How much will your building or remodeling project cost? Maybe less than you think! Here's how to cut costs without compromising comfort and beauty.
Before you get far in the planning process, start collecting estimates. These early estimates will be approximate, but they can help you make important building decisions. Once you know the likely costs, you can modify your plans to meet your budget.
BEWARE BUDGET BUILDING LOTS
The cheapest building lot might not be the most affordable. Your costs will soar if your builders have to blast through rock, clear away trees, or provide extensive drainage. Also be sure to factor in the cost of installing public services. The most economical building lots are often in developments with access to electricity, gas, and public water lines.
CHOOSE SIMPLE SHAPES
Triangles, trapezoids, and other complex shapes are difficult and expensive to build. To save costs, choose square or rectangular floor plans. Avoid cathedral ceilings and complicated roof-lines. Best yet? Forget the box and opt for an ultra-affordable dome home.
When you compare costs per square foot, a big house can seem like a bargain. After all, even the smallest house will need high-ticket items like plumbing and heating. But check the bottom line. In most cases, smaller houses are more affordable to build and more economical to maintain. Also, a house that is deeper than 32 feet may require specially-designed roof trusses, which will make your costs go through the roof.
The most affordable houses are compact. Instead of building a single story house that sprawls across the lot, consider a house with two or three stories. The taller house will have the same amount of living space, but the roof and foundation will be smaller. Plumbing and ventilation are also less expensive in multi-story homes.
DON'T PAY FOR A PHANTOM SPACE
Before you choose a plan for your new home, you'll want to know how much space you're paying for. Find out how much of the total area represents actual living space, and how much represents "empty" spaces such as garages, attics, and wall insulation.
RECONSIDER YOUR CABINETS
Solid wood cabinets are elegant, but there are less expensive ways to give kitchens, bathrooms, and home offices a sleek, designer look. Consider open shelving or stainless steel cabinets with frosted glass doors.
USE RECYCLED MATERIALS
Recycled construction materials are earth-friendly and can also help take the bite out of building costs. Look for products like recycled steel, pressed straw paneling, and sawdust and cement composites. Also browse architectural salvage warehouses for doors, windows, lumber, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, fireplace mantels, and assorted architectural details.
POSTPONE THE FRILLS
While your budget is tight, opt for door hardware, faucets, and light fixtures from your local home improvement store. Items like these can be easily changed, and you can always upgrade later on.
INVEST IN QUALITY
While you can postpone frills like fancy doorknobs, it doesn't pay to scrimp when it comes to features that can't be easily changed. Forget the tacky vinyl siding. Invest your homebuilding dollars in construction materials that will bear the test of time.
BUILD FOR ENERGY-EFICIENCY
Don't be put off by the high price tags. Energy-efficient heating systems and "Energy-Star" rated appliances may cost more to install, but can save money (and the environment) over time. The most economical house is the one you can afford to live in for many years to come.
Some of the most interesting and most affordable homes being built today are factory-built, modular, or prefabricated, homes. Just like the Sears mail order houses from the early 20th century, modular homes come complete with building plans and pre-cut construction materials.
FINISH IT YOURSELF
You don't need to be a construction expert to take on some jobs yourself. Perhaps you can take care of finishing details such as painting and landscaping. Also, consider postponing some parts of the project. Leave the basement or garage unfinished and tackle those spaces at a later date.
CONSULT A PRO
When money is tight, it's tempting to skimp on hiring a pro. Keep in mind, however, that architects and professional home designers can help you avoid costly mistakes. Pros also have access to money-saving resources that you might not find on your own. To cut your consultation costs, sketch out your ideas before your first meeting.
By Jackie Craven at www.about.com