Tips for Home Construction on a Budget

Decide where you want to splurge, and where to cut costs, to balance the budget.
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Your dream home and your home-building budget aren't always in alignment, but that doesn't mean you have to scrap your plans for a custom-built house. Starting with a detailed budget helps you avoid overspending, or running out of money, before the home is finished. Thrifty building and finishing strategies help keep your project spending on track.

Know When to Splurge

Your budget is limited, but there are some areas where cutting corners isn't worth the immediate savings. Sure, you could hire your friend's cousin who dabbled in architecture to draw up your house plans, but you might pay for it later. A solid framework for your home reduces the chances of expensive structural problems in the future. Spend more on accurate home building plans and the main systems of the home, such as: the electrical, heating and cooling, and plumbing systems; the foundation, and the roof. Insulating the home also saves you money down the road on utility bills.

Do It Yourself

You don't need years of experience in home construction to tackle some of the work yourself. Handling the general contractor duties yourself will take up all your free time, but it will also save you big bucks, and give you more control over the project. If you're not up to running the show, consider doing some of the finishing work yourself. Anyone can pick up a paintbrush and paint the interior of a home. If you have some basic home improvement skills, you might be able to handle installing light fixtures, laying tile or even installing kitchen cabinets. Tap your talented friends for help when it comes to the finishing touches. Leave things like electrical wiring and plumbing to the professionals, to avoid any premature insurance claims.

Use Reclaimed Materials

"Reclaimed" is eco-speak for recycled building materials. Reclaimed bricks, doors, mantels, barn boards and many other home elements give your new home character, while saving on your construction budget. Look for a local salvage yard specializing in construction materials. You also make your home more eco-friendly by utilizing construction materials that are already manufactured. You prevent new resources from being harvested and keep old items out of the trash. PlanetReuse is a website that allows people to post ads for their salvage items. Habitat for Humanity has ReStores that sell recycled, or excess, building materials that are donated by builders and homeowners.

Build in a Buffer

The best-planned budgets leave room for error, because underestimating a few expenses could suddenly push you over budget, forcing you to shell out more of your own cash, or cut back. Building expenses often go over the estimates, so you should build a buffer into the budget. The extra money covers any unexpected expenses, or projects that end up costing you more than you thought. If you don't need the extra cash, think of it as free money to spend on that new living room furniture you've been eying.

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