Are you thinking of ways to economize on your construction project?
An efficient design can go a long way in reducing your project’s budget, especially if you can find compromises in the big chunks of scope. Plan efficiently, avoid large openings and open spaces, and your savings can be substantial. All you need is to do is research your options and collaborate with a design team that’s willing to work around your financial goals.
Efficient Architectural Design
1. Plan Space Efficiently
Homes with less floor area cost less to design, build, and maintain.
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the average floor area of a single-family home in the United States was 2,584 ft2 in the first quarter of 2019, compared to 1,400 ft2 in 1970.
If this statistic makes you question the efficiency of our use of space, you’re not alone. The Center on Everyday Lives of Families at the University of California recently performed a study that examined how American families use space in their homes. The study found that typical families spend 68% of their time in the kitchen and family room, while dining rooms, living rooms, recreation rooms, and porches mostly get little use.
When you’re working out the size of your home, think about which rooms you need. Keep in mind that every square foot comes with design and construction costs. Once you move in, you have to heat, cool, and maintain the entire house - including the spaces you’ll seldom use. Work with your architect to adjust your floor area to a reasonable figure - one that suits your family’s functions and does not lead to the creation of costly, useless, dead space.
2. Simplify Finishes
Your choice of interior finishes can cause your budget to balloon or shrink. The scope makes up 22% of total construction costs and presents an excellent opportunity to find compromises.
As you design your home, research your options for flooring, trim, and doors. Then, work with your architect to balance aesthetics, quality, and cost. Remember - in construction, anything “customized” or “specialized” usually commands a premium.
Flooring is a major investment, but don’t let costs alone drive your decision. Floors cover every square foot of your home and take lots of abuse from your daily functions. They also affect your senses of touch and sight. If you want your floors to serve you well, get to know the materials, and choose the one that you find visually appealing, comfortable and durable.
Trim gives a sense of completion and coziness to a room. It also adds up to hundreds of linear feet when you consider every baseboard, casing, and cornice in your house. If you want to economize on this feature, try to keep it simple - the more ornate your trim is, the more you’re paying.
Materials and size matter too. Opt for paint-grade instead of stain-grade wood, or go with medium density fiberboard (MDF) if you want real savings. Choose shorter baseboards and narrower casings and think twice whether you even need cornices and chair rails before you splurge.
Along with trim, doors can make up almost 5% of your home’s construction costs. Size and materials are important cost factors, as is customization - if you need your doors cut to sizes that are not available off-the-shelf, expect to pay a massive premium. Features like glazing may also inflate your doors’ price tag.
Other interior finishes, such as cabinets, counters, mirrors, balustrades, and wall finishes all have low and high-end options. With advice from your design team, you can make informed compromises that let you save in some areas and splurge on others.
Efficient Structural Design
A home’s structure - the foundation, exterior walls, interior load-bearing walls, floor, and ceiling joists - can make up 27% of total construction costs. Your home’s architectural elements largely determine the structure’s cost-efficiency; keep this in mind when you decide on features such as large windows and open concept spaces.
1. Avoid Large Openings
Floor-to-ceiling windows soak your home with natural light and offer stunning views, but the openings they create often require costly seismic bracing mechanisms, such as prefabricated shear walls or steel moment frames. To avoid incurring potentially crippling expenses, opt for smaller windows and use skylights to maximize natural light in your home.
2. The Problem With Large Open Spaces
Open-concept floor plans are popular for valid reasons - more daylight, improved space functionality, and better sightlines. If you plan on having an open-concept space in your home, however, keep in mind that the expansive living area they create leaves the floor above in need of specialized supports. These can take the shape of Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) or steel beams, sometimes with columns, all of which cost more than a load-bearing stud wall.
Besides large windows and expansive open spaces, try to avoid complex features like vaulted and coffered ceilings - these can also add a substantial premium to your home’s structure.
How We Can Make Your Design Cost-Efficient
Whether you are remodeling, renovating, or planning new construction, our team will design your project with cost efficiency in mind. Our engineers know where to find compromises that help you get the savings you want. Call us at (877) 892-0292 for a FREE consultation and quote.
*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.