Which tips for cutting costs when building a house you should use, depend largely on your goals in building it. If you have not yet purchased a lot, the cost of your home is largely at your discretion. It is a matter of personal and cultural taste and what your state zoning laws accept.
Let’s think outside the box for a moment. Pigmy people in Africa’s Congo build a home every day out of a giant leaf. They are apparently happy doing this and most of them have rejected modern life, even when the opportunity presented itself, in favor of this naturalist approach of simply rolling themselves in a rain forest leaf for shelter. While this approach may not be for everyone, and it certainly would not work in a cold climate, it illustrates a lot about how our cultural upbringing and personal tastes determine what is important.
Even within western society different people need different things from their homes, and define their dream home in different ways. The ideals of green homes are finally taking root in our culture, at least to some degree, and the idea of ‘affordable housing’ has gained interest as well.
• State and local building codes
• City and county ordinances
• Zoning laws that effect your property
• Subdivision rules
• Your Builder’s Standards and Practices
• Your own Standards
• The opinions of others
If you are planning to build in a subdivision or exclusive community you may not be able to cut costs as much as if you would on a remote or rural lot. If you have your heart set on an exclusive community, controlled by one builder, you have very little choice in how you save money, since you will be choosing from one set of upgrades. The savings are fairly self-explanatory. If you want to save money pick the cheap countertops, the cheap carpet and all the other freebies that come for the standard price. Do not scrimp on energy efficiency or anything that might impact the structure. If big savings are to be had, then it comes down to bargaining power. Remember that you are the customer and you can take your business elsewhere. Even if you don’t want to, let the salesman know you are prepared to walk out if you don’t get the deal you want. You might end up saving thousands by driving a hard bargain in the current economy. You may not be able to take advantage of many of the tips below, but a few might work.
1. Choose to build a smaller home. Use your space efficiently to create a home with fewer square feet. This saves not only on construction costs, but will continue to pay off in utility savings for the life of the home.
2. Build your home with the most energy efficient structure you can afford. Always push for better energy efficiency, even if it means doing something non-standard. The extra money you spend now will be paying you back for years.
3. Set up solar panels either as a self contained system, or to feed into the power grid so that you get a check not a bill from your electric service company.
4. Have a Shell built on your lot and finish it yourself. The shell or structure usually costs about one third or less of the overall cost of building a home.
5. Consider building a small starter home and adding on later.
6. Build a home using Salvaged materials. Used shipping materials are a great choice, for the ultimate economy. Salvaged doors salvaged interior moldings and other woodwork, and even remnant carpeting can save a lot of money.
7. Use double sided carpet tape to install remnant carpeting, or car carpet in patterns. Use large sections though to cut down on the occasional repair. One good pattern is to place the largest piece you can get a deal on, in the center of the floor or on one corner. Then border with at least two feet of carpet of a complementary color on each open edge. Repairs are simple. Just replace the tape if it doesn’t hold the first time. Avoid seams in the traffic pattern as much as possible, and you will never need repair.
8. Check with your county to see if using an incinerator toilet could exempt you from needing a septic tank. In most areas other sources of household drainage are considered gray water and do not require a septic system. Even if you are on city water, the incinerator toilet helps the environment, and preserves our water resources.
9. Modular housing is often less expensive than building a stick built home on your lot. Modular housing saves on construction costs, while providing the same quality as a home built on your lot.
10. Investigate alternative materials such as insulated concrete for added energy savings, or logs for savings on the structure. Panels of various kinds are very economical and easy to construct. The shell can be complete within the week with the panel method of construction.
Cost efficiency is not about cutting out the things you want, in order to save money. It is about getting a better house for less cost. As long as you keep an open mind and think creatively you can save big on home building. For more tips on cutting costs when build a house download our 98 page book, and read the many articles on this site.