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How to Reduce the Cost of Designing and Building a New Home

July 30th, 2023

By Sofia Alonso

3 min read

Black Kitchen Open Concept Floor Plan Modern Style Custom Home by AV Architects and Builders in Great Falls Northern Virginia

Designing and building a new home is an exciting endeavor, but it can also be a significant financial investment. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce the overall cost without compromising on the quality and functionality of your dream home. 

At AV Architects + Builders, we are experts in value engineering your new home project. We specialize in helping our clients achieve their dream home goals by figuring out what matters to them most for their new home. 

Here are five effective ways to save on designing and building your new home:


1. Don’t Overpay for Your Lot:

The cost of purchasing the land on which you plan to build and the cost of preparing it to be built on can have a significant impact on your budget. 

To ensure you're not overpaying for the land, work with a knowledgeable real estate agent who understands the neighborhood and can help negotiate a fair price. 

Additionally, look for teardown lots rather than empty land. This is because teardown lots typically require less site work to prepare the lot to be built on. Things like grading and site preparation may already be partially done thanks to the existing structure on the lot, reducing the need for extensive tree clearing and dirt removal.

Comparing a Teardown Lot vs Vacant Land


2. Reduce the Size of Your Home:

Consider reducing the size of your home and “value engineer” your design. 

Evaluate whether you truly need an extensive number of bedrooms and bathrooms or if certain spaces can be combined for greater efficiency. Avoid building oversized rooms that serve little purpose, and focus on spaces that enhance your lifestyle. 

A skilled architect can create a more functional home even with a smaller square footage. 


3. Choose Cost-Effective Material Selections:

The choice of materials that make up your home can significantly influence the cost of construction. If you want to save on the cost of your project, consider choosing more affordable selections without compromising on quality. This means, set a budget for each material and stick to it. 

Consider alternatives that offer a similar look at a lower cost. House materials are like cars or clothes, the cost spectrum is large. For example, tiles can range from $3 per square foot at Home Depot to $300 per square foot at Architessa. 

Value engineer the materials that are most important to you while being mindful of your overall budget.


4. Downsize Your Footprint

A house that consists of a large main level has a more expansive footprint and therefore more costs associated with it. This is because there is more roof needed to cover that larger footprint, more exterior materials, and requires running mechanical and ductwork at a greater distance. 

That is why townhomes are very cost efficient, because they’re designed like little towers that require minimal exterior materials, roof, concrete, drywall, exterior walls, electric wiring plumbing, and metal ductwork.  A house that is built more horizontally requires more of all of this so consider decreasing the footprint of your home and build more vertically to reduce these costs. 

What is Fun-Sizing?

5. Consider an Unfinished Basement

An unfinished basement can be a cost-effective way to save money initially. By leaving it unfinished, you can postpone expenses until a later time when your budget allows. An unfinished basement can save you a substantial amount of money, ranging from $100,000 to $150,000, depending on the size and complexity of the space.


Focus on Quality over Price

While cost-saving measures may be necessary for your project to move forward, it's vital to balance your budget with your desired level of quality. When a builder offers to do the project for less, it may mean they are delivering a different and lower-quality product. Strive to find a balance between cost and quality to ensure that you are still achieving your dream home while staying within your financial means.


How to Build Your New Home and Stay in Budget

Designing and building your dream home can be an attainable goal even on a budget. Considering your lot selection, the size of your home, strategic material choices, downsizing on footprint, and even choosing an unfinished basement are all practical ways to reduce the overall cost of your project. 

However, always prioritize quality and functionality, as your home is a long-term investment that should bring comfort and joy for years to come. Work closely with experienced professionals to strike the right balance between your dream and your budget, creating a home that truly meets your needs and preferences.

How to Prevent Cost Overruns in New Home Construction


9903 Georgetown Pike Suite 201
Great Falls, VA 22066
(703) 865-5065