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How do you determine "how much" you can build?

10 years ago

This is going to come out sounding odd -- but I absolutely don't mean it to be offensive in any way. I'm genuinely befuddled.

How did you determine how much you can afford to build / how much you need / etc.?

Did this change much as you built and your budget dwindled?

Did you start with your wants and downgrade as necessary, or did you start with the budget and determine what you could have for that money?

Did you say, "We can build this many square feet", or "We can spend this much money"?

It seems that most people here are building with "all the bells and whistles". I mean, it seems that most of the floorplans are a definite step up from basic. Every floorplan seems to have luxury items like a mudroom, a pantry, luxury master baths, etc. How do you determine just how many of these "extras" you can afford?

I know how my husband and I are approaching the topic:

- We're reading and reading and reading books on what makes houses "work". I've been surprised at how much I've learned. And I'm surprised at how many things in my current house could be better (for example, I have light switches BEHIND my front door -- but until I read about it in a book, it didn't occur to me to write down on my list-of-lists "specify where you want all light fixtures").

- We visited open houses and studied real estate magazines to see what our "wants" sell for ready-made. Not that we're interested in buying an existing house, but to see just what things go for in our area.

- I'm particularly obsessed with measuring rooms that're similar to the ones we're considering so that I can "visualize" whether the size'll work for us.

- Then, after we had developed a clue about what things cost, we made a list of our must-haves.

- We're in the process of prioritizing those must-haves so that if something has to go, the decision'll already be made.

I'm just interested in whether this is how most people approach the task or not.

Still, we're not sure whether our numbers are realistic. We have several mitigating factors, the biggest of which is that we already own our land.

So, how'd you decide?

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