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How To Save Money Building Your Own House

Updated on September 30, 2012


Building a house is an extremely tedious and expensive venture.

Especially today, people want to get the most for their buck and yet have the most to show for it.

There are ways to save big bucks when you're building a home....or anything for that matter.

Let's look at some of the best ways to bring down the high cost of building a home.


If you want to save between 5% and 10% on your new home, the best way to do that is to be your own general contractor. However, in order to do this, you have to have some knowledge of the construction industry and obviously how homes are built.

Some of it is about saving money of course. But other parts of building a home are things like safety, energy efficiency, where you live, what materials will work and which ones won't.

If you have a passing knowledge of construction, you might not be cut out for the job, but if you do think you can handle it, look on line and study more on what it takes to be your own general contractor. If you think you can do it, go for it!

In order to build a house, you have to have property to build it on. Of utmost importance is knowing that any piece of property you want to build on is equipped for building upon!

It has to have access to utilities, drinking water and sewage to be buildable. It also should be looked at in terms of type of soil and location.

For instance, you don't want a home built on soil that is made of primarily silt or soil that will not withstand heavy rains.

You also don't want a house on a slope or too close to the edge where again, with improper soil and the right weather conditions, you could find yourself "moving" whether you liked it or not!

What type of house do you want? Design has everything to do with how much a house will ultimately cost you. It also has to do with whether or not it will fit on a certain piece of property.

For instance, a split-level house will fit on a much narrower piece of property than a ranch style house.

On the other hand, if you're set on a ranch style house because of age and other factors, you'll have to accept that it will probably cost more to build....simply because the foundation for a split level home compared to a ranch style will be about double!

The property of course will have to be wider to accommodate a ranch style home so that is also a consideration in pricing.


Talking it over can save you money. No matter who your builder is, he will most likely be familiar with the concept of a buyer trying to save money!

Be up front from the beginning and once you begin the project, talk about it frequently with him.

Tell him that you want to save money and to do that, you're willing to do many jobs yourself.

Some of the things that you can do yourself to save money?


Here's some of the things you can do to save money when having your house built.

  • Job clean up.  Keeping the areas clean while the house is being built is essential to a timely work schedule.  You can save the workers time by keeping things out of their way and making sure they have free access to what areas they're working on.  It also can assure you that cigarette butts and nails won't get buried under your carpet that you won't discover until years later when you redo the flooring!
  • Painting.  Just about anyone can paint.  If you offer to paint your own house, you'll be saving thousands of dollars right off the top.  Again, make sure you've mentioned this to your builder from the beginning and make arrangements with him about timelines.  You can paint trim, you can paint doors, you can paint walls, and you can paint the entire outside of your house to save money.  Enlist friends, family and neighbors to help and you'll get done even quicker.
  • Flooring.  If you know how to do flooring, ask the builder if you can handle this part of the construction project as well.  Perhaps you know how to lay carpeting or you have a friend who'll do it for peanuts.  Work it out with the builder and save money doing it.  Even if you can't lay tile or you can't put in wood flooring, you CAN buy the supplies on sale and have the materials delivered.  You can negotiate with the builder on how much his subcontractors charge or you can hire someone.....again, a friend or someone who works for less to do the job for you.  By buying discontinued flooring products, you can save buckets of money. 
  • Repurposed materials.  Scour salvage yards, hardware stores or any place you can think of to find used or slightly damaged fixtures, bathroom supplies, and more.  Look online or inquire locally to find out if there are any sources for picking up used supplies or what are called surplus supplies.  You're not only saving money but you're helping the environment as well by recycling.  Also consider buying floor models or remnants of carpeting for example.  As long as it fits and is the right color, it doesn't matter whether it's new or used.
  • Scratch and dent.  Look into scratch and dent stores, online stores, or discount stores such as Costco for appliances.  You need need the best that you can buy but you don't need the best that money can buy.  You can save thousands on appliances by buying them used on Craigslist or eBay.  There are even many floor models or barely used choices to pick from.  Put on your frugal thinking cap to save money on appliances for your new home and then spend the dough to have them installed properly.  Do the same with sinks and tubs, shower enclosures, etc. 
  • Doors and cabinets.  Think salvage for things like cabinets, cabinet doors, doors, windows or window frames, closet doors.  Even lighting fixtures can be refurbished and cleaned up and if you get them at a steal, more money in your pocket.
  • LandscapingGet the yard you want for at least half the price.  Make arrangements with the builder to do your own landscaping work.  If you need help putting up a fence, buy the materials that you want and even stain it yourself, but have the builder hire a subcontractor put that up.  If you know how to put up fencing, do that yourself too.  For all the other landscaping, you can save a ton of money buying your own dirt, sod, trees and plants.  You'll just need the sweat of your brow and your elbow grease to make it all work.  Look online for resources on gardening and landscaping or consult with local nurseries and rock yards.  They even have classes at stores like Home Depot and Lowe's that can be invaluable sources when it comes to landscaping or how to build things for landscaping. 
  • Decking.  If you think you can put up your own deck, do it.  If not, have the builder pay a subcontractor to do it but see if you can't be the apprentice.  There are all kinds of odd jobs that you can do to save money but make sure you're clear on how much of a discount you'll get for your help before investing your time and sweat.  The great thing about being an apprentice on your own house building is that you learn all kinds of tricks and tools that you can apply someday to something else or advice you can give someone else on how to build their own home.


No matter what major or minor ways you can save money building a new home, there is really no limit to what you can do.  

The most important point is having a builder who is willing to work with you on saving money! You'll get the house of your dreams and you'll save money too.  It's a win-win situation.

Do your homework and always buy on sale or get the best deal possible. 

Don't discount online shopping and even coupons or rebates from major manufacturers if you're buying high end ticket items like doors or windows. 

Try and invest in energy efficient products for your home and even check with your local energy company to find out if there are certain products that are eco-friendly which might also offer discounts or tax credits. 

Also ask about rebates from the electric company on energy-efficient products or tips on who to buy from. 

Building a house is one of the most expensive things you'll ever encounter but with a little creativity and some work, you can save money! 

If you have more money-saving tips on how to save money when building your own house, please leave your comments below and enhance this article.


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    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Thank you so much, EuroC~!

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Great Hub! Thanks! We have property and this hub got the light bulbs flashing. Very well written, easy to understand and informative.

      Up and Across!!!!!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Asalexander--thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment~

      JMartin--glad to be of help--hope you get to use the info!

      Khmoshsin--Thank you for your comment and hoping you too find the info helpful down the road.

    • profile image

      khmohsin 5 years ago


      I have read different hubs regarding saving money but your way of saving money really awesome and have the real home saving tips. I think that better planning based on the research in making home will cut the actual budget and the professional contractor would be more better than a new one.

      Thanks for sharing the ideas voted and liked

    • jmartin1344 profile image

      jmartin1344 5 years ago from Royal Oak, Michigan

      Recently saw a total success story with a friend who did this with his new wife. I definitely want to do the same one day. I'll save this hub in my favorites for when the time comes! Great hub, very detailed!

    • Asalexander profile image

      Amanda Alexander 5 years ago from The South

      Great hub! Thanks for the information!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Definitely from the ground up then, eh? Yikes~ Maybe I could opt for a dirt floor---no way with my dogs!

    • Doodlehead profile image

      Doodlehead 5 years ago from Northern California

      Akirchner---I took a class once on building a house, and we met at a place where the instructor was building their home and it was so....ummmmmm BASIC! He had the string al laid out and it was very reminiscent of how life through the ages has not changed in that even we have all these modern electronic conveniences, the whole thing still starts out with digging in the dirt!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Doodlehead~ I know--we've done so much remodeling it's insane....I would love though to do it from the 'ground up' just once in my lifetime~ Fingers crossed!

    • Doodlehead profile image

      Doodlehead 5 years ago from Northern California

      This is a fun hub for those of us who have thought about building our own homes and for the rest of us who have remodelled (sort of built!) our homes. Great hub to keep as a reference.

    • cost-segregation profile image

      cost-segregation 5 years ago from USA

      Thank for sharing nice information about building your own dream house and After reading your tips and tricks , i have planed to start financial planning seriously.

    • Bldg an Architect profile image

      Bldg an Architect 5 years ago

      Great tips! Although I'm not sure being your own general contractor is within the reach of most people. It does require a bit of knowledge.

    • bruzzbuzz profile image

      bruzzbuzz 6 years ago from Texas , USA

      Saving 5% to 10% on construction of your house would be a lot of money in today's world. This is a great hub that tells us what we need to know. I am voting this hub up and useful.

    • profile image

      TP Rep 6 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. might be a bit much for me to take on - probably painting is about my top level.

      Was an interesting article for me because I'm currently working on a new website ( ). This site is a property website, but I will have a news section with useful things like this. Do you mind if I use some knowledge gained from this article to give toher people tips? Thanks

    • profile image

      estate agents 6 years ago

      hey akirchner... The most important point is having a builder who is willing to work with you on saving money and not letting your costs get out of control. Planning your budget is one thing but sticking to it is another. Nice article..

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Washington

      Brent - That sounds like a great career to have and I know what you mean....some people are dumber than a blunt nail and get into trouble. I'm speaking of folks who actually know what they are doing and know what workmanship means to a home. Thanks for your comment.

    • Brent Stone profile image

      Brent Stone 6 years ago

      I've spent the last 20 years fixing owner builders houses after they get the project completely out of control. Many people think its easy until the cost spiral and workmanship is second rate. I have made a great business saving people..Bring on the so called cost savings..

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Hanna - somehow I seriously doubt it~!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Audrey with all your articles of saving and now building your own home there will be a lot of bankrupt businesses soon out there lol

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Darski...Bob always talked about doing this and I wish we could one of these days. It might be too late but over the years, we've had so many projects. He is really good about being the folks' helper/apprentice, so I have no doubt that he would be great at the other jobs, too! Just need to win that lottery I guess!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Hello yes not only could you save money building your own house, but how much fun would it be, to design the way you want everything laid out and organized to fit your lifestyle. Great hub and great research. Love & peace darski

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Wildiris - I do understand from your point of view but I'd like to think that I would make the right decisions because I've been through a few houses or two or.....

      I totally get your point of view though and from that side of it, it must be awful!

      I think there is a fine line between saving money and being SMART and then what I was trying to emphasize here....having a real relationship with your builder.

      Thanks so much for commenting and I think your comment has a lot of important information!

    • profile image

      WildIris 7 years ago

      I loath to leave a less than favorable comment, but as the wife of a contractor, the worst clients are those who want to cut corners and be the owner/contractor. Typically these clients make poor choices, are fearful of being taken advantage of by contractors, and often the well meaning client wanting to lend a hand just makes for more work. Most of what you describe above takes place during the design, planning and permit process long before ground is broken.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Thank you, Wayne - we've always wanted to do this...maybe someday!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      Lots of good ideas and advice here for the adventureous and strong of back...well written too!