How to Build a Custom House Without Going Broke

How to Build a Custom House Without Going Broke

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A Homeowner’s Guide to Affordable Home Building 

For millions of Americans and their families, custom building a home is a big goal. But you don’t have to wait until some future time to make it happen. Custom home building may be more affordable than you realize.

6 Tips for Cost-Effective Home Building 

When you build a house, you get the chance to create living spaces that are tailored to your wants and needs. And while the process can be mentally exasperating, it doesn’t have to be financially draining.

Here are some ways to make the custom home building process work without going broke: 

  1. Determine a Budget 

The first step in the process is to come up with a budget. And believe it or not, this is where most people go wrong.

You can’t create a vague budget. There needs to be a bottom-line number that you can look to when issues, problems, or unforeseen circumstances arise. Otherwise, you’ll keep spending money and end up with a final product that’s way more than you can afford.

Many home building companies – such as House Design Solutions – offer architecture and construction services to price out a build way before a contract is signed. This helps the prospective owner determine a feasible budget. The sooner you can get a price on paper, the faster you can proceed. 

  1. Leave Some Cushion in Your Budget 

When designing a house, it’s important to leave some cushion in your budget. If you have $200,000 to spend, you don’t want to allocate every last penny up front. Instead, you’d be smart to create a 10 to 15 percent cushion (meaning you only plan on spending $160,000 to $170,000). The rest of the money will be used to cover the expenses that inevitably emerge throughout the process (such as increased material costs or problems with the lot). 

  1. Build Up Rather Than Out 

“Start saving by simplifying the design of your home,” Margaret Heidenry writes for Realtor.com. “Face reality: Building a geodesic dome will clearly cost a lot more than constructing a traditional rectangular box. And the cost lowers further if you opt for a two-story home (or three) over a one-story house of equal square footage, since the foundation of the two-story home will be smaller—and the foundation is the pricey part. In fact, excavation and foundation work are by far the most significant cost when building a home.”

It’s also important to be selective with square footage. Bigger isn’t always better. You’ll be much happier to have a well-built house that’s smaller in size than a cheaply built house with extra square footage. 

  1. Go With an Open Floor Plan 

You can make a smaller house feel bigger by designing an open floor plan. Better yet, open floor plans tend to be more cost-effective. They require fewer walls, doors, and materials. They’re also less architecturally complex. 

  1. Hire the Right Contractor 

When building a home, you’ll likely meet with three or more contractors to get quotes. If you’re on a strict budget, it’ll be tempting to go with the lowest price. And while this may be the best option, there’s also a good chance that the price reflects the quality.

A cheap contractor will use quick building methods and materials that don’t hold up over the years. A good contractor might cost more on paper, but he’ll actually save you in the long run. Just make sure you consider this in the selection process. 

  1. Do Some of the Work Yourself 

If you have some basic skills, there will be certain work that you can do yourself to save money. Examples include flooring, painting, cabinetry, landscaping, and even plumbing or electrical (for those with more experience). But as always, remember that time is money. If you can pay someone to do the job for you and speed up the process, it’s probably worth using a professional. 

Don’t Be House Poor 

There’s a huge difference between actual wealth and aspirational wealth. Unfortunately, our society seems to be confused by the difference. You can’t spend your way into wealth. If you try to use a big house to feel wealthy, you’ll ultimately become house poor. Be smart with your money and only build what you can afford.

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