When building your dream home, it can be difficult to draw the line with your budget.

We see customers struggle to decide where they want to splurge and where they should save. At Elite Custom Builders, we know that ever customer has unique needs — so there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

That said, we do know where your spurge investments will pay off — adding long-term value to your home. You’ll also want to pay attention to value of the other homes in your neighborhood. If you add so many luxury upgrades that your house far out values the neighbors, everyone’s bottom line is affected.

Read on to learn where to splurge, where to save and our top tips for building your dream home on a budget.

#1: INVEST IN THE MOST LONG-LASTING ITEMS

We recommend investing in the most long-lasting items in your home. This means avoiding things that are overly-trendy or fads and instead, investing in:

  • Double or triple glazed windows
  • A better HVAC system
  • High-quality exterior siding (or upgrading to brick)
  • Permanent bathroom fixtures (like the tub/shower)
  • Top-quality insulation
  • Security systems and appliances (unless you’re moving your own, in which case you can replace them later)

Interior trends are becoming increasingly short lived, making details like lighting (think about the Edison Bulb trend), cabinet hardware, elaborate faucets and trendy decorative tiles.

For items like this, we suggest selecting more classic options that will look great in five and even ten years. Should you decide to sell the home, classic options will appeal to a wider range of potential buyers, versus a very trendy look that may not be to everyone’s taste.

#2: BE REALISTIC

If you’ve set your budget at $300,000, a $70,000 kitchen is going to limit you in other areas of house. And perhaps your family spends the most time together in the kitchen and this is worth it for you — but we encourage you to weigh your options.

Do you want to splurge all in one room or spread out the higher dollar investments throughout the house? Some of the long-lasting items we suggested previously aren’t glamorous, but the investments will save you money long-term.

Finally, don’t let your emotions get in the way of making a solid and rational decision. If you have your heart set on a particular countertop for the kitchen, but it’s really making your stretch the budget, consider selecting something with a more modest price tag. You can always upgrade in a year or two.

We always caution our customers against stretching their budget to the max — this won’t leave you any funds for projects like landscaping (if you opt to do it yourself), decorating, any new furniture you may need and most importantly — your new home emergency fund.

#3: TRY NOT TO OVER-CUSTOMIZE

Unless you are completely sure you’ll be staying in the home for a long time (we’re talking 10-15 years or more), we recommend minimizing customizations. Selecting colors and textures that you like is important — we want you to love your home. But with permanent or even semi-permanent items like flooring, cabinets, bathroom fixtures, etc. — we recommend sticking with a more neutral palette, like whites, creams and grays.

Purple carpet and floor to ceiling mirror tiles may not be to everyone’s taste when you’re trying to sell. But you can paint the walls purple, as that’s easy to change. Keep the concept of permanence in mind as you customize your new home.

#4: FIND THE LIGHT

Bigger windows or more windows are always worth the investment — and they’re often not as expensive as you’d think. Natural light enhances any space, making it feel bigger and more airy. We also recommend looking into sky lights or can lights to bring more light into spaces that are difficult to put big windows into (think kitchens because of the cabinets on the wall.)

Natural light is a great investment and will only increase the beauty and selling power of your home — especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Lighting is often overlooked in the bathroom, but just think how nice it would be to get ready in the morning with sunlight pouring in (and, natural light is generally better for makeup application!).

#5: STORAGE

We’ve never heard a customer say that a home has too much closet space or storage. Increased closet size and basement or garage storage is a great investment. You’ll easily be able to keep your home clean and organized — and storage is a great win for resale.

Sometimes, increasing storage will mean you have to sacrifice elsewhere. For example, if you want to increase closet space in all of the bedrooms and have a large pantry, you may need to decrease the size of or completely forgo the formal living room. But think of it this way — how often will you use a formal living room? If the answer is only when entertaining guests, the closets and storage are definitely the better option as they add comfort and ease to your daily life.

building a custom home

We also recommend considering your garage space. While your family may only have two vehicles, a third garage bay can sometimes be a life-saver. It means your garage doesn’t have to be meticulously organized at all times (a relief if you have children with bikes and toys) and also means that when family members visit, they have the luxury of parking inside if they’d like.

Freestanding outdoor storage, like a shed, can always be added at a later time if you decide you need more space. That said, a three car garage is more likely to sell a house than a two car garage — it’s worth considering.

#6: SAVE ON EXPENSIVE DETAILS

We love a classic tray ceiling or crown molding. But ultimately, it’s expensive. We’ve had several customers who didn’t include it in their initial build, but had us come back to install it later. Instead of spending money on expensive details, consider investing in the overall space — high ceilings for example. High ceilings make a space feel bigger and high-end.

Details like built-in cabinets are also incredibly costly. We absolutely love a built-in media center in a family room, but if you have to decide between built-in cabinets or a better quality HVAC system, you know what we’d pick. Instead of the costly built-ins, you can customize your space with free-standing spaces. And of course, you can always commission built-in cabinets at a later time.

#7: THINK LOCAL

Sourcing materials in your town will save you money on shipping and delivery costs. They can also add a unique touch to your home. Visiting your local lumber yard for remnants can save money, as can using remnant countertop pieces for smaller areas like a half bath.

Talk to your contractor about their connections — while you may have your heart set on a particular flooring style available at a specific store, your contractor may have connections to a supplier with a similar product that you can purchase for less. Using their recommendations will also ensure you’re working with a trustworthy company.

#8: ELECTRICAL WORK

We always think it’s worth the additional cost to ensure you have outlets in places that make sense. Upgrading the outlets is also a great feature — think USB outlets for to plug chargers directly into, making a neat and tidy charging station in the kitchen or office. Making sure you have ample outlets in each room will mean you aren’t limited with your furniture layout. If you’ve got a perfect spot for your favorite chair, you don’t want to move it just because it’s blocking an outlet.


Elite Custom Builders | Custom Home Builder | Residential Contractor | Bridgeport, WV | Surrounding Areas

If you’re ready to talk about building a custom home and get advice from a professional, give us a call. Elite Custom Builders has over 70 years of combined experience in the construction industry with a focus on custom homes and residential renovations.

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