Top 10 Ways To Save Money Building Your New House

By Todd Fratzel on Home Improvement Cost Savings

Saving Money On A New HouseOne of the most frequent questions I get from folks is:

“How can I save money building a new house?”

Ways To Save Money

Building a new house is very expensive and very stressful. Today more and more people are looking for ways to save money building a new home. I’d like to share some of my insight and experience on ways to save money building your new home.

Here is my list of the top 10 ways to save money building your new house.

  1. Be Your Own General Contractor – Being your own general contractor could save you substantial money building a new home. However, I don’t recommend this approach to many people. You really do need some knowledge of the house building industry before you try to take on this responsibility. I outline many of the issues in Should you Be Your Own General Contractor?. If you’re successful at being your own general contractor you could save as much as 5% to 10% on your new house.
  2. Buildable Lot – Buying the right piece of land can save you money when you build a new house. Finding buildable lots is becoming harder every day. As areas get more developed it becomes difficult to find nice level lots with good soils and access to public utilities. Before you buy your land make sure that the land can be built on without excessive expenses on blasting rock, access to drinking water and proper sewage treatment.
  3. House Type Selection – The type of house you select can be one of the best ways to save money when you build a new house. Building up instead of out is the best way I know to save money. A 2,000 sq. ft. ranch will be more expensive than a 2,000 sq. ft. two story colonial house. This is due to the size of the foundation. The ranch style home will have a foundation that is twice the size of the two story house. The two story house can also fit on a smaller house lot which may save money as well. Choosing a simple rectangular house with simple roof lines and standard windows compared to a complicated geometric house can save you lots of money. Choose nice siding, paint and landscaping instead of an unusual house design.
  4. Sweat Equity – There’s no better way to save money building a new house than to role up your sleeves and put some sweat equity into the project. Home Improvement and DIY are so popular today that most home owners have tackled a project or two trying to save money. You can take those skills and apply them to your new house construction. Most builders will agree to let you do certain phases of the project if you discuss them before construction begins and identify those items in the contract. If you have certain skills that you feel comfortable with then discuss them with your builder so you can save some money. I’ll discuss some of the more popular tasks below.
  5. Job Site Clean Up – Helping keep the site clean is one of the simplest ways I know how to save money building a new house. Even if your builder won’t give you a financial credit for cleaning the job site I think you’ll still save money. Having a clean and orderly job site makes everyone work a little more efficient and careful. Having the sense of an organized job site will ensure your project gets finished sooner with few problems and that means less money from you. Even slight delays in the project can mean substantial interest payments and temporary housing costs.
  6. Salvage Materials – Using salvage materials will help you save money and it’s the Green Thing To do. Today there are salvage yards that specialize in recycling building materials. Things such as doors, windows, cabinets, plumbing and electrical fixtures are all available at very discounted prices. You’ll be saving money while helping out the environment so it’s certainly an idea worth considering.
  7. Reduced Price Products – Buying floor models, remnants and slightly damaged products is one area that I’ve seen many of our customers save big money. Many building material stores sell discounted products at huge summer time yard sales. We had a customer buy a damaged fiberglass shower for $50. The shower retailed at almost $1,200 and it was fixed by a professional fiberglass company for around $300. The shower looked new once the repair was finished for a savings of $850! So when you’re looking for fixtures make sure to ask about floor models, discontinued models and even damaged products.
  8. Painting – Most people that consider themselves DIY’ers have no problem painting. If you paint your new home you can save $5,000 to $10,000 easily. Painting your new house is a project the whole family can help out with. I’ve seen people that have a painting party with family and friends and paint an entire house in one weekend.
  9. Flooring – Flooring is another project that I’ve seen customers save a substantial amount of money on. My father-in-law and I installed over 2,000 sq. ft. of Brazilian Cherry engineered flooring in our new home and it saved me over $6,000. Even if you can’t install the flooring yourself check out sales for discounted materials. In our first home I purchased a pallet of ceramic tile for $0.34 a sq. ft. It was a discontinued model and we used it to tile our entire basement.
  10. Landscaping – Doing landscaping yourself can save thousands of dollars when you build your new house. Once the builder has spread the loam with the dozer you should take over. Spread your own seed and mulch to save money. Chances are you’ll save money and use a better seed in the process. You can easily plant your own trees, shrubs flowers to save money.

Summary of Money Saving Ideas

Doing any one of these items the next time you build a new house can save you money. The most important advice I can give you is to be speak with your builder openly about these ideas. Tell your builder you’d like to save some money by doing certain tasks yourself. Most builders will be open to this arrangement so long is it’s discussed ahead of time and properly addressed in the contract.

I’ve written two other posts about saving money on your new house, Top Five Money Savings Tips For New Home Construction and Ways To Save Money When Building A New Home that you may want to read. Another way to save money is by using coupons like the Lowes Coupon.

Have you ever used any of these tips to save money building a new house? Care to add to the list?

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. shaun mclane says:

    I like your title, but think I would have taken out the word “Top,” or you could have added “Best” after the number 10, as in 10 Best ways….

    Nice work.

  2. Anonymous says:

    when considering which way to go with our flooring we discovered that we can save 12 to 15k by having our slab stained and scored and its beautiful to boot.

  3. Todd says:

    Stamped, stained or a combination are great ways to make regular concrete into a beautiful flooring option.

  4. Baba says:

    Fabulous Tip! Love the Reuse/Recycle! It’s so important to try to stay green as much as possible.

  5. This is a great list. I’m not sure how much of it I’m up to, but I think I’ll be blogging out my take on your list and how it might work for us.

  6. Obviously the biggest savings can be attained by acting as your own GC, it is probably the most difficult task you listed as well, be sure you are ready for that responsibility as it may take you twice as long to build your house if you are not well versed on scheduling everything.

    Not sure I would like concrete flooring in my home, maybe in my business, but not in my home. Just my opinion of course!

  7. Nice list. I’m in the process of building a second home right now and we are actually doing most of the things you mentioned. The only exception would be the 2 story home (we don’t want stairs). My father is the general contractor\lead carpenter which is saving us a ton of money. He has great relationships with subs and suppliers. I’m building on a lot that was once owned by my grandmother. It has mature trees and a finished lawn. As far as sweat equity goes, I’m going to be helping out with the roof this weekend. I don’t expect to sweat too much since it will be 20 degrees :)

    • Todd says:

      @ Chris – Good luck with the build. There is nothing more satisfying than helping build your own home. Your dad’s connections are priceless!

  8. AP2687 says:

    There is nothing like building your own home out of blood, sweat, and tears that’s for sure! Building our home myself, here’s a possible tip: use this Wisconsin window installation company to install the windows. I tried doing it myself but had the measurements all wrong, and had to call someone to fix my mistakes.

    Good Luck man, wish you the best!

  9. Todd,

    Great article, as usual!

    I think you hit the nail on the head with being your own GC. If time, know how and interest is there there is a huge savings that can result.

    Another option is to frame, and plumb everything but leave some areas, 2nd floor, basement, attic/loft space unfinished and finish it off at a later date.

  10. My uncle is looking to buy a house. I think I can recommend this blog to him so that he can save money.

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