When we decided to look for a house to buy, I don’t think it even crossed our minds to consider building. That seemed like something only real life grown up adults do and, although we’re damn near middle aged (not really, but close), we still don’t feel like adults. In my fantasies we would fine a great fixer-upper, with solid bones so that we could really make the place our own. I looked at lots of houses from about 15-30 years old that all needed a lot of work. “A lot of work” was actually one of my criteria. I’m pretty handy, and I tend to hate what most people love, or at least what they do to houses when they flip or “update” them. Mosaic tile, for example, makes me sad. I found a house that was damn near perfect! Large, great neighborhood, high ceilings, tons of windows/natural light, a good deal below our budget and best of all, everything in the house needed to be resurfaced! It needed new floors, cabinets, appliances, light fixtures, landscaping, you name it. I was set on this house and already knew exactly how we would redesign it.
My mom, who was my house shopping partner since my husband is always gone and told me to “just pick whatever,” and I stopped into a model home we passed really just to get design ideas. This house was huge and immaculate and gorgeous. When I found out the price, I was baffled. It wasn’t much more that the fixer-upper. What’s the catch? Why can we afford this? Is this built on a sinkhole?
The “catch” is that the base price (which is what they show you) is essentially like $100-200k less than the model you’re actually standing in, that has every upgrade and amenity possible. When you buy a new build, what comes “standard” is prettttty crappy, and everything is an upgrade. You have 3 choices in color for dirt flooring and everything else is an upgrade. Would you like these lights that may or may not catch fire when you turn them on, or would you like to upgrade to lighting installed by an actual electrician? Oh, you want running water? That’s an upgrade.
But I was curious so I sat down with the sales woman and we went over the prices of everything I knew I would want to upgrade. I seriously shot for the moon with the add-ons because I knew this house wasn’t possible for us and when the total ended up being $47 million it would be a lot easier to walk away and never look back.
But it wasn’t $47 million. With my entire wishlist of ridiculous upgrades it was barely higher than the fixer-upper would be after we did all of our renovations. Only this house would be brand new and wouldn’t be a ticking time bomb of things that needed to be replaced. Even a solid house needs a lot of upkeep. Rooves need to be replaced like every 20 or so years, ac units, water heaters, appliances, plumbing, etc. With the new build, not only were we starting from day 1 with all of these things, but a lot of them are under warranty for up to 10 years. And best of all, instead of living in a construction site with a baby, the house would be DONE.
Well, sort of. There are still a few projects that I’m going to do myself because either the builder didn’t offer exactly what we wanted, or they upcharged way too much for it, or both. I’m going with their basic, crappy floors and we’ll install our own when we take possession. There will be no backslash in the kitchen because I really want to do a fun cement tile! And we still have to put in a pool and landscape the yard. Oh, and window treatments! Those effers are expensive!
But I will say that going to the design center and choosing all of the finishes was one of the most fun days of my life! The girl helping me kept remarking about how fast we were going, it takes most people forever, but I knew exactly what I wanted. I only went back and changed a couple things after the appointment. And I kept going back and forth on our wall color! Wait until you hear this, it’s so dumb.
Originally Jordan and I both wanted white walls. Light is very important to both of us and we love the look of bright white walls paired with big windows and natural light. But they didn’t offer white walls, at least not in what was standard. And it was an outrageously expensive upgrade, which made me mad because it costs them $0 extra to stick a different shade of paint in their sprayer. They’re painting it anyway and it’s the same amount of work. So I just couldn’t upgrade the paint on principle alone. They did offer a “white” if that’s what you want to call it. But it had way too much yellow in it and I’d rather have chartreuse walls than diluted piss water. So the 2 that they DID offer that I really liked were both gray (Anew Gray and Agreeable Gray) and, get this, literally ONE shade apart from each other. Really. If you look at their shade numbers they are 1 digit apart.
Since the original idea was to go light light light I chose the lighter of the 2. (by 1 shade, remember?) But then I started googling pictures of these colors in actual rooms and tended to like the darker (by 1 stupid shade) a lot better. So I kept going back and forth and back and forth. It seems so silly, it’s just paint, but to regret the choice once we got into the house would be a BIG deal. It would be on every wall in the entire house. That’s a LOT walls and a lot of painting and money if we wanted to change it.
So I went with the darker, Anew Gray, and I think I’m happy with the choice! Of course we won’t know until the house is finished. But my thinking is that the Anew Gray reads as gray and the Agreeable looks more like just muddy off-white. And I love the contrast against the white base boards and cupboards. Fingers crossed!