Aflac…turned out I misunderstood and we were considerably more over budget than I thought. However, in the last few weeks, the builder architect was able to shave off about $150k by:
- Eliminating concrete retaining walls that ran around the backyard and, replacing it with a post and beam style fence and grading the slope. The concrete retaining wall would have approached 7ft high in some areas. We lost a fire pit alcove but we can always add a fire pit someplace in the yard at some later time.
- Eliminating a 27 ft wall of glass in the ofuro area that used expensive NanaWall windows and replaced with 2ft high windows running along the floor.
- Eliminating a 27 ft long structural beam that would have required a crane to install and replaced with your standard supporting wall beams. This was enabled by eliminating the NanaWall windows.
- Eliminating a privacy wall around the outside of the ofuro area. No NanaWalls, no privacy wall. If your really want to take a peek you can get on the ground. I doubt anyone would want to take a peek at me. Sorry if I ruined your day with that image.
- Replacing lacquered walls with wood siding…lacquered is a lot more expensive than wood siding.
- Change vendors for windows, appliances, and fixtures. Apparently for windows, NanaWall and Fleetwood hold bulk of the market share for sliding glass window and thus are able to charge a premium. The builder changed the windows originally spec’ed as Fleetwood to a newer player in this market, Western Windows, for a significant savings. However, windows are still our biggest expense. Framing and foundation expenses are close behind.
- Creative negotiation with subcontractors (cash payment within 3 days, competitive bidding, assume some work themselves, etc)
We’re still over budget by 10%. It’s doubtful that number will come down significantly without major design compromises. I read somewhere that you should expect to be over budget by 20%, we’ve already used half that buffer. Hopefully I’ll still sleep well.
The architect communicated his philosophy that I can relate with and believe in. When you design, you design for the best because you know you can always bring down the level later to meet budget, schedule, etc. But if you design for a lower target you’re guaranteed to get exactly that.
We’re going to move forward and shoot to start grading in a week.