Sunday, October 17, 2010


I'm super-excited to announce that I'm going to be building a custom modern home in Madrona, WA. But first, I think it's best to start with some context.

I currently own a nice house on the southern border of Everett. I purchased it in May of 2005, luckily right at the beginning of the housing bubble. I worked in Mukilteo, about a 10 minute drive away, so this location was very convenient. The housing development was brand new - all empty lots - with a choice of about 5 different plans. I ended up choosing the most open plan out of the 5 and had the option to have it built in front of a neighboring green-belt.

This, being my first-ever house purchase, I naïvely thought that I would be able to have everything inside the house finished to my taste. Of course, this was not the case. Buying a spec-house is much like buying a new car. You choose the model, select from a list of about a dozen upgrades you want, then sign a check and contract. And, much like with new cars, the listed upgrades are usually very overpriced for what they are. As an example, the house came standard with carpet in the living room and hallways, linoleum in the dining room and kitchen, and had about 15 sq ft of oak hardwood floor in the entryway. I wanted the whole floor to be finished in hardwood. I was expecting it to cost $5K, but they quoted me $20K! As soon as I realized I was getting nowhere, I switched strategies.

After much battling, I got the builders to downgrade the flooring in the entire house to carpet. Carpet everywhere - the dining room, kitchen, and bathrooms. I couldn't get them to do away with finishes altogether, but I was happy with the compromise.

On the day I got the keys to the house, I diligently ripped out all the carpet, rolled it up, and sold or gave away as much of it as I could. Slowly, over the next year or two, I put in Brazilian cherry hardwood floors in the living areas, slate in the kitchen and bathrooms, marble in the entryway, added a huge deck in the backyard, and added granite countertops in the kitchen - all for less than the proposed cost of the hardwood floors from the builder.

Even though I liked many things about the house, I was growing weary of living in a suburb so far away from the city. In the beginning of 2009, I decided that it's time to start looking for a new house close to downtown.

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