Saturday, April 9, 2011

House Design II

Good ole Gal Friday, she did it again.  Wonder woman once again tied me down in the van and lugged me to meet with our design/builder in North Carolina.  The object -- cost-cutting.  The costs were rising and I demanded cost reductions.  Er... demanded might be a little strong; how about cowardly suggested?  This was the second formal attempt at reducing the cost of our "aging in place" dream home.  We daily discuss possible ways of cutting costs, but this was only our second sit-down with our contractor to evaluate our dollar-saving ideas.  Don't you love the title "aging in place?"  It seriously sounds like a nursing home or Hospice atmosphere to me.

We arrived at our motel about one o'clock Monday morning to be able to meet our contractor at nine AM for a day of "concerted efforts" to lower the cost of the house.  The motel employees call us by first names since we spend so much time (and money) at their place.  I think they're considering a corporate rate for us. 

The contractor and his VP, who also is his wife, met us at the office door with coffee and smiles.  We learned she had contacted most suppliers explaining our dilemma and they too were looking at ways to cut costs before we met with them.  To our dismay, we learned all the cost-cutting measures simply consisted of omitting things we desired.  The whole day turned out to be an exercise in frustration regarding reducing costs, but fruitful in design changes.  Of course some of the reconfiguration added costs, but what the hell, right?  This was really sticking to our guns about cost savings.

In a blinding rain storm on Tuesday morning, we traveled to the cabinet supplier.  As we sat down and he pulled out the plans, I mentioned the object of the meeting - cost reduction - and immediately a bolt of lightning struck a transformer and the building lost power.  Did this guy have a direct line to our Lord?  I mean they're both carpenters, but...  OK, while I enjoyed the dark and my coffee, Gal Friday and the carpenter pored over the plans locating all the cabinetry and decided to make a color change on the built-ins around the fireplace.  He showed her other color samples and she picked the one she deemed the best.  Of course she asked for my opinion and I nodded "yes" just like I've been trained.  How they did this in the dark beats me.  All I heard was "no up-charge." 

Along the lines of cost-cutting, he suggested we choose a "lesser quality" cabinet manufacturer.  He emphasized the "lesser quality" and made us feel like making the change would damage our social status if we had any.  Of course we staunchly refused to cast ourselves down into the unholy position of mere plebeians, so we stayed with the most expensive brand.  To even improve our social standing, we added a few cabinets.  Yes, sir, money was no object.

That afternoon we met with the flooring supplier and again stated our cost-reducing case.  Since our original selection ended up being over the budget allowance, we felt confident in our request.  Ah ha, she actually found a cheaper floor which would better accomodate my wheelchair.  Gal Friday recognized a problem.  They came in limited colors and only one complemented the kitchen cabinets.  The problem seemed to be that color didn't also go with the fireplace built-ins.  I guess we go back to the more costly flooring. 

Wednesday proved to be the dizziest of all.  After meetings with the plumbing and lighting suppliers, I was so confused I think we ordered a toilet hanging as a chandelier in the foyer.  That morning we drove for an hour and a half to meet with the plumbing supplier.  How can anybody spend three to four hours picking out toilets and bathtubs?  Of course we had to select faucet fixtures too.  However, we did actually save some money, about $800.  I was feeling pretty good until we started to leave and the showroom manager mentioned "something we might want to look at."  This "something" was a special new bathtub for disabled people.  This tub does everything except sew buttons on.  The price --$8,000 -- and I can't believe we're considering it.  Save $800 to spend $8,000.  Oh, boy!

That afternoon came the lighting vendor.  Ouch!  The "ouch" is from the cost of lighting, but also from the pain in my neck resulting from three hours of looking up at samples hanging from the ceiling.  I did have the advantage though as I put my wheelchair in tilt mode and layed on my back.  Piloting my chariot in that position is a hazard in any circumstance, but wheeling around a lighting store is just begging for trouble.  I resembled the bull in a china shop.  I did so much changing up to down and down to up, I looked like a pogo stick in slow motion.  I have no idea if we stayed within our budgeted allowance or not and truthfully by then, didn't give a damn as Rhett Butler so aptly put it.    

Thursday we drove another two hours for our meeting with the elevator and lift supplier.  We only spent an additional $5,500 over budget there.  All I know is we definitely can't afford any more "cost cutting" excursions.  I wish I had kept my mouth shut.

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