Designing an affordable home should be no different than designing any other home. You should always be mindful of the cost implications of your decisions and look for ways to reduce costs without compromising on project goals.
Believe it or not, constructing a remarkable and viable dwelling can be both reality AND budget-friendly.
Determining finishes, home type, square footage, and much more can help you cut back on costs – while still achieving your home goals.
Let’s look at some tips and tricks on how to build a home that is well within your reach, like these cost-effective house plans.
When you first start out, you want to find an optimal location on your site to build your home. Good site planning that responds to site features, local climatic conditions, and solar orientation (to take advantage of passive heating and cooling) is the first place to look for ways to reduce costs.
Once you have selected the location and orientation of your home, the design process shifts from site planning to home design. Your home design should have an efficient floor plan that eliminates redundant space, maximizes usable space, and reduces unnecessary square footage.
The shape and form of your home should also be a simple design that is easy and efficient to build and incorporates cost-effective materials and simple details.
Planning for an energy-efficient design early on with good efficient passive and active components will help conserve and reduce energy while you’re living in the home.
And lastly, building a successful affordable home depends largely on the quality and commitment of your builder.
An efficient and cost-effective construction process that incorporates all your cost-effective design strategies will result in a dream home that you can be happy living in for years to come.
Avid house-hunting fans love to poke fun at the extensive “must-have” lists often presented in our favourite home television shows.
But if you’ve undertaken the search for your dream home yourself, you know how challenging it can be to find a house that you love within your budget.
Budget-friendly Ways To Build A House
In fact, this dilemma is one that many potential homebuyers face. So, if you find yourself constantly frustrated with the slim pickings of homes on the market or you’re struggling to remain within your price range, then it could be time to quite literally go back to the drawing board and consider building your perfect home from scratch.
Build Your Own House, With A Contractor
If your area of concern isn’t necessarily about your budget but rather finding what you want in a home at all, then working with a contractor to construct your perfect house could be the solution you’re looking for.
You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish with a blank slate, some expert advice and your one-of-a-kind vision.
Make A Plan
In many aspects of life, preparedness is the key to success – and this most certainly applies to building a house. You’ll want to make sure you have a defined budget, the right people and well thought out resources in order to make this process as seamless as possible.
Figure Out Where To Build
With any project, you should always make sure you have a strong foundation – and especially in the case of building a home. So, if you’re planning to use your current lot, make sure you understand the costs associated with any necessary excavation or reshaping of your land.
If you’re interested in starting construction elsewhere, you should make sure to do ample research about the location and that area’s zoning codes.
And since zoning policies oftentimes vary from city to city, you’ll want to do your research beforehand so you can understand exactly how imaginative you can get with your build.
Some areas might not allow for a pool, garden sheds or other unique features. Other zoning codes have certain rules regarding additions or deck and fence sizing.
Simply understanding the features you’d like to see in your home and ensuring that they’re all attainable for your particular lot is a great first step toward your dream home.
Know Your Numbers
Although you probably already have some kind of budget in mind leftover from your house hunting experiences, the construction process can come with a range of different costs that you may not have even considered. In order to establish a reasonable budget that works for you, let’s first break down some of the costs you could be looking at.
- Land: As we mentioned earlier, the foundation is key. Do you know if your lot is construction-ready? Or will you have to hire a landscaper to reshape or level out your lot? Will your yard require any excavation or erosion control? Ask yourself these important questions before moving forward with any plans.
- Architects: Regardless of how specific your vision is, take some time to consider enlisting the help of an architect. These experienced designers will make drawing up the floor plan that much easier while also being available for advice regarding any unique features you have in mind. Just make sure to properly articulate your vision and find an architect you can coordinate well with in the future.
- Contractors: You don’t want to feel lost when faced with the big decisions surrounding your home build, and a great way to avoid this is by hiring a contractor. Similar to working with an architect, having this professional on your team can provide you with advice and help flesh out the logistics behind your build. Many experienced contractors will understand the best and most durable materials to work with, and some may even be able to get you deals on certain materials based on their relationships with a supplier. Contractors should also have an area of knowledge around the safety and legal requirements of construction in your area to ensure an efficient build.
Once you feel that you have a grasp on the costs associated with home building, start putting together your budget. Your budget should realistically reflect the costs of land, labour and materials within your area.
If you’re starting to grow worried about these costs stacking up, look into applying for a construction loan.
There are many kinds of construction loans, each suited for different projects, so you shouldn’t be hard-pressed to find one that can meet your needs and get your build running.
Build Your Own House, Without A Contractor
For those of you who already have experience with construction projects or have a network of experts among your friends and family, then you’ve probably already considered building your home on your own.
As long as you truly have the right resources – skilled labourers, reliable and safe-to-operate tools, and the right knowledge about your construction ambitions – then DIYing your build can save you quite a bit of cash in the long run.
The more you choose to do yourself, the more money you can put back in your pocket.
However, you may still want to consider recruiting the help of an architect, designer or contractor to avoid making any costly mistakes – especially if this is your first-ever build.
But if you’re feeling confident in your skills, the internet should be able to provide you with plenty of resources. Don’t be afraid to download floorplans from online for inspiration or hit up Pinterest for some trendy home project ideas.
Build A Simple Box
As geometry class taught us, squares are the easiest shape to deal with. So, if you don’t mind keeping things simple, constructing a square or rectangular floor plan can save you big bucks.
And rather than constructing an elaborate home, add square footage by building upward, not outward – it’s generally cheaper.
Additionally, never underestimate what landscaping, decks, paint jobs and decor can do to spruce up your exterior.
So, if a simple build meets your needs, seriously consider going with this affordable option and reaping the rewards.
Choose A Design With A Simple Roof
This concept of spending-less-saves-you-more also applies to roofing: simpler designs will cost you much less. Although multi-level roofs may look nice, it’s always cheaper to go with a simple roofing option.
Not only will it save you money in the short term, but due to their structure, simple roofs are at less of a risk for leaks or damage over time.
So, if you’re on a tight budget or simply don’t care much about rooftop aesthetics, then a plain, gently sloping roof is a smart way to save some dough.
Build An Energy-efficient Home
Over time there has been an increasing trend in sustainable living and energy-efficient homes – and for a good reason.
Not only can upgrading your home to an energy-efficient model save you hundreds in energy bills each month, but you also get to do your part for the environment.
Whether you’re a seasoned expert in sustainability or you’re simply interested in taking small steps toward going green, there are plenty of ways to make your home more energy-efficient – from installing better insulation or high-efficiency windows to utilizing solar or wind energy as a resource.
The drawback for many people, however, is the initial cost of these features, which can run rather high.
But simply viewing them as an investment rather than a one-time purchase, and keeping in mind how much money these products can save you over time, will make their price tag much less intimidating.
Keep Water Usage Areas Together
Now, this is truly a great way to save money when building your home from the ground up: keep your water usage areas together.
By clumping your laundry room, bathrooms and kitchens as closely together as possible – either vertically or horizontally – you can eliminate a need for excess plumbing materials and shave off some extra costs.
So, when you’re drawing up your floorplan, keep this in consideration if you’re looking to save some cash.
Skip The Expensive Finishes, For Now
If your budget is running low, don’t panic. Keep in mind that although you’re building your home now, you can always install flooring or countertops later. Focus on building a strong foundation – finishing touches can always be added at a later date.
Build A Tiny House
If you’re open to more an unorthodox way of living, then the tiny home lifestyle could be up your alley.
This bite-sized movement has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years due to its sustainability and clever use of square footage.
With its viral success online, tiny-home owners have grown into a passionate online community with information on the lifestyle pros and cons, tiny home floorplans, and veteran advice in abundance.
But tiny homes aren’t just appealing because they’re trendy. In fact, their biggest draw is their affordability.
Since tiny homes are, well, tiny, they’ll cost you significantly less to build than a conventional house. Most tiny homes range from just $20,000 – $100,000, depending on how luxurious you want your build to be.
Not to mention, they also cost significantly less to maintain than your standard home. You can even opt to build your tiny home on wheels if you’re interested in travelling or plan to move in the future.
But the tiny home lifestyle isn’t fit for everyone. Perhaps the largest drawback to tiny homes, besides their limited size, has to do with the financing: you won’t be able to rely on any loans.
Even when purchasing a tiny home, buyers are limited to cash or credit. So, unless you’re ready to pay upfront, be prepared for the credit card bills. But if you’re looking for something new and are confident you can pay off your tiny home, it may be an option worth exploring.
Unconventional Building Materials
Another option for those looking for something new is simply trying to find ways to utilize unconventional building materials.
With the tiny home movement picking up steam, there has been an influx of popularity for shipping container homes – houses built using reclaimed storage containers.
The kind of innovation that looked at storage containers and saw durable home construction materials is the kind of creativity you should try and hone in on when building your home.
Not only is this recycling of materials extremely sustainable, but it will also clearly save you money on your build.
Build Off The Grid
In case you haven’t caught on, sustainable living, in general, has become a huge trend in recent years. This is why off the grid housing, or self-sufficient homes, are appealing to more and more people over time.
Off the grid, homes rely on natural energy resources, like solar or wind-powered generators and composting toilets, and many self-sufficient homeowners also take part in gardening and harvesting homegrown foods.
If you’re passionate about sustainability and want to give this net-zero lifestyle a try, then check out off-grid home plans or peruse the expansive online community for more information.
Mistakes to Avoid When Building a New Home
If you’re looking into building your dream home, it’s probably because you have very specific ideas and plans about what you want your house and yard to look and feel like.
Maybe you’ve done the research and can’t find a home on the market with exactly the features or floorplan you want.
Maybe you’re just excited about the prospect of finding your own lot and customizing the home building process from the ground up.
You shouldn’t have to compromise your vision for your dream home just for a bit of added convenience.
But building a home from scratch can come with complications and hurdles that buyers of pre-built homes simply don’t have to deal with. That’s why it pays to do plenty of research upfront, so you have a better idea of what you’re getting into.
If you’re considering contracting a builder to build a home to your own specifications, here are a few pitfalls to avoid.
First: The Difference Between a New Build and a Custom Build
Before we get into mistakes, people make when building a home, we’ll need to clarify what “building new” means
You can either hire an architect to design a completely custom floor plan and then find a builder to bring that dream to life or look for a home builder who is already building new homes similar to the one you’re looking for.
The latter type of homebuilders is sometimes called a “production builder.” Production builders specialize in buying land or lots that are suitable for new homes. They generally operate with a portfolio of home plans that their clients can customize — within reason — to suit their own needs and preferences.
Building a new home
According to this Washington Post article, “a high percentage of prospective home buyers start out thinking they may want to build a custom home but then end up buying an already built home or working directly with a builder to modify a home that is in the process. Of being built.”
One of the biggest reasons that most buyers eventually opt to work with production builders is that builders generally have the advantage when it comes to finding the best homesites.
It takes a lot of expertise to evaluate potential lots, and individual homebuyers generally don’t have the resources or knowledge to evaluate properties quickly enough to compete with builders. Builders spend tons of energy and resources on the quest for the best lots — and snap up many of them before they even go public.
Working with a production builder can be simpler and less expensive than going completely custom for other reasons, too.
A completely custom job puts you in charge of hiring an entire team of people, from the architect to the builders to other contractors. Production builders have already established these relationships and have years of experience to rely on throughout the process.
Finally, homebuyers hoping to finance their home construction project may also face lending hurdles that production builders don’t have to worry about.
That said, regardless of whether you’re working with a custom builder or a production builder, you’ll need to watch out for these common mistakes.
Mistake 1: Choosing a Builder Based on Price
Building a home is never an inexpensive prospect. It may be tempting to choose the builder that seems to offer the best price on paper or the lowest bid if you’re bidding out the project.
But you’ll have to do some research into how each builder came up with their bids and their prices to understand what’s included — and what isn’t — in each bid you receive.
Plus, even the most thorough contract or bid leaves plenty of room for builders to take financial advantage of you here and there as the project progresses.
That’s why it’s a better idea to choose the builder that you trust and enjoy working with the most.
After all, you’ll be working with the builder for months and trusting them with your family’s home for the foreseeable future. Paying a little more for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re working with the best is usually well worth it.
To check builders’ credentials, you can ask them for references. You may even try to check out communities they’ve built in the past and chat with any friendly neighbours who would be willing to share their experiences with you.
Mistake 2: Failing to Review Contracts Carefully
Reviewing a well-written contract is a crucial step to take before you officially begin your relationship with any home builder.
Agreements should include project details, schedule details, and cost projections, and they should clarify who is responsible for any delays or unexpected expenses that occur during the project.
This is not the time to skip the fine print. You should be able to understand everything in your building contract as a non-lawyer, but it’s also advisable to hire your own lawyer to review the contract before you sign it.
We all want to hope for the best, but even slight misunderstandings or ambiguity in this document could lead to plenty of expensive headaches down the road.
Mistake 3: Overlooking the HVAC System
When you’re building a home, you may rightly be most excited about things like your new custom floor plan or special add-ons like granite countertops or spacious garages.
But it’s a mistake to overlook the important role the HVAC system plays in a home’s health and its energy efficiency. Without a good HVAC system, you might also run into moisture issues that could go on to cause mould issues and impact your family’s health.
Pay attention to the sealing and installation of the ductwork to make sure things are as efficient as possible.
You can also ask your builder how the HVAC system will work and how it will be effective in each room of your home.
Mistake 4: Not Planning for Contingencies
You’ve heard about what happens to the best-laid plans, right? We can all appreciate the optimism, but perhaps it’s more realistic to plan for a few things going wrong during what will be a complicated construction project.
If construction isn’t completed by the projected date, you’ll need to know how that will affect your mortgage costs, for example.
As we mentioned before, you’ll also need to know not just who will be responsible for unexpected expenses but whether or not your builder has accounted for them in the cost estimates.
Some contractors include a “buffer” in their price estimates to account for things like materials’ price changes or unexpected repairs due to weather damage.