“Know before you go” is the best mantra to follow if you want to build on a budget. That involves doing the homework and planning necessary to prepare for the smoothest building experience possible. In this article, we’ll cover some ways you can build your dream home without busting the budget.

Pricing it up

It’s important to work out an early estimate of the cost of building your home. You can use a free online building cost estimator or research local builders whose work resembles the size and quality of your ideal home. Most builders can give you an approximate idea of what your budget should be. Don’t forget to let them know from the get-go about any must-have features or additions, because the unknowns are what end up busting the budget in the end.

Evaluate the lot you are choosing to build upon. Maybe the lot is comparably cheaper to other property you are considering, but that may be a result of expensive building obstacles: trees that need to be cleared, drainage systems needing to be built, or layers of rock that must be destroyed. As a note, a remote lot may be cheaper than one more centrally located, however in the end, the most budget-friendly lots are those with access to public water lines, electricity and gas.

Building Ground

Simplicity equals cost effective

Opting for simplicity in the shape of your home is another way to cut costs. Square and rectangular floor plans are easier on the budget than building complex shapes with involved roof-lines. Consider how much simpler a dome home is to build in comparison to a triangle shape with numerous vaulted ceilings.

Simple Geometric Shaped Home

You will generally get more bang for your buck if you build tall rather than wide, meaning a single story house spread out over a property is less cost-effective than building a taller, more compact multi-story home. For one, the tall home has equivalent living space but with less roof and foundation. Also, plumbing and heating/cooling systems are more efficient in a more compact space.

Choosing Materials

Major budget-savers come when choosing the building materials for your home. Nowadays, there are many high-quality imitations of the pricier traditional material. You can still create the look you want without draining your entire budget on one room. For example, real hardwood floors are beautiful but you may consider less expensive alternatives like engineered wood, prefabricated floors or bamboo flooring. Instead of solid wood cabinets, consider that open shelves use less material and can make your kitchen, bathroom or home office feel more spacious.

Engineered wood flooring

(photo of engineered wood flooring)

Using recycled and re-purposed construction and decorating materials is not only an environmentally-friendly way to build on a budget, but the items you find may become some of your favorite finishing touches. Ask your local hardware store for recycled materials like steel or sawdust composites and browse architectural salvage warehouses for various architectural details like doors, windows, light and plumbing fixtures, ironwork, etc. Scout your area for a flooring outlet that may have great deals for bulk materials. Search eBay for specific items and take advantage of discounts and promotions from your local building-supply stores.

Keep in mind the difference between details that you are willing to economize on now which can easily be upgraded in the future, as opposed to features that cannot easily be changed. Invest in the latter as they will be the foundation of your home.

The Red Tape

Finally, part of building on a budget is taking care of the legal aspects so you don’t end up with penalties and major fees later. Get the right site insurance and any building warranties necessary before you launch into production.

Building on a budget means planning ahead; know the steps you need to take and the materials you will require so you can get resourceful about maintaining that budget. Then, you will walk through the front doors of your dream home!