Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How To Build A More Affordable Home

Perhaps you're thinking of building a new home but don't necessarily want to pay the huge price tag for a McMansion in an "Executive" neighborhood.  How do you go about building an affordable home that still meets all your needs and satisfies a feeling of a little bit of luxury?  We're here to help you get started.

Find The Right Lot


Land prices in general have fallen in recent years which is good news for you.  But to really get the bang for your buck, you'll have to do some investigating.  If you'd prefer to be in a planned neighborhood, you will need to sit down with the developer and discuss the type of home you want to build.  Many neighborhoods have restrictions on the sizes and costs of the homes (on the low side).  Additionally, many developers require you to use their builder and offer little in the way of customization.  Avoid these developers, if at all

Look for developments with low lot prices that allow you to bring your own builder so that you can build exactly the home that fits your needs.

Search out newspapers, Craigslist.com, and for-sale-by-owner-types of websites for empty lots within already established neighborhoods or acreage in a more country-like setting. And if the price is right, you might even consider a lot with a tear-down home on it.  Many times the cost of the house along with the demolition costs ends up being less than same-sized empty lot.

 Build A Smaller Home


Okay, so maybe this is a little bit too small for you.  But home prices are directly related to square footage.  Thus, if you can decrease your square footage, you can decrease the cost of your home.

Reconsider whether you need or want these space-hogging features in your next home:

  • A two-story family room (wasted space on the second floor that could be another bedroom)
  • A two-story foyer (same as above)
  • A ginormous master bedroom (you just sleep there after all)
  • An exercise room (go to the gym)
  • A home office (isn't this why we have all those mobile devices?)
  • Formal living rooms and dining rooms (really, we just use these spaces a couple of times per year)
  • An extra guest bedroom or two (buy queen-sized beds for everyone in the family then make the kids share when grandma and grandpa come for the weekend)
  • A laundry room (just put a stackable washer and dryer in a hallway closet)
You may decide that some of these features you really do need and want, which is fine.  But going through this process will really help you whittle down what is really important for your family so that you build exactly what you need.

Delegate Rooms For Double (or Triple) Duty


Can't live without a laundry room?  Then why not also make it a pantry and a craft room as well.  Feel like you really need a guest room?  Then make it work as a hobby room and home office, too.  Can't live without a two-story foyer?  ....Well, yes, you actually can live without that.

The idea here is to be more creative with your space.  Make it work hard for you.  Build in lots of storage for organizing every space better so that more things fit into less space.

Strip Down To The Essentials


Tricking out your home with everything imaginable costs a lot of money!  Rethink every feature on your home and determine whether you can get away with less.

Consider these features:

Construction:  A simple box is the cheapest structure to build.  Include fewer niches, nooks, window seats and protruding fireplace areas. Stack bathrooms on top of each other to minimize long runs of plumbing. Simplify roof lines and have fewer gables, because complex roofs require numerous expensive trusses.

Standardization:  Go for a little less variety.  This may mean choosing three or four window sizes for the entire house to allow your builder to order more in bulk.  Go with only one or two exterior finishes instead of three or four. 

Scale back on luxuries:  Choose less expensive stock kitchen cabinets rather than custom.  Consider straight runs of stairs with no turns or landings.  Narrow or eliminate hallways.  Reconsider that luxury whirlpool tub and opt for an upgraded shower.  Decide if you really need those high-end appliances.  Simplify or eliminate fireplaces.  Do you really need 28 can lights, under-cabinet lights, AND pendant lights in one kitchen?

Splurge Where It Counts


With all the above being said, if there's something you've always longed for that will make you feel like you have a little luxury in your simple box, then by all means, go ahead a budget for it.  A gourmet cook may really want that Viking range.  If you work from home full time you may need and want a private home office.  If you are a bath taker, by all means include a bath. 

Another place to splurge is on smart storage areas.  Where ever you can think to put it, include storage options in your home.  Include lots of closets and cabinets.  Think of when you go to Costco and include space for bulk toilet paper, paper towels, and cases of pop.  Make your closets ultra organized from the start.  You can get away with a lot less living space, if you have space for all your stuff.

Saving money on your new home build requires that you really think about how you live and what's most important to you.  Prioritize, plan, and be prepared to love your new home!

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

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