Archive for November, 2010 —

Final costs and stats

Now that the house is all completed and everything’s paid for, I thought I’d share some of the final costs and statistics of the project. Half the fun of keeping such meticulous documentation during construction is being able to check back at the end to see how you did.

As you can see from the chart, thanks to team Build, we did insanely great on the overall budget. Going into the project, I wanted to spend $1.1m, and the finally tally came out to $1,144,538.80 (excluding land). This represents an overage of only 4%. It should also be noted that these are total project cost numbers and include several items that occurred before the project even started and after it officially ended, from Build’s point of view (things like inspection of the property before I even purchased it and purchase of some automation stuff after it was finished). Using Build’s own tally of budgets, and only counting true construction costs, it was more like a 1% overage… even more incredible.

Even more astounding than that however, is all of the stuff that was added to the project midstream. In addition to landscaping, irrigation, a more extensive cabinet package, and several other things, we ended up finishing the entire basement, which increased the finished square footage from 3,165 to 4,618… a whopping 46%:

Going through this process, it’s very easy to see how costs get out of control on construction projects. You get 10% of the way in and you change your mind on something major. Then, 20% of the way in, you make another left turn. Then halfway in, you think you’re ok on budget, so you authorize a bunch of upgrades. Then, when the shit starts to hit the fan and things inevitably don’t go as planned, you’re way over budget and can’t turn back.

One of the great things about working with Build on this project was that we did cost reality checks every couple of weeks. Every time an element was adjusted upward or downward in price, Kevin re-calibrated the spreadsheets and we talked about what that did to the overall cost of the project. There was no sugarcoating when something went wrong and no parties with hookers and cocaine when things went right… just a nice steady march towards the number we both wanted to hit.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to pick trustworthy, disciplined experts to build your house for you. They really have your entire investment and then some in their hands. It’s even riskier than giving someone access to your bank account, because it’s not just honesty you need to worry it… it’s construction management skill. A couple of bad, honest mistakes and you could be in really bad shape.

As for how the costs broke down, here’s the raw spreadsheet (make sure to click both tabs at the bottom of it) and a graph that summarizes it:

Here are several other vital stats on the project:

  • Time between purchasing the property and moving in: 679 days
  • Time between construction began and moving in: 335 days
  • Total cost per finished square foot of the project: $247
  • Construction cost per finished square foot of the project: $209
  • Number of job-site injuries: 1 (fingertip jammed during framing… needed stitches)
  • Number of checks written: 187… more than entire life combined
  • Approximate amount rebated via use of 2% cash back credit card: $5000
  • Total number of posts on A House By The Park including the next and final one: 98

I have one wrap-up post with a complete time-lapse movie of the whole project left, and then it’ll be time to put this blog on autopilot and go back to posting on Mike Industries.

The Complete Timelapse

Putting together the final timelapse was a lot more difficult than expected. Since the construction cam was snapping one shot every five minutes and saving it to my server, there were 288 shots for every one of the 335 days of the project. That’s 96,480 shots. At 30 frames per second, that would be a 53 minute long timelapse movie! Not only is that way too long, but the file would be huge and filled with a lot of night shots and days with no interesting activity.

Via some unix command-line magic, the first thing I did was systematically delete all nights and weekends. This eliminated about 75% of the images producing a 13 minute movie. It was still, however, too long, too big, and filled with too many stretches of marginal exterior progress. At that point, I opened up my FTP program and started going through all 22,000 of the remaining images and deleting any stretches of time that lacked exterior activity. The end result was a final movie consisting of 5929 images and lasting a little over three minutes… and here it is:

Click to play timelapse

… and with that, A House By the Park is essentially concluded! It’s been fun writing this journal, and hopefully if you’re about to start a new project of your own, you’ll get as much out of it as I put into it. One final thanks as well to my friends at Build, without whom, this project wouldn’t have gone nearly as smoothly.

At long last, it’s time to stop neglecting my main blog and begin writing over at Mike Industries again.

Thanks for following along. It’s been fun.