money monster Cutting Home-Building Costs
Stretch your dollars as far as they can go when planning your log home.
by: Charles Bevier

Value engineering—or dollar stretching, as it is more affectionately referred to—is a time-honored concept when it comes to building a home. The tough part, of course, is figuring out which choices to make. There are, however, a range of cost-cutting tricks. These include:

1. Reduce the square footage of your home:
Think small and cozy to slash costs. Also, instead of building outward (ranch design), create a two-story masterpiece. You’ll typically save money this way. Still need more space? Don’t forget the basement; you can pick up space without spending more.

2. Choose one of the log home producer’s stock plans
: Custom designs cost more in design time, materials and labor. Plus, stock plans have been built before, so errors have been eliminated.

3. Decrease the number of logs you use
: Most prospective home owners often overlook the fact that they can add decorative stone, cedar shake or stucco to reduce costs. These steps also will dramatically complement your logs.

4. Create a simple roof system:
A simple, single ridgeline in your roof system is always going to be the least expensive option. Complicated roof systems are more visually interesting but (you guessed it) expensive.

5. Use drywall inside:
Yes, all that wood in your great room and kitchen looks wonderful, but there’s a price associated with it. While you don’t have to use drywall everywhere, use it in areas that don’t get as much traffic (offices, upstairs bathrooms, some ceiling space). Drywall costs half as much as pine tongue-and-groove paneling (cedar paneling costs even more).

6. Build a modest kitchen:
If your budget can’t take the heat, downgrade your kitchen appliances and amenities. Almost everything in a kitchen can be upgraded later.

7. Buy low-cost cabinets:
It’s the little things that will devastate your budget—including expensive cabinetry. We’re not suggesting that you buy cabinets made of balsa wood, but consider more affordable alternatives, and look for seasonal sales at home-improvement centers. Some prospective home owners even buy cabinetry on sale and squirrel it away for a year or more in a storage facility. Remember, you can upgrade your cabinetry several years from now.

8. Scale back your bathroom’s amenities
: Much like kitchens, bathrooms have a variety of materials that can be upgraded later. If you want that jetted tub in the master bath but can’t afford it now, specify a soaking tub of the same size from the same manufacturer. Swapping it out in the future will be a snap.

9. Avoid change orders
: A simple, single ridgeline in your roof system is always going to be the least expensive option. Complicated roof systems are more visually interesting but (you guessed it) expensive.