Control Home Building Costs – Here Are Some Tips & Tricks

Home building costs can often be a challenge to control when you've got so many variables in the building or remodeling project. You can avoid overages or, at least, keep them at a minimum if you are armed with some valuable advice.

When planning your build, pad your budget with a 15 percent Contingency Fund. This fund will enable you to pay for overages you have no control over, like unknowns behind walls and ceilings and problems found once excavation commences.

You may not be able to avoid all of them, but you can certainly keep overages under a certain amount of control if you consider the following tips and tricks.

Home Size, Style and Shape -

If you are building your dream home, these are three of the most significant factors that contribute to your bottom line - size, style and shape.

* As a rule, size your home in increments of two feet in order to reduce wasted material. In addition, industry experts advise that your home be built no deeper than 32 feet in order to eliminate the need for custom-made trusses. This will also reduce your expenses.

* Typically, the cost to build a multi-story home is less than building a ranch home with equivalent square footage. Multi-level homes have smaller roofs and foundations, and plumbing and ventilation are built more compact. Roofs and foundations can be quite expensive when building a ranch with equal square footage.

* The cost and need for labor and materials will increase the more corners and angles you build into the home, so you'll want to consider the shape when building your initial plan. A square or rectangular home costs less to build than homes with others shapes - e.g. L-shaped, round, octagonal, etc.

Before You Begin - Plan

* Plan your buildings costs. Take time to put your plan on paper.

* Itemize every activity you think will be involved in the project and every product you think you'll have to purchase to complete it.

* Visit home improvement stores and obtain pricing for all items you believe you'll need.

* Add all your projected expenses up and include the total in your budget.

Before You Sign - Specify

* Make sure you have an architectural plan or very specific drawing and measurements of your new build to eliminate as much gray area as possible.

* If you want specific products to be used in the build, state your requirements to the contractor and make sure that they are included in the contract for bid before signing.

* If you expect granite countertops, but only state high-end countertops, you can't expect your contractor to accommodate your request. You must be specific.

* Make sure language is included to reflect that all building permits will be obtained by your contractor.

* Make sure language is included in the contract that requires the contractor to be responsible for all costs associated with removal of demolition performed in the project.

Before Work Begins -

* If the contractor you use is reputable, he should obtain the appropriate permits with local authorities.

* Don't let the project proceed until you know that all permits have been obtained and are posted where required.

Contractor Change Orders - Beware

* This is the primary reason that projects experience overruns.

* A change order typically increases the cost of your build. If you agree to the change order and the associated expense, you are responsible to pay for it.

* If the change order is an expense incurred due to the contractor creating it, then you should not agree nor should you be held responsible for the cost - i.e., contractor accidentally tears down a wall not in the original bid or causes damage to your property while working the project.

* Be aware of your contract and the condition of your project along the way, so that you will immediately notice issues that come up for which the contractor should be responsible.

* Keep in mind that some change orders may require local officials to revisit the project to approve modifications.

Most Common Milestones for Overruns

Historically, there are two most common milestones when your building project will experience an overrun if building a new home or adding on a new room to your existing home.

Beginning of Project -

* When excavating and installing a well, if necessary, overruns are often experienced due to the terrain.

* If your contractor hits unusually rocky ground, it will take longer for him to excavate and will cost you more out-of-pocket.

* If drilling a well, it is not always known how deep it will be necessary to dig before finding water.

End of Project -

* Wrapping up the final touches to your countertops, cabinets, lighting, plumbing, flooring, electrical and other aspects to the project.

* Again, take time to shop around for all these items, price them, include them in the cost for your project, and deviate as little as possible.

* If you have excess from your Contingency Fund, you can always tap into it for extras at the end.

It's almost impossible to avert all overages in a building project; however, if you plan up front and keep your eyes open along the way, you could reduce and eliminate the most costly ones.

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