The Southwest Homes team has taught me so much during my own custom home build that I wanted to share some information with all of you. Budgets are tight for us due to circumstances you will care nothing about as you have your own story and why your budget may be tight. Life happens to all of us and we continue to move forward, so let’s see what we can do to help you save some money. I will split this into a two-part series. This one will discuss how bigger dollars can be saved and a second blog where smaller dollars can be saved across multiple areas.
For years, my husband, Dennis, and I had a wish list we’d had written down as to what we wanted in our forever home. I had the obligatory Pinterest page with a million different ideas, none of which actually went together because I couldn’t find a “theme” in what I liked and honestly, many of those posts were not in reality. When the time came to pull the trigger, we faced the reality of having to pick and choose things, figure out what would work and what wouldn’t, and make sacrifices by putting some of the items on the “not now” list and some of the items on the “not going to happen” list. I will tell you, emotionally, this is probably the hardest part in the process, but the reality is what the reality is. If you’re not in the same boat, that’s fantastic! But if your budget is tight, like ours is, my goal is to help you navigate this journey without losing the hope of getting a home that you absolutely love, because it CAN happen!
One of the very first meetings, when building a custom home is the floor plan. How many bedrooms, bathrooms, and living spaces do you want? Do you want open concept? Do you want a two-car or three-car garage or no garage at all? One story or two stories? Fireplace? Vaulted ceilings? Regular pantry versus butler’s pantry? What kind of flooring? Free standing tub? No tub? Shower/tub combo?
One of my dreams was two living spaces. One family room and then a game room of sorts to shuffle the kids off to if we wanted to watch a movie or if they had friends over and wanted to hang out but not be in the common living space with us “old folks.” I also wanted all of the spaces on one floor. After sitting down with our consultant, Jimmy, we realized that our budget wasn’t big enough to incorporate a second living space. One of the ways that was suggested to save money was to create the second living space upstairs. I didn’t know how that would save money, but what I learned is that concrete is quite expensive. Without having to pour more slab for a second living area we could save some money by creating an upstairs for the game room. For us, this was a fantastic compromise. I wouldn’t have to go up and down the stairs every day but the space would be available for us any time we needed it. Most of all, it helped us lower our costs while getting all of the rooms we desired.
Additionally, I had wanted 4 bedrooms. However, due to needing more slab for that (again -think big money) we decided to use our office as a guest room when we had people over. We saved money that way and purchased a Murphy bed to use in the office. It works beautifully!
Another beginning of the process conversation involved what we wanted the outside of the house to look like. Dennis loves stone. Stucco isn’t my personal favorite and I’d always had brick and/or hardy plank so I hadn’t really thought about this part of the curb appeal process. I didn’t know what I wanted so we began by using the process of elimination. Dennis loved the stone look so that’s where our initial discussion started. We discussed a stone front with hardy plank on the sides and back. What we discovered was that stone wasn’t the most budget friendly choice for us -even with it only being on the front. Honestly, brick wasn’t either. We then discussed a stone/brick skirt at the bottom with hardy plank on the top. In the end, we settled on all hardy plank and it is beautiful! To give it some pizzazz a suggestion was made to turn the hardy plank vertical at the top of the house (this is called board and batten) and then lay it horizontal on the rest of the house. We added wooden posts on the front porch and matching wooden shutters to bring in some dimension, color, and life. I’m telling you I adore the look of our house; I don’t even miss the brick or stone and it kept us financially where we needed to be.
There is also opportunity to save big money on flooring, however with it being something you walk on every day and you do get what you pay for, I’d caution you on going cheap on flooring. Use your savings from other places to get the look you want in a quality product.
Know this as well, if you come in over budget in a certain area, don’t panic. (I may or may not have done that a couple of times.) Bids can go out to other vendors to see if better pricing is available. Different materials can be used to achieve the same look. Sometimes, just negotiating with the vendor can work as well. They don’t want to lose a sale, so it is possible, they will come down on pricing just to have the business.
There you have it – a quick, condensed version of how we saved some big money on our tight budget build.
Remember to communicate consistently and effectively with your consultant and designer. They want you to have exactly what you want about as much as you do and are willing to listen to your ideas and help you creatively bring your dream home to life while working within your budget.
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