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Need to cut new build budget by $25,000. What area can we sacrifice?

K S
14 days ago
last modified: 14 days ago

We changed the roofline and added dormers. This moved the price up $25,000. We are removing stonework to help offset the price increase. What other significant features can we sacrifice to keep the price down?


Comments (53)

  • K S
    Original Author
    14 days ago

    @bpath They do not, we just like the look. We are hoping to add a bonus room above the garage down the road so those will eventually serve a purpose.

  • K S
    Original Author
    14 days ago

    @kempek01 yes, we have asked him but he seems to be pretty vague. I feel like we are having to suggest the changes and then he gives us the price. Figured I'd start looking into what might be a bigger ticket area to suggest to him.


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  • K S
    Original Author
    14 days ago

    @HALLETT & Co. Just posted the plan with a pic of our inspiration. The front elevation he drafted up is not what we really want and is still in the process of being revised.

  • kempek01
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    What are you willing to give up in your current build for X years so that you can save $25,000 in the future when you eventually do the bonus room? That is where you cut the budget for your current build. (I know I didn't consider that building costs will increase, but I'm keeping this question simple!)


    Edited to Add: Just noticed that the floor plan and picture have been posted. I don't see $25,000 in cuts in that house, unless there is a lot of house I'm not seeing!

  • tsjmjh
    14 days ago

    I'm confused; the photo you posted doesn't have dormers over the garage. Or am I looking in the wrong place?

  • jkent9024
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    Is this a custom home? If so, you have a lot of control over your finishes, and that's a huge part of the budget.

    We are currently working on some budget cuts as well. I changed my inset cabinets to full overlay; I changed my stained bathroom cabinets to painted (because it would allow for a cheaper wood species); we changed a back hallway from tile to hardwood; we switched to double hung instead of casement windows.

    Things like that can affect your budget, it's just a matter of priorities. It hurt to lose the inset cabinets, but it was either that or changing my appliance choices and my appliances were more important to me, so...


    ETA: Just saw your added floorplan. What percentage of your budget is $25,000? Because it's easier to cut that amount when it's only 2% of your budget vs. when its 20%.

    K S thanked jkent9024
  • K S
    Original Author
    14 days ago

    @tsjmjh that's the inspiration pic, the one drafted by the architect is still in the works, but it will have dormers.


  • ptreckel
    14 days ago

    I would look at the Master Bath. Do you have a shower room with a free standing tub? The floor plan is not clear. This might be simplified to include a built in tub/shower combo. Is there a need for a bump out in the front of the garage? As has been suggested here....look at going with builder standard bathroom vanities, light package, tiles. Even going with laminate counter tops that can be replaced, later, with granite or quartz.

  • anj_p
    14 days ago

    You can have a bonus room without dormers. Just put in a window in the gable. Make sure you've selected the right type of truss for over your garage, and that you've added HVAC to that space for the future bonus room. If you haven't, that will add cost as well (and should be done now, not later). You may also want to spec different insulation as well. You currently don't have any stairs so I'm not sure how you plan on accessing that room.

    If you're not willing to give up the dormers, you have a few options. 1) cut square footage. 2) lose the covered deck 3) cut finishes

    Covered deck is probably the easiest thing to lose now and do later. If that's a no go, you either cut the office or cut interior finishes. Interior finishes will be harder since you may need to change a few things to get there. If you spec'd hardwood, go to laminate or LVT/LVP. If you spec'd high end appliances, go to mid range. If you spec'd quartz, go to granite or corian or cultured marble. If you spec'd custom cabinets, use semi-custom or box store. If you spec'd a tiled shower, go to fiberglass. If you spec'd high end windows, go to mid range windows. If you're already at the low end of all of those things, then you're out of luck.

  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art
    14 days ago

    Is this a custom home or a builder's home? What is the current estimated construction cost? What is the current floor area?


    Is your site flat or sloped? Is site preparation a large sum?


    If you are planning a later bonus space over the garage, have you planned where the stairs will be located? If you are planning a later addition to create the bonus space, have you considered adding the dormers at that time?


    What change did you make to the roof (besides adding dormers) that raised the construction cost?


    Lots more information is needed, beyond what you provided.


    Good luck.



  • K S
    Original Author
    14 days ago

    @jkent9024 I think it ends up being about 3%-4% of the budget. This is a custom build. We haven't gotten as far as the interior finishes but that is definitely an area that I feel like we can save a good amount. But I don't want to overshoot the initial plan and then also go over or at the budget for the interior.

  • tsjmjh
    14 days ago

    That makes this a $625,000 total cost for construction. Your interior finishes, to me, are more important at this time than dormers in a room you may or may not use several years into the future. As someone else said, add a large window above the garage doors and don't worry about the dormers.

  • shivece
    14 days ago

    How big is your contingency and how worried are you about it? If you are on a budget and don’t have a good size contingency figured in with big ticket items selected and confirmed, lose the dormers. Frame assuming the window for the garage and put it in and rough in the stairway for that space if you have money left at the end.

  • PRN
    14 days ago

    You could save some money by simplifying the bump out triple window in the garage.

  • Celadon
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    Get rid of the schnozz garage. It’s bump out existence is not well sited or well integrated into the home anyway. Build a separate detached garage at a later time, as a remodel project.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    14 days ago

    Do you plan to build the house shown in the floor plan or the house shown in the perspective? It is hard to advise when what is to be built is not shown, or changes have been made that are not shown.

    Based upon the information provided, perhaps a redesign is in order.

  • anj_p
    14 days ago

    @Mark Bischak, Architect OP stated above that the rendering is an inspiration photo and the plan is their design.

    @K S since you haven't picked finishes yet, your final cost may be significantly different from what you're expecting (believe me - we went to bid expecting a $650k build cost and it came back at $750k. Thanks for killing our dream, COVID). Maybe keep what you have for now and get it bid, then worry about trimming.

    K S thanked anj_p
  • Lindsey_CA
    14 days ago

    The floorplan, even which clicked on to enlarge it, is very small and difficult to read. Having said that, however, I can tell that both full bathrooms show the toilet on a wall shared with a bedroom. That means whenever the toilet is flushed in the middle of the night, the sound will disturb whomever is sleeping in the bedroom on the other side of the wall. This is an easy fix for the bedroom that's between the two secondary bedrooms -- simply flip the layout of the bathroom so that the toilet is against the wall that's shared with the closet of the bedroom on the top left of the plan.

    K S thanked Lindsey_CA
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    14 days ago

    That is what prompted my comment. I assume the OP does not want inspirational cost cuttings.

  • olychick
    14 days ago

    Two car garage instead of 3 car?

  • PRN
    14 days ago

    I don't know if your builder's price tag includes the driveway, but the way the house and garage are placed in the photo at least, requires a lot of asphalt paving which is not inexpensive. Beyond the cost of that, are you sure you want all that paving going right up to and across the front of your house?

  • JJ
    14 days ago

    Those dormers arent worth 25k.



  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    14 days ago

    Value engineering is best done as a collaborative exercise involving client, architect and builder.

  • PRO
    RES2
    14 days ago

    A value engineering process begins with a project cost breakdown.

  • strategery
    13 days ago

    Need the current cost breakdown. As an analogy, think of trying to improve performance in a system (e.g. car, software) without taking any measurements first. The engineers would laugh at you.

  • bpath
    13 days ago

    How many dormers did you add? They certainly raised the cost. Would a one shed dormer, as wide or almost as wide as the ones you added, cost less? It would provide more headroom to the potential bonus room.

  • cpartist
    13 days ago

    Value engineering starts with a person of design talent who doesn’t do the floor plan first and then stick on a facade

  • PRO
    RES2
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    This may have already been mentioned but since there is no stair to a second floor, I assume the 3 dormers are not functional unless they're roof monitors that provide light to the living space. Whatever they are, they seem uninspired. I would investigate substituting one larger dormer or deleting them altogether.

    The porch posts can be single and larger. The porch is not shown on the plan so its difficult to tell how deep it is to the left of the front door.

    A larger problem is that the 3D model is of a different smaller house. What's up with that?

    Don't try to solve a problem without first defining it especially if others are involved.

  • Emily
    13 days ago

    Does your current budget include a standing-seam metal roof, as shown in the elevation? If so, and you change to asphalt, you might save $20K. We are building a somewhat similar but slightly smaller one-story house with front and back porches and two-car garage, and our builder estimated $15K more for a metal roof than for an asphalt. We still have the metal roof in the specifications list, because it has been on our "dream home list" for a long time, but if we start going over budget in the early going, we'll cut it.

  • JJ
    13 days ago

    For one thing...thats not the elevation. Its just some inspiration pic.


    Nobody knows what the real thing looks like.

  • Emily
    13 days ago

    @JJ, Ah okay, but perhaps they are planning on going with a metal roof, since they chose that inspiration photo. Just thought I'd mention it, since it is a big-ticket item.

  • JJ
    13 days ago

    Yes. Our metal roof added considerably. Our architect had made sure that the slope could accommodate both a shingled roof and a metal roof so that we would have the option if we started to approach our top line budget.


    I will say I like the metal roof we have and would do it again.

  • PRO
    HALLETT & Co.
    13 days ago

    Op seems to have left...

  • PRO
    RES2
    13 days ago

    You can't value engineer a house you haven't designed yet.

  • JJ
    13 days ago

    Heh.

  • Daniel Deason
    9 days ago
    • Remove the smaller garage door and shrink the garage accordingly
    • Eliminate bump-outs
    • Consider vinyl siding instead of Hardie.
    • I like the look of the dormer windows, but they are expensive and prone to water intrusion; consider eliminating or reducing the number, The symmetry of 3 over the door/windows looks nice, but you could accomplish a similar look with a single wide dormer.
    • Eliminate the garden tub - you probably won't use it much anyway. Potentially reduce the bathroom size accordingly.
    • Eliminate the back porch. Porch space often costs 60%-80% as much as living space. You could add a patio later as your budget allows.
    • You could potentially move the exterior wall on right side of the house in 1-2 feet. This would reduce the size of the master suite and the pantry. Not sure if this is practical, but a 40-80 square feet size reduction would have a noticeable budgetary impact.


  • cda1028
    9 days ago

    Where do you live? We’re in NC and live outdoors on our porches nine months of the year. Hurricanes, ice storms and tornadoes regularly bring trees and big branches down on our roofs and those metal ones dent; on sunny days their glare can be a problem for your neighbor.
    We’d rather have an outdoors hot tub than a garden tub or a pool. They get year round use and need hardly any attention.
    All in all, you want sturdy, functional heated square footage that is easy to maintain and comfortable to live in over 30-50 years.

  • cjay54
    9 days ago

    1.) I think I'd leave out one of the dormers. The three looks busy. 2.) From the picture I can't tell how big your shower is but it looks like you could downsize it. We went from a 5 ft shower to a 4 ft and the 4ft feels more comfortable, not big and cavernous. 3.) I would use the board and batten siding as accents, maybe in the peaks instead of the whole house. From our experience, the board and batten cost more than double 4 vinyl siding. Not sure how much the savings would add up to but I think it'd save you some money without sacrificing anything major.

  • millworkman
    9 days ago

    The OP is long since gone. Another that did not want to hear the advice they asked for.

  • stasiabc
    9 days ago

    I would question $25k to add dormers to a new build. Even with Covid increases in materials, the cost seems excessive. Second, I would not trade features for future plans with space that I will use today, nor sacrifice square footage for decorative add ons. I like others comments about trade offs on finishes, I just not sure that makes up $25k. I think if I really wanted the dormers, I would get them added post construction via bids from other contractors. I think that will save you about half.

  • gerdyp
    9 days ago

    My first thought was possibly doing some of the work yourself. However there are many ways to cut costs as outlined in this link. https://www.moving.com/tips/how-to-save-money-on-new-construction-home/

  • shead
    9 days ago

    We added a large shed dormer on the side of our house (new build) with 6 windows and the cost was only $7K extra so I think $25K is VERY excessive.

  • K S
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    Thank you everyone for the advice! I was overwhelmed with all the great responses and not able to answer all but I am still checking them. But just to answer a few questions: garage and sq ft are not flexible as they are min. requirements in the CC&Rs. The roof changed significantly from the original plan, the CC&Rs also require a specific roof pitch, thus, adding to the added expense. And we did not have the final front elevation renderings at the time of the post so I used the version we sent to the builder as an example of our vision.

  • clwoodard3
    7 days ago

    Hello KS, Below are items we analyzed when we built our house (2,700sqft house in Oregon)

    List of possible Cuts w/ guesstimates

    1. Drop the tub in the master. Go for a bigger closet or bigger bedroom (~$2,500)
    2. Cut the double sinks in the hall bath (~ $500)
    3. More Carpet (~ $2,000) Complete guess from our situation
    4. Downgrade fixtures (~$1,500)
    5. If you are in the PNW you don’t need AC (~$5,500)
    6. Go to a single 18’ garage door. Tiny garage doors don’t get used for vehicles, unless your into Motorcycles (~$3,000)
    7. Down grade tile backsplashes or Wayne’s coat (~2,500)
    8. Tile counters in the hall bath and laundry from granite (~ $700)
      Other items for discussion
      -Natural finish on cabinetry vs. a stain
      -Single Interior Color
      -Solid core to hollow core doors
      -Self install landscape
      -Brushed or exposed aggregate concrete (remove sand finish)
      -Appliance Package (Remove wall ovens, Go with standard Refrigerator)
  • PRO
    RES2
    7 days ago

    If you post the actual design drawings and specifications you'll get better answers. A breakdown of the cost estimate would also be helpful. Otherwise your best bet is to ask the contractor.

  • A S
    6 days ago

    If you are already 25k over budget it’s likely you are actually quite a bit more over. You won’t know how close you are to true costs until everything is chosen and priced out. Even then you should have a buffer. In my experience the things we could control were mostly finished. But there is a lot of room within that. Hope you find a way to make this work for you!

  • Mrs Pete
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    The easiest option: eliminate the dormers. You say they're for a future bonus room, which may or may not ever happen. Yes, they look nice, but they're not something you'll appreciate on a daily basis from inside the house.

    Along that same line: Are you building the bonus space flooring NOW so that it can support a room? What about a staircase to reach this future bonus space? Those things may add to your build now.


    Things you could cut to try to reach 25K -- you'll have to sacrifice multiple items to reach your goal:

    - I can't read any dimensions, so I can't consider the size of the spaces.

    - How many kids do you have? If the answer isn't 2+, reconsider the two secondary bedrooms. Keep that room that I assume is a study. Your living space is relatively small, and I think you'll want that "away space".

    - Eliminate the half bath. Your secondary bedroom wing's hall bath is available to guests.

    - Downsize the garage to two cars. The garage is somewhat oversized for the size of the house. A carport would be less expensive ... though it would then eliminate the garage and the dormers with them.

    - Eliminate the garage altogether now ... and add it later as a detached garage, which could enter though the back porch.

    - Switch the French doors to the back porch to a slider. The newer "gliders" do not look like the sliding doors of the 1970s.

    - Simplify the layout of the master bath /closet, which are a bit over-the-top anyway. Eliminate the toilet-in-a-closet and downsize to one sink. I would definitely keep the tub ... ours is used every day. That custom shower will be a budget-buster; a nice, simple 5x3' shower is plenty nice.

    - Simplify the kids' bathroom to a simple 3-piece bathroom with all the water in one wall. Downsize to one sink.

    - Downsize the island; a slab that large will cost $$$ for your countertop.

    - Your kitchen cabinets are already going to be pretty simple, but skip fancies like pull-out spice racks. Stay middle-of-the-road in terms of cabinet quality.

    - Go with standard appliances -- forget the large stove I think I see in the plans.

    - Eliminate the fire place -- throwing out ideas; personally, I would not trade these for dormers.

    - Alternately, what kind of fireplace are you considering? An insert is less expensive than a full-fledged masonry fireplace. To-the-ceiling masonry is more expensive than brick or tile just around the firebox itself.

    - Eliminate the porches -- again, personally I would not trade these for dormers.

    - Is the porch to be screened? Eliminate the screen. I have a large back porch similar to the one you propose (it's probably the best part of my house); mine is un-screened and I have never once wished for screens.

    - Downsize the large windows in the bedrooms -- again, not something I'd trade for dormers.

    - Where I would NOT try to save: quality of the exterior build, quality of the windows, quality of the plumbing, or similar items. Also, I would keep the metal roof; it will be more expensive now, but you probably won't replace it ... and that probably means you won't encounter water damage in the future either.

    - This isn't a money-saver, but look over your mudroom /laundry room plans again. This is a heavy-use space, and it looks kinda scrunchy-small. I'd also open a door between the laundry and the master closet ... so many steps could be saved.

  • Donna Collins
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    There are a number of little things that add up quickly; maybe you wouldn't even notice the difference! First, your floor plan and your rendering don't completely match. Assuming the rendering is correct, it shows a bumped-out set of windows on the side of the garage. If you eliminate the bump-out and install the windows in the flat wall, you'd save on concrete and framing. If you need some added dimension on that garage wall, you could add it afterwards in the form of landscaping or perhaps an arbor over the window. Same for the front door bump-out shown in the floor plan. Or, if you want to keep the front bump-out as an entry foyer, I'd consider making it a bit wider so you have room for coat hooks to accommodate guest coats - I see you have no entry closet.

    I'd consider carefully whether you really need the two exterior doors from the master and guest bedroom areas to the back porch. We built a house with that same feature, thinking we'd use the doors all the time, but we never did. Each exterior door (depending on style and material) can easily add $2000 to your overall cost. If you need natural light in those areas, windows are less expensive and more energy-efficient. It's also a lot easier to arrange your porch furniture if you don't have multiple traffic patterns to deal with. Then, go to one set of back porch stairs instead of two. Stairs are expensive; also functionally, I'd give some thought to whether you really want them right next to your bedrooms.

    I don't know whether your finish package includes a fancy closet system for either the master or the guest rooms, but those are very expensive and also easy to add later. They're also quite easy to install as a DIY, which saves a whole load of money.

    Your big ticket item is the roofing, which appears to be standing-seam metal. Great roofing! However, if you're trying to save money, architectural shingles will probably cut your roofing costs by 50%.


    Finally, if you have a wide enough lot, I'd consider moving the garage doors to the other side of the garage, which will allow you to have a front garden and give you easier access into and out of the garage (no house in the way!).

  • PRO
    Labra Design Build
    5 days ago

    Instead of having three tiny dormers have one longer one which would cost less.