Budget Breakdown: This Hip Multifamily Pad in Austin Cost Under $515K
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Budget Breakdown: This Hip Multifamily Pad in Austin Cost Under $515K

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By Kelsey Mulvey
Nestled in East Austin, Texas, this modern home accomplishes the unique task of bringing three units under one roof.

Some say two is better than one, but when it comes to design, three is the magic number. As a self-proclaimed design enthusiast, writer Alejandro Puyana has built several single-family residences across Austin. But when he found this property in the eastern part of town, he realized that more is oftentimes merrier.

$4,296
Appliances
$5,042
Countertops
$22,787
Cabinets/Built-ins
$10,521
Tile
$17,521
Drywall
$20,226
Electrical
$2,821
Exterior Cleanup
$8,331
Flatwork
$10,465
Flooring
$13,377
Foundation
$79,189
Framing/Trim
$10,942
Windows
$4,535
Doors/Hardware
$14,734
HVAC
$5,245
Insulation
$907
Interior Cleanup
$8684
Landscaping/Fence
$2,594
Lights/Fans
$4,109
Paint
$18,552
Plumbing
$7,085
Plumbing Fixtures
$4,861
Demolition
$2,923
Lot Prep
$14,718
Roof
$3,512
Shower/Mirrors
$33,323
Project Manager Fees

Grand Total (Main House): $331,300
The project's prime, corner lot real estate dictated the organization of the separate living quarters. The main house's driveway and entryway, for example, are located on Maude Street, giving permanent residents a sense of privacy.

The project's prime, corner lot real estate dictated the organization of the separate living quarters. The main house's driveway and entryway, for example, are located on Maude Street, giving permanent residents a sense of privacy.

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"Alejandro had very specific ideas about the basic elements he wanted to include in the house," says architect Murray Legge, who worked on the project with Puyana. "From the beginning, he wanted to do two houses on the lot: A primary dwelling he would live in, and an auxiliary dwelling unit (ADU) that he could sell."

Legge says the client also wanted to include a kitchenless guest suite for friends and family to stay at when they visited.

Decorated by Puyana himself, the interior proudly puts Austin's eclecticism on display.

Decorated by Puyana himself, the interior proudly puts Austin's eclecticism on display.

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Indeed, placing three living quarters on one lot is a big feat, not to mention a costly one. However, Legge and Puyana worked together to keep costs down. In total, the renovation cost $512,750, with the main house costing a little over $331k.

So how did they do it?

"There were things that we knew had no wiggle room," Puyana says. "Because of the cantilever deck and the screen batten wall, we always knew that framing was going to be a bit more expensive than in your standard project. Most of the savings came in the choice of finish-outs and fixtures."

"I love the way the house looks from the exterior," Legge says of the patio. "It has a gauzy, ethereal feeling to it."

"I love the way the house looks from the exterior," Legge says of the patio. "It has a gauzy, ethereal feeling to it."

Legge and Puyana purchased most of the plumbing and light fixture finishings on sale, and they were able to find subway and hexagonal tiles for $3 and $5.39 per square foot, respectively. Legge also kept costs down by using finished concrete for the downstairs floor.

Legge might've cut corners on costs, but definitely not on style. The final result is a lofted, 1,450-square-foot main house, complete with a large living space, kitchen, master bedroom and bathroom, and a walk-in closet.

Spacious windows and a slotted facade provide curbside appeal at every angle.

Spacious windows and a slotted facade provide curbside appeal at every angle.

"The deep outdoor porch space on the second floor and screen wall make it feel quite private, and bring filtered diffuse light into the space, since it faces the south," Legge says, crediting the 10-foot-tall ceilings for the home's light, airy ambiance.

 The ground floor features an attached guest suite, as well as a 920-square-foot auxiliary dwelling unit toward the back of the property.

For the bathroom, Puyana laid two tones of gray tiles in diagonal stripes<span style="font-family: Theinhardt, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, sans-serif;">, bringing something unexpected to an otherwise pedestrian material.</span>

For the bathroom, Puyana laid two tones of gray tiles in diagonal stripes, bringing something unexpected to an otherwise pedestrian material.

Finished with a ceiling and dining table set, the second-floor patio is an optimal entertaining space.

Finished with a ceiling and dining table set, the second-floor patio is an optimal entertaining space.

With a white, slotted facade and a cheery interior designed by Puyana, this home gives multifamily living a cool, covetable makeover. 

 "The basic massing and organization of space and increased number of types of dwelling spaces represents an incremental increase in density on the site while maintaining a smaller residential scale," Legge explains. "Austin has a long history of small cottages, rental units, granny flats, and garage apartments. This project is a modern take on it."

Organization enthusiasts will love the home's built-in shelves and cabinets.

Organization enthusiasts will love the home's built-in shelves and cabinets.

The space's pared-down bedroom brings southern comfort to new heights.

The space's pared-down bedroom brings southern comfort to new heights.

Related Reading: Budget Breakdown: A Midcentury Glass House Is Revitalized For $299K

 Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Murray Legge Architecture / @murray_legge

Owner/Builder: La Sabana GC, A&J Contracting

Structural Engineer: SEC Solutions

Landscape Design Company: Tortoise Club Gardens

Interior Design: Alejandro Puyana

Casework Design: Studio Ferme

Photography: Leonid Furmansky