housewerk: cabinets, tile, loan, walls, contract, budgeting, permitting


We visited with the Kitchen Craft lady on Friday and had a good, solid chat. She explained that when working with a builder/architect she's never worked with before, she's learned that that she needs to fit the specs to a tee, regardless of cost. Makes some sense since she doesn't know what the budget constraints are, if any. What we've learned through the bidding process is to press for details. If we hadn't pressed for the room splits (how much the cabinets would have cost for each room), we would have bailed on the Kitchen Craft bid (and it behooves bidders to note or hint at stuff in the bid that gets crazy; it can save the job!).

Anyway, we talked about why certain things cost so much (those $8,000 drawers in the living room...) and ways to lower cost but maintain style (including, at her suggestion, using IKEA in the laundry room). It also helps that her personal aesthetic leans heavily toward modern. She described her own modern kitchen in which she can add a splash of color with a large lemon (if she wants to). Based on the visit, we're keeping Craft on the list with details to be worked out later when we get closer to installation.


Got our tile samples, and... (drum roll please): They ain't gonna work (boos from the crowd; someone throws a chair at Geraldo). The silver NeosTile, of course (of course!) is a go:

but we had already seen a sample and just wanted one of our own, so it doesn't count. But the Daltile just ain't gonna work:

It looks gorgeous, but we feared it would be too creamy, and it is. In fact, it's WAY more creamy than the photos above would suggest. And that top tile (with all that beautiful horizontal bidness going on) is HUGE! Like twice as big as I expected!

Back to the tiling board...

construction loan

Finally chased down some more details on loans from our bank to compare apples to apples to the "deal" our broker found. And we've found that the broker's deal is not much of a deal at all (sigh...). His recommended product is a construction loan at 6%. Our bank offers a straight up construction loan at 4.50%, a single close to 5-year fixed following by a 20-year float at 4.24%, and a single close to 15-year fixed at 4%. No additional closing costs for the single close over the double close unless construction goes long (attorney fees to extend), but their construction loans are (seemingly) fixed at 12 months, so that shouldn't be a problem. In fact, I think that works to our advantage: it gives us some flex time with the builder and, assuming everything goes according to schedule, gives us interest only for a few months before the full payment kicks in (with the extra money going towards house incidentals).

We're inclined to go single close, hopefully the 15-year if we can swing the payment. If not, we'll go single close with the 5-year fixed to 20 year flex and shoot to refinance before the note floats. The builder says that Mutual of Omaha has single close to 30-year fixed, so that's also an option.

Now we have to decide which way to go with the bank...

sound wall

The builder went out to look at the prospects for a sound wall. There's an existing retaining wall owned by the auto dealership that he said we could probably go up 4 feet on before having to get an engineer. But four-feet just ain't going to be enough. If we build our own wall, he says he thinks he can do it for $2,200 for the footing and then $6 to 8 per facing square-foot. So 70 feet by 10 feet (will need a variance for that...) by (scribble scribble) equals $6,400 to $7,800 for a wall back yonder. As the bride says, "We have to have it." But that's a chunk o change.

I'm scratching my head over the $2,200 for footings. Ten feet of footings for the Mies wall out front is running $890. I asked the builder about that (because the back wall would be 70-feet long), and he thought that was way high and would check into it.

don't fence me in

One thing I realized that is missing from all the plans and bidding, including the landscape plans, is a fence around the property. The builder allowances that out at $20 a foot. It looks like there's about 180 feet of fence, so that works out to (scritch, scritch, carry the 2...): $3,600. That's a decent-sized miss from the budget...


Reviewed the contract the builder likes to use, AIA Document A101-2007 with AIA Document A201-2007 defining general conditions, the standard contract paperwork from the American Institute of Architecture. Looks fine.


Sharpened the pencils and got the budget finalized (as final as we can get it at this point). We're still below our tippy-top, so that's awesome!


The architects are off and running on getting permits!

1 comment:

  1. The AIA contract is a good one. Their architectural services contract might be biased in favor of the architect (haven't seen it since law school), but the construction contract is very balanced.

    4% for a 15-year loan doesn't seem like a good deal. We refinanced earlier this year to 15-year at 3.25%, and rates seem to have gotten better since then. I can't help thinking that you're paying a lot in the long run for the convenience (and some savings) of a single-close. But I guess as long as you can refinance elsewhere after you move in if you find a better deal....

    Let me know if you want me to run up to the tile shops for any samples. I imagine it's a lot easier for me to get there during business hours than you.

    Everything else looks good! Can't wait for the ol' ground-breaking!