Affordability is a growing cause echoed in the home building sector, and in an age where few families live debt-free, inexpensive custom-built homes are catching on across demographic segments.
Home builders may smirk at your plans to build a house under $150,000, in a world where land permits and building materials cost as much. You can retaliate with a more-than legit building plan.
The custom home building process involves a set of unknowns that can be worked around if you’re open to possibilities. A good starting base is to know that you won’t find a plot soon enough, as the more affordable ones get picked fast by those working with local realtors.
It’s advisable to go on a search with a seasoned custom home builder to identify locations that won’t substantially impact various building costs. Painstakingly enough, it can take from a couple weeks to a couple months before you finalize your plot.
And the search for the right designer begins whether it’s an existing structure you’re planning to rebuild or want to bid out a modular design to modular home construction contractors. Any way you go, you will have several options to mix-and-match to optimize your budget.
Given that you’re essentially the project sponsor—you can direct contractors to make decisions that save you costs, time, and sanity in the construction process. An estimate by Modular Homeowners says that you can trim 10-20 per cent of building costs as compared to traditional housing or stick-built homes.
Between conceiving and completing your custom-build home, important decisions will be made to keep your budget intact—let’s review some fundamentals of successfully built custom homes.
Choosing Your Custom-Home Builder
Start by searching local online listings of custom home builders who have a reasonable number of projects under their belt. Gather recommendations from customers they serviced, and, make it a point to schedule at least three site visits to see the builder’s work.
Good builders are usually very busy—for their continuously on the move—so you would need to schedule an appointment much prior to meet your construction start date target. Check if the builder has a website with proper images of past work uploaded in the gallery tab since this will help you visualize how capable they could be to execute your ideas.
Verify if the builder has valid licenses to carry out the construction and if any special permits are necessary to build out customized floor plans. Ensure that the contractors have appropriate liability coverage for damages resulting from omissions and errors, as your budget won’t allow room for you to pay for contingencies. Even with the best contractors out there, risks don’t go away.
The construction process consists of plenty of back and forths with contractors, where if you’re equipped with knowledge of what to expect from them, that will go far in setting expectations right from the beginning. Dig into the roles of a general contractor and construction manager in this post: https://jobsite.procore.com/two-sides-of-the-same-coin-the-differences-between-general-contractors-and-construction-managers/.
Shortlist at least 5-6 builders to throw a wide net on procuring bids that closely match your budget and financing capacity. Find custom home builders near you at this site. The best builders willingly offer flexible price options and become collaborators in shaping the best construction plan for your needs.
Choosing Your Neighbourhood Wisely
After onboarding your builder, the next phase entails surveying neighbourhoods that are conducive for custom-built homes.
Your first priority is to stack up your construction plan according to the neighbourhood’s building codes since certain locations are disaster-sensitive and need you to fortify your home with additional safety protocols.
Look around the neighbourhood for architectural inspiration, if most homes are detached houses styled in post-modernistic themes, you may need to repurpose your original design to fit into that scene. Take a few days to properly finalize the design specifications before you bid out different parts of your home building process.
It’s not the neighbourhood per se that determines the building output. How accessible is it? Do you navigate windy roads or patchy lanes to get to it? It’s probably not the best place to plan your construction.
Additionally, it may cost you more to assemble building materials and manpower over and above the actual construction—custom-built sites will have modules, panels, and supplies delivered in an oversized truck whereas some will be buttoned up by a crane. Hence, accessibility is crucial to saving significantly on site preparation efforts. Simultaneously, you will need to survey the soil on which the foundation will be placed because a shifty soil quality would mean you spend thousands of dollars in clean-ups.
For instance, if it’s being built on clay soil, the soil particles expand when wet and contract as it dries out—this unevenness of soil conditions can destabilize the structure and open it up for either a crash, or it’ll develop cracks once you initiate installations and fixtures including establishing utility connections. Levelling out the foundation can be expensive, and for this reason, it’s crucial that you chose a location that will minimize costs for and expedite your site preparation.
Knowing your site well will prevent unexpected costs as the construction progresses while meeting mandatory requirements for a structurally functional and code-compliant home.
Carefully Construct Your Custom Home Package
As if finding a plot wasn’t hassle enough, curating an economical mix of fixtures and fittings will take multiple rounds of consulting designers. You will work through selecting requisite materials by comparing brands that offer reasonable packages within the specifications you’ve agreed upon with the architect. To give you a sense of what your home package would entail, here’s a handy list:
- Floor tiling/carpeting/hardwood and finishing
- Windows and doors installations
- Ceiling and roofing
- Wall cladding
- Interior décor layout and detailing
- Electrical and plumbing work
Under each of these items, you will need to make delicate trade-offs between the materials you choose and the look and feel desired on work completion. Ensure that your package doesn’t exceed its limit—this figure will come from your discussion with your contractor—while meeting the minimum viable quality to satisfy building practices.
Budgeting Your Custom-Built Home
Here comes the dreaded but expected question of maintaining the budget. Alternative housing hasn’t had a smooth past with financers. Whether they’re banks or private lenders, a limited budget raises eyebrows—you will have to prepare for some tough conversations with adequate backing from your custom-home contractor and designer.
One too many custom-home proposals have been denied financing that lacked a proper building contract and design specs drawn up logically for a $150K budget. Without a firm assurance, no home loan is approved. Further, when your construction is nearing closure, safety inspectors wouldn’t pass the inspection if they see you’ve collaboratively cut corners on building codes and safety protocols. Designate enough room in your budget for indispensable expenses toward staying within compliance.
Coming back to the bids you invited in the first stage, evaluate them based on what they include. The cheapest price isn’t the best bid and vice versa. While you’re under budget constraints, you would want to confirm if the price covers the cost of relevant sections aside from installations, customizations, and delivery.
For a custom-build home, home buyers are charged anywhere from $50 to $80 per square foot based on the size of their projects. When your contracts and financial records are in place, you can start a credit line after appropriate verifications of your documents. If you’re disbursing cash payments, follow a disciplined payment schedule with your contractors to avoid disputes.
Here’s a reference chart to cost your custom-build home’s base construction.
Apart from base construction costs, you will be paying approximately $50,000 to $80,000 for installations and other structural work. Avoid getting swayed by snazzy home interiors since they will set you back by tens of thousands that you can’t accommodate after accounting for necessary material and labour costs. Work with contractors that are experienced in delivering good estimates for your range since they will typically also provide warranty coverage post construction.
Custom-built homes can get tricky if you’re not paying close enough attention to where your money’s going. Partnering up with the right contractors who deliver within your budget range and ascertaining quality outputs with past custom home owners will give you the right lead. Know that you will constantly perform trial-and-errors with various stakeholders on your path—but it’s entirely possible to build a well-designed and solid custom home within $150K.
Tell us if you’re a custom home owner or are aspiring to be one, and if these suggestions have resonated with you!