Building on a Budget

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 31 July 2018 12:14
Building on a Budget Five Stars Mortgage

The average home in America costs approximately $286,613 to build. This equates to $150 per square foot of constructed space.

Certainly this number is prone to fluctuate with square footage, but it’s enough to support the notion that building your dream home is no small financial endeavour.

While some may argue that building a house can be more cost-effective than buying one, home construction can easily pose a financial burden to first-time builders. Many find themselves putting off construction for years after their initial land purchase.

If you’ve decided to build rather than purchase a home, you may already be feeling the pinch on your wallet. Budgeting, however, is possible when it comes to construction, and I can testify to this personally.

Here are a few actionable financial tips you can implement as you go about constructing your future home.

Take Construction Into Your Own Hands

This may sound rather obvious, but it’s worth mentioning here. Many future homeowners don’t realize the extent of their own capacity when it comes to home construction.

While professional knowledge is essential for tasks like digging a well, laying a foundation, and putting in a driveway, a large portion of home construction can be completed with some basic savvy and the right tools.

My partner and I, for example, tackled the installation of our insulation, window framing, and the majority of our property’s landscaping.

We relied on assistance from friends and family members for other contracting work, but for the most part, we surprised ourselves at our ability to accelerate the construction process—and save thousands of dollars—simply by being our own general contractors.

I certainly recommend consulting professionals as much as possible throughout your home build, particularly when it comes to design, material selection, and key installations. But only do so when it is essential.

Ask Around

Your community is a valuable resource for your home build—take advantage of it! Ask around to see who may be willing to perform specific work on your project, particularly if you are wary of fully outsourcing all construction tasks.

Your neighbor, for instance, may excel at framing windows. Perhaps your colleague is a stone mason or knows someone who lays tile informally.

Communicate your construction needs to those in your social circles in an effort to save on construction fees. Social media can be a vital resource in this regard.

Rent Rather Than Buy

If you do use your own tools to complete portions of your home build, rent rather than buy equipment and tools. Consult local warehouses or suppliers to learn more about equipment leasing.

Naturally, it’s essential for you to have some operational knowledge before you lease specific tools. Only do so if you feel comfortable operating construction equipment safely and mindfully. 

Follow a Timeline

Save money on your home build by adhering to a concrete financial schedule. Break down portions of the build by financial output rather than by a “completion” timeline.

This, of course, may only apply to people who aren’t pressed to complete a home build within a specific time. Yet even if you are trying to get that roof up by the end of summer, you can choose to cover construction costs with more discretion.

Identify what your construction budget is on a month-to-month basis for the next few months (or a year). Then assign specific tasks you intend to comfortably finance per month. For instance, you may wish to tackle driveway installation and costs this month. Next month it may be time for a septic inspection and tank install.

Always keep your budget in mind as you follow this timeline. At key points in the process, perform a “check-in” about income sources and debt obligations. Modify your timeline accordingly.

Tackle Necessities First

If you’re struggling to compose a legitimate home build timeline according to your own personal budget, break tasks down by necessity. Some of these will be easier or more obvious than others, such as acquiring a building permit if you must do so in your specific area prior to a home build.

Deciding whether to insulate your house or side it first, particularly if this comes down to budget, may present more of a gray area.

Do your best to organize a timeline according to financial and construction necessity. Be honest with yourself and any partner about your specific needs.

Seek Out Used Alternatives

When it comes to interior finishing and even more foundational components of a home build, seek out used or “like new” building materials. We made use of reclaimed lumber, for example, for our studio’s floors, loft beams, and siding.

We also took advantage of a local thrift store for home materials. Here we found gorgeous double-paned windows taken from a luxury guest house, which we purchased for a fraction of their initial price.

Know what your community has to offer in terms of gently used or repurposed home goods and materials. The same goes for eventually furnishing your home.

The best thing about repurposed building materials lies in their sustainability (and cost-effectiveness). Giving a material another life cycle pays due homage to our planet and limits carbon footprints.

Consider Financing

At the end of the day, you can finance your home build, particularly if you haven’t already taken out a construction loan with your mortgage. A lot of credit card companies offer personal loans for home improvement or construction purposes.

Local lenders may also provide loan options for individuals looking to build a first residence.

Naturally, be sure that financing makes sense before you apply for a loan of any kind. Most prospective home builders are already negotiating a mortgage, and it’s vital to ensure you can afford an additional monthly payment on top of this obligation.

It is possible to build on a budget, particularly if you identify your budget, stick to a timeline, and manage construction tasks yourself. If you do take construction into your own hands, be sure you feel confident that you can do so safely.

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Kate King

Kate King is a freelance writer, editor, and blogger. 

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