Of all the things my clients struggle with when it comes to their home, building materials rank near the top. A lot of customers come to me and ask, almost right off the bat, how much I charge per square foot, and I have to politely explain why worrying about the cost per square foot to build a house is nonsense.
But even for those who understand that the quality of the materials dictates how much the house is going to cost, I still think there can be a big disconnect between how much a certain material or component costs, the quality of it, and how that will affect the home in the long run.
Building a house is complicated — it takes a long time, it’s an involved process with many steps, and, because you’re building a custom house, working in the custom pieces and making sure everything is going to work exactly as planned within the design can be more time consuming than one might expect.
A lot of customers wonder how long it’s going to take to build their house, having heard horror stories about custom builds taking months or years longer than they should have.
Fortunately, we work in Texas, a fairly unregulated market, which, when combined with our process, allows us (usually) to deliver a finished product in about 4–5 months.
And, just generally when it comes to home building, the materials you choose play a large role in not only how quickly we can build your home, but also in the quality of the final product, the likelihood of problems cropping up during the build, and the likelihood of problems appearing in the future.
Home Building — The Materials You Choose Make All the Difference in the World
Most of my customers have a dream for their home. While some may have everything sketched out before they ever meet me, others have a sort of vague idea of what they want, and I work with them to flesh out a plan that taps into that idea and transforms it into a dream that can be realized.
But, when you really start to dig into the details of someone’s dream home, those details are usually either big picture or mostly aesthetic.
That is, people are thinking about a grand plan that includes a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms and closets, maybe arranged in a specific way, and they have a few ideas for some specialty rooms or areas that align with some of their interests or activities.
From the aesthetic side, they’ve got a particular style or look in mind, and that look may coincide with certain types of components or materials that you’d usually find with that aesthetic. For instance, if someone wants a modern industrial look, they’re probably going to want some bare steel beams, some visible pipes, possibly some brick walls.
But, when you start the process of turning dream into reality, in both cases, you usually see that they’ve only thought about the flashy stuff — the finishing materials that you see every day, the ‘stuff’ that you see on a daily basis.
They don’t think about the guts of the house, the wiring, the insulation and plumbing, the HVAC system, the foundation, the frame — all those things that you take for granted when you see a home.
But those guts, the skeleton of the house — those are the pieces of your home where quality matters most.
When It Comes to Home Building, Materials That Are Cheap Up Front Cost You in the Long Run
Nowhere in your life is it more important to pay a higher cost up front to ensure you get a quality product than when buying a home. If you’re building a custom home, you likely plan to live there for quite a while — you don’t want it to require constant repairs (or any repairs!), so it’s critical that you choose quality from the beginning.
For many customers, a custom home is the last home they ever plan to own, a retirement home or a dream home that they want to live in for a long, long time — why skimp on something that important?
The materials that you use to build your home are going determine exactly how comfortable your experience owning a custom home is, and the pieces of your home that you may be tempted to skimp on are exactly the pieces that you should consider paying more for in order to get a quality product.
Those pieces, of course, are the guts, the skeleton of your house. Wiring, drywall, the frame, plumbing, HVAC equipment — this stuff isn’t fun or flashy for most customers, but it matters more than you can imagine.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen customers go with cheap HVAC equipment, for example, so they’d be able to spend more on the interior, only to have to rip that gorgeous interior to shreds in order to get to the malfunctioning HVAC equipment behind the walls a few years later.
It’s distressingly common, but the fact of the matter is, you get what you pay for.
If you go cheap on the foundational pieces of your house, you’re eventually going to have to pay an arm and a leg to fix it all.
It’s very possible you’re going to have to rip up your beautiful interior along the way, and, if you really skimp in the wrong areas and run into a bit of bad luck, the whole house might be a wash.
Now, I would never let that happen with my customers — I know better than to allow someone to build with materials that I know aren’t right for the job or the location — that’s what a good design-build firm does.
But you might not be working with me.
You might be working with some other firm in some other state that is more than happy to let you shoot yourself in the foot if it means they get a sale.
So, if you get nothing else from this article, please get this — if you can’t afford to pay for quality foundational building materials to build your dream home, then you can’t afford your dream home yet, and you need to wait until you can.
Because, if you don’t, your short-term happiness is going to turn into long-term misery.
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