and sheathing (20% of total sale price)
-basements (9.6%) (N/A for us)
-windows (4-6%)
-plumbing fixtures (5-6%)
-drywall (5-6%)
-heating and A/C (4%)
-electrical work (3.8%)
-kitchen cabinets/flooring (5-8%)
-line items (gutters, light fixtures, asphalt driveway, etc.) (not fixed)

Other important things to consider (from her book):

-Monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28% of gross monthly income
-Monthly indebtedness (w/mortgage) should not exceed 30-40% of gross monthly income (add in property taxes)
-Custom-built house requires:
a)construction loan
b)permanent mortgage

Now that I am going back over my reference materials I drew up last year, I can see why it was realistic to set a budget of $400,000 for custom building a home. The Gilbert property we liked earlier this year was listed for $130,000 and by using the formula of the lot being 1/3 of the sale price, our total sales price for the custom built home would come in at $390,000.

I guess what would really help us out as well is understanding that we wouldn’t pay for all the expenses upfront. We do want to purchase the lot beforehand so we’d be looking at a $26,000 (20%) down payment to make that purchase. I know we are unlikely to build the house while Thomas is still in school because it would be too much of a financial strain for our budget; however, I do imagine we could pay off the property in five years if we apply ourselves and make it a top priority. That way, we’d only be looking at $260,000 ($390,000-$130,000 property price) for the house when the time comes to build. Granted, I would like to talk to Thomas’ uncle and see if our home could be realistically well-built for $200,000; that price range is something I am more comfortable with but I don’t know if it’s feasible. Even so, with waiting, we’d be in a better place financially if both of us are employed and the cost of building our home should easily fall below the above mentioned standards for monthly mortgage payment/monthly indebtedness.

I do think taking a realistic assessment means scaling back the idea of how big a home we “need”. While I was willing (happily) to consider a 2,500sq. ft house because it would feel luxurious and spacious even when filled for the holidays, I do see 2,000sq. ft being more realistic. I know I could go smaller but because we do want to incorporate a sizable laundry/office room, I don’t want the house to feel too small. We have briefly mentioned that instead of doing a library room, we could explore the option of a lofted library above the living room. I saw this great idea on Pinterest and went to Houzz to find something that suited us well.

I know the design would require us to built up a bit more than we had intended but I guess with a smaller footprint making the ceilings taller would still give the grand feeling I want our home to have. I am willing to have smaller bedrooms so long as I don’t have to sacrifice on the size of the public spaces of the house. I’d much rather enjoy hours reading books in our library space, chilling on the couch, cooking for my family in the kitchen than have a bedroom so large it could house two king size beds. Granted, I’ve admired sitting rooms when house hunting, but Thomas and I both know that space would be wasted upon us. When we sit down to read in our room, it’s in bed, not confined to a specific “sitting” space.

Granted, I’ve had so much going through my mind lately. I’ve finally nailed down a list of home decor items I’d like to purchase before we build a home. Everything will fit into our storage unit until we are ready to bring those items into our apartment (when we rent one) or into the house later that we build. Here’s the financial breakdown by room.

MASTER $2,696.95
AVERY’S ROOM $688.98
GUEST ROOM $525.99
KITCHEN $884.50
LIBRARY $98.00
TOTAL $7,645.42

The things I’ve found can be located at my Dreaming in the Desert Board, The Master Bedroom Board, Home Office/Laundry/Exercise Room Ideas Board, and the Bedrooms Board. And my Light Me Up Board; the Calhoun glass pendant, Cast-iron Barn Door Trolley Pendant and the ONSJÖ LED chandelier (from Ikea) are things I want to incorporate into the house. As you can see, I take my “hobby” very seriously. I have wanted a house pretty much since I was ten or eleven and the more work I do prepping for that opportunity, the happier I am.


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