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House Plan Design On A Budget
  I have designed for some of wealthiest people in the country; and one thing I have learned; everyone has a budget; although it might be smaller for some of us; none the less; we all have an idea of what we would like to spend. If your budget is tight, here are helpful hints in controlling project cost.

   If you are considering a walk out lower level, and thinking of leaving it unfinished for future use or sale, be aware that basements increase the height of your foundation wall by several feet, increasing cost greatly, and the concrete slab floor is also quite costly. If there are no interior walls in this area, the open space may require post and beaming to support load bearing walls above. Basements or walk out lower levels are the most expensive part of a home. Bonus rooms are quite common and builders like offering the potential of additional space to a buyer;  be aware that any space built into an attic requires additional structural support and can be costly.

If during the building process you request a change, or an addendum, be it big or small, your builder will charge and additional fee for the additional labor and material, so it is best to have all of your decisions finalized before construction begins. These revisions also slow the building process.

   Price shop for your project; shop online and compare prices but make sure to include shipping. Shop resale; there are many wholesalers that offer products from fire or water damaged warehouses. Check the classifieds in the newspapers for items being sold by individuals; Shop at flea markets and garage sales; every item that goes into your new home is being purchased by you, the buyer. You have a right to price shop for any of these items. Keep in mind that most builders are men, and most men don’t like to shop.

A short driveway cost much less than a long one.

   You can find lighting fixtures, cabinet and door hardware, flooring, doors and much more for great prices if you look around. One of my favorite places to shop is the ‘Restore’ provided by Habitat for humanities, a wonderful organization that builds houses for the underprivileged in just about every state in the US. The inventory changes daily so make several periodical visits. You can find flooring material, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, hardware, interior doors, exterior doors, windows, and quality paint for very cheap, or anything you can imagine that goes into the construction of a house, and you’ll be contributing to a great cause.


Material cost typically run 50% of the overall project cost, so imagine the money you can save by shopping for a bargain.

   Talk to your builder about doing some of the work yourself, such as clean up, and if you have a truck, consider hauling off the debris from the site. The builder pays hundreds of dollars to keep the site clean. Subcontractors are notorious for leaving a mess, and rarely pick up after themselves. Typically a builder pays an individual to visit the site periodically and pick up scrap materials. At the end of the job, the entire house, floors, cabinets, counter tops, bathroom and light fixtures, will need a wipe down.   

Fixed glass is less expensive than operable, so locate operable glass only where needed for emergency exit, or where you can catch a gentle breeze.

   The windows will need paint and caulking scraped from the glass and then wiped clean. A sizable amount can be saved by doing this yourself. Painting the interior and maybe the (if applicable) exterior too could save you thousands of dollars. Depending on just how handy you are, you could take responsibility for installing interior doors, and hardware. Maybe you could have a painting party, inviting all of your friends and family for the fun. Maybe you could do your own landscaping, or perhaps you have one or two handy friends that can drywall, or tape and float. Maybe you have a brother or an uncle that used to be a trim carpenter. You get the idea right?

The lower the roof pitch the more affordable the material and the labor.

   The builder may recommend Masonite or ‘hollow core’ interior doors if you are on a tight budget. If this disagreeable, select a plain solid core interior door, without panels. During the trim framing stage, ask your builder to have the doors decorated with ” trim. This pattern can be a simple rectangle a few inches from the edge, or the pattern could simulate a 4 or 6 panel door. It is also quite common to use MDF trim instead of wood for your base and cove molding. This material cannot be stained, so your trim will have to be painted, but the savings is substantial.

The narrower a home, the less the structural framing will cost because of reduced spans in the floor and roof framing.

   If your tastes are far greater than your budget, or you unintentionally run over budget, you have some options; consider leaving portions of your new home unfinished, such as the guest suite, or the game room. If you have a concrete slab floor, consider staining it for now and then choosing the flooring of your choice at a later date or reduce the quality of your finish materials. Many of these materials can easily be upgraded at a later date.

The most expensive part of a building is the roof and foundation, what falls in between is relatively cheap in comparison, so if you are on a tight budget, build up, not out.















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