I so totally agree with your comment on costs.
And I see you went with cookie cutter benchwork. I didn't understand your comment about losing ballast to the floor until I saw the pictures and realized that.
I really like your painting the rails and have decided to do that on my new layout now.
I noticed the rust color on the ballast under the rails in your picture and may do one coat, then ballast, then a light second coat to get that effect.
I really appreciate the time you spend documenting how it is going, this is very helpful.