Third House is a Charm

The journey to building a house isn't quite what we thought it would be.  We found a builder and house design we liked fairly quickly, and put the deposit down to start on a January build.  The house had the required downstairs guest bedroom and bathroom, a living area that could easily be turned into a bike shop, and of course a massive sewing room with the rumpus room and 5th bedroom combined.  The kitchen was beautiful and the pantry was a great size.
House #1 - Ground Floor
House #1 - First Floor
The following morning, we got the news that the house couldn't be built on our lot because it interfered with the North facing sun the neighbouring lot is entitled to by 200 mm.  We were disappointed, but started looking at Plan B options and came up with a good one.  This house was a tiny bitty smaller, but had an even better kitchen than the first house.  The bike room wasn't quite as good, but it was something Phil decided he would still be happy with.  We spent a couple weeks working with the builder to get the options and additions just right, and started looking at bricks, tiles, flooring, and the millions of little details that needed to be selected.  
In love with this kitchen
This back window became an absolute must have
Each time we met with the builder, we would get an expensive surprise.  The first time, we found out that the $10k flooring "upgrade" wasn't actually an upgrade - it was required in order to get floors at all.  If we didn't purchase that, we'd get concrete.  The next time, we discovered that the flooring upgrade didn't include the laminate throughout that we thought it did.  To get what we wanted would be another $10k.  Then we found out that because the lot is near an open field, it required an extra $8k for a fire levy.  And then there was the brick.  There were four brick options included with the price, and the first two and second two were pretty much identical.  So basically we had two, really ugly, options.  If we wanted anything nicer we had to pay several thousand more.  And on, and on, and on it went.  On our most recent visit we got to see the kitchen cabinets that were included, and were horrified at the quality - IKEA would have been so much nicer.  It would be another $8k to get upgraded cabinet fronts.
House #2 - Ground Floor
House #2 - First Floor
We persevered, and then six weeks later we got an email that the second house couldn't be built on our lot because it, too, overshadowed the sun entitlement by 200 mm.  Sound familiar?  And this house was 200 mm narrower than the first.  We could not believe that this was happening again.  To make it worse, we were also told if we wanted to do another house with that builder the site costs would be an additional $7k.  Clearly it was time to find a new builder.

We started looking again.  Going through the first two designs helped us figure out exactly what we wanted.  The problem then was we knew exactly what we wanted - and none of the designs we found really had everything we were looking for.  At this point, we figured there was no point spending all of our money on something that we weren't going to be happy with, so we decided to change directions and look into custom builders.  The first one I talked with was double our budget, but then we found one that was much more reasonably priced.  We put together our list of must haves, nice to haves, and a sketch on a napkin of what it would look like.  We explained the problems we'd had previously and the builder didn't think it would be a problem to come up with something that would fit.  He went away to work on a quote and we went back to sleepless nights trying to figure it all out.

We had it out with the original builder and got them to refund our deposit.  Meanwhile, the new builder started looking into the problem.  They still aren't completely sure what the problem was and suspect there was some funny business going on with that first builder.  But the nice thing about a custom builder is even if we encounter a similar problem later, they can just change the design.  

The custom quote was a bit higher, but very reasonable considering we get to build exactly what we want.  We are going to take the front half of the first house and combine it with the second half of the second house.  We'll get the dream bike room AND the dream kitchen!  Upstairs my sewing room will of course be massive and will sit at the front of the house with our bedroom at the back.  For a twist, we are looking into putting the laundry room upstairs.  Sounded completely crazy at first, until we realized that's where all of the dirty laundry is generated.  No point in carrying it up and down the stairs!  This builder offers a lot more standard selections, and we feel more comfortable knowing they have flexibility.  
House #3 - Ground Floor
It's nice to finally be excited about this house build again.  We are looking forward to getting drawings done so we can start to understand how it will all be laid out.  We are also looking forward to actually breaking ground and getting this thing started.  Hopefully this third house really is the charm!


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