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Posted by Karla in Silver Springs, NV on 12/11/2006

I am fortunate that I work five minutes from a Home Depot. Now, I know that I can probably do better on prices on some items, but since we are in the very beginning stages of all this, I am using them to get an education. By the time I start actually buying, I hope to have several prices on how much this expensive little hideaway will cost - the HD way and at least three general contractor prices.

Anyway, I hung out with Jim in the kitchen department of HD for lunch. Good for the waistline, and since I didn't actually buy anything there, good for the pocketbook, too. What I wanted to do was price out my fantasy cabinets and also get an education in them. Since I brought my book of all things that includes a quasi-scale drawing of the current incarnation, I had a scale drawing of what we are proposing.

$12,000 cabinets (honey oak)

$2,000 granite countertops (still having the dark vs. light debate)

$1,500 shipping & tax

$5,000 installation

=========

$20,500 - I had guesstimated $20,000

But, of course, something must always bring you down to earth, and often with a crash. What I wanted for the library area was floor-to-ceiling cabinets. Very practical. Nice and warm wood... only Jim made a seemingly innocuous comment: "Very practical but kind of institutional." It never occurred to me in all my drawings and thoughts, but now I can't see it any other way but "institutional." OK, so now I guess I am going to be researching the cost of custom built-in bookcases. And instead of shelves near the entry, I'm going to leave the wall blank for a table. With a picture above it. 

Other things I learned at HD:

1. The cabinets I like and the ones my dear husband likes are again at odds. He wants an old-world bathroom and a modern living room? Travertine or travertine-looking tile in the bathroom and wall-to-wall carpet in the living room? OK, so maybe we didn't really have a meeting of the minds.

2. Cabinets come in 24" and 36" widths; corner cabinets all come with lazy Susans in them, even if you don't need/want them.

3. Cabinets come in sets that do well with 12-foot long wall sections, but not so good with 10-foot long wall sections.

4. For a little under $400, we can have a 30 inch x 9 foot strip of warm flooring with an automatic timer. Not quite wide enough for both brushing teeth and getting out of the shower. Another $200 for a second 30 in. x 9 foot strip would cover enough of the front of the shower & tub and the important areas in front of the two sinks. But is it worth $600 for warm tile floors?  I lived for over two years with cold tile floors... but then again, that was in a climate where the winters never got down to 8*F.  (Here, again, guerrilla shopping pays off - there were price ranges from $199-$250 and more for the heating strips)

5. The color in porcelain tile goes all the way through, minimizing the visibility of nicks and chips. 

My husband is eager to "break ground", but I want to live with our "plans" for a little while. Each time we look at them, we think of something else. Like making the laundry area big enough to accommodate all the "crates" for our three very large dogs. And, the first go-round we completely forgot about a closet. I want to draw side views in addition to the floor plan view. Helps me visualize.

Starting a list of items, styles and "what is a good price" so that when we are randomly shopping, we will know if something is a good deal or a great deal or something to not bother about. Also, need to calculate the "true" cost by adding in tax and shipping where necessary. For example, although both Lowe's and HD have the Price Pfister faucets we want for cheaper or the same price as efaucets.com, since efaucets has free shipping and no sales tax; it comes out several hundred dollars cheaper in the long run. A good all-inclusive price for the tile we want: $2.09 sq ft. If we go with real travertine tile: $4.34.

I am seriously thinking of getting a part-time job at HD for the discount and just so I can snoop around. Or maybe my 16-year-old son can during the summer. If he worked a morning shift, he could ride into Reno with me... Hmmm, the wheels are turning. 10% employee discount might be worth it!

Staying up wayyy past my bedtime to play with this stuff. I hope I have as much energy and enthusiasm at the end of this project as I do now.

Something I've always wanted to do: sign my name on one of the wall studs of the house - to be covered up by drywall, no doubt, but I will know it's there!

Tip for the day: Go to HD at odd times of day - after the morning contractor rush and before noon - and quiz the employees there on anything you want to know. That's part of why they are there. Bring your notebook of all things, or at least a list of questions and paper to write down the answers with. It's like going to the library, but instead of free books, you get to tap into some one's brain for free. Say thank you and make them feel like you really learned something - everyone likes to be appreciated and useful.

Posted by Cara in Orlando, FL on 12/13/2006

Cara's Forum Posts: 38
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12/13/2006
Wow... your journal is us to a T about one year ago. And your use of lists completely validates the fact that I'm not compulsive, but merely organized. Or maybe we're both compulsive :)

I glanced at your spreadsheet - don't forget about Costco, if you have one! We got all of our bath accoutrements there for a third of what they cost at HD - very nice satin-nickel stuff. Also, if we had to do it over again, we would still do our research at HD but probably would shop elsewhere for things like windows. Oh, and the stores seem to vary widely in their expertise level and willingness to make a deal with you (and believe me, we have gotten them to bend on lots of prices). Sorry to keep jumping in, it's just that I really relate to your thought process :)
Posted by Karla in Silver Springs, NV on 12/13/2006

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12/13/2006

Cara, feel free to jump in any time. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed, so it's good to see you a year ahead of us and see that you are still alive.

List-making is not compulsive - it is good for the soul. I don't consider myself very organized, but several people at work have told me I am (I am known as the checklist queen as we have a checklist for everything at work since I've been put in charge!). If I am truly considered "organized", then it is indeed a frightening world we live in. I spend my life feeling like I'm just on the edge of massive chaos. 

Luckily, I like crafting order out of chaos - oh, I like beating my head against brick walls, too, in case you were wondering. And to see just how tough I could make this life of mine, I married a (now-not active-duty) Marine. After the Y2K much ado about nothing, raising three kids, and sending my husband off to summer camp in Iraq a few years back, well, building a small house might just be the relaxing hobby I need! Really, it's fun - and it is -- at this point! After all, I just have to plan and fantasy shop and budget right now. Later I have to get the money, spend it wisely, and put up with all the surprises of the actual deployment of the house. Looking forward to it and dreading it in about equal parts!


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