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From A Contractors Perspective: 18 Overlooked Ways to Save Money When Building Your Home Part I

Spokane Home Builders, Building Custom Homes in WA, ID, Coeur d'Alene

We wanted to give you some real, sink-your-teeth-into tips for saving money when building your house, from a contractor’s perspective. Are you tired of the generic, fluffy, regurgitated “tips” found on most websites? Tips such as: 

  • Know what you want and don’t want.
  • Hire a builder who listens to you.
  • Review your plans beforehand.


That was . . . less than spectacular. Those are actual tips, repeated over hundreds of websites, that we found when preparing this article.

Yes, that advice is correct and yes, you could save a lot by following them. But how many of us are really going to be building a house without reviewing the plans beforehand? Fluff.

We wrote an article about how it is possible to save up to 40% of the overall construction budget by doing five simple steps. This time, we are sharing some tips that are often overlooked. This is a two-part article on secrets you can learn to save big when building your house. These are tips we have used to save money when building a new house, or even remodeling an existing structure.

When added up, these tips can help you keep YOUR cash in YOUR pocket, and make YOUR dreams a reality.

So here’s the list:

  • Standard Sizes for Windows and DoorsBuild your Spokane home with standard-sized windows.Make sure your windows and doors are all standard sizes rather than custom sizes that require additional expense to manufacture, which can drop the overall cost by more than 25% for your window and door package. And for most structures, there usually isn’t any benefit by going with an odd-sized or shaped window or door.

In an effort to innovate and design something fresh and new, we sometimes see architects design sizes or shapes that don’t add much other than cost. And sometimes the consideration was unintentional and a standard size works just as well. But if the space and/or design does require a custom window or door, try to keep them to a minimum.

  • Standard Sizes for Window Treatments. By keeping the windows within standard sizes, you also save on window treatments such as shutters, blinds, and curtains since these are more affordable when not needing to purchase custom sizes.
  • Window and Door Remnants. While still on the topic of windows and doors, another trick is to ask for remnants. Many construction supply stores carry leftover windows and doors from previous orders that were either the wrong size, the wrong color, or slightly scuffed.

We have easily saved a couple thousand dollars by sorting through remnants and finding ones that work.

  • Remnant Carpet. Many carpet warehouses sell remnants for substantial savings. The remnants are a result of the end of the roll or a customer not using all the carpet they ordered. Note that remnants usually are less than 12 feet, so they work best in smaller spaces. Consider this before building your house. If, for instance, you feel that a bedroom could be 12 feet wide instead of 13, you could save money with carpet remnants.
  • Keep Your House Dimensions to 2-Foot Increments. Build your home in 2-foot incrementsFor most structures, keeping the building to 2-foot increments does not impact the overall look and flow versus using odd numbers. Since most construction material is based on 2-foot intervals, designing your house within these parameters saves in construction costs as well as minimizes onsite construction waste.

It can also speed up the project, meaning you could get into your finished home a couple days earlier than scheduled. Who doesn’t want that?

  • Buy Refurbished, Floor Models, and Used Appliances. Appliances, you may argue, are not part of the construction budget. However, they are necessary once your new home is built. We have had success finding quality refurbished and floor model appliances. Most large box stores have a section off in the corner of scuffed-up fridges and ovens; if the scratch is on the side of a dishwasher where it is hidden by cabinets, you can often save a couple hundred bucks off the retail price. A great bargain.Also, don’t forget about Craigslist and other local advertising venues since you can find appliances someone bought that didn’t fit their space (or living habits) but does yours. Or they are simply “upgrading” to a new look when what they have matches with your design and layout. Just plan ahead and be patient since the right deal isn’t always available.
  • Bargain Shop Fixtures. best Coeur d'Alene home buildersThere are a lot of great websites to buy lighting and plumbing fixtures. We buy our fixtures almost exclusively off eBay. Not only can you find a greater selection than in large box stores and even specialty stores, you usually can save a lot of money as well. Unless our electricians and plumbers already have remnant fixtures that we like, we usually don’t buy through them since they tack on their markup.

Be sure to plan on enough time since you cannot hold the job up waiting for fixtures and not have it impact the job cost. Many of our favorite fixtures come directly from overseas, and shipping can take up to a month in some situations.

  • Cheaper to Go Up than Sideways. You may not know that it costs substantially less building vertically than it does horizontally. What this means is that a basement or second story will cost substantially less than having the house on one complete level. It is also cheaper in heating and cooling expenses since you share more of the space.

When building your foundation, ask the contractor what the difference in price between and crawlspace and a full basement is. The difference is usually not substantial, especially when considering you are getting a whole new level to your house.

  • Cast Your Own Stone Veneer Siding. If you are willing to get your hands dirty, this is a great way to save thousands of dollars with little investment. We recently saved approximately $11,000 on our prototype house by doing this. Granted, the house called for a lot of stone, but it is a high-end feature that adds great value and aesthetic appeal to your house.


You will need to buy some rubber stone molds; eBay is a great place to start. You need a way to mix cement, which can be done in a wheelbarrow by hand or in a $300 mixer. And that’s about it. You’ll also need some pigments and dyes to make the concrete look like stone, as well as a mold delamination chemical, both of which are negligible in price.

There are hundreds of videos online that can walk you through the process. It really is not difficult to make your own stone veneer siding. It is also recommended that you use a lightweight concrete mix. This saves in weight, which lessens the stress on your walls, and also decreases the amount of material you need, which is great for the environment and kind to your wallet.

This article is continued here, with nine more fantastic tips to saving money when building your next house.

About Benson Bondstone Benson Bondstone Logo

Benson Bondstone was created because the way we build needs to change. Needless disasters happen every year simply because, as a society, we’ve continued to use outdated methods. There is a better way–and it’s even affordable. Feel free to swing over to our home page for more information, or, you can come over to our Spokane Home Builders Google+ page.

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