How to Save Money When Building Your Home
Building a home can be quite a costly endeavor. Depending on the style of architecture you choose for your home, the size of your building lot, and the extravagance of your finishes, it’s possible that you might end up spending much more than you originally budgeted for.
The great news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. At any point during the process of building a home, it’s possible to take a step back and begin saving money. To help guide you through this process, we've put together this list of our top ten ways to save money when building your home and tips to make your build more budget-friendly overall.
1. Consider Being Your Own Contractor
It’s possible to save quite a bit of money on your home build by doing a considerable amount of the work yourself. This would be instead of hiring a general contractor. Even if you don’t have too much experience with building, it’s possible to learn plenty of the interior tasks needed.
Consider your level of comfort and your skill level for each part of the process. Most homeowners will find they can do things like sourcing and ordering materials, laying tile or brick, installing sheetrock, creating landscaping, or painting their home once it’s built on their own. Depending on your skill level, you might be able to manage the more complicated work like installing your home’s plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC, roofing, etc.
Please keep in mind that becoming an expert in these fields takes years. If you are not licensed in any of the trades and/or are starting from scratch, we highly recommend that you do not cut corners in these areas and still plan to outsource these tasks to the professionals.
It’s a daunting task to be your own contractor. If you’re good around the house and adept with construction tools, you can take on some of the more basic building tasks. For others, such as the intricate roof of this craftsman, we would recommend hiring a framer. Do some research and don’t hesitate to call on the professionals for the complicated projects. Plan #198-1095
2. Cut Back on Customizations
Building a custom-designed home often affords us the opportunity to pick and choose exactly what we would like our home to look like. However, each time you move a feature just a little bit off-plan, the costs to build your home immediately go up. This means that as soon as you add a half bath, or even swap a bathtub for a larger shower in the master suite, you’re adding hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to your final bill.
The same principle applies to material pricing as well. If you import custom wood from Italy instead of purchasing from your local hardware store, your pocketbook will suffer. While splurging on certain dream items is definitely encouraged, consider your priorities before agreeing to each and every upgrade.
In addition, you can use prefabricated panels to cut down on the time and labor of framing your home. Often called “prefab” panels, they are walls built off-site in a factory and installed intact once they reach you.
The beautiful hardwood floor of this mountain home with craftsman influences looks like it could be reclaimed wood which would be cheaper than importing it from Italy. The different colors and grains really give this entryway a luxurious feel. With five bedrooms and five and a half baths, this 4412 square foot home has room for the whole family. Plan #202-1017
3. Build Up, Not Out
A quick inside tip: ranch-style homes are the cheapest houses to build. This is because the simpler a home is in shape, the less expensive it is to construct. If you’d like a larger home, you’ll want to build up, not out. When you build a two-story home, or even a home that is one and a half stories, you gain plenty of spare square feet in your home. What you don’t gain, however, is an extra bill for more concrete for your foundation or shingles and labor on installing a larger roof.
So, remember, if you are concerned about keeping costs low when building your custom home, think about building up as high as local building codes will allow, not out into a sprawling estate.
Not a sprawling ranch? No problem – just build up as in this charming two-story transitional Country Farmhouse. The 1,969-square-foot home is constructed on a parcel of land measuring just 41’4” wide and 46’10” deep and has all the luxury features you can dream of. There is a spacious living room with a fireplace, a huge kitchen with an island and eating bar, and a dining area that opens to the rear porch. There are three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, main floor laundry, loft, and an optional carport. Plan #142-1198
4. Work With an Experienced Contractor
No matter how much of the work on your home you plan to complete yourself, there are still pieces of the puzzle that you will need to rely on professional support to put together successfully. Whether you are hiring an electrician, a plumber, or even an HVAC technician to outfit your property, choosing a contractor with experience will save you money (as well as plenty of headaches, too).
This is because when a contractor is new to their field, they may have plenty of eagerness, but their lack of experience might mean they still make mistakes. Something to consider, however, is that the experience of the contractor you hire might not be measured in years on the job, but rather in good reports from satisfied customers.
5. Stick To Your Plan
Making a plan well ahead of time and sticking to it as best you can is an essential way to save money when building your home. For example, if you do not apply for your construction permits and file other necessary paperwork well in advance of your starting date, you could lose quite a bit of money simply waiting around for work to begin. Remember, starting work before the paperwork is approved can also result in a large fine, further denting your budget.
Even so, if you start on one course of construction and change your mind later on, you will lose the used materials and incur further costs on the new ones. That is, if you change your mind on tiling, roofing materials, or even change the layout of your home, a budget blowout (at least at a small scale) is nearly inevitable.
6. Do Your Research on Your Budget
One of our favorite ways to stay on budget while building a home is to create a detailed budget. Then, actually stick to it. You might be surprised by how many homebuilders give a rough number to their contractors before construction and then never revisit the cost. That is, until the first payment is due and it uses up way more of the budget than expected.
Small choices add up quickly during construction, so by paying attention to (and keeping track of) everything coming in and out of the building site, you’ll have a better picture of your finances and where you need to cut back (and where you can afford to splurge) a bit earlier.
Prepare a detailed budget bucket list for your home construction. Be diligent in checking it regularly – and most of all, in staying on budget throughout the process. Photo Credit by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash
7. Consider Reclaimed Materials
Using reclaimed materials can be a great way to make a fashion statement in your home’s design if you like the more rustic look. In addition, choosing to incorporate things like recycled wood is also a great way to save money. Not everything of beauty and value you use in your brand new home has to be brand new. Your wooden floor might have had a first life in your previous home. You might also find a beautiful stained glass window at an estate sale or decorative items in need of a little sprucing up online.
Reclaimed materials can be salvaged, repurposed, and repainted and serve as decorative pieces like accent walls or they can be used to create a statement piece such as the bathroom vanity in this lovely transitional home with craftsman influences. Plan #161-1073
8. Save With a Small Roof
If your heart isn’t set on your home having a sloping, dramatic, multi-level profile, you can easily save money on your roof. This is because the more simple the roof, the less expensive it will end up being. When you choose to opt-out of customizations like multi gables, dormer windows, and the like, you can save thousands of dollars. In addition, you might be able to save money on roof maintenance in the longer term, too. Simple roofs with gentle slopes tend to be less prone to wind damage and leaks.
Consider the no-frills gable roof of this two-story Country Colonial Home that adds to the simple beauty and curb appeal of the whole structure. The 1,200-square-foot home has an inviting covered front porch, glass-paned windows with attractive green shutters, a well-manicured lawn, and inside are three bedrooms, two baths, a family room, study/home office, and main level laundry. Plan #141-1031
9. Consider Going Green
You might consider spending more money while building your home to save more money in the long term, as good investments are often just as frugal as pinching pennies. You can achieve this by using energy-efficient materials like quality insulation and high-efficiency windows.
Depending on permit restrictions in the area you wish to build, you might also invest in solar or wind energy. In addition, there are typically rebates and tax credits available for homeowners who invest in green energy, making the initial output even more worthwhile.
Curb appeal plus energy efficiency define this three-bedroom, two-bathroom Ranch style home. With large glass-paned windows surrounding the 1,639-square-foot residence, there is abundant natural light that filters into the interior. The open floor design with 10-foot high tray ceilings adds to the breeziness inside the home. Plan #141-1135
10. Group “Wet Rooms” Together
A simple way to save money when building your house is to eliminate the need to install excess plumbing across multiple locations. To keep costs low, all you have to do is group wet rooms or rooms that require water hookups, close together. You can do this horizontally by placing the laundry room adjacent to the kitchen, or vertically by “stacking” the bathrooms either on top of each other or at least on one end of the house. You’ll save on materials, time, and labor. And, in the long run, you’ll save on repairs, too – as if there is a problem, it’s easier to find with less overall piping.
A very attractive laundry room in a four-bedroom, three-bathroom Contemporary style home is strategically located next to the kitchen and the pantry… (see floor plan below) to reduce plumbing installations. Plan #153-1746
If you have any questions about how to save money when building a house, as well as the best house plan for your budget, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have thousands of customizable plans available, and our customer service team can help answer any questions you may have whether you are starting to dream or ready to break ground.