How to Design Your Custom Home Affordably

Starting the design of your custom home can be thrilling yet intimidating. To keep unwanted cost surprises to a minimum, it is important that your expectation of construction costs is in line with the industry before beginning your project. This will allow your design and the selections you make to be done realistically and cost effectively within budget. The cost for building custom homes varies widely based on location, complexity, and materiality of the house, however, a safe “rule of thumb” for initial budgeting purposes is to consider roughly $225/sq.ft. This number will typically get the owner the finishes they would expect such as solid surface counters, hard wood flooring in public areas of the home, and mid-range appliances and plumbing fixtures. Here are a few money saving tips to consider while starting the design process:

Think Small- Smaller homes require less building material and lower costs. Rooms that share similar activities, such as family rooms, living rooms, and nooks, could be combined to create one space. There are also ways to incorporate outdoor living space into your custom design to again reduce material and costs, while still having more room for your family’s activities and seating areas.

Smart Building Materials- It’s possible to create the space you want for less, by simply using cheaper, good quality materials. For example, if you’re thinking of installing hardwood flooring, but are concerned by the cost, consider a species such as oak in a 2”-3” width rather than hand hewn walnut in large widths.  You will still get the wood floor you desire, but at a much more cost effective price.

Maintenance in mind- Focusing on future energy and maintenance costs during the design stage can help lower costs in the future. For example, placing windows for southern exposure to passively heat the house in winter, while installing window length, black-out curtains to keep the structure cool in summer, is a great way to maintain temperature and reduce energy costs. Metal roofing is another good investment, as maintenance costs are very low, and the roofing material has a wide range of appearances such as clay tiles and wood shakes. Metal roofing has typically about a 45 year warranty, and the replacement cycle is 3x longer than that of asphalt shingles.

Open floor plans- By using an open floor plan, the use of more walls to create more room boundaries is not necessary, so you can save that money that would have gone to building materials, and use it elsewhere in the house. This type of plan also allows you to build smaller, and include more programs in a smaller space, since wasted space is removed by not using walls.

Splurge thoughtfully- With companies making knock-off furniture pieces, and discount warehouses selling cheaper kitchen, lighting, and plumbing fixtures, there are easy ways to save. Spend more in places that are public, such as the kitchen countertops or a dining room chandelier, and focus less on private spaces that you don’t need to splurge on, such as the kids’ bathroom shower fixtures.

At Fänas Architecture, we would love to work with you to create your one-of-a-kind, custom home that fits in your budget. Contact us at 303.444.5380 or