The most adrenaline I've produced from reading a book lately has been my encounter with The Handmade House: A love story set in concrete by Geraldine Bedell. The experience of having their unique architect designed house build in the middle of London was as confusing, stressful, overwhelming and crazy as the house itself turned out to be sleek and minimalist. Ms Bedell is unusually candid about her family's finances and the passages describing their precarious money situation were what kept me awake at nights.
She is quite open about the fact that her and her husband were as naive about personal finances as they were about architecture and design. Basically, having decided that from the sale of their current Islington home they had about 600,000 pounds to spend on their next house she impetuously blew that amount on buying a bare section in Hackney. Bridging finance was costing them about 87,000 pounds a month (whimper) when the dotcom crash pretty much obliterated her husband's income. It took 2 and 1/2 years and cost about 450,000 pounds to build the house- while they lurched from one lump sum payment to another. While she never adds up all the sums (the nerve wracking finances aren't the point of her story which is a very interesting and compelling account of the whole process of designing and building as well as blended families and clutter busting etc) she does say that they were living in the house a year before their cheques stopped bouncing.
Yikes! My own response to finding out exactly how much money I could borrow to buy a house was to buy a lotto ticket so that I could cling to some small vestige of hope.