Archive for: September, 2007


September 25th, 2007

We had gotten our hopes up pretty high, thinking that we were actually going to be able to build this year, despite the amount of time we had already lost. Also because the general contractor who initially said they thought they could do the job for ‘budget + 10-15%’ came back with a number closer to ‘budget + 80%’.

Even then we weren’t completely convinced we weren’t going ahead: we realized that perhaps we could do it if we could subsidize the mortgage with a rental unit in the basement. This would remove a big part of the functionality of the house we had designed, but it seemed like the only avenue we had to travel if we wanted to build.

The problem with this plan, of course, is that it meant spending even more money (on finishing the rental unit in the basement) to be able to afford the already-over-budget house. We eventually came to the realization that we would be moving outside our financial comfort-zone to proceed with building this year. Plus if we did get into a position where we had to sell the house, we’d never be able to get what it was costing us (once you factor in the what we paid for the land + construction cost).

And there was another issue: when our build-plans started going sour in May, we decide not to put off having kids until after the house was built because we were worried something like this might happen. So part of our urgency to build right now was that we would want to move in to the house in February/March just around the time the baby was born.

While the builder thought this might be possible, we figured that was probably wishful thinking on both our parts. (Possible: I’m sure it is. Probable: I’m sure it isn’t.) We really didn’t want to be stuck somewhere other than a place we call home in those first few months.

We also heard from the junior-architect something we hadn’t heard (or at least can’t remember hearing) before: For 3 months after construction ends there is an enormous amount of fine particulate in the air that acts like “sandpaper for your lungs.” (Oh perfect. That’s where we — and our baby! — want to live. In winter, with the windows sealed shut. Cozy! Just us, our lungs, and the sandpaper.)

Indoor air quality is very important to us since Stacey has asthma. We’re trying to find ways to reduce off-gassing from the building materials as well. By waiting until next year, we’re hoping to have the time to let the house air out some before taking occupancy.

The junior-architect suggested we’d really want to get a secondary high efficiency air filter for the first 3 months, but I think we could reduce the time necessary to clean the air by going in a couple of times per day with a high-pressure air compressor and blasting the walls, floor, etc. to get the dust into the air and thereby into the air-filter.

So, that’s where we are at: waiting for a better time to build. It was also mentioned to us that a report released in the U.S. was predicting that housing starts would drop 50% (!) in 2008. If this does happen, its effects could extend north, and lower construction prices here.

Posted by Colin

Standard exterior and interior design colors

September 5th, 2007 hosts a ridiculously useful online tool that will match one manufacturer’s color to an identical (or very similar) color made by any other manufacturers.

Posted by Colin