The Depressing Pit Of Home Building

Well, Dave and I fell into the depressing pit of home building. It’s been more bumps and bruises along the past 60 days than happy news. Let me break it down.

  1. We went in front of the HPC in March. It is really hard to write about how that went. I don’t want to be doom and gloom and say it went poorly; but I also must acknowledge the 25 page report that can be summed up with “we really hate this house.” (note: if you read it – skip to page 7, that’s where the pounding starts). It was a lot more formal than I had thought it would be. There was a U of tables set up for the council members – all with their own microphones. We were in the public observation area in the back and were asked to go a prosecutors-like table to plead our case. I did most of the talking (surprise) and told our story pretty well I think… 4-5 council members really were giving us helpful advice on changes to make, some council members were quiet, and some are not going to budge and we know that. So approval of this house is anything but guaranteed.
  2. Making the changes requested by the HPC landed us ~$7k more in architect fees. This is expected (I guess), but adding up the sunk costs in this venture with no guaranteed happy outcome is breaking our little dreaming hearts.
  3. We had our architect float the plans by a builder and got initial estimates. Oh my. Basically – without a garage and without a finished basement, we are only $200k over budget (if the sarcasm isn’t evident in that statement – trust me, it’s there). We understand this is a first stab, and one quote (we’ll get more), but we just didn’t see it coming.
  4. On top of all of this, the focus on the green elements has been minimal. Yes, we have a follow-the-sun design and a roof for solar shingles/panels – but that’s the only focal points to-date. And being this far over budget, the other features we want to add will no doubt be met with budget pressures.

So there it is. We are at a choice point for HPC approval:

  1. Go back for another round of pre-approvals with the HPC with current (updated) plans.
    • Pro: Minimizes potential sunk cost spend if house just can’t get through the council
    • Con: We just get more feedback, more changes, and require more money and time to react to the comments. The delay also puts or timeline at risk for breaking ground this fall.
  2. Go in for approval.
    • Pro: It helps maintain our timeline, with continued hopes to break ground by fall.
    • Con: This requires construction level documents on the house – which my guess will be another $10k+ in architecture fees. So – sunken money for a home that may never be built = super sad, ready-to-sell-the-lot dreamers.


We’re doing #2.

And getting more quotes from builders.

And working really hard to keep our chins up.


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