Have you gone to the lumber yard or building supply store lately? WOW! One would have to take out a second mortgage just to build a dog house! Don’t give up your new construction dreams because of the cost of building materials. We’ve been contractors for over 20 years and we know ways you can save money when building a house!
No doubt, if you’ve shopped for lumber or other building material, you’ve experienced sticker shock. In just under a year, a sheet of OSB (aka cheap plywood) has gone from $8.00 for a 4×8 sheet to over $36.00 for that same sheet, talk about inflation!
The rapid price increase has almost made it unaffordable for anyone of normal means to build. Fortunately, we are somewhat resourceful in finding deals and love sharing our tips with others to help save them money.
Ways We Saved Money Building Our Home
For the past twenty plus years we’ve owned a mom and pop construction business and have seen it all. We’ve always been frugal minded, especially when it came to our own build.
Our pervious home was a beach house just one mile from the ocean in South Carolina. We built it with all the bells and whistles, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two decks, pool, hot tub, work shop, walk in commercial cooler, mud room, living, dinning, and family room, and we built every inch of it. Generally using materials from the list I’ll share below. Rarely did we ever purchase anything new for our construction, if we did, you can bet I got it at a discount.
Living Off Grid In The Mountains
Our lives now look much different than they did when we were living in the city. Instead of doing construction for customers, we spend our days building our off grid home and developing our farm here in East Tennessee.
We milled the lumber from our land, bought used and recycled materials, did all of the construction ourselves while savings us thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, we were blessed with the opportunity to film the build of our construction for the History Channel so you can see our build process from beginning to end.
You can learn more about that in Fellow Homesteaders Land On National TV By Building Off The Grid.
#1 Way to Save Money When Building a House: You Can Have Cheap OR Quality
If you’re hiring out a construction job, meaning you aren’t doing it yourself, go with quality over the cheapest bid. I always tell my customers ‘you can have cheap or you can have quality but you can’t have both’. Another thing I often had to repeat, ‘if you hire the cheap job and then call us to fix it later, it’s going to cost you double’.
You may be looking for ways to save money when building a house, however, skilled labor should not be one of them. Don’t go with the cheapest bid because you want to save a buck, you won’t be happy with the quality of work and chances are you’ll have to hire another contractor to fix whatever job the cheap guy did. Therefore, you’ll end up paying double for the job in the end.
It will save you time and money to go with the best contractor for the job and not the cheapest. Preferably a contractor from a trusted referral and that is insured and bonded. If you don’t have any friends that can recommend a contractor, go to your local lumber yard and ask the clerk who they recommend. They always know all the best contractors to work with.
How Can I Reduce The Cost of Building a House?
In addition with finding a good contractor, there are some tips you can implement to help you reduce the cost of building even if you have to hire someone.
You can follow my ways to save money when building a house, literally thousands on labor and materials.
#2 Build Off Season
Along with tourist season at vacation destinations, building materials have a season. Typically, lumber and other construction materials are more expensive in nicer weather, such as late spring, summer, and early #fall. Sometimes prices will double or more during season than off season.
Not to mention finding a contractor. If you think the best time to build that pool deck is in June, guess what? So do 100 other people who all want a pool deck. You’ll either have to wait, get a rush job, or pay more for your construction project if you’re getting it done during season.
First thing to do when looking for ways to save money when building a house is to contact your local lumber yard and ask them what time of year is their ‘off season’ and try to do your build then.
#3 Don’t Be in a Hurry
If you want it now or yesterday, it will cost you. Proper planning along with time and patience can save you a fortune.
Years ago we had a customer who insisted on us doing his job that we quoted him when we were on another job. We told him if he wanted it now, it would cost double of our original quote. He accepted and we did the job. He would have saved a small fortune if he would have just waited a week.
In addition to all of the other amazing ways to save money when building a house that I’ll share with you in this article, allowing plenty of time for your build will be in your best interest.
#4 Forgo Custom Features
You can personalize any space with paint, furniture, and decorations. One of the best ways to save money when building a house is to forgo anything custom. This means cabinets, lighting, reading nooks, molding, etc.
You can purchase contractor packs of lighting and more at big box stores and pay a fraction of custom lights. This is just once example but the rule is across the board.
#5 Use Measurements That Match Building Materials
Building materials usually come in even measurements. For instance, a 2×4 comes in 8 ft., 10 ft., 12 ft., etc. When planning your design or blueprints, try to plan your house and rooms to fit these measurements. If your room is 13 feet wide, then every board used to build that room is going to have one foot of waste.
Same thing with tin for roofing. Design a roof that is simple to build and uses the same measurements as the tin that is available so there isn’t any waste.
#6 Be Your Own General Contractor
Are you construction minded but just not up to the task of building an entire house yourself? Save thousands of dollars by acting as your own general contractor and sub everything out that you can’t do.
This may be more time-consuming in the end but it is worth it financially and I like being a part of the build. You can control construction material cost and waste plus oversee the labor and make sure everything is done to your specifications.
What Cost The Most When Building A House?
Listed below from greatest to lowest is where you’ll spend most of your money when building. If you can find ways to save money when building your house on these items alone, you will save thousands on your bottom line. Check out How to Save Money on Construction Supplies.
This doesn’t mean cut corners or hire the cheapest bid (see above), but rather follow my tips below if possible.
- Windows and Doors
#7 How Can I Save The Most Money When Building a House?
If you are wanting a two story house, consider building a basement and using that as one floor instead of building a two-story house. Basements are cheaper to build than a two story home and can easily be converted into living space.
In all honestly, if you follow all of my ways to save money when building a house, you should save thousands off your bottom line. Obviously, if you are skilled in construction and have one or two skilled helpers, you will save the most money by building it yourself.
#8-10 How Do You Keep Cost Low When Building a House?
- Be Your Own Contractor and Sub Everything Out. See more below.
- Hire Labor Only and You Buy the Materials.
A lot of money is wasted on materials by construction crews. A LOT. In addition to waste, contractors usually tack on money to the cost of building materials. If there is leftover from a job, they return it for the cash, which you will never see, or they’ll use it for another job. This may not be EVERY contractor, but it has been my experience over the past twenty + years in this field.
- Measure twice and Cut once. Just like driving when you look left, right, then left again to be safe? Measure twice, three times if you have to, better yet, write the measurement down, then cut once.
- Communication. It is key to any construction success. Communication with the building and zoning commission, communication with your neighbors and or the HOA, communication with your family, communication with your architect, communication with the water, sewer and power company, and especially communication with your building contractor or sub-contractors.
- Stick to Your Budget. Not only should you stick to your budget but emphasize my above advice, forgo custom features. Of course some unexpected expenses will pop up. Such as weather issues, product availability, fees or permits you didn’t know you needed. However, create a realistic budget and do your best to stick to it.
Undoubtedly, the construction cost have risen where you live just like they have here. So much so that new construction has become a distant pipedream for most. The final tips on ways to save money when building a house, or any structure you’re wanting to build, are for the DIY person.
If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves, dig your heels in and get your hands a little dirty, you can build that dream house on a budget.
If you are building your own home or construction project, you’ll find a LOT of money saving tips on How to Save Money on Construction Supplies.
How to Keep Your Sanity During Construction
Let’s face it, construction is stressful. Even if it’s a small project it can cause stress. As a contractor, I can honestly say our house has been under construction in one form or another for over twenty years. Do ya feel my pain? During these years, we’ve accumulated some tips to help save our sanity, and our marriage.