Building a new home can be a daunting task, and labor costs can eat up a sizable chunk of your building budget. Knowing how to save money building a house and opt for DIY solutions – where practical and possible – can save you thousands of dollars.
Use a stock house plan
Unless you are a professional architect or engineer, paying for one is costly. You can eliminate the added expense of engaging such experts to create custom blueprints by choosing from a selection of pre-made home-building plans to suit your needs and budget.
So long as you can visualize a two-dimensional floor plan design three-dimensionally, choosing a stock floor plan is a great way to save. You may no longer have full control over the layout, however, for an additional fee, many blueprint organizations do offer some customization services.
Become the general contractor
The majority of states allow you to be a general contractor for your personal residence without the need for a license. Self-managing the project can save you 10% or more of your total building costs.
You will need to get to grips with understanding some basic construction processes, as hiring and coordinating professional subcontractors will be your primary responsibility. So long as you are naturally adept at problem-solving, are good with people, and competent at tracking expenses and managing timelines, it’s likely that you can successfully manage a home build.
When you act as your own general contractor, you must have a Builder’s Risk of Fire insurance policy in place, effective from the moment either any building materials or any workers arrive on site. You may need to obtain any relevant building permits yourself, too, although some subcontractors and architects do include these in their fees and services.
Purchase the building materials yourself
Seeing as you will be billed for materials such as wiring, siding and lumber anyway, it may save you money to buy these materials yourself – directly from the supplier using the specifications provided to you by the relevant contractor.
Some subcontractors will be willing to reduce their quotes somewhat if they don’t have to factor in the time and upfront costs associated with building material purchases. Suppliers may also offer a small discount when you buy materials upfront in full.
Shop wholesale for cabinets and countertops
Cabinetry for kitchens and bathrooms is typically a major home-build cost. However, it is possible to get your hands on premium-quality cabinetry for a fraction of the normal cost by shopping around for ready-to-assemble units from a wholesaler. Once the cabinets arrive on-site, you can enlist the help of a friend or two, assemble and even hang them yourself. Many top-tier manufacturers also offer some customer support in case you get stuck.
Standard sized, pre-made granite or marble countertops are also becoming increasingly common. This means that, so long as you opt for standard layouts for your kitchen and bathroom, installing the countertops should end up costing you around half the price of a custom-made alternative. Custom-made granite or marble countertops can range from $2,000 to $5,0000, so opting for a prefab can save you $1,000 or more.
Stick to standard sizes
An easy way to save a few extra bucks is to opt for standard sizes for all windows and doors, regardless of whether you’ve gone for a custom floor plan or budget blueprint. Unusually shaped or sized doors and windows require expensive customization that affects installation costs as well as purchase expenses. With standard sizing, you can also then shop around for discounted remnants at building supply stores.
Shop around for the best bargains
Spending some extra time comparison-shopping can be well worth the effort, possibly scoring you some name-brand, high-quality appliances and finishes at bargain prices.
Top cost-saving tricks include:
- Bargain shopping for plumbing and lighting fixtures online
- Searching carpet and flooring warehouses for discounted remnants
- Purchasing rejected appliances with minimal scratches or dings
- Keeping a regular eye on Craigslist, eBay and other marketplaces for bargain second-hand items – many people upgrade perfectly good, high-quality appliances for you to scoop up for sizable savings
Do the final touches yourself
Even if you have hired a general contractor, you can still ask that they leave some of the final touches out of their quotation, and you can complete them yourself once the main build is complete. Such final touches could include staining wood trim, interior painting and landscaping.
You know best what scope of work you feel comfortable and competent to take on to cut some costs. As you can see, there are many ways to cut some significant corners when it comes to saving money building a house, but make sure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Building a home can be stressful, especially taking on such tasks as general contracting and project management, so only go that far if you work well under pressure.
Otherwise, enjoy the process of finding cost-savings and bargains right across the building process. Every dollar you save feels like a win when you put the effort in!