How Can You Save Money When Building a House? Here’s Our Tips

You don’t have to forego your dream of building your dream home. If you’re wondering the cheapest way to build a new house, read on for some helpful tips and insight.
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Whether you’re ready to purchase your first home or you’re already a homeowner and you’ve outgrown your existing space, instead of searching the market for something that’s already constructed and will hopefully meet your needs, you’d rather build a brand new house.

There are so many benefits to building your own home. You get to decide on the size, the style, the shape, the layout, and the materials. Plus, you don’t have to undo things that previous homeowners have done. When you build a new home, you get to make it your very own right from the start.

Despite all of the numerous advantages that building a new house offers, there is one major downside: the cost. In 2017, the average cost of building a 2,800 square-foot, singly-family home in the US was estimated to be approximately $428,000. That works out to be around $153 per square foot. That’s pretty pricey. Of course, depending on the location, that price could be significantly higher or much lower. But, when you take inflation into account (the cost of pretty much everything has gone up these days), one can only assume that the average price of building a new home will cost even more than the 2017 average. Or will it?

You don’t have to forego your dream of building your dream home. If you’re smart and plan wisely, a newly constructed house may actually be more affordable than purchasing a property that is already built. If you’re wondering the cheapest way to build a new house, read on for some helpful tips and insight.

Could you tackle a self-build?
Could you tackle a self-build?

If Possible, Nix the Professional Contractor

When it comes to building a new house, most people assume that they have to hire a professional contractor. While the knowledge and experience that a pro offers can certainly come in handy, if you’re goal is to build as inexpensively as possible, consider foregoing the contractor and take the DIY approach.

On average, the cost of working with a professional contractor will account for about half of all your expenses. While it’s true that builders do take on the majority of the work and their fees do include equipment, materials, labor, and other expenses, and you’ll have the benefit of having a pro’s insight, the price of building a new house will be substantially less when you do as much of the work as you can yourself.

Of course, you may need some guidance. Write down a list of all of the things that you’ll need to have done – electrical, plumbing, design, building, etc. – and as you go over the list, check off those items that you feel that you can comfortably do on your own. For instance, if you have a knack for design and have a friend who can do plumbing, instead of hiring a professional designer skip a pro for the design and take on that part of the build yourself.

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Get in Touch with the People You Know

Do you know anyone who has experience with construction? Perhaps a family member who is a plumber? Maybe a friend who is a carpenter? Do you work with anyone who does electrical work on the side? If you know people who have experience with construction, reach out to them to see if they would be willing to lend you a helping hand.

Of course, depending on who the person is and how well you know them, you may need to work out a deal. For instance, you may be able to barter with a really close friend or family member (you do something for them in return for their help), or throw them some cash. If you’re really only acquaintances, you might want to work out a deal on pricing; you’ll probably be able to get a much lower rate than you would with a professional contractor.

If you don’t personally know someone who has construction experience, ask the people you do know if they know anyone they can recommend; a friend of a family member, or a family member of a friend, perhaps, for example. Construction is a pretty big industry, so it’s pretty likely that you know at least someone – or someone you know knows someone – who could help you out.

Save on contractors
Save on contractors

Set Yourself Up for Success

Once you figure out what you can do on your own (or with the help of the people you know), set yourself up for success and some research. Investigate DIY construction and design ideas.

Grab some magazines or books from your local library. You can also find a wealth of information online. There’s literally an endless supply of information out there. Take advantage of it.

You’ll be surprised to find out how much you can learn just by researching DIY building topics. Of course, hands-on experience helps, but how do you think contractors got where they are? They started out by studying and then put what they learned into practice.

You can totally do the same – and save yourself a ton of money.

Choose Shapes and Style Wisely

Believe it or not, the shapes of the rooms and the overall layout of a house will have a big impact on the cost. For example, while you might love the idea of a master bedroom with an edgy circular design, for the sake of cutting expenses, sticking with a standard square or rectangle will cost a lot less.

Also, the layout can play a role in the final price. For example, you may not have to spend as much on materials for an open floor plan; but, keep in mind that you’ll have to make sure that load-bearing walls are strategically placed and properly reinforced, which may drive up the price.

Proper planning is key to a good build
Proper planning is key to a good build

When deciding which type of floor play will be a more economical choice, it really depends on the overall size of the house, and of course, where you live. With some research, you’ll be able to find out which layout will be more cost-effective.

Lastly, while you may love the idea of having a two-story home, if you’re trying to keep expenses down, single-story is probably a better choice. Two-story homes require a lot more materials and are much more complex to construct; hence the reason why they tend to be more expensive to build.

Be Smart about the Materials

Materials are one of the biggest expenses you’ll face when you’re building a new home, so make sure you’re smart with your selection.

If you’re attempting to keep prices as low as possible, trying to figure out which type of materials to use can be tricky. On the one hand, cheaper materials will obviously cost less, but they may not last as long and you may end up having to spend a lot on maintenance and repairs down the road. On the other hand, higher-quality materials do have higher price tags, but they last longer and won’t incur as much damage, so you’ll actually spend less in the future.

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What should you choose? Consider looking into recycled products. For example, you may be able to get your hands on some reclaimed hardwood floors, which will cost a fraction of brand new planks. Once installed, you can refinish them; plus, your house will have that timeless rustic look. Other materials that can be salvaged include bricks, siding, lumber, wainscoting, and even tiles!

Check out yard sales, get in touch with builders, or browse online for salvaged building materials. You may be able to score some really high-quality materials that are in great condition and have a lot of life left in them (and cost a lot less than brand new).

Get Insurance

Last but not least, you’ll want to make sure that you invest in insurance before you begin building. If anything goes wrong during the construction process – you suffer an injury or something gets seriously damaged – your insurance carrier will assist with the cost.

If you aren’t insured and something does happen, you’ll have to pay the full-cost of repairs or injuries out of your own pocket, which could end up being quite pricy.

Summing It Up

If you have always dreamed of owning a newly constructed home but the cost of building one has you feeling a little nervous about the endeavor, don’t give up on your dreams! With a careful planning and the above-mentioned tips, it is possible to build a new house without having to break the bank.

Remember that you’ll want to start planning far in advance; don’t just assume that you’ll be able to start the project a few weeks after you dream it up.

Building a house requires careful consideration, especially if you’re trying to do is as inexpensively as possible. With time, patience, and determination, you may be surprised to find that building a brand new home may actually end up costing you less than buying something that was previously build and already owned by someone else.

Brian Jackson

Brian has worked in the construction industry for over 30 years, He brings this experience to HomesOutline where he advises and edits the content in our home improvement sections. Contact

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