Where to Splurge / Save Money when building your Home

Saving money when building a home may seem like an oxymoron, but it can be done!

This beautiful living room has vaulted ceilings and exposed rafters with scissor trusses. The ceiling is made of v groove and it is all painted white. The living rooms holds a neutral sofa, upholstered ottoman and an oversized chair. the fireplace has a tv over it that looks like a painting

I believe you can get your dream home and stay on budget if you spend/save wisely.

We built our home with champagne tastes on a beer budget, with a little creativity, DIY, smart shopping and using every penny wisely.

When you get all your ducks in a row and you’re ready to start building your dream home…and then the lumber bids come in:

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A beautiful home collage with kitchen, bathroom, and living room with vaulted ceilings

So now what?

Let’s take a deep breath and be smart about how we save money while building

I definitely have opinions about smart ways to SAVE and where it’s best to splurge when it comes to building a home.

But I wanted to get input from others as well, so I polled my Instagram Fam.

I’m sharing the full list with you without regard to my personal opinions. For MY personal viewpoint, keep scrolling down.

Also, you’ll notice some of the same items on both lists…it’s all about personal preferences and what might be important to one person, isn’t as much to another.

So without further ado, here are the results of that poll:

Where to SPLURGE When Building a Home

(some answers were repeated multiple times. I have made note of the more popular answers)

  • Good Paint
  • Quality Cabinets (popular answer)
  • Cabinet Hardware
  • Windows
  • Kitchen (popular answer)
  • Bathrooms
  • Skirting, Architrave
  • Ceiling Height
  • Drawers (vs Lower Cabinets)
  • Big Screened in Porch
  • Countertops
  • Metal Roof
  • Vaulted Ceilings
  • Solid Wood (vs MDF)
  • Footprint of the house
  • Flooring (popular answer)
  • Millwork (AKA Trim work)
  • Pocket Doors
  • Lighting
  • Garage Space
  • Appliances
  • Insulation
  • Exterior Doors
  • Painter
  • Basement
  • Central Vacuum
  • Heated Tile Floors
  • Porch(es)

Where to SAVE when home building

  • Lighting Fixtures (easy to change, styles change often) (top answer)
  • Faucets/Fixtures/Taps (easy to change later)
  • Landscaping (easy to add later and in phases)
  • Hardware (easy to change)
  • Windows
  • Bathroom fixtures
  • Bathroom vanities (do not need to be custom)
  • Appliances
  • Flooring (LVP vs Wood)
  • Built-ins (can be added later)
  • Wall Treatments/Accent Walls/Extra Trimwork
  • Carpet in bedrooms instead of wood
  • Labor (what work can you do yourself?)

>>My two cents about where to pinch pennies<<

(see what I did there?)

I can categorize my recommendation for splurges in the following categories:

  • Things that are difficult to add or replace later
  • Where you see it/use it the most
  • Where it has the potential to save you money over time
A home office with built in bookshelves 2 chair and a desk, the paint color is Sherwin Williams Sea Salt

Spend Money on Things that are difficult to add or replace later

This would include square footage to a certain extent, although if you have to sacrifice ALL your favorite finishes to get the square footage, then you should definitely consider reducing your footprint.

When it comes to the sizes of rooms, be reasonable about the sizes and how you will use the space, place furniture.

Cut out your furniture to scale (usually 1″ = 4′ on the plan) and try arranging it in the space. Is there room to walk?

Another thing that is difficult to change later are cabinets. If you replace cabinets, you also will most likely need to replace your counters too and that is a very large expense, not to mention the demo involved.

Where you see it/use it the most

  • (kitchen) cabinets
  • flooring
  • kitchen/pantry – size and finishes
  • Public areas like Living Room, Dining Room, and Kitchen
A charming kitchen view of a European farmhouse sink surrounded by white subway tile and reclaimed wood beams and columns. There are 2 windows above the sink and a blue towel draped over the edge.

Where it has the potential to save you money or make you money over time

  • Insulation
  • Efficient A/C
  • Kitchen – we have all heard that kitchens and baths are key when it comes to selling a home
  • Bathroom – see above

Tile flooring that looks like brick in a herringbone pattern
Installing this brick tile floor in the mudroom ourselves saved us money we could put toward other things

Here are my thoughts about where to SAVE money when building a home

Save on things that are easy to add replace later

Save on finishes in secondary areas that will be seen less often

  • laundry and mudroom
  • kids spaces (they will likely need updates later from wear and tear) – I’ve added some trim and details to our son’s room and daughter’s bedroom since we’ve moved in and our wallets have recovered a little
  • Basement
  • closets

Save money on items whose styles change relatively quickly

Ultimately you will need to decide what’s most important to you. You may find this post helpful MONEY SAVING QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN BUILDING A HOME when prioritizing your wish list.

This post may also be useful for gathering ideas and deciding what is most important to you NEW HOME MUST HAVES

2 ranges same look and function, 2 very different prices

Don’t miss any tips, ideas or inspiration! Be sure to follow me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

A black and white logo with a barn that says Old Barn Design, a photo of Jessica the owner in a black and white shirt in front of a rustic barn door



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