Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Money Pit?

I've been following a blog by Paul Brown and Alison Davis in the New York Times as this married couple goes about designing and building their dream vacation home on Anna Maria Island, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico. It's both entertaining and highly frustrating to follow. For one, it's not really a blog - as it's not happening in real time. The land was purchased a couple of years ago and, as one might imagine, the process of hiring an architect and creating the design plan can be long and drawn out, with little happening on a daily basis. So, they've elected to "telescope" the process and create posts that feel like they are real-time, yet are actually recaps of what has apparently transpired.

It's almost like a reality tv show, but in written format. I give them credit for being willing to put it (almost) all out there. We see two high level, educated professionals (who own two homes already - one is in my town although I don't know the couple), make all the same thoughtless assumptions, leading to mistakes, as most people might. They've ended up with a too large house plan that is considerably (200%?) over their original budget, an architect who may or may not be listening to them, a builder who is putting up roadblocks and a tax code that has caught them up short. They seem befuddled by the process and clearly hadn't sufficiently worked out their personal needs and wants before diving in. It's a pretty good lecture on what not to do.

Anyway, I do think this will get more interesting once the building get's closer to happening. They claim they haven't broken ground yet and provide the actual address for people to check satellite images to confirm. Hopefully things will pick up before they lose their readership - there are a lot of irritated commenters following this project. Eventually, people may start to lose interest, which is something they should consider as they continue their posting.

1 comment:

Ms. Place said...

It's interesting to note that the seasoned and well-informed run into the same problem of going way over budget as well as the very young novice.

My husband and I fell into the money trap with our first house, wanting everything perfect. 70% of our combined income went into paying for the mortgage, additional loans, and maintenance and upkeep. After four years we fled that money pit. I still miss the kitchen in that converted farm house(with mud room/greenhouse/washing area, sewing center, and baking area that had a countertop of a height that was perfect for kneading dough; my huge indoor sunken tub, which could seat four comfortably; and the two-story tall windows in our livingroom that just took one's breath away (and sucked the heat right out of the room.) The house was showcased in the newspaper, but I don't miss the debt.

I think all couples (who can afford it) seem to go through this phase, forgetting that each decision to upgrade just a little adds up. People also tend to forget that many of their decisions will result in a look that will be outdated in a decade or so. (I predict that granite counter tops will soon be on that list, with something even more extravagant waiting to replace them. What an expensive "fad." Ouch!)

I now pay as I go, slowly turning a 60 year old house into a tiny gem, making changes that suit me and my lifestyle. Not only is paying as you go much better on one's nerves, it has the same accumulative effect on folks as they enter - ooh and ah, and how did you think of that, etc. My latest project was to add chair railing and crown moulding to my formal areas, including my hallways.

Again, an interesting post. Thank you.

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