We're Building a House
This blog has turned 60, and like all things that turn 60, it's about to come to an end - because the house that we've been building is almost finished. I'll tell you honestly that I'm starting to crack slightly. I say that not for sympathy (which I certainly don't deserve) but just to report the effects on the client at this end of a long build with a busy job, a wonderful wife and a perfect new baby.
I'm someone who really enjoys the anticipation of knowing I've got a good thing coming, so the delays haven't been that hard on me. One day I'm all whining that we aren't moving in yet, but two days later I'm high on expectation again. Part of me is worried that once we're in, the actual experience of being there won't live up to the years of tense expectation and continual fantasising. It's like winning the rugby world cup: we wanted it so much but are we really enjoying it now that we've got it?
The final month of our build has turned into six weeks. And yesterday we found out that, though we have to move in this weekend due to having nowhere else to live, there will be significant stuff still unfinished.
Every time we visit it gets harder to leave, and we're dying to just unpack all the boxes we've moved into Three Kings and move out of our temporary house. We've been living in Ponsonby now for five months and we've almost completely lost touch of reality. To us now a 'dog' is something that goes in your handbag, 'breakfast' is something you eat at a table on the footpath so that everyone can see you, and a 'dog's breakfast' is everything south of Grey Lynn.
Let's get onto the week's big news.
Nightmare: Last night I finished writing the below blog post, full of excitement that we are moving in this weekend. But I just found out we can't. For another week we've been put off. The stairs still aren't ready, nor is much of the joinery and quite a lot of the electrical. It's a big bad world and a lot of people have harder stuff to deal with, but we are still frustrated, upset and anxious. Now we are starting to think we were incredibly stupid and naive to invite 22 adults and 7 kids to our house for Christmas. Grim emoticon.
So here's the post I wrote in happier times... Reading it now there is enough irony to satisfy a whole underground bar full of hipsters. Feel free to think things like 'that's what you think' and 'you are so foolish' as you read it. I hand you over now to yesterday me, a much younger sillier man.
Welcome to this pen-penultimate postree in this blogwood about building a house. Gemma and I are so excited we can't sleep. No hang on, we have a nine week old baby so we can't sleep. Either way we are sleepless and excited and we are moving in this Saturday. If we stay Saturday night, the winner of my competition to guess when we move in will be MyTwoCentsDave, and if we don't stay there til Sunday then MyTwoCentsDave will share the prize with Gregor40.
There is progress on all fronts in the house, and every hour I'm at work now I wish I was either at home with Gemma and Zeno or at the new house greedily watching the final touches being put on. If you build, my advice is, 'Have plenty of time to spend on site: this time when your house is just a baby goes by so fast'.
In last week's post I was all worried about whether the house was going to be finished for our November 30 move-in date. The news is that it won't, not completely anyway, so we've decided we don't care. It's like we were swimming a length underwater, and our lungs were bursting and it seemed like the end was getting further and further away. Now we've popped to the surface, taken a deep breath and we're happy to dog paddle to the end. We'll get there.
And we're bloody lucky to be swimming at all on a beautiful day like this.
There are several parts of the house that won't be finished as you read this. We'll leave our moving in for a week until it's all ready. The stairs are one of the items not finished this week, but Gemma and I are sure they will be beautiful. Our project manager James, the magnificent stair company Continental Stairs and our steel engineer Andy are pulling out all the stops to make them.
We have to remember, they are an experiment. Our draughtsman Karl drew them from a concept we dreamed up. Then our engineer Bruce gave his input. Later everyone got involved again to redesign them slightly. Nobody can be entirely sure exactly how they'll perform when finished. Gemma and I have pig-headedly insisted the rods that hold up the treads be made from 16mm steel to give the structure a light feel, despite a general feeling that 19mm would be the safer bet.
Ah there you are.
Before this post begins let me apologise for the tardiness of this blog. I had it all ready for posting last Friday but the Stuff.co.nz blog machine chucked a cog and by the time they'd installed the new parts it was too late. So this week there will be Monday and Friday posts.
Welcome to this 57th postrain of my blogathon about building our house in Three Kings, on the side of one of Auckland city's 50 volcanoes.
We started in January with this.
How much does it cost to build a house these days in New Zealand? Allow me to answer that question with a question: sometimes building a house, you feel like a massive bear is chasing you.
Sunday evening I sat down at the table in our temporary Ponsonby house. Although we've enjoyed Ponsonby, the feeling that Ponsonby bestows on one, of being really wealthy and generally better than everyone, has been fading day by day due to the many purchases we've been making for the house. It had been a few months since I'd done a new forecast of the budget, and the creeping feeling that we have been blowing out by saying yes to this and that here and there, had been causing some new stress to roost at the back of my head. I've been worrying about the size of our mortgage at the end of the build. We've been trying to keep it around $250k, fully expecting it to actually be around $300k, and hoping it doesn't creep up toward $400k.
So I cracked open the laptop and began to go through the bank accounts line by line, totting up the payments made. Carpet: paid $4000, $5000 left to pay. Timber flooring: $9000 paid and that's it. Light fittings: paid $7000, $16,500 left to pay. Tiles: paid $5900, $500 left to pay. The list goes on. These are the items that Gemma and I are sourcing and paying for ourselves outside the contract with our builder. It was our choice to exclude these because we wanted to shop carefully for them and try to get exactly the right things at the best prices. Insulation, appliances, light fittings, plumbing fittings, home automation, door hardware, blinds, tiles, carpet, wooden flooring, data wiring... In total a sum of $202,000, of which we've paid $121,501.36 so far. The biggest item on the list is the joinery (kitchen, vanities, wardrobes and shelving) and believe it or not we haven't yet got a firm quote for that, but it will be north of $45,000. I typed a generous figure into the "remaining to pay" column for the joinery and moved on.
As far as the building contract goes, we've recently made a payment of around $60,000 and we've got a further $212,700, give or take a few variations, before the contract is fulfilled. I updated the 'Contract Schedule of Payments' sheet of the budget and then spent a few minutes entering current state of all our bank accounts, estimated my remaining income this year, and deducting other expenses (tax, Christmas) and tapped the final figures into the spreadsheet.
When I hit 'return,' the number in the row marked "Projected Mortgage at Build Completion" popped up: $285,912.25. Round that up to $285,912.30 and that's a large amount for sure, but I was immensely relieved that it wasn't much larger. It's like, you know, when you are being chased by something and you think "Shit, is that a BEAR chasing me?" but you don't look, and you don't look, because you don't want to see that bear. You just keep running as fast as you can. Then finally you look around and it's only a rabid labrador and you think "I can fight that thing."
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