bean counting

As the addition continues to be built of sticks,  yes we’re those piggies,  we embark on the decision making process that is constant throughout construction.  Making selections of every product and material that will be installed in the house.

We sat down recently with our contractor, and compared cost spreadsheets.  We’ve established our contract as a “cost-plus” arrangement.  This means that we’re privy to every bid from each subcontractor, and evaluate it based on a control budget/ estimate.  Then, the contractor adds his percentage fee on top.  This is a great way to feel like we have some control over the construction budget as we go.  At each step we review the bids, and can solicit another bid if we think we can save money on a particular trade.  Or, more easily for us, can save money on a particular product.  As a designer with trade discounts, I’ll likely be buying tile, faucets, lighting, and hardware directly from sources that I work with often.  For every project I prepare what I call “schedules” that identify every product or material that needs to be selected.  Within my spreadsheet I attach a budget to each item as well as keep tabs on the total.  By doing this, I’m able to quickly identify whether splurging on a $1000 blue faucet in a pool lavatory will be possible by offsetting the cost with other budget minded items.  Maintaining the established budget is important for my clients.  These days there aren’t often vast reserves to be tapped when the construction goes way over budget.  This is true for us as well.  So when we stand up in the attic and look out toward the tree, we start to think about adding a window, and how we will use this storage space.


And if there is some way to capture this unobstructed view?  We’ve always loved the view but haven’t felt inclined to make a huge deal about seeing it through large expanses of glass.  When I moved from NYC this neighborhood was appealing because I felt like I was somewhere by orienting myself to downtown.


So, we’ve decided to expand the boundaries of the storage space in the attic, but not go so far to make it livable space.  We have to draw the dollar sign somewhere…  And for the moment we are comfortable with the projected bottom line, but it is something we need to be aware of almost daily.  Each decision has cost implications and for the hands-on set as we are, this is a perfect way of ensuring that we end up exactly where we thought we would be.

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2 Responses to bean counting

  1. Mary Janusz says:

    I definitely vote for window(s). Who knows what the future holds?

    • marisajanusz says:

      I know, it’s tempting for a couple of reasons. The space in the gable from the outside is pretty vast so a window would help break it up visually, and light in the storage space would be great…. But technically we have to go before the historic board again for a change like this, which is at least a month process. And ideally we’d find a funny old somewhat decorative window to put up there, but where do we get those anymore?

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