Building a new home can be a big, ambitious endeavor. It’s easy to get excited about your ideas, especially when you’re building your own place. Often, you get lost in the excitement, and the costs add up before you know it.
After considering your expenses, you might be tempted to throw in the towel altogether or even cheat a little by getting lower quality materials or services. But that’ll come back to bite you. Read on for some strategies to lower the cost of your home — without cutting corners.
1. Start with a Simple Layout
Making the design simple is a great way to keep it affordable. Try a square or rectangular layout to keep the building process straightforward. If you’re concerned about the box-like shape, keep in mind that there are plenty of ways to adorn your home with external furnishings and landscaping to make it look more interesting.
There are a few key parts to building a home that tend to cost the most. The foundation is a large expense in home building. Big determinants of pricing when it comes to the foundations are location and type of foundation. Plumbing installation is quite complex as well, so know that if you decide to build a second floor, plumbing costs will increase.
The design and the size of the roof are used to determine cost. Keeping your roof design simple is a great way to keep it lower in price. The materials, the steepness, and the number of pitches will all factor into the cost as well. Usually, the more complex the roof is, the more expensive it becomes to build. Try your best to keep it simple.
2. Choose Less Square Footage
Tiny houses are growing in popularity and for good reason! They’re more energy-efficient, but they’re also much less expensive. Usually, a house qualifies as a “tiny house” when it is less than 400 square feet. Other than their size, tiny houses are not much different than regular houses — they provide the same level of comfort and amenities as any other house.
The main reasons tiny houses are less expensive are because tiny houses utilize fewer materials and take less time to build. Usually, the most expensive part of building a house is framing. The larger the house, the more expensive it will be to frame. A tiny house eliminates a large amount of that cost.
3. Try DIYing
Homebuilding requires many different skill sets that should not be taken for granted, and it might be challenging for you to build the actual house itself. If you decide to DIY, you’d need to prepare the site (including clearing the area, making alterations to the topography, getting a land surveyor to draw property boundaries, and ordering resources for the construction).
You’d also need to hire excavation contractors and foundation specialists to pour the concrete footings and foundations. Then comes plumbing and electrical, then framing, siding, and roofing…you get the picture. Quite a bit of work goes into building a home, and often, it makes more sense to hire a professional you trust to get it right, rather than face problems from a shoddy DIY in the future.
However, there are late-stage projects you can do as a homeowner. A late-stage project is one that takes place near the end of your home’s completion, or even after. It will allow your home to be built at maximum efficiency, because you won’t be interrupting the important stages of building.
These projects include: carpet installation, painting the house (inside and out), building walkways and patios, window treatment installation, and creating gardens or lawns. Since these projects have lower stakes, if you make a mistake, it won’t require a complete overhaul.
4. Consider Becoming a General Contractor
General contractors are the people who manage construction projects. If you become a general contractor and oversee the project yourself, the construction cost will go down. Acting as your own general contractor will allow you to avoid the typical 10-20% added fee. However, weigh the pros and cons first. It may be less expensive for you to do it yourself, but it’s more time efficient to hire someone else.
You can become a general contractor by either getting more education or working hands-on in construction. Many have a combination of the two. It usually takes at least three years to become a general contractor. Many states require general contractors to have a license, which means you’ll have to pass an exam first. You’ll need to know the information ranging from business and finance management to safety and risk control.
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As a general contractor, you’ll also need a contractor license bond in most states. A contractor license bond ensures you’ll follow the regulations that go along with being a general contractor. Business insurance is an important investment as well. As a general contractor, you’ll want to be protected—construction sites can be dangerous, and unfortunately, accidents happen.
Finally, you’ll need to organize all the required paperwork to show that you have credibility as a general contractor. The requirements vary from state to state, so do a Google search on your state to figure out exactly what you’ll need.
5. Build with Sustainable Materials
Sustainable buildings often end up saving big on their energy and water bills. These savings will add up, and might even end up saving you more than the initial expense of sustainable materials. It also raises your property value, so if (or when) you want to sell, you’ll get a better selling price. And who can complain about a decreased carbon footprint?
Another factor to consider is rebates and tax breaks for sustainability. Being good to the environment might just be the best bang for your buck. This also depends on your location, but make sure to check and see if you qualify for local, state, or federal rebates.
6. Aim for Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency often goes hand-in-hand with sustainability. Use good quality insulation and windows to avoid pricey replacements down the line. You can also think about utilizing solar or wind energy for power, but the usefulness of these energy sources often depends on where you live. Overall, investing in energy efficiency might cost a little more, but it’ll pay off in the long run—literally.
At the end of the day, all that really matters about your new home is that you can see yourself living there. Compromise when it’s necessary, but do your best to make the choices that you’ll be happy within the long run. After all, you’re the one who’s going to live in it!
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Pia De Los ReyesPia is a writer and content marketer with an M.A. in Communication. She specializes in writing about lifestyle, personal finance, insurance, and business/career topics and loves to inspire and inform everyday audiences
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