Windows obviously are a high ticket item, but we didn't want to attack them or the square footage too aggressively because you can't come back later and add those in easily. We deleted a couple of windows and are seeing if there are configurations of windows that could be a little more cost effective. Right now the plan calls for metal clad wood windows. If we went to vinyl windows we could cut the cost in half or more, but we really feel like the windows need to be done right the first time.
We are doing radiant heat and that is important to us, but also important was having good air conditioning. We don't suffer the heat very well. Our original plan was to use a high velocity system with flexible 4" ducting that would be easy to hide. This number came back much higher than is feasible for us. We are going to now go with an exposed duct on the first floor that will feed floor registers on the second floor connected to a standard air conditioner and fan unit. Early feedback is that this will be much more affordable and still keep us very comfortable. The greener option would be to go with a swamp cooler, but because we are heat wimps our love for the earth could be summed up nicely by Meatloaf, "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that."
We have decided to defer the fireplace and stone countertops for now, which will also save a lot of money.
We think we have found the savings that we need and will spend the next week with the architects and engineers finishing up construction docs for delivery next week. Then we will march them into the city for permit and work on getting our formal bids tied up.