Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Budget-driven design

Here is a hard pill to swallow: we can't afford to build the house we want to. At least, not now, not all at once. As builders' bids come back (this has taken more time than we had anticipated) it is becoming clear that we simply cannot afford to build the house we have envisioned. Call it bad luck, lack of planning, will of God, whatever you like, but we did not anticipate this project would cost as much as it has. Perhaps I didn't spend as much time carefully researching and projecting costs. Perhaps s*** just happens and this is the way it is. Either way, here is the set of realities we now are facing:

1. We will not be breaking ground this fall. Most likely we will have to await the thaw in March or April of '07.
2. We will not be able to complete the project in one phase. We will have to move into an incomplete house - barring we come into some grand inheritance or win the lottery between now and next year.
3. We will be making some pretty steep loan payments once we DO spend whatever we've got (which we knew all along).

So, here's the thinking right now: we hire the builder who seems to be the best match for us and get "as far as we can" given the funds we have remaining...hopefully this will get us as far as an occupancy permit (it's GOT to!). We move into an incomplete house and pick away at completing the project as we can. This frees us to sell our current home (COME ON REAL ESTATE MARKET!!!) and thus pay off one of our mortgages and, market willing, our loan as well. Our budget is not off by so much that this will mean years of waiting and "picking", but certainly months and perhaps a year or so.

On the bright side, having four or five months off (i.e. not writing big checks to architects and restorationists) might allow us to replenish the dry well that is our savings account and prepare ourselves for taking on the higher payments that will come once we close on our construction loan and as we max out the home equity line. Also, it always pays to take one's time with these kind of things; to rush is to make mistakes. So the quiet winter months will permit us to reflect on the designs, research additional cost-saving methods, and be really ready once the time arrives.