the old barn

Devastating Home Build Estimate? 6 Ideas to Save Big Money

May 19, 2023

Do you need to save big money over what the builders are quoting you in order to afford your dream home?

A client just emailed me panicked because they met with a builder to get a price to build the home of their dreams and it was sickeningly higher than they were thinking.  

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve received such an email, and it probably won’t be the last.  

Right now, (since 2020) construction prices are high. It really saddens me to see my clients and friends feel like they can’t afford their dream due to inflated costs.  

But before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, let’s consider your money-saving options!

dream house with front porch with words save big money

From my client:

So, we just met with the builder… he is quoting us around [$XXX] to build this home!!!

We were expecting WAY LESS than that! 

Definitely not even close to our budget. We were very shocked and discouraged. If you don’t mind me asking, what did you end up spending on the build for your house (similar plan)? We are worried that we may have to abandon the project unless we can get the cost closer to our budget.

Any help or insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

6 ideas to save big money

1. Get more Estimates

Have you spoken to any other builders in the area?  First, I would suggest calling builders and realtors, and getting an average cost per square foot to build in the area from at least 3 different sources, the more the better.  

You can then use the average to estimate if you are in the ballpark, or decide what your target square footage should be.

But before you chop off the left side of your home, or start all over with your plans, keep reading.

By the way, we built in 2019 (and in a different state from this client, and probably you), so our price to build would be like comparing apples to oranges with today’s prices.  So much has changed since 2020.  

Want more info about how to estimate the cost to build YOUR home? Our Bootstrap Builders Program will teach you a simple way to calculate your best estimates for your home build and budget, using your exact location, home specifications, and up-to-date construction prices. Click HERE for more information about our Bootstrap Builders Program.

2. Build in phases

2. Consider building in phases, for example:

Phase 1 might include the house and necessities.

Phase 2 might be to DIY finish out the Bonus Room, extra trim and wall treatments, etc. This phase could be paid for as you go, out of pocket instead of a construction loan.

OR you could borrow against the instant equity you made from doing IDEA #6 on this list.

Taking this approach will allow you to save up between phases, and keep your mortgage payments lower.

3. Scale something down or eliminate it to save money

Scale down the added back porch.  You could eliminate it, add it later, or just build the center part, reducing it by 2/3.  Adding a porch later won’t require demo, so it’s something that is easier to delay to save money now. 

When determining what items you can delay, consider what can be added or changed without taking down or removing something else already in place.

Avoid eliminating or changing the front porch too much. It is more likely integrated with the architecture of the home and overall design.

4. Wait

You could also put things on hold and hope for prices to go down and/or save up a bit more money. You could get a good bonus or raise. Hopefully, building costs will go down and the cost to build your dream home will become more affordable.

You may not need to delay the whole project, though. Like I mentioned before, you can just wait to add the porch or other delayed items when/if they become more affordable.

Also, if you do the number 6, you’ll have instant equity when you’re finished building, which could help you afford the additional items you’ve put off in Phase 1.

5. Save big money on your temporary living arrangement while you build

You could potentially save a good chunk by making a temporary sacrifice in your living arrangement.

This may be a stretch for some, but I know a lady who lived in an RV with her husband and 4 boys while they built their dream home.

I also know people who have lived in their barn, garage, or other building already on their property during the build.

We lived in an inexpensive apartment during the second half of our first home build and then we split time living with my husband’s parents and my mom during our second home build. That may have been more of a sacrifice for our parents than us 🙂 but it was temporary and we all survived.

My mom always says, “You can handle anything if you know it’s temporary. Just focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.”

6. Self-Contract your build and save really big money

Consider self-contracting AKA owner-building.  This would immediately knock off about 20-30% (a typical builders fee + markup on materials and fixtures. Also, as a self-contractor, you will be able to price shop, take advantage of sales and rebates, and negotiate better deals with subcontractors than a builder may be willing to do (partly since his fee is a % of the cost). When you think about it, you’ll also likely be paying interest for 30 years on that same 20-30% fee! Yuck.

If this option (saving over $100,000++) is appealing, but you don’t know where to even start, we can help! Click HERE for more info.

Could we really save enough money?

We have been there, right where this client is (and presumably you, since you’re still reading this). The devastataion of dreams about to go down the toilet made our stomachs flop.

We had already sold our house and moved out and now what? We weren’t going to be able to afford to build the home we thought was going to be worth leaving our former home, which we loved?

It feels desperate and hopeless, I know.

It truly saddens me when my friends and clients feel this, we have been working nights and weekends for almost a year to create a program to help.

This program is for construction novices (who don’t know a beam from a column) to potentially save $100,000+ by self-contracting their home build using this system developed by us, a happily married couple who have self-contracted twice.

I hope this post has given you a little bit of hope.

Here’s a few more articles that may help you save money on your home build.

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