[Editor (Me): This is my version of what happened because I’m writing the story. If Erica or Ramona have a different version, don’t believe them. I write almost the truth most of the time.]
I’m going to have to back up a few days and tell you about our visit to the Wilshire Home Design Center. We did this on 19 March, a day before our move. This is part of the initial home building process and can be really, really fun if you don’t think about the costs! I say that because this is where you get to pick out all the materials that make up your house. No two houses look alike even if they are the same floor plan built by the same builder. At the Design Center, you pick the color of your bricks, the stone and the paint for the wood trim and just about all the interior colors and stuff. And that’s just the start.
We had an appointment for 1 pm which we promptly made and were greeted by one of the Design Consultants. This lady guides you through the myriad of choices that you have to make in order to get your house put together. We had invited Erica to come with us since she hadn’t had the opportunity to actually go through this process. And, much to our pleasure, Emma also came to help! Uh, I hadn’t thought that it might be dangerous to have three women picking out stuff for our house! Oh, and there weren’t any price tags on this stuff, either!!!!!
One of the things that is stressed before you go to the Design Center is that you are paying for the time you spend there so it’s not like you can just wander around and google at all the different materials hanging on the walls. Additionally, you might not be the only customer they have to help during the day so, they prefer you come ready to make decisions and most of all, pay attention to what the design consult is talking to you about!
Well, the first thing she said got my attention real quick-like! She said, if we want to change the standard stone to something else, which we did, the upgraded mortar would cost us an additional $2,000! Yikes! Here we were only 5 minutes into our two hour session and we’d already added 2000 bucks to our house cost! It didn’t get any better, that’s for sure.
After choosing what we wanted the outside of our house to look like, we then moved into the back of the design center and really started picking out stuff. We had our choice of kitchen cabinets, light or dark wood, different stains, and a whole bunch of stuff. Then came counter tops. Do we go with the standard or upgrade our granite. How about floor tile and then carpet. How about a regular carpet padding or do we want to get an upgraded and cushy pad? Man, there was so much stuff to choose from that I figured we’d be there for the next two weeks! I couldn’t tell one carpet quality from the next nor could I tell what granite looked best with the cabinet color we picked out. When I’m in a kitchen, I’m looking for food, not how it’s made. I was totally lost.
Luckily, Ramona and Erica were there and they knew exactly what they wanted. As soon as the design consultant said pick something out, I grabbed whatever was closest to me that looked kind of nice, I guess, and said, “That’s my choice!”. Of course Ramona and Erica couldn’t and wouldn’t do that. They would kind of look at my choices, wrinkle their noses and then walk around picking about 10 different samples of the same thing, then talk about each one and finally, finally, say they liked this one the best. Usually, it was the first one they looked at or even some times it was the item I picked out in the first place! Ha!
While Erica and Ramona were busy picking stuff out, the Design Consultant would arrange everything on this huge table so they could see how all the colors fit together. I didn’t see anything. We had a door cabinet, a hunk of granite, some slabs of tile, and a patch of carpet all laid together and I thought it looked like a pretty good pile of stuff. Still, the Design Consultant, Erica and Ramona were all oohing and ahing about how great everything was going to look together. Of course Emma did the best; she was watching a movie on the iPad which was a lot more interesting that what I was doing!
Actually, I was interested in the stuff we picked out. Quite a bit interested because everything tagged higher than Level 1 meant that this item was an upgrade and would cost extra. Remember when you go to the ice cream place and ask for a 10-scoop cone. They quietly mention that the extra 9 scoops are going to cost extra but you don’t pay any attention to that! Well, same thing here. I’m not sure what exactly Level 1 stuff was but we didn’t have a lot of it. We had some Level 2s and 3s and I know that granite counter top was a Level 4, yikes! I did tell the Design Consultant that I wanted the fattest carpet pad they had so she grinned real big and grabbed what probably was a Level 300 piece of foam and said this stuff was the best! Ca-ching! $$$$
Did I mention there was another Design Consultant setting at a desk with a laptop in front of her listening to all our conversations. I finally figured out that she was recording everyone of our selections and racking up all the prices. I had no clue how much this stuff we had picked out was costing us. I knew that we could get up to $22,000 worth of options for only $11,000 but I figured there was no way we were going to spend $22,000 in options anyway!
With the Design Consultant leading the way, we finally got all of our options picked out. Some had to be priced by their construction people since we asked for a change in the basic floor plan. There were also some other things that had to be priced out so we couldn’t get a summary of all our options until we met with Andy Cobb at Wilshire Homes on the 23rd of March. I was kind of wondering just how much all this stuff was going to costs. Instead of wondering, I should have been worrying!
Still, Erica and Ramona had a blast picking out everything. It was like being in a candy store for them. They have a good eye for what goes together and what doesn’t. It’s part of the house building process you have to do, so you might as well have fun doing it. I walked out of the Design Center feeling like we did pretty good and I think our new house will look great. Ramona also thinks it’ll look great and now she can hardly wait to get into it!
We finally met with Andy on the 23rd to go over our options list. When he called to set up the appointment, he said he was surprised by the list we generated! He didn’t explain what he meant by that so I was really, ah, intrigued, by the time we got there. He handed us two sets of papers, one just had all the options from the Design Center and the other was the home contract with the base price of the home and all the options listed together.
Well, I headed straight for the bottom line! Lord have mercy! Ramona and Erica, not me, had racked up $68,000 worth of options! Of course, you subtract the first $11,000 (those were my options and they were free) and that still leaves $57,000 in options! Ramona and I both agreed, we’d have to trim this back quite a bit! So, we got to work.
Nice, expensive walk-in shower. NOT needed!
One of the first things to go was a $3,900+ walk-in shower! Now I knew we had seen a real fancy walk-in shower at one of the models we visited. And it was nice, but for $3,900; it wasn’t that nice. The standard walk-in shower is really nice also, so we told Andy to get that out and put in the standard. He can do that by just lining through an option item. We went on down the list and crossed out a few more items, but when we got right down to it, there were a lot of stuff that only cost less than $500 and deleting that little doesn’t really do much to the total cost of the house. No, your house payment over 30 years isn’t going to change much even if you drop it by $5,000. So we decided to bite the bullet so to speak, and just deleted some other stuff we really didn’t feel strongly about and just stopped.
So now we know the total price of our new house. Our budget died with the first Wilshire Home price increase so we weren’t paying much attention to it anyway! We wanted this house to be really, really nice and I think it is going to be just that. Sometimes you just gotta’ do what you want to do and pay the consequences. Even though this new house is going to cost us a little more than we expected, we know what our limits are and we’re just fine. Anyway, we can blame it all on Erica!
Oh, yeah, yesterday, the 22nd of March, we closed on our Fairlong Trail house. We handed over the keys and got a big fat check for our part so there’s some money in the bank already to pay for this wonderful, brand spanking new house were going to get built very soon!