How to Build an Affordable Home with Economic House Plans
Owning a home is part of the American dream. Many of us want a part of it, and building your own home is a way to make your part of the dream uniquely personal. And when you plan to build what will probably be the largest expense of your life, you need to plan it well. There’s quite a bit to consider when you make that plan, but with foresight, you can affordably build a beautiful new home. You can have that home of your dreams when you plan the details that will make it perfect for you, as well as the details that will allow you to save money up front. The biggest expense in your life doesn’t have to be a foolish one. Indeed, it should make perfect sense.
Planning Your Home-Building BudgetOwning a home is often more cost-effective than renting, but there are other expenses to consider. You may not be paying all the utilities in your rental, and you’re not responsible for all the repairs. Those things will have to play into your monthly budget plan for when you move in. It’s always a good idea to have emergency savings, and you will need some as a homeowner. You also want to think about the total budget for your build. The amount of house you can afford may not be the amount you reasonably need. It’s a good idea to save the difference, especially if you’re taking out a mortgage. You can never be sure what your economic situation will be in the future, so saving for potential periods of unemployment or for a growing family is wise. If you have more house than you need, you will have to consider the future expense of heating or cooling space you won’t necessarily be using, as well as the expense of building it. If you’re building a bigger house than you currently need because your family is going to grow, that’s a sensible financial decision, but think twice about building a house with spaces you won’t really use. Another good part of this plan is the ability to pay a little extra on your mortgage. If you make the equivalent of one extra mortgage payment throughout the year, you will take time off the length of your mortgage and save a great deal on interest. That’s also something you can stop and add back into your monthly budget, if necessary, should your financial situation change. While it’s important to take your future monthly budget seriously, it’s equally important to plan the budget for the total build wisely. You’ll have many decisions to make. Some of them may seem like minor details, but they all add up. Deciding on a budget — and sticking to it as best you can — can help reduce your stress in the long run. There are many ways to save money.
Ways to Save on the DesignYou may have been browsing real estate pages and home design sites to help you come up with a vision of what you want your new home to be like, but that isn’t always the best way to come up with a plan. You can get some good ideas on some looks as far as curb appeal or interior design, but the most important thing to consider is the amount of house you need. Do you need a separate playroom for your kids, or will it suffice for them to just have bedrooms? Do you need a separate “man cave" or room to entertain besides your living and dining rooms? Do you need a separate room for your library, or can you strategically place your bookshelves around your living areas? Make a list of the needs and wants for your home. A second bathroom may be nice, but it also may not be a necessity. If you can reasonably fit some of your wants into your budget, add them, but if you can’t, let them go. You may be able to add some of those wants in the future. There are a variety of other ways to save on your design.
- Keep it small. You can save a lot by building a two-story house rather than a single-story one. The foundation or basement and the roof are two of the more expensive parts of the home to build. The smaller footprint will save you money on the build. If mobility on the stairs isn’t an issue, a two-story home is the way to go.
- A garage. Decide whether or not you need a garage. If a carport will suffice, there are plans available with one incorporated into the design. If possible, building a garage into the basement will save money, too.
- Avoid complexity. Simplicity will save you money.
- Take advantage of an open floor plan. This will reduce the amount of materials needed, saving on costs, even when accounting for supporting second-floor walls. It’s also a staple of modern American design and home entertainment.
- Centralize plumbing. Your kitchen and bathroom should be close to each other — if not next to each other — to save money on the plumbing subcontract. And a second-floor bathroom should line up above the downstairs bathroom or the kitchen for the same reason. It doesn’t make sense to run expensive copper tubing unnecessary directions.
Saving on Basic Material ChoicesThere are some areas of the build you just won’t want to scrimp and save on. You want a solid frame and foundation. You want a roof and siding that will stand up to the weather where you’re going to live, and you want to insulate well to save on your heating and cooling in the long term — as well as on the heating and cooling system. However, there are a variety of ways you can save on materials. You can have your builder use “builder-grade" materials as much as possible. You can strategically make decisions on the grade of materials based on a couple of different factors.In an area of the house that may get more use or more visitors — like that open kitchen, dining and living area — you may want to opt for higher-grade, sturdier fixtures. You may be able to hold off on upgraded lighting in bedrooms for a while. You may also be able to make do with some lower-grade features for a while. An upstairs bathroom with some builder-grade fixtures may suffice for function, and a downstairs bathroom that gets more frequent use may need higher-grade materials. You can upgrade the other bathroom down the road. There are some features that just aren’t needs. While crown molding is a great interior design feature, it’s not a necessity. You can skip the travertine tile in the bathroom and go with a great ceramic tile. Indeed, an Earth-friendly linoleum may suffice until you’re ready to upgrade that purely functional upstairs bathroom.
Saving on UpgradesThere will be areas you want to have higher-grade materials and features, and you can still save money. Naturally, you won’t want to go directly to a high-end interior design store, but if you’re in the area, it won’t hurt to stop to compare prices or look for inspiration. Here are some ideas to plan how you shop for upgraded features.
- Have a plan and a budget. Go over both with your builder and any necessary subcontractors. You want them to know if there’s a special purchase that needs to be made, and they may even be able to guide you somewhere to find the best deal on these items. They may even be able to get a better deal than you can.
- Shop around. This seems like a rather basic idea, but it can be easy to forget when you fall in love with that one beautiful vanity, kitchen sink or whichever piece you’re looking for. Remember where you saw it and how much it costs. Write that down. Keep lists and compare. You may find a better deal at a big-box home improvement store or online.
- Keep your focus. When you’re shopping around, it’s easy to be distracted by all the great items a store may have, and you may see a higher-end item you didn’t originally want to upgrade. This will be tempting, but it’s important to your budget — and possibly your peace of mind — to stick to that plan.
- Do work yourself, if you can. If you aren’t experienced with a variety of tools, this probably isn’t a good idea, but if you know your way around power tools, this can save you money on hanging cabinets in your kitchen, tiling your bathroom or whatever your skill set will allow.