Second, and you are probably not surprised by this, things are more expensive than we originally thought. We were happy to float along thinking we could afford things like floating staircases and FireOrbs, but in reality, this is not necessarily the case. At a minimum, we are going to have to make some changes, and some hurt more than others.
One change that should be a substantial savings is to eliminate the full basement and replace, instead, with a crawl space. In theory, I like this idea. Generally, when you have a giant place to store things, you end up filling it up with crap that you don't need. I'm reading about living a simpler and more meaningful life (The New Frugality by Chris Farrell) and like the idea of deciding what is or isn't important. On the other hand, I was thrilled to think we could put the cats' litter box downstairs and avoid the discomfort of having it on display when guests come over. Supposedly we can save between $50-$65k by eliminating the basement --- no litter box embarrassment is worth that.
Another change we are making is forgoing the floating staircase. Jeff assures us that we can still have a modern staircase with bamboo treads and steel handrails, but the floating quality is going to have to go (apparently this type of staircase alone could cost in the area of $30,000).
As it stands, we are still going to have to "value engineer" this project at all ends. We have been faced with tough decisions, such as, how important is a garage (important), how important is hardwood floors on the second floor (not that important). Can we save money by contracting out certain line items ourselves, rather than have the GC do them --- interior painting is a good example of this. Can we postpone some of the improvements at a time when we have additional funding. As it stands, it looks like the solar and PV panels may need to be but on hold.
I hope I'm not sounding disappointed with the project, because I'm not. It's become a challenge, now, to bring in the best possible project for the least possible costs, without sacrificing the things that are most important to us. Yes, it looks as though the price point is going to go up to, say, $175-$200 a square foot. I know this is not affordable to everybody.
One area that we probably could save money, but are sticking to our guns, is the high-end appliances and cabinetry from EcoUrban. In the big scheme of things, the EcoUrban cabinetry is not going to cost an outrageous amount of money, especially compared to some of their European competitors, but, yes, the Miele refrigerator is expensive. What can I say? We're suckers for integrated appliances, and don't want to compromise on these items. We are willing to pay a premium for them. Can we compromise on other things? Yes, indeed we can.
What I will leave you with is a positive thought --- one of the bidding GCs told Jeff that if the project we are building would be built on site, it would cost thousands, potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars more to build, and certainly would be assessed that way in the market. So essentially, even though we are spending more than we thought, it will be worth more than we paid the minute we move into it. That certainly helps.