Where You Shouldn't Cut to Save Money on Your Custom Home

    When building a custom home on your land, it can be tempting to try to save money on things that seem like simple items or commodities. Some of those things are indeed commodities (like wall studs), but some are critical even if they seem simple or unimportant. 

    I'll give you a couple of examples.

    #1. Dirt work.

    Seems simple enough, right? Plus you probably have a cousin or an in-law who owns a tractor or bulldozer, and he said he'd give you a good deal. Very tempting.

    Here's the reality: Drainage has a huge impact on the performance of the most critical element of your home, which is the foundation. Especially here in central Oklahoma, where we have expansive clay soils that shrink and swell significantly with changes in moisture content.

    With bad drainage, the soil under the foundation will heave and shrink. That can move your foundation up and down, which can cause cracking in your bricks and drywall, make doors stick, and generally cause a lot of grief. Even if the soil near the foundation drains perfectly, a poorly graded site can lead to soil erosion, low spots that hold water, or even limited access to your house during wet seasons.

    #2. Mechanical, electrical, or plumbing.

    These systems are simply too important to skimp on, both for installation and for the fixtures you choose. I've seen clients buy fancy faucets, fixtures, and even steam saunas they've found at a bargain price from some supplier in China.

    One gentleman bought a fancy body-spray shower faucet, and the city wouldn't allow our plumber to install it because it didn't meet the requirements of the current energy code. Another family got a good deal on faucets for the entire house only to find out more than half of them leaked and had to be repaired.

    Cost of Building a Home

    Yes, everyone wants to get the most house for their money. But if you take the long view and look at overall cost, it's not just about the price tag on a particular item. Is it actually going to work? Is it going to hold up over time, or will you find yourself replacing it in a year or two?

    Be sure to think about the long term before you cut corners on things that seem unimportant, because they may turn out to be very important.

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