That Christmas Morning Feeling

Did you ever wish for something so bad for Christmas as a kid?  Something that you talked about constantly, something that kept you up at nights thinking about it, and completely prevented you from sleeping at all on Christmas eve?  And then, at 5am on Christmas morning, you ran downstairs totally expecting Santa to have delivered your shiny new thing, but it wasn’t there at all, and you weren’t even sure how to deal with your sadness?  Yeah, that’s what this week has felt like…times a billion.

We finally received a bid from the contractors that we had been waiting on forever, and it was…wait for it….$110,000 over our stated budget!!!  Really.  You can imagine the disappointment and range of emotions we’ve felt this week.  I was about ready to give up the whole dream, sell the lot, and just buy a house out in the suburbs that we could afford, but it just doesn’t feel right.

We’ve worked too hard–fixing up and selling our old home, buying land, fighting the city, investing money and so much time in designing the perfect home for us–to stop this process now, so we are trying to regroup and keep things in perspective.  Just like when you were a kid, that Christmas present didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, and maybe eventually you even enjoyed the other gifts you did get just as much.  We will be able to find a way to build this house, just maybe not in the time frame that I had hoped for.

So, we’re searching for a new contractor who can build our home, as we believe that the previous one grossly overestimated things.  We’re certain that a house made of shipping containers can be built for about $100/square foot by closely watching the building materials and finishes.  Other similar houses, even houses built by our designer, have come in at this price, so it is possible.

This morning we got a little sign of hope on the house: we’ve found 45′ high cube shipping containers in Houston available for us to use for construction (there’s a general shortage on this size, and we were looking at shipping them for extra cost from Dallas, or reducing our design to use 40′ containers).  We’ve secured four containers for our house and studio, and just by doing that, we’ve already reduced our cost quite a bit (not $110,000, but some).

Another possible sign: NPR just did a story on cargotecture this week (a coworker was kind enough to alert me, and then I discovered a cousin of mine tried to flame me on the site–I had it removed, guess he doesn’t think I read…sigh…).  Anyway, here’s a link to the Morning Edition podcast: Forget Big-Box Stores. How About a Big-Box House? (NPR Morning Edition May 30, 2012).


3 thoughts on “That Christmas Morning Feeling

  1. I can understand how close to despair you must be.
    As the vast proportion of any builds cost is the labor involved, is there anyway you can involve yourselves in the actual build to save money? I am planning to do almost everything myself and with 4 x 40′ high top containers equaling about 120 sq M (or around 1,300 sq ft) I have preliminary costings at about $50 per sq ft. (Perhaps $55 with an overspend!) Anything you are able to do yourselves will save a lot of money.

    • – (the above was from Terry BTW!! I don’t know why my comment sign in was different to before but I was redirected through WordPress! Something to do with a first comment or a reply I think. Who can figure out the complexities of internet magic!!)

  2. Hi April: I’m referring a local GC that I’d recommend along to you. He does a mix of residential and commercial work, does lots of metal fabrication and is interested in the project. Good luck getting it back on track!

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