Cut waste and mass to achieve affordable dream home

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 at 10:19am.

If you’ve foregone building your dream home because of fears that you couldn’t get everything you want without spending a fortune plus your retirement, think again.

According to Zillow, simple planning can result in getting the home you want without going broke. It recommends following these seven tips to beat the high cost of construction and home improvement;

1. Go smaller and smarter

Smaller homes are less expensive to build, but Zillow recommends avoiding randomly hacking away with a machete and approaching it more like a surgeon with a scalpel. For instance, you probably don’t need a dining room, a breakfast nook and five stools at the kitchen counter.

Combining like spaces and trimming out wasted, unused space will leave funds for niceties, such as a two-head shower or stainless steel appliances.

2. Efficient use of building materials

By designing your house as much as possible around the established modules of building materials – drywall sheets are 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide, and structural lumber for floors come in 2-foot increments – you can avoid lots of wasted materials and trips to the landfill.

3. Use it where it counts; don’t use it where it doesn’t

Upgrade the materials where you use them and others will see them, such as granite countertops in the kitchen and the master bath, but not where they’re not necessary or seen, such as in the laundry room.

Your children probably won’t care if they don’t have solid brass faucets, crown molding and a hand-painted tile backsplash in their bath. And install the nice carpet in the family room while using the less expensive floor covering everywhere else.

4. Design for low maintenance

While spending less will save you now, it will likely cost you more – much more – in the future. It won’t be long before you’re replacing cheap siding, roofing and windows, and spending as much if not more than you would have if you had gone with quality components in the first place.

5. Lower your energy bills – dramatically

Design a home that’s climate- as well as site-specific while not forcing high energy efficiency.

For instance, don’t put a big wall of glass facing prevailing winter winds where the heat will get sucked out.

A square encloses the most area with the least perimeter, so you’ll reduce your heat loss and use fewer building materials by enclosing your new highly-efficient floor plan in a relatively square footprint. And a tight, energy-efficient house doesn’t need an expensive geothermal heating system at three times the cost of a conventional furnace

6. Boxy is bee-you-tee-full

Not only is a “boxy” home energy efficient, but attractive homes are often based on relatively simple box forms, properly proportioned, composed and detailed.

Today, too many designers load the exteriors up with as much stuff as they can – gables, complex roof forms, heroic-scaled arched windows, inappropriate details, etc. – resulting in lots of money spent and nobody benefits but the home builder.

By keeping the house simple, you’ll save a ton of green on the building materials.

7. Good design sells

Not only will you live with the benefits of a good looking, energy-efficient, less expensive, low maintenance, smaller home, but you’ll also find when it’s time to sell, they will go faster and for more money. In a market of over-designed, low-functional, expensive-to-maintain homes, buyers will find your home uniquely functional with an interesting floor plan and irresistible exterior design, according to Zillow.

Tom Kalinski 
Owner and Founder
RE/MAX of Boulder

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