Cost-Saving Affordable House Plans

Building your dream home yet remaining within a realistic budget can be one of the most challenging aspects of home building. If you build the dream home you really want but can't afford you either don't build or surpass your budget and probably lose your home in the process. At the other spectrum, you may be able to build an inexpensive house but it may not please you at all, thus making you feel as though you just threw away a whole lot of money.

Costs are now more important than ever. Faced with rising construction material costs, it is important to carefully examine ways of keeping building costs down. Whether you're a single person with a limited budget, a retiree on a fixed income or financially comfortable yet cautiously conservative you will undoubtedly want to exercise some effective control over the budget.

Generally there are two variables that can influence cost: quality and quantity in the construction, but there is a third, equally important variable; that of quality of plans. The structural design of the house plans can be one of the most effective means of achieving valuable cost saving measures. Economical house plans that reduce construction costs follow a standardized grid system layout in their design.

Recent studies have been reported in major building magazines demonstrating the positive results of preplanned designs and smart value engineering applied to new construction. Builders, developers and homeowners alike are taking notice. The potential dollar savings resulting from reduced construction cycle time also decrease construction loan costs, further enhancing the benefits of efficient building design.

The key to cost savings in frame construction is preplanning, using standard lumber, panel and pre-engineered components in the house plan design. By employing a modular type grid system when laying out a design with the major module of 48" and the minor module of 24", a standardized planning guide is applied to the overall exterior house dimensions (or foot print). Coordinating floor, ceiling and roof construction with these dimensions enables full use of standardized, readily available construction materials at significant savings.

House plans that employ this system in their overall design layout and structural configuration are a must toward implementing money-saving techniques.

Non-Structural Built-ins
Standard Window Wall vs. Non-Structural Built-ins For Window Seat
  • Simplicity – When choosing house plans also look for simplicity in form. Busy, multi gabled roof lines and other complex structural forms add major dollars to the framing costs before you even contemplate interior finishes. Instead, create interest and variations with non-structural elements. For example, using built-ins around a standard window can transform it into a window seat without the expense of a structural bump-out. Keep roof lines simple with minimum use of dormers and cuts. When bump-out windows are used support them with cantilevered floor joists or support brackets thus avoiding expensive foundation corners.
  • Minimum Details – Minimize excessive interior trim details to keep cost down. Use them sparingly as a means of defining key aspects for special areas rather than just repeating them throughout the house.
  • Non-Structural Tricks – Interior visual, non-structural tricks such as alcoves with lowered soffits can add aesthetic interest without the structural expense normally associated with such variations in form. Eight foot ceilings may be run of the mill but they can be more affordable than high ceilings. A good alternative would be combining cathedral, vaulted or raised ceilings with standard 8' or 9' ceiling areas. This can achieve the effect of providing dramatic spaces while still remaining within budget.
  • Standard Units – The use of standardized, stock cabinetry dressed up with a few specialty items can be just as attractive as having the entire kitchen custom built while saving a fair amount on labor costs. Use standard window sizes and configurations. Custom windows involve serious money; try limiting them to one or two focal points. This will not only save money but retain the uniqueness of that custom window setting it apart from the others.

In addition, the building industry today provides some beneficial standard material and methods which can help to minimize construction costs:

  • Floor Systems – Standard floor joists of 2X10's are the most common floor systems in use today and will generally span a given distance depending on conditions and species. Pre-engineered trusses are a great alternative to standard dimensional lumber joists since they allow for longer unsupported spans. This enables more flexible use of floor space below creating greater efficiency under one roof. In addition, ductwork and wiring can be installed between and through the trusses.
  • Wall Studs – The use of "pre-cuts" can also save considerably on labor. To achieve 8' ceilings use pre-cuts measuring approximately 93"; when added with the sole plate and double top plate (after factoring in finish flooring and ceiling) the result is an 8' ceiling height. Pre-cuts measuring approximately 105" are also available to achieve 9' ceiling heights. Since drywall is now available in standard 54" widths as well as the usual 48" having a 9' ceiling height is now economically feasible.
  • Roof Systems – Pre-fabricated and engineered roof trusses have made roof framing much easier, less complicated and less labor intensive. Using computerized equipment to calculate the most efficient and effective method of construction, roof trusses can be made at much lower cost and installed at greater speed than manual roof framing.

Economical and affordable house plans achieve savings through their quality. Efficient house plans that use grids and modules in their design layout can save money by avoiding waste of materials. Selective usage of methods and materials are vital in cost-saving construction. Simplified structure and standardized building unites will save you money. Choose wisely.

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