What can I cut?

tammyteOctober 29, 2013

I have what I believe to be the kitchen of my dreams....but the house is too big and we need to cut things. What can I cut in this kitchen?

We are a family of 7 and have food allergies. We make most everything from scratch. Most of what we eat are whole foods so I really thing the all fridge/all freezer would be a wise choice. I guess we could have an extra fridge in the garage?

I really wanted lots of counter space for more than 1 or 2 people to be working at one time.

I think an extra prep sink is good too. Sooo many times one person will be doing dishes and another needs it to prep veggies.

I originally planned for a regular range and then a wall oven and microwave oven together in a wall cabinet. There are tons of times I would use the space of two ovens but I guess I don't NEED two.

My children are 11yo and under. They are only going to get bigger and need more space and food. I really need an efficient kitchen.

Here is a pic of a recent plan. It's not exact but gives you an idea of what I was going for.

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Your kitchen is well designed, with excellent functional flow.

I'm not sure what would be the best thing to cut.

I suppose the (more) expensive refrigeration would be one thing to do. Perhaps you could get along for now with an additional overflow freezer in the garage, and maybe another fridge as well. I have just one fridge, but three freezers of various sizes. I move stuff around among the freezers over the course of the year as my supplies ebb. I keep one freezer stocked for things I'll need during a week's cooking, but the other one(s) are more for long term storage that I might not go into more than once a month.

You might be able to save some money using a temporary, and cheaper, counter material, not stone or metal, which you could probably add later.

I would also suggest sizing your island for working dimensions not for seating-and-eating as you have the DR right there.

I would also move your prep sink to the other end (and have it face 180 degrees from where it is now. ) Then it's convenient for people who can use it and stay out of the working area, while still convenient for the fridge and prepping, etc. This leaves you with unbroken working area. But a 48" aisle is not really wide enough for two people working back to back.

I think two ovens would be important in a kitchen like yours. Have you considered a two-oven range? Perhaps you could plan a hole for a wall oven to be added later, but there's a risk it won't fit well. alas.

For the MW, I'd just plan on slotting a countertop model into a shelf ina cab run rather a more-expensive model. Maybe close to the fridge?

Save money by buying moderate priced faucets, etc. They are easy to change out later.

It's hard when you're dealing with a whole house, I know!


    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 5:46PM
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I think you may have to provide more details on your wish list and a rough idea of the fit and finish you had originally planned for, in order to get the best possible suggestions.

Often with a layout like this, dropping a sink won't necessarily deliver a whole lot of savings in a new build. Simply changing a range from a 36" Wolf to a 30" all-gas Kenmore could easily pay for a bunch of features.

Your big $ items will be cabinets, counters, and appliances. Have you set a target level or picked out your minimum level of features? (like partial overlay vs. inset, painted vs. stained, rollouts/softclose/all drawers) Granite/quartz vs. laminate? Whirlpool vs. SubZero/Wolf?

I don't see a pantry in your plan. A drywall constructed pantry is often more cost effective storage in a new build than a bunch of cabinets. If dual refrigeration is a priority, check out the Fridgidaire/Electolux/Kenmore "twins". They are a cost-effective way to achieve this goal without going to the expense of a built-in.

Both the pros and the homeowners here probably could offer plenty of suggestions if you provide a little more detail on your wish list on the big ticket items.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 6:05PM
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Budget allocation is very personal, so all folks can do is share their judgements - YMMV. Here's what we did:

1) We went with custom fronts on Ikea boxes, and it saved us ~$6k vs Kraftmaid and over $15k vs the two custom cab options that two differnet KDs recommended.

2) We picked practical, not blingy, appliances: $1500 gas range and $2500 fridge.

3) We used fewer wall cabinets. This wasn't actually much of a concession for me because I don't care for them in the first place, but they can be quite expensive depending on the brand of cabinets you choose.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 6:18PM
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Thank you both. I had planned on decent quality cabinets and formica countertops. I'm shooting for practical and efficient. Of course I would love for it to look nice too. ;-)

Basically we need to scale down the entire house, square footage wise, so I was trying to figure out how to make the kitchen smaller.

I wanted mostly drawers in the bottom. I have a 4' pantry area just outside the kitchen in the mudroom planned. It would be for large containers of bulk items while I would keep smaller containers in the kitchen cabinets near where I use them most.

I have cut the house plan to the point where the living room is not much bigger than the kitchen. I don't want to go smaller in any other room. I was really holding out, hoping I could keep my kitchen. My next option is to cut an entire room from the main floor of the house and utilize basement space for that.

The builder showed me another plan (with a poorly designed kitchen) and said that the kitchen would be "just fine" for me. I don't think he knows how much I use my kitchen. LOL But he is just trying to find us something we can realistically make happen.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 6:24PM
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Thank you Gordo- we were posting at the same time. Yes, I had planned on utilizing some of those cost saving ideas. I appreciate all input!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 6:30PM
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Which dimension is better to cut? I mean, if you reduce the width--being brutal, remove the entire island, and have an extra wide passage. But that shrinks the DR too. Or shorten the length to increase the DR...or what? I understand the freeze-lots concept; have you considered putting the spare freezer in the basement, if that's where you have more space? How about some/all of the pantry moving to the basement? (that's what kids are for in our family, fetching stuff from the part of the pantry that's in the basement. And when we don't have kids anymore, there will be less need for it! ;) )

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 6:54PM
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Honestly, the best "cut" is to not build a home at all. There is a lot of existing real estate on the market, and it will all cost less per square foot than building new. Building a new home is a luxury that costs significantly above what buying an existing home costs. If you can't afford to do the project properly at this time without cutting out some of the essentials, then it's time to drop back and rethink the project all together. Maybe live in your current house and save longer to build this plan. Maybe buy something else existing.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 7:11PM
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With 7 people, food allergies, and cooking everything from scratch I would not touch the kitchen. It sounds like the most important room in the house.

Without knowing more about your whole project it is difficult to make suggestions.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 7:42PM
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I think, larger cabs instead of a number of smaller ones may cost less, and pullouts may be cheaper than drawers or may be added later.

Here's an alternative layout with less cabs. If corner cab faces the DR you won't need any corner systems.

I guess a small island may be added later when budget permits.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 8:34PM
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Thanks for the suggestions. I will look over them in a bit.

I see what you are saying about being less expensive to purchase existing. We are to the point that we want to get into the home we plan to stay in. We either need to build it or buy it. I have searched our area for years and haven't found anything that is close without a lot of other fluff that we don't want to pay for.

Also this property has been in the family for years and we love the location. If we sell it, which is a possibility, we would most certainly have trouble finding something like it within our price range. We got a good deal on the property. Of course we could take that gain and use it toward a different homestead....so much to consider.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:04PM
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You might be able to pare a bit in square footage from the kitchen, but will that savings deliver what you need?

In sena01's plan, you can see that deferring the island will really drive a lot of savings. The double row of base cabinets plus countertop will drive some savings. There are very few uppers in this plan, which also delivers even more savings.

Your big ticket item is cabinets: Sticking to stock sizes with a decent quality manufacturer in a plain wood stain and shaker doors will deliver the first big bulk of savings. Keep in mind that depending on door style, type, wood species, finish, and accessories, you cabinet costs can easily vary from $10K to 40K for the very same space. I saw a 2x swing alone in comparable cabinets and layouts, just in variation in bids and manufacturers.

Avoiding fancy decorative end panels, glass fronts and keeping to the essential internal accessories (using after market ones for things like knife dividers and cutlery inserts) will also help keep the budget under control. If you choose laminate counters, vinyl floors, and mainstream appliances, you can then begin to form a baseline budget. If that is still too much for your house budget, then much more dramatic re-thinking is required.

At the same time, with certain things, you don't want to cut too many corners. Some things are easy enough to change out and upgrade later (like appliance upgrades or a new BS), but others like wiring, plumbing or cabinets can be costly.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:18PM
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Thanks gooster. I agree, we are trying to make sure to build what can't be done later and give on things like floor covering and the like.

So do you guys think if I completely cut the island and bring the kitchen in it would still be a decent kitchen? I am still trying to find other places to cut in the house as I really don't want to cut the kitchen at all, but brainstorming here is helpful.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:28PM
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We're a family of 9 on a fairly tight spending plan trying to prepare for our new kitchen. We also make most of our food from scratch.

These are some of the choices we are making: I looked at the all fridges and all freezers. I visited the stores that displayed them. Oohed at their beauty. And gasped at their prices! Then, I added up the storage spaces of traditional fridges vs. the all fridge. We ended up buying a used regular hum-drum fridge over freezer combo unit on Craigslist to augment our first fridge. Why? It was easy to come by and it was inexpensive ($200, if I'm remembering right). If it dies, it will be a simple, low-cost proposition to replace it, probably with another Craigslist find. Also, the combined storage space of my 2 fridges is more than a single all fridge. I don't need quite a full-size freezer in my kitchen. I'm fine with going to the basement to access our gigunda chest freezer and equally large upright freezer for the less frequently used items that won't fit in my 2 little freezers in the kitchen.

We've also gone round and round with cooktops vs. ranges vs. wall ovens. We've decided to go with one gas range and one electric range. I still drool a little bit when I see those pretty 6 and 8 burner pieces of wonderment. But, the money did the talking. We could buy myriad ranges for the prices of one of those slick cooktops and wall ovens. We found a 30" smooth top electric range on Craigslist that has both a large and a small oven under the cooktop. Hopefully the 30" gas range will work well that's in the house we're getting ready to close on. If it doesn't, back to Craigslist I will go. : ) My 2 30" ranges are not taking up any more counter space than a cooktop + a wall oven, but I suppose I'm sacrificing lower cabinet storage a bit by going this route.

While I love the height of wall ovens, the prices that they command are disturbing to me. Besides, between my two ranges, I have *three ovens! : ) The built-in ovens seem to be prone to problems. I read through Rhome's oven saga (http://rhome410.blogspot.com/2011/11/tko-tuesday-oven-saga.html) and decided I wanted no part of that challenge. Standard 30" ranges are so much less expensive and less troublesome to replace.

Microwaves aren't being built to last like they were years ago. In anticipation of future replacement costs, we went for a run of the mill jobby that will be easy to swap out when it dies. We also have a good-sized toaster oven that can help augment our oven(s) if needed.

For our sinks, we've gotten good deals at a store called Grossman's Bargain Outlet. They have pretty good prices on a lot of their kitchen related items. (Cabs, counters, flooring, tile, hardware, etc.)

One of our dishwashers was found on C-list, the other we ordered from ebay. I ended up getting one in white and the other is one that takes a wood panel. This way they don't have to match.

Could you cut something like flooring costs? Maybe stain and poly the plywood until you can cover it later on? Install the perimeter cabinets now and save up for the island later? Islands often are not identical to the perimeter, so even if cabinet lines change before you can buy the island units, it would still be ok. In the past, we've used dressers as islands, which can be cheap to come by and it's easy to add a top to them. And they have drawers! : ) Used cabinets might be another option for the kitchen, at least for a few years.

I wish you well! : )

Here is a link that might be useful: A cute, big family kitchen on a small budget

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 9:53PM
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Laughable - These are great ideas and I love that link. :) No matter how the kitchen ends up I am still going to need to cut costs as much as possible. :)

    Bookmark   October 29, 2013 at 11:37PM
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"...Basically we need to scale down the entire house, square footage wise, so I was trying to figure out how to make the kitchen smaller..."

"...I have cut the house plan to the point where the living room is not much bigger than the kitchen..."

Do you have a layout of the entire first floor?

You're cutting back on square footage - but in which direction? Is the house getting shorter? narrower? Which direction will make a difference in how you might redesign the kitchen.

"...We are a family of 7 and have food allergies. We make most everything from scratch..."

Honestly, I think that based on your needs, the kitchen shouldn't change too much. As others have stated, look at maybe changing your expectations for mega appliances or expensive types of appliances (like built-in or paneled) and other finishes.

When cutting back on our Kitchen when our plans exceeded our budget, we looked first at what could be postponed - like a tiled backsplash and glass shelves and doors for our two "glass" front cabinets. [We still have a painted backsplash b/c each time I had $ saved up, something came up that was more important (like braces for DS, a washer, a dyer , a "new" car, a new hot water heater, a new well holding tank, *sigh*). Now, with one "child" in college and the other off to college in the Fall of 2014, my backsplash looks like it may never happen - or at least not for another 4 or 5 years...I digress...]

The next things we looked at were what we could DIY - like painting the Kitchen & DR, finishing the inside of the walk-in pantry, and putting down our own DR floor using engineered wood rather than the 3/4" hardwood I originally wanted.

Then we looked at what we could do without - like the decorative doors on the ends of our cabinets and the ends & back of the peninsulas. Instead we went with "plain" finished panels. [I did end up with decorative doors on the ends of the peninsulas, but that was a result of major damage done to our cabinets when our installer put in our counters and did not cost us anything other than time.] We also eliminated the Miele Masterchef oven, Dacor built-in MW, the Miele warming drawer, and the paneled refrigerator. I currently have a GE Profile SS refrigerator, a Sharp MW drawer, a GE oven stack (Profile), and a GE warming drawer.

We also changed our door style from the one I fell in love with to one that was more reasonably priced. At least I was able to find a door style that had the same drawer panel design paired with it that was paired with my favorite door. I thought that I could change out the doors later to the ones I really wanted - but I've come to really like what I have, so I don't plan to do it. [I may, someday, "build" a China Hutch in the DR using that door style - I think it will "dress up" the DR a bit as well as go well with the kitchen cabinets without looking like a continuation of the kitchen into the DR (the kitchen & DR are open to each other).] I also changed our cabinet finish so I could afford the Cherry wood upgrade (I love cherry!)

We did eliminate one thing that I regret now - the GD on the prep sink. In retrospect, we only saved about $250 but now when I peel veggies/fruit or have other "leavings" in my prep sink I have to carry it over to the trash (or GD In the main sink). We should have ether just put in a GD at both sinks (preferable) or put it in the prep sink.

I think in all we cut around $10K in the kitchen/DR and another $10K in the DR/LR/Library (floors).

I included all the excruciating detail to show you our thought processes and what we did to cut back (and so you know you're not alone in having budget issues!) So - ask yourself...

  1. What can you postpone to later?

  2. What can you DIY?

  3. What can you do without?

  4. What can you do less expensively now and upgrade later?

Consider, though, that infrastructure items should be your #1 priority - like plumbing, electrical, windows, etc. Then the items that are both the most expensive and most difficult to replace - likes cabinets and flooring.

Sinks, btw, are not very expensive even when factoring in plumbing, so I wouldn't eliminate the prep sink - but don't get an overly expensive sink. For fixtures, get a chrome finish - the least expensive but the finish that I think is the most versatile b/c it goes with just about anything! Also, consider a pullout faucet rather than a pull down for now - our pullout was a lot less expensive than our pull down - and they were made by the same manufacturer and have the same finish. That prep sink will be worth far, far more than what you pay for it. Again, remember that in your case the kitchen is crucial b/c of your family's needs.

Hopefully, you will be able to make a significant enough dent in the expenses so you don't have to cut back on the overall kitchen design too much.

You've already stated that you planned to have a laminate counter top - that's a step in the right direction b/c counters can be relatively easy to replace later if (1) they get beat up or (2) you're ready to move up to a more expensive material.

Consider, as well, butcher block - I think it's even less expensive than laminate (depending on the grade/level of laminate you're planning). Maybe make the island or the counters on the range wall butcher block. I also would plan for a middle of the road laminate as opposed to a high-end.

For appliances, go with "regular" appliances. Even wall ovens vary greatly in price. Go with something like a "regular" GE wall oven now and then, later, you can upgrade to a GE Profile or GE Monogram with all the bells & whistles. Most GE products have the same specs. I would dearly like an induction cooktop and I noticed that the cutout for the GE induction cooktops are exactly the same as the cutouts for the "regular" electric smoothtop cooktops. I have the latter now and can easily upgrade to the former (induction) in the future.

For a MW, instead of a built-in, have an alcove built into the oven stack above the oven and place an inexpensive MW in it.

There have been a lot of great ideas mentioned in this thread!

Back to my first questions in this post:

Do you have a layout of the entire first floor?

You're cutting back on square footage - but in which direction? Is the house getting shorter? narrower? Which direction will make a difference in how you might redesign the kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 12:13AM
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Buehl - Thank you for writing that all out! Which direction? Well, any direction that will make it work. ;-) The plans the designer has done up to date don't show the exact kitchen I pictured. I had yet to tweak hers the way I wanted it. I'll put a pic of that main floor here for you though so you can see the whole thing.

I think we are going to cut the music room (front left). I really wanted a small room to keep the instruments in that had a door. Noise factor. :) They can go in the basement but then it's harder to keep track of who is practicing.

The school room (front right) really must be upstairs. I spend so much time in the kitchen that I need to run back and forth between the two. I need exercise but not so much that I will be running up and down the stairs throughout the day.

We had measured for the living room and had determined that 18'x18' would be a good size. I think this plan has it bigger so I am scaling that down.

Mudroom is another necessity as we have lots of coats, shoes, boots, jackets and such to store. We get all four seasons where we live.

The builder that quoted our plan basically said that to stay in our budget we need to go from a 1.5 or 2 story with a basement, down to a single level and put the kids' bedrooms in the basement. I really don't want to do that for a variety of reasons.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 12:30AM
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What if you cut the foundation by 4' along the back of the house (LR & Kitchen) but have a 2-foot cantilever so the Kitchen and LR are only reduced by 2'? Foundations can be expensive and cutting back by 4' may make a significant difference.

[Added] Are the ceilings on the first floor higher than 8'? If so, do they need to be? I don't know how much you would save by going to 8', but it might be worth looking into. Personally, I'd rather have more floorspace than taller ceilings, but it's up to you.

I can't read the dimensions (it's too blurry), so I can't tell the overall sizes of the rooms or the house in general.

One suggestion - which may add to your cost but that I think will be worth it is to make the "bottom" window in the Mudroom a door so you can also enter the Mudroom from the front of the house w/o having to run around to the side-load garage. Our neighbors did that and they use it a lot. They don't traipse in mud through the front door - instead they go through the Mudroom. I will admit, though, that their porch is the entire length of the front of their house, so the Mudroom door opens on to the porch. Your porch looks like it's only on part of the front of your house. Perhaps you could put in a walkway b/w the porch and the driveway/garage that runs along the front of the house. Then, have a "landing pad" in front of the Mudroom door. Start with concrete for now and, later, put in fieldstone, brick, etc. (or extend the porch). The walkway/path & landing pad could be a DIY job...

This post was edited by buehl on Wed, Oct 30, 13 at 1:01

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 12:56AM
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I like the door idea. :)

I brought the back of the house in about 4 feet and made the school room a bit smaller.The master bedroom is 14 1/2 feet wide by 13 feet long. I could probably cut the closets down and just have them open into the bedroom and be 2' deep.

If I cut the music room out entirely then I have the dilemma of how to incorporate the master bedroom. Plus that puts the master bed or mbath in the front porch area and I was trying not to do that for privacy.

I appreciate the feedback!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 1:02AM
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I like the idea of leaving out the island. My new kitchen is much more efficient that I find myself not needing my island... anything you do at an island eventually has to be transported to another part of your kitchen anyway (main sink, stove, etc.). A big table would work just as well in the meantime. If you find later that you really miss the storage of a full-blown island, you can add it when funds are available.

The only consideration is whether you plumb now for an island sink. I don't have one and don't need one. I can see how they would be useful, but they're definitely not a necessity.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 2:10AM
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How much can you DIY? How many estimates did you get? Can you leave off the garage? Reduce the basement area and have a crawlspace for most of the house? The master bath looks nice but could you make it smaller with a tub/shower combo? Are two walkin closets a must have?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 7:33AM
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If we didn't go with an island then I would think we would squeeze the kitchen in and make it smaller. Otherwise wouldn't that be a long walk to some countertop? That's what I've always thought anyway. Would love thoughtson that option.

So far only one estimate. I am waiting on more. We can do plumbing and electrical ourselves. Then probably painting and putting floors in.

I worked on condensing some last night. Sorry it's not bigger. I'm not sure why it's doing that.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:32AM
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Oh and I'm hoping the stairs will work that way. I think it will make a drop in the ceiling (9') in the music room but maybe we can make that work into something interesting looking. ??

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:33AM
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What's the dollar amount you need to cut? If you've got to cut as much as you imply, you're going to have to make some big sacrifices, and you won't be building any variant of your plan. But, cutting the space piecemeal without an overall design vision is NOT the way to do it. It won't work. At all. You've got to start over.

Going from a 2 story to 1 1/2 story to a single story is much too much cutting to keep the functionality of the floorplan. You might as well stay in the too small house and keep saving money as spend it on a house so small it won't do what you want.

The suggestions that I would make would be to go back to the drawing board entirely. Start with a big square box, and the idea of adding on additions as the space needs increase. You can live without a garage, and can add a separate garage later, with a breezeway to connect the spaces, and that has a master suite above the garage. You can live with a small "regular" bedroom and share a hallway bath with some of the kids. Then that room can become a schoolroom, or an older child's room, or a shared bedroom as some of the younger ones age.

Think of the minimum that you absolutely need right now, and that won't include any music rooms or school rooms or 10' ceilings or fancy appliances, or even wood floors. Those are extraneous to your needs and are want items. The basement space can be appropriated for those functions, even if it's only partially finished and you plan to make it nicer late, as long as it's climate controlled. Regular appliances cost less and just adding a second fridge in a storage area gives you more storage space than the all one thing models. Wood floors are upgrades. Inexpensive vinyl or carpet can be done for around $2 a square foot and you can DIY the wood floors at a later time.

You've invested a lot of time into a plan that has a lot of wants in it, and you have to go back and re-evaluate what truly is a "need" vs. a "want". GW and Houzz aren't very good places to hang around unless you can keep to your budget and not be swerved by the latest and greatest. Most things done on both are a lot more upscale than the "regular" builds that most of America does.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:53AM
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We are a family of 8-6 kids all under 10, and I cook like you do. Your kitchen is important!!!!

Island-I think you need it! I would not cut it, but I would NOT provide seating and just make it the exact size you need, so just a work table-I say 4x5 maybe? Forget the sink in the island. I like the suggestion of getting a kitchen island cart for the time being, if you need too-check out sams club or ikea-they have carts that you can use like an island while you save for a built in.

What is total cost of the ovens + gas top? Could you save by getting a 36 inch range?

Cabs are huge-they can fluctuate by thousands-we could have saved thousands by going with ikea!

Forget the backsplash-pain the kitchen in a semi gloss or something easy to clean and diy later.

Fridges-get a regular sized one, place on in garage for now.

I think you can do it-I would look at cutting other areas of house as well-this is an important room for you all!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 11:03AM
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Something like this very quick sketch. You can add the garage wing in a few years and use the basement. I left the kitchen and the master alone, although the master should probably be a tub/shower combo and made to be smaller not with a separate tub and shower. The kitchen and family living areas are the most important areas. Focus on the areas that aren't used as much to cut, and simplify the rest.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 11:13AM
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robo (z6a)

The people on the Building a Home forum could probably help you with your floor plan as well. They're good at evaluating for cost and function.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 1:03PM
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I so appreciate all this feedback. Truly I do. I have worked over in the building forum as well. I was coming here to see what others thought specifically about the kitchen...what is realistically a need vs. a want sort of thing.

We can't stay in our current home and continue to save. We already own the property and, long story short, we are not at all saving where we are at. It is sucking us dry. The sooner we can be rid of our current home the better actually. So we either need to sell our current home or the property to save any money at all. We have secured temp housing and are moving in the next month or so hopefully.

Green-I completely see your point on so many things. Little things like master tub vs. tub/shower combo I know add up. I do know that if we don't get the separate tub now it likely will never happen. Same for the music and school rooms. By the time we would be able to build them we would no longer need them for those purposes. I appreciate your candor as that is what I need right now. :)

This is a lot more emotional than I can share here (and I'm sure you don't want to know LOL) but we have been trying to make this happen for 7 years now. We had the money set aside and would have been just fine but after a death in the family and a huge estate mix up/mess we are in much more debt than ever intended. We are trying to get out of that debt and keep things within budget. My husband and I are not getting any younger. We are to the point where we either need to make this happen or it's not. And I guess maybe I need to come to the realization that it may not happen. I don't know what we will do though. The property has been in the family for years and would be very difficult emotionally to sell. But we can't keep it if we aren't using it for our primary residence.

Sorry for the ramble.

When I said we could do the floors I meant put down vinyl. We are already planning on doing a lot of the cosmetic things cheaply and upgrading at a later date.

I like the idea of not doing the island now but keep the spot for it. I have a table that could probably fill the space till I found a good deal on something. I could even get scratch and dent cabinets and make a hodge podge kitchen for a while. I have no problem with that.

As far as going from 2 story to 1.5 story to single...the builder was basically saying if we wanted to keep the main level the way we had it then we would need to lose the entire 2nd story and move those rooms to the basement to stay in budget. So, yes, we are talking quite a bit of money.

So it comes down to...is it worth building if we aren't getting our highest prioritized wants? Not every single want, but the things that we have dreamed and planned for the last 20 years. Lots to think about.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 1:35PM
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Briefly looking at the floor plan 10/30 0:30 and lists of features in another thread, what you have so far seems to be your ideal dream house. You might have a lot to spend on this, but in that you do have budget constraints, it's worth noting that few of us can actually afford our dream houses; have the ideal, optimally functional design in place.

I say this because there seems to be four doors in the powder room area. Things like this would add significant amounts of money. While it might be ideal to have a door directly into the powder room from the yard, maybe they need to come in through the garage mud room and walk around to the bathroom. I'm not sure what is going on there, it looks like two mud rooms with a small powder room off to one side. Why so many rooms and doors there? I think you need to simplify and compartmentalize less. But it's good you are thinking through how you live so well. Perhaps there are other areas in the house where this type of over-design is also happening.

Looking at the kitchen, does it really need to be that large? That is quite a bit of counter space/cabinetry. People get by (large busy families) on much less, so I think you need to dream a little smaller. It's hard to let go of the perfect fantasies, but the house can still do what you need.

Laundries on each floor is a want, ultra convenience. While you might "need" it, it is dreaming, imo, when you are answering to a budget.

I would never have laundry in the living areas again. Convenient as it might be, the risk of flooding/water damage is very real. While it might not happen to most people, when it does or is a recurring problem, it is a nightmare. I would put that in the basement.

I wouldn't want to give up a music room either as it's so important for the children. I would think it could be moved to the basement though to contain costs and the noise you mentioned.

Can't see the dimensions but the rooms look pretty big overall. Can the classroom be any smaller? How many children at a time use this?

I don't see a coat closet in the foyer, which is always a pain, imo.

Do you take baths? Because everyone I know with whirlpool tubs have said they never use them. They take up half the room and just collect dust. If you do bathe, then a separate shower keeping the bathtub clean is good, imo, as is the relaxing whirlpool for your hectic life.

The bathroom seems very roomy. I've seen less open floor in high end houses, so it would seem you could optimize the layout (or skim some ideas) in there. I understand the separate clothing closets but they do look quite large. I would rather have a little more space in the master than what appears to be huge closets. Usually the men can get by with something much smaller and simpler.

You could add on the garage later. Not sure how much wear and tear on the vehicles though, that it might be costly in the long run.

Maybe I'm not grasping the dimensions or amount of space from the plan, but I can't read the notes. The rooms just look relatively large to me.

I would think that you could find a plan available that would meet your needs fairly well. Most people do not custom build, they buy an existing house. And most people do not do a custom design/build from scratch. Custom anything is always the most expensive route to take and involves a lot of design hours.

So it would seem you are at reality check mode now, after seeing just how much it costs to do these things. It will, in the end, be more than you have budgeted. Be sure to have some room to handle that. Floating down from the clouds is not easy. It's hard to let go of the wants especially when they feel like needs, but most of us do have to compromise. You are still really lucky just to be able to have a home built on your dream lot, even if it isn't exactly what you would like, or optimally functional.

Just a few thoughts off the top. Take them or leave them :)

P.S. Another thing you can do to cut plumbing expense is to put fixtures closer together or back to back. I notice in the master that they are spread out one in each corner. For example, in the first plan the tub is in front of the window with its plumbing wall on the right. The toilet, however, is on the opposite wall to the plumbing wall rather than using the plumbing wall at the tub. Do you know where your stack(s) are? The toilet does need to be within a certain distance to the stack. The point is to be efficient with plumbing runs when planning. Think about how the downstairs relates to the upstairs too.

You are smart to plan your furniture placement now. Often things are built without enough consideration for furnishings.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Oct 30, 13 at 20:12

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 2:40PM
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Tammy, Was your thread on the building forum recent? I couldn't find it. If you think it would be helpful, link it here.

Since you have a home to sell and one to buy or build, I would interview some real estate agents. You need to get some good advice on how much you can sell your current home for and what is currently on the market that may meet your needs.

The current prospective builder is basically saying all he can do for you is a small box with a basement. You really need to get more estimates. Also have you considered a modular (not manufactured) home? There are a lot of variables with this but it would be worth looking into.

Sounds like this is not going to be your dream home. I would focus on your absolute must have NEEDS. In your case a functional kitchen would be a need. Perhaps two full baths instead of 2 1/2. Must you have a basement? Stuff like that.

Edited to add: Who did these plans? an architect?

This post was edited by debrak2008 on Wed, Oct 30, 13 at 14:54

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 2:43PM
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Thank you both. I've got to finish dinner and school. I skimmed but would like to re-read later. Good, realistic points though it seems.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Here's another idea for you- build your house, but don't finish it out. Would that cut down enough on expenses for you?

What I mean is- leave the floors concrete/plywood. Plumb the whole house, but only outfit one or two bathrooms with toilets/sinks/showers etc, only one laundry room, only one sink in the kitchen. You could do scratch and dent or used kitchen cabinets at first, or you could look at IKEA for the unfitted Euro style kitchens that are not attached to the walls. It would be kind of like camping out in your house, to some extent.

Did I catch that you are homeschooling? You can work on training your kids to help finish the house as money allows- I believe it was the Duggar's that did this with their kids- following all safety precautions of course. The kids learned valuable skills and the house got finished. Additionally, if they help build it they will have ownership and help to take care of it better. If you are not DIY already, then you can learn too along with them!

Another option- do a mobile home or two together on the land. When I was growing up my family of 6 lived for half a year in a single wide trailer while my parents were house hunting after a move. We had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. I actually remember that period of time pretty fondly. They make much bigger mobile homes now.

With the land in the family, and the dream for so many years, it may be time to scale back where you can and then step out on faith.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 10:26PM
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Jess-That was the way we were leaning but this first builder acted like all we could get in budget was a rough shell. We wouldn't have much money to even work on finishing as we go for quite a while.

If we could get a rough shell done and at least a make shift kitchen and bathroom and get moved in...we would then have about $300 extra a month to work with. This money was really ear marked for upcoming braces and vehicles though.

We were hoping we could at least get the main level finished out except maybe floors and trim and then work on the rest but it's not looking good.

I'm hoping to hear from another builder this week. He is a carpenter and enjoys doing a lot the work himself on homes he GC's for as opposed to the first guy that just oversees things. Maybe this second guy will be able to do more for less. ??

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 10:33PM
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So, what's your quote? 280-300K? You're right at 2100 above ground, right? Plus a finished basement? Just to put this in perspective, there's a poster on the Real Estate forum right now trying to sell a 3 bedroom 2 bath house in central Indiana, and it's under 100K. I think it just illustrates what I said about existing homes being so much cheaper than a new build.

All of the "finish it out later" sounds great. IF you're a 100% cash build. No bank will give you a mortgage for a half finished house. $300 a month should go into your savings, not into finishing a house. Especially if you don't have at least 6 months of living expenses saved up.

What about getting a part time job and all of the funds going towards saving for the house? Are any of the 5 kids old enough to do that? Have you done a budget analysis to see where you can cut back?

You say that you "can't save" and are losing money on the current house. Could that mortgage be modified to have a lower note to allow for more savings?

Is the land zoned to allow mobile homes? I know of a couple that lived in a mobile home and built their home as a cash build because no bank would give them a loan to do it. It took them 7 years, but they did it.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 12:03AM
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Honestly, I think it would be total chaos and unfair to the kids to live in such an unfinished house (being that there are five children, even more so). Building and renovating is stressful enough in and of itself. It is very difficult to live in a house when all that is going on, with workmen, all the decisions and problems, temporary setups, etc. Add five children, homeschooling, need for special diets and cooking, etc., and you and your husband will be at your wits end each and every day with no end in sight.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 12:33AM
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Im no help with your situation but just wanted to say. I live in Europe and if this were my house and my budget, the first thing I would cut it that huge mbr and bath. Never would i make the kitchen smaller, how much time do you spent in that mbr. Versus the kitchen.

Just my humble opinion

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 7:06AM
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A "designer" did the plan for us. She was suggested to us by an architect and a few builders in this area use her services.

Yeah, I don't desire to live in construction at all. I've btdt but it was mostly without kids. We have done a refi on the existing mortgage and it's as low as possible. The money on the build is not a conventional mortgage so there is no problem with it not being finished. The land is worth enough and we borrowed a small enough amount that it's fine.

The extra money would be on top of savings. Not a lot of savings but we are socking money away. The whole reason we are having trouble financing this build is because we are trying to be responsible and not over extend ourselves. We could easily get a loan for the entire thing but would be quite strapped for 30 years which we don't want to do.

We can have a mobile home on it if we want. Not a lot of zoning and codes where we live. It's quite rural.

I'll look at the mbr/bath some more. We have a king size bed and my husband wants to be able to get around in there easily. He's a big/tall guy with large feet. Right now our bedroom also houses a lot of the laundry sorting and such so we like it bigger. But that shouldn't happen in this plan.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 7:46AM
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I didn't read all the responses but the first thing I see you could cut to lower cost is the garage. I know it has nothing to do with the kitchen but it could certainly be added later. How many bedrooms are upstairs? Can you get away with doing the Master Bedrm wing later?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 9:38AM
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So here is what I wonder - you say you want this to be your long term house as in even when kids are out of the house.

What would you do with the music room and the school room then?

I like what GreenDesigns did with squaring it up and removing those extra rooms. The dining area could double as a classroom with some good closets where you could store away the school supplies easily and so the room could return to a dining area at the end of the day.

Music room - well can they use the master during the day or a corner somewhere. I know less than ideal, but sometimes if you want something to happen this may be what you need to do.

Where you planning on finishing the basement? If so maybe cut that out as well.

I agree it would be really nice to have a separate school room and all, but if it isn't in the budget and you want to be able to live on the land maybe that is a compromise you have to make.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 10:09AM
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I don't know much about construction costs, or house plans, but I think maybe you should try to fit MBR+bath, class and LR+DR+kitchen in a square or nearly a square area,

MBR can be on top left corner, closets on the LR side, Class on the bottom left corner with closets on each side of the door, one for class, one for entry. Master bath and laundry in the middle.

On the right side, LR can be at the upper corner, then dining, and kitchen at the bottom corner (if you prefer it to be close to class). I think you can even squeeze a half bath b/w LR and master closet if you'll build the garage at a later date.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Garage at a later date could work.

The school room would be a school room for at least another 15 years. Then it could serve as an office, extra space or even a nicer music room.

The music room would stay a music room. We always plan to have instruments in the house. Yes, we could use the master for that. I was just wanting a spot to have all instruments and music kept together, where 2 or more people could practice together or even play something for a visiting grandparent. It also made it nice that it was in the front of the house and got the mbr/mba off the front porch as I really didn't like that. If we cut rooms the music room would be the first to go.

I'm sure I could make it work without a school room. I just wanted someplace to be able to leave projects out at times and not have to pick it all up throughout the day to eat. Right now we have a separate school table but it's all in one room. I like the separate tables a lot but would love a separate room. I bet a nice size closet would help though. Right now we lack closet space and it shows.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 5:00PM
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I've not any experience building a home, so no advice there. Smart of you to try and avoid the 30 year loan. I do know our bedroom is 13 X 11 and we receintly upgraded to a king size bed. The bed sits against teh 13' wall and leaves room for small dressers/nightstands on each side. Our two closets are biult in the eves of our 1.5 story, so I can't comment on how much room might be needed there.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 5:06PM
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