Saturday, October 11, 2008

So How's The Home Building?

Some time late last year we decided to build our first home together. Since Rich works in St.Louis and has to drive forty-five minutes away we figured we would look to get closer to his work location. This decision started out exciting, frustrating and fun. The move to St.Louis has been a long process. It's hard to pin point emotions in all of this. Some days we are really excited, other days we find ourselves exhausted and frustrated. Overall we are excited for the future. It has been a great work in progress. So here goes the story of the progress we have made.

We started out looking online at the area cookie cutter home builders. After looking at different layouts, areas, price ranges we decided to take a look at Mayer Cookies, err um I mean Homes. We took a drive over to their Seckman Lakes location to see their array of models. They seemed to have a great reputation and they were quality builders who have been around for a while. We chose a location on their new cookie sheet to place our special cookie. It was a very nice lot. Our cookie was going to be in a cul-de-sac, forest area behind us and a great view out the front. It had everything that I wanted in a home location. The cookie cutter we chose had a laundry room upstairs. I thought this was just the be all and end all to home cookies. This home cookie was special, it had my kind of sprinkles! Our neighborhood of choice was in Imperial, MO. It was beautiful and it put Rich closer to work. It was all wonderful but for some reason I just couldn't get a peace about it.

I pushed those feelings aside and went forward. The plans to build there went forward. We planned this cookie home out to point of taking out walls, switching out layouts of bathrooms, and picking out the brick and mortar. We didn't realize how the color of mortar can make such a difference from brick to brick! We went to places and chose carpets, cabinets, counter tops, and all the works. Some of the choices were mind numbing. We ended up with two file folders when most of the people only had one. The lady we were working with was absolutely wonderful! We were loving it until we found out the home we planned out was going to be one of the four biggest homes in the neighborhood. As we started working on things we ended up changing the layout, adding things to the house, the house became more expensive. This could have been a great ego trip for us but it wasn't. It made us very uneasy. Being the "big fish in the pond" wasn't what we wanted to be. Again, throughout this whole process I just couldn't get a internal peace about it. I went through all of the pros of building there in my head trying, to assure myself that this house was it. We had a great lot in a cul-de-sac, nice view out front, forest behind us, a state park near, and more. Still in all its goodness, I had no peace about it.

So one day we were talking about this big fish in the pond scenario and figured that resale value would actually hurt us. So I confessed several concerns to my honey including that I didn't have a peace about it. He was unsettled at hearing this but willing to listen. After a visit to England to attend my sister in law's wedding we came back with a fresh mind about it all. We decided to look at other model homes. I had no problem about the layout of the house, the neighborhood was the issue. We went to see McBride cookie homes in Eureka, MO. This put us a little closer to Rich's work than Imperial was. I actually thought this was just going to reassure us that we were building the right home. To my surprise the moment I stepped foot in that home and I was amazed. Scrap the other cookie! I wanted this model home as is! This home had the feel I loved! It proved that the model we had been building was all wrong! Oops!

So fast forward a couple of months. We decided we wanted to be some where we would be mid price instead of the most expensive home. The lot in Imperial was let go. Oh the one McBride home that I loved in Eureka had no lots that we liked. In fact there was a grave yard next to one lot that our Buyers agent saw. Beautiful home, undesirable lots! The only home I'd take in that neighborhood would have been the model. We did decided to hire a buyer's agent to help us. Buyers agents are different from real estate agents. We searched and searched for a lot. At one point we thought we might have to buy an existing house. While searching it was confirmed that we needed to build our home. So we continued to look for lots. We saw lot after lot and none really got us.

One day we were looking on the web and found a lot in a very desirable location. In fact we were surprised it was still available. The real estate agent made a typo in the name of the neighbor name. Anyone searching the name would not find it but we did and the chase was on! The builder Taylor Morley owned these lots that remained vacant for a while. Taylor Morley filed bankruptcy and the lots went back to the bank. Then a couple of real estate agents bought them and were trying to sell them off. That's when we came in to buy.

So, fast forward to August, we bought the lot we wanted. It felt great to own a piece of land in a beautiful neighborhood called Tapawingo on the Green in Sunset Hills, MO. This put Rich three minutes way from work. We were happy about his location. Rich and Adrian both like golfing. I even have my own set of clubs. This neighborhood is around a well established Tapawingo Golf Course. It's got beautiful views, nature all around and we are not the big fish in the pond! In fact we just might be in the low middle! So we were well pleased with the location of this lot. After buying the lot, we decided to hire an architects Heine & Croghan to help us plan out the home. We didn't want a cookie cutter pick your layout builder. We wanted something unique to our lifestyle. So we worked on it and got a plan we liked. We are happy with it.

Fast forward a bit more to September, now we are beginning our building phase. We chose the builder that had been building homes in the neighborhood already. Not Jones Company but Whalen Homes. We were warned to stay away from Jones Company homes. Whalen does build a quality home. Mr. Whalen looked at our layout, gave us a great estimate and it was a done deal. We liked some of their homes and the way he conducts business. They build a good home and we were happy to work with them.

Today we went to pick out cabinet doors, stains and counter tops. Remember, we went though this before so we knew exactly what we liked right? Wrong! This kitchen is bigger than the one we were considering. We took some elements for the other McBride home I loved and incorporated it into our home. So the cabinet colors and flooring all changed. The style of home has changed from cookie cutter to unique Tuscan style. We are doing something totally different and we like it. As the project continues on, I'll be able to post solid decisions. We are both very very excited to build our home together.
It's late, and my eyes are getting heavy so I will proof this tomorrow.

So how is the home building? Wonderfully educating! - goodnight.

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