I also assume building your own home is part of that dream. That’s what we’re here to talk about in this article.
One of the best ways to save money in the construction of your new home, is to use pre-packaged building plans.
Using a home design plan, purchased from a company, rather than an architect can save you 10 to 15 percent of your total cost of construction.
Interestingly, basic home design plans can also be customized to a certain degree to fit your goals for your new homes. Be warned however, the more changes you make to the plans, the more you’ll increase your costs.
To help you pick the right plan for you and how to save money, I’ve outlined several things you should keep in mind, to save you money.
Before we get into tips for choosing plans, I want to make a quick note about pre-fabricated homes.
There are plenty of companies across the country that are making great homes in factories and shipping them to the site for varying degrees of assembly.
Some are shipped on a flat-bed truck and assembled using a crane on your site, others are shipped in panels and there is a bit more work for you to do on-site.
All of these options are great ways to save money over traditional stick built homes, and many of the floor plans are customizable as well.
First, you’ll have to consider your budget. This is very important in choosing the size of your lot, and the size of your home itself.
When thinking about your budget, make sure to include the finishes you’ll want inside your home.
Carpets, wall coverings, furniture, light fixtures, appliances, and bathroom fixtures should all be factored in. In this stage, I find that opting for a smaller home can make a huge difference inside your home.
In my opinion, it’s better to have a comfortable interior designed with all the things I want, than to have a cavernous home devoid of any custom finishes.
The concept of the “smaller home” has been widely embraced and very much in demand.
Sarah Susanka is a leading architect and proponent of this movement. Her books, “Creating the Not So Big Home” and “Inside the Not So Big Home” are very popular.
Are odd angles prevalent which waste space, are nooks and crannies converted into closest and storage space, are there hallways which aren’t really necessary? Can open areas serve multiple purposes? Remember, you’re paying by the square foot when you build, so make the most of it.
Next, think about the lot you’re planning to build on.
Different areas have different regulations for what types of homes you are allowed to build on them. If your lot is extremely narrow, you’ll have to take that into account when you choose your plan.
If your lot has a severe slope, you’ll be adding costs to things like drainage and your foundation. Spending a day on the lot is a great idea. During the day, you’ll want to take note of the direction in which the sun travels over the site.
Then you’ll be able to pick a home design and location which brings gorgeous morning sun in your bedroom windows, and fills your backyard with afternoon light.
Your architect will create a site plan which will show you the house’s positioning upon the lot, as well as driveways, landscaping, lighting and slopes.
Once you’ve wrestled with the size of your home, what you’ll fill it with, and what direction it will face, it’s time to consider what the home will be used for, so you can then decide on the number of rooms, their size and location to each other.
You’ll want to determine the interior “flow” you’re trying to create. The needs of a single twenty something, a family of four, and a soon to be retired couple vary greatly, as should their homes.
- If you work out of the house, you’ll need an office space.
- If you have children, will they share a room or each have their own room?
- If you entertain a lot, you’ll want to consider the relationship between the living areas, kitchen, and dining areas.
Some people like it to be very free flowing, others want it to be more formal with separate rooms for different functions.
Maybe you’ll have an elderly parent living with you at some point and need a guest bedroom. Or maybe the kids and grandchildren will need room when they come to visit.
When you’re ready to pick a plan, you should consult with a local contractor. They will know what it takes to build in your area better than a national company.
For instance, in both North Carolina and South Carolina you won’t want to pick a plan with a basement.
Many Northerners aren’t aware of this fact, which they soon find out when they dig and hit water at a very shallow depth, or wind up with a basement they can’t keep dry.
When building by the coast, you’ll want to incorporate different features that take into account the sand, salt, driving rains, and relentless sun.
After considering all these points, you’re ready to pick your building plans.
Now, you need to consider what is included with the plans and what isn’t. Most plans will include a front perspective, foundation and basement plans (if applicable), detailed floor plans and cross-sections, floor framing plans, and exterior elevations from north, south, east and west.
Items you need to check for, that aren’t always included, are detailed electrical and plumbing plans, roof framing plans, and architectural and engineering seals (some areas require these and some do not, so check with your local building department).
Speak to the local building department to determine what plans are needed to build your home.
With a little planning you’ll learn how to save money with the right plans. The process of designing your own home will be one of the most fulfilling and exciting things you’ll ever do!
Bob Bencivenga is a professional site locator and location analyst for major corporations.Bob researches the growth of NC and SC to find the Best Places to Retire or Relocate that are still affordable. Bob Does Not Sell Real Estate!
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