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Where To Spend And Where To Save In Your Custom Home Build

March 4, 2021

Building a custom home in Austin is about designing the ideal space for you and your family, not about spending a fortune. In fact, with a well-defined budget, some proactive planning, and a flexible approach, you can build that dream home while saving money in the meantime.

So how should you decide where to spend and where to save? Before you break ground, check out these expert tips for keeping to your budget.

Where to Spend

When it comes to building a custom home, most of what you’ll want to “splurge” on are the more permanent parts of the home that are difficult to change. This is what we refer to as the bones of a home, which should last for decades to come. Here are the places — including some less permanent but no less important parts — where you should avoid cutting corners:

  • Windows. This doesn’t necessarily mean purchasing top-of-the-line, brand name windows. However, it’s in your best interest to choose Energy Star, double pane windows, which feature the insulation and soundproofing that single-pane windows lack. Low-E windows are another wise investment. Their low-emissivity coating regulates temperature incredibly well, keeping your home warm in the winters and cool in the blazing Austin summers.
  • Roof. The roof is the element of the home that protects you from the elements, which is why you can’t afford to skimp here. Metal, tile, and slate are the best roofing options for durability, although they tend to be the most expensive. Still, you can save a bit here using architectural asphalt shingles instead, just as long as you choose high-quality framing materials, such as roof trusses and sheathing.
  • HVAC system. Because your HVAC system controls the temperature and air quality of your home, it affects your comfort and safety levels — a place where you don’t want to be frugal. Purchase the best system you can afford and have a contractor ensure that your home and ductwork are properly sealed for maximum efficiency.
  • Landscaping. Your yard is an extension of your home, which makes your landscaping a wise but often overlooked place to invest. Focusing efforts here will not only improve your home’s value but also create more livable space to enjoy throughout the year. Plus, the more trees and shrubbery on your lawn, the cooler you’ll feel — which is especially important during hot Austin summers.
  • Layout options. Of course, the choices here are unlimited, but the important thing is to focus on a floor plan that will work for you and your family not just now, but for a lifetime. Choose a layout option that will give you plenty of liveable space as well as room to grow in the future.
  • Storage options / customized closets. With the exception of strict minimalists, most of us accumulate stuff in our home over the years, from clothing and seasonal ornaments to recreational equipment to tools and supplies. From larger and customized closets to more kitchen cabinetry, the more storage space you have, the less likely you’ll be to outgrow your home.
  • Mudroom or laundry room. A designated laundry or mudroom can be a lifesaver. By containing clutter and dirt in one place, you’ll keep the entire house more clean, saving you time and energy. These rooms can also be multi-functional, which is helpful when you need a pet-washing station or a place to let the kids go wild with their art projects without consequence.

Where to Save

Now that you’ve dedicated a good portion of your budget to the bones of your home, it’s time to turn to the elements where you can afford to cut some corners. Here are some areas where you can keep your costs under budget:

  • Flooring. Yes, solid hardwood floors are beautiful and homey, but they can also run up your price tag, fast. You can save here by swapping them out for engineered wood, laminate, or luxury vinyl instead.
  • Ceilings. Unless you have your heart set on a specific ceiling height, lowering the height — say, from twelve feet to ten or nine instead — is an easy way to dramatically lower your costs. Keep in mind that increasing ceiling height is an incredibly expensive change, so you should choose a height you can live with indefinitely.
  • Design elements. This refers to the fun details of your home, such as interior fixtures and finishes. It includes lighting fixtures, cabinets, backsplashes, cabinet hardware, faucets, trim and molding, and tile. For example, opt for porcelain or ceramic tile in the kitchen or bathroom rather than natural stone to save money.
  • Square footage. It’s simple math: the more expansive the build, the more it will cost. If you spend $100 per square foot and opt for a 1,000-square-foot home instead of a 1,500-square-foot home, you’ll save $50,000. Depending on the size of your family — or how much you plan to grow it — and your lifestyle, you may need the extra space. However, the important thing is to focus on what you need, and don’t forget that your yard can add plenty of liveable space.
  • Number of beds and baths. Paring down the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your home doesn’t have to mean sacrificing quality of life. For example, if you plan to have frequent visitors to your home, a designated guest room makes sense. But if this room will be empty for most of the year, consider making it a multi-purpose room that doubles as a home office or gym.
  • Carport vs. garage. Building a carport is far less expensive than building a garage. Because there are no walls, doors, or windows, it means fewer materials and lower labor costs.
  • Standard staircase vs. floating. Choosing a standard staircase over floating stairs is a simple way to cut back on your home costs. That’s because floating stairs tend to cost, on average, as much as 50% more than a standard staircase.

Experienced Luxury Custom Home Builders in Austin

If you’re ready to start from scratch on the home of your dreams, we want to help you build. As builders of luxury custom homes, our full-service team of real estate agents, architects, designers, engineers, and construction professionals are here to make the home building experience as smooth and simple as possible for you. Contact us today and let us build the space that you’ll love for a lifetime.