What did you splurge on, what did you save on.

aimless07July 21, 2014

We have started picking out things for our home and I feel like we have mostly picked appliances, plumbing, and finishes that will save us money.

But there are some things we have purchased that are not low end.

Splurged On:
-Jenn-Air Downdraft Gas Cooktop- Hubby is the cook and he has wanted a gas cooktop.

-GE Double Oven with convection on top

-Victoria and Albert Amalfi Tub. I really wanted a soaker tub that would hold in heat but not interested in whirlpool, air, or cast iron. This is still a small bone of contention, but I really want to make it work.

-Moen motion sense kitchen faucet

Saved On-
-Picked a level 2 granite out of 5 levels with 5 being most $$$

-Cultured marble counters in both bathrooms. I would have rather done granite, but builder says this will be 40% less.

-paint grade cabinets. I never wanted stained to begin with.

- Delta Trinsic plumbing in chrome. Trinsic is their most budget friendly line that has a modern look to it. They have an Ashlyn line coming out in the fall which will be modern/contemporary and even less expensive than Trinsic. We are building a ledge by the master bathroom tub to use a regular whirlpool tub filler as opposed to those more expensive tub fillers that come up from the floor.

-Builder's friend owns a local flooring place so we know we can get a good deal on carpet, plank vinyl flooring , etc.

-We haven't really started picking out lighting yet.

Sooo...what did you splurge on, what did you save on, and what would you do differently?

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My primary splurge was a 36" American Range Performer rangetop. It took us over our appliance allowance, but not by too much.
We exceeded our lighting allowance by a fair amount, but I don't consider any of our fixtures to be a splurge.
Ditto porch flooring material and metal roof - happy to pay extra for higher quality and enhanced appearance.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:56AM
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We splurged on:

Stone on both sides of the house when we had only planned to do the front.
Concrete driveway and two extra concrete walkways.
Large laundry room.
New furniture for family room and dining area.
Stained woodwork and beams.
Whole house LED bulbs.
Under cabinet LED lighting. (But saved some because DH is installing.)
Custom-made closet systems made by our carpenter, trimmed out by DH, and stained and finished by our painter. Love them!

Saved on:

Our stained kitchen custom cabinets. DH made them.
Our painted pantry and laundry cabinets. DH made them.
Our lighting fixtures. Bought them all online.
Carpet in bedrooms instead of hardwood. Now that we moved in, I love the feel of carpet in those rooms.
As we were OB, DH did a ton of things so we saved on labor costs.

Wished we had done differently:

Wished we had not purchased our appliances 1-2 years before we moved-in. Our intent was to buy as much as we could before DH retired. We had to return two different appliances because they didn't fit. Not fun! And lost some money on one.

Wished we had gone with a different cabinet company for bathrooms and window seats. We've had nothing but problems with what we received. And, ended up returning the window seats for a refund since they could not get them right after three tries.

Wished we had made my small office area (in the laundry room) bigger. We just moved in this weekend so I've not gotten that area fixed up yet. But I don't think it's all gonna fit.

I'm sure there are other things I haven't thought of. Fun thread.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:17PM
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We are only in the pre-build phase, so things might change. But for now...

Save: limited cabinets/storage and planning to add more later (never thought I'd scrimp on storage!), eliminated rear decking to be done DIY after the build, very minimal landscaping, roof pitch lowered (this was a big compromise for me... I love steep roof pitches. It was also our biggest cost savings), comp. roofing instead of metal (I think we might regret this decision), no bathroom vanities (ped. sinks in most baths), no tile, no 8' doors, no laundry cabs (going for an unfitted look anyway)

Splurge: the land (the biggest splurge by far), large range with double oven beneath and a stand alone griddle (if we need to cut again, this will be first on the list), farm sink, inset cabs in kitchen with lowers only, hardwood flooring (may finish ourselves), front porch, large garage (increased value locally and increased appraisal - also made my husband happy), wood clad windows with SDL's, transoms in as many spots as possible, hallways in the floorplan that allowed for site lines and good wheelchair flow for grandparents. The wood floors and the windows were the biggest splurges by far though, and all the other cuts were basically to fit those 2 things in and still meet our appraisal number.

We tried to plan for things we could upgrade after the build, like tile backsplash and bookcases.

The bathrooms are ridiculously stripped, but we figure we'll just fancy them up one at a time over the next few years.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 2:27PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We did a lot of splurging. Most of it on being green. We have 2 tankless hot water heaters, not one. We did closed cell spray foam insulation which is 5x the cost of fiberglass. We did solar panels and geothermal heating/cooling. But those decisions are paying off. Our total energy bill for the house...heating, a/c, hot water, lights, everything...is about half my cable bill.

I insisted on a heated towel bar, which I love. We also bought amtico flooring which was double the cost of hardwood. We also splurged on cherry woodwork in the DR and library...we were told it cost as much as the trim in the whole rest of the house.

I did some saving by buying on the internet. EG, my hammered copper prep sink was $550 at the plumbing store but $125 on line. My arch-top mahogany front doors were $6-8k at some places, but I found ones on line for $1200. We scrimped and shouldn't have on the windows....we bought them from a firm that is now out of business and we have no recourse should anything go wrong. We also bought remnant granite for the guest bath and put it on top of a reclaimed vanity. I was able to get some appliances at a bargain as I worked for a manufacturer. We also saved a lot by putting so much time and effort into the design so that, when we got to construction, we made essentially no changes. We made sure the plan was right and we built to plan.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 4:13PM
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I was told by GC that buy doors online if something happen to it or wrong size which would so difficult to fix or adjust.

Is it true?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 5:57PM
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We looking around today and found some better deals.

Builder had 3.99 per sq ft allotted for our vinyl plank flooring, and we found flooring for 3.19 which saves about $650 and we found tile for about 1/2 the price than what we had allotted so that's another $500 saved.

We ended up going from a granite that was level 2, to a granite that is considered "promo-granite" and the price will be even better. I really like that less expensive granite just as much. What I am secretly hoping is that we will have saved enough on the granite that we could end up doing granite in the bathrooms. I don't mind doing the cultured marble, but I would really like doing the granite.

We also decided to change to 6-12 pitch from a 7-12 and do coffered ceilings from 8 to 9 feet. We'll do from 8-10 in our master.

Oh, and another splurge. We are going for the apron front sink as opposed to a regular undermount sink. If we need to cut back, that will be what we do. I think the difference is about $400 dollars.

I would like to do that Kevo door lock that let's you open your door with your cell phone if our budget allows. The lock is $220 at Home Depot.

Keep posting your experiences. This has been very interesting.

This post was edited by aimless07 on Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 18:45

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 6:36PM
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Our 'splurges' I don't really consider to be, as most of them involve a strong, energy efficient, and low maintenance home.

ICF construction
R-50 attic insulation
Hardi siding
Metal roof
Marvin windows
9' 6" ceilings
Tin ceiling in kitchen
All LED lighting
Over-code roof trusses
Electrical and plumbing all well beyond code minimums
Land- 7 acres.
A large barn
Full size walk-out basement
Massive stone and wood Craftsman porch columns
A bit of a splurge: Antique lighting fixtures, antique doors, numerous other antique touches.

Where are we saving?

I'm doing 95% of the work myself- structure, roof, siding, flooring, cabinets, paint, electric, plumbing, HVAC.
Small house- 1295 Sq ft on the main floor
Cheap area of the country for permits and taxes. Building permits took 10 minutes to get and cost $400.
Simple shape
Tongue & groove southern yellow pine flooring
Basic appliances
Basic plumbing fixtures
Self-installed mini-split heat pumps
Rural, natural landscaping (In other words, we're not going to do much more than clean it up and get something green to grow)

1 Like    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 6:57PM
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@hoosier...what brand of lighting/website did you use. Are you happy with your choices?

I really love Ballard Designs, but from what I have seen online, they aren't inexpensive.

This post was edited by aimless07 on Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 19:20

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 7:18PM
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we splurged on the plan itself-we could have chosen one that was less expensive to build--less screened porches -- we also wanted it to appear that it was on a crawlspace with a brick foundation -- the 22 inches of brick at the bottom, adhered to the concrete slab was priced out at 8,000
the plan called for a detached garage with a breezeway
as for the details of the house itself, we chose leathered granite, a
victoria and albert slipper tub, kohler apron sink and master bath sinks, glass and crystal pulls for the cabinets, crystal door knobs for some of the doors, the last five interior doors are solid maple with porcelain knobs, slate floors in the kitchen, guest bath and
laundry and storage area
things we economized on, painted woodwork/cabinets, carpet in the bedrooms, vinyl planks in the great room and entry, no floor coverings (concrete) porch floors, no glass shower enclosures (until later) just walk in showers
another way we economized was in the square footage, we said we were going to stick to 2300 square feet and we ended up with 2313------i looked at floor plans for almost 20 years .......


    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 7:24PM
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We're still in the build phase but I consider our splurges to be: 6" exterior walls with open cell foam insulation and bonus space foamed, R 49 in attic, Carrier Infinity HVAC, Electrolux double wall ovens, and copper sink with bridge faucet. My saves would be MDF cabinet doors instead of wood, I plan to paint anyway, all southern yellow pine floors, all exterior rock came from our land instead of having to purchase, shiplap and trim that DH milled from our trees and we finish and installed ourselves, and of course DH and I our doing a lot of our labor and we're also acting as the GC.

Mushcreek- Have you installed your floors yet? How are you finishing them? I think I've finally made up my mind but not 100% sure.

Edited because I forgot one of my biggest saves- rock.

This post was edited by sweet-tea on Tue, Jul 22, 14 at 13:59

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 9:49PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Houses14, I don't recall it being an issue...the opening was designed around the doors, so fit wasn't an issue. I had selected the doors before we started building. The only thing was, the trim surround that came with the doors was too small in scale, so we had the carpenter install beefier trim, which, given the arch in the door top, wasn't the cheapest.

This post was edited by AnnieDeighnaugh on Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 23:14

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:12PM
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Aimless, I bought the majority of our lighting through build.com. They matched prices from other online sites if I called. I was more the matchy matchy type so my fixtures were from the Murray Feiss American Foursquare collection. I found our dining chandelier and our LED motion floods on other websites for 1/2 off and they matched price. You have to call them while items are at sale price so they can check the prices online to verify.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:04AM
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Sweet-tea- We haven't decided on a floor finish yet. We are going to look at some reclaimed heart pine flooring, which would be a splurge, but we're pretty happy with the appearance of the SYP. We won't be using a stain, as SYP has too bold a grain. We're going to blind nail it, sand it, face nail it with old-timey wrought nails, and then apply the finish. What finish are you leaning towards?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:23AM
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I like the Foursquare Collection. I was looking at some Feiss lighting, but it was kind of bugging me because they have so many "bronze" finishes. I didn't want to pick all from the same collection but it's making it difficult when very few of the same pieces have the same finish.

I had paired up a drum pendant for my dining room and some more modern pendants for my island. I just didn't know if it would work.

How was the quality of Feiss?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:59AM
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Sweet-tea / What kind of trees did you use for your shiplap and trim? I would love to see some pictures if you have any and hear about the process of milling, finishing, etc., and how difficult it was.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:06AM
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Splurge- definitely the land, glad someone mentioned that because I forget about it as apart of the process! I told dh just last night - this house, a different house, no matter, just plunk it down on this property and it would be all good!

Other stuff splurge:
Kitchen - soft close BLUM (no regrets on that upgrade as there is a definite difference between the blum and the other standard brand that was included), granite - esp. island counter top, my stove and it's just middle of the line but it was over a grand and there are plenty that are not, vent hood (otr mw is common in our area). Blanco sink. My stove by the way is my favorite of all of the appliances we bought - gas with convection - and my sink is a close second.

Screened porch

Solid core doors

Closet organizers - some of the best $ we spent.

Occupancy sensor lighting for the laundry room and master closet (pass through).

Hiring an interior decorator that works on the side. She helped with all materials (shingles with siding, paint colors, flooring and tile). And in fact she is back to help with accessories because I stink at that stuff quite frankly. My house does not quite yet feel like a home.

Labor labor labor. DIY, tile and hard wood install, trim install, painting of trim and doors and walls. DIY mudroom cubbies. Laminate in all bathrooms. Standard sinks, showers and faucets (besides kitchen). DIY fireplace stone and exterior stone. DIY landscaping and lawn, underground sprinkling (that is an in process project). Being our own GC - that is a save but it had hidden costs of frustration and exhaustion. ;) Each project within itself could have been enjoyable if we weren't doing them back to back with no time to rest in between.

I can't really think of anything that we splurged on that I think now we shouldn't have.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:01PM
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MushCreek- Reclaimed heart pine sounds awesome! I wish that was in our budget, we are just using basic SYP t & g 8" planks. As of now, we plan to blind nail, sand, and finish with a hardwax oil type finish, no stain, undecided if we face nail. I'm looking at Heritage Natural finishes, (it used be be called LandArk, someone on this forum had used it- it's on an old thread.) I've ordered samples of it and I I like it. I had also considered Osmo and Fiddes, but I never ordered samples of them. I liked the Heritage well enough. I'm just still nervous, it's a lot of floors. :) When do you plan to install?

moselem- We milled pines for the shiplap and trim. We also had purchased some shiplap in longer lengths at the local mill where we are buying flooring. As for process- DH has a portable bandsaw mill, and he cut the pines into 7-9 foot sections with a chainsaw, because that's as large as he wants to manage. He milled it into planks, dried in his solar kiln, and then planed it and used a dado blade on the table saw to make the shiplap edge. It wasn't hard. I say this, and keep in mind I just help load and unload the kiln, and whitewash and help hang the shiplap. :)

I'll post a picture of the whitewashed pine. And also of some hickory he milled that is on the master bath vanity wall, cabinets aren't painted or topped yet, so you'll have to excuse the naked vanity.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:44PM
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Hickory wall DH milled- in master bath

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:46PM
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Save: We were able to use a discontinued brick, and cheap grey mortar as we wanted a painted brick house. I chose granite remnants for the vanities in the children's baths and the mudroom. I used fairly inexpensive white subway tile for all of the showers and my kitchen backsplash (wasn't a sacrifice as this was what wanted anyway, so a rare instance where my taste didn't run to the most expensive choice! :) ) I purchased children's vanity lights, mudroom fixture, master closet fixture from Overstock, because I went horribly over on my other, more prominent fixtures. I chose pro-style KA appliances, rather than the Sub-Zero, Wolf type that most of my neighbors have because, frankly, I'm not much of a cook. My 36" gas range looks plenty beefy and professional, and I have been pleased with the performance of all of them.

Splurges: Millwork and built-ins. My allowance called for very nice casings, base and crown...but I beefed it up even more. I also had them install panel jambs in the major cased openings (dining room, family room, kitchen,) beams in the master bedroom, custom designed mantle and over-mantle, large built-in bookcase in family room, desk/storage in my tiny kitchen office, mudroom cubbies/storage, and custom storage in all closets. The carpenters worked here for a LONG time! I also fell in love with a walnut top for my island, which was considerably more than the granite the allowance was based on. Certain lighting...dining room, foyer, kitchen, outdoor...was way over, hence that's why I went Overstock for some. Oh, and I thought painting the brick would be a wash since we saved money on the brick itself...but it is apparently quite expensive to paint brick and so we went over on that.

The "bones" of the house were included in our quote (2x6 walls, extra insulation, whole house humidifier, sealed and conditioned crawl space, etc) so I didn't include that as a splurge.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:41PM
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Aimless, the quality of the Feiss lighting was great. Very heavy duty. Glass in our fixtures was thick. Electricians had no problem installing.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:49PM
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Jack Mason


Thermador Dual Fuel Range & Ref/Freezer columns
Prime land/lot - Close to beach
3/4" Muskoka Engineered HIckory used on all floors except laundry and baths. Awesome floor and great for Florida Coast humidity
Marvin Integrity Impact Windows
Spray Foam rafters, gables and knee walls
Carrier Infinity HVAC
LED Recessed Lighting
Minka Aviation Fan (Large Propellor) for family room

Appliances were all scratch & dent. Had to order a few replacement panels (just cosmetic)
Engineered wood to be purchased from Hoskings in Massachussetts. Incredible prices.
Standard fiberglass batts in all walls that were not spray foamed.
Bath tile - Found 450 SF of great looking tile. Purchased from commercial tile contractor at $.72/SF. Leftover from large condo project.
Going with natural stone looking tile vs. the real thing. Natural looking porcelain has come a long way!
Stopping kitchen cabinets short of ceiling. Another layer of cabs would be about 3K
Scissor trusses together with knee walls gave us needed extra space for business over garage

Check out our build at below link

Here is a link that might be useful: We have started construction

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 10:58AM
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Where did you find the Mahogany front doors? I'm searching for them now and would appreciate the referral.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 6:00PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

See here

Here is a link that might be useful: Front door

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 7:00PM
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