5 Ways to Save Initial Residential Building Costs

1. Keep Design Simple. Exterior walls should be set to 2' modules, roofs should be single-pitch and have very little variation. Laying out the house on a strong East-West axis will save energy. (savings up to $20,000)

2. Use Builder-Grade Windows in Standard Sizes. Aluminum is the absolute cheapest and for some purposes it's perfectly fine. Vinyl windows are more energy efficient but large windows tend to warp so keep to small sizes. (savings up to $10,000)

3. Be Budget Conscious with Interior Finishes. Control yourself and don't splurge. Finishes can generally be high-quality without busting the budget because they are a relative small item in the overall building process. However, there are a lot of temptations out there to splurge. A solid surface countertop like Silestone in a base color can cost $39/sf and that's a reasonable amount to spend for what you get. But upgrade to unusual colors or opt for soapstone or honed granite and you're suddenly up to $85/sf. That can easily add $5000 to a project right there. (savings up to $10,000)

4. Use Siding for Exterior Surfaces in lieu of Masonry or Stucco. Cementitious siding products (like Hardie siding) are durable, energy efficient and cost 40-60% less than most alternatives. There's more design options for siding than just a traditional aesthetic. (savings up to $8,000)

5. When using Hardwood Flooring, go for Pre-finished Hardwoods. Having to finish the hardwoods on site doubles the cost but it looks better. However, if on a tight budget do you really need site-finished hardwoods. Pre-finished engineered hardwood floors are even cheaper but not by much. (savings up to $6,000)