To build affordably in Florida, you need a builder who specializes in cost-efficient homes; one who balances low-cost house designs and floor plans with quality materials. It’s crucial not to just focus on saving money in the construction of your home. Ideally, you’ll have a home that is affordable to build – and one that’s built to last.
Can you find an affordable way to build a house in Florida? That goal is more achievable than you think. It just takes a little know-how. Cost-efficient homes aren’t necessarily smaller. Instead, they save money in other ways. Building smarter can be a great way to reduce costs when you build the home and as you maintain it over the years.
First step: find a builder that specializes in cost-efficient homes.
When people think “affordable” in terms of homes, they often think small. There’s a good reason for that: reducing your footprint will lower your construction costs. But when you build smart, you can maximize every square inch. Inefficient design can make a large home feel surprisingly constricted while still being costly, whereas efficient home design can make a moderately sized home feel spacious and roomy.
Builders of cost-efficient homes know how to build in smarter, cost-conscious ways. This doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing your lifestyle. Think about the places you’ve lived in and all the space that’s wasted. What places have you barely used, what corners end up unusable because of ill-advised architectural decisions? What areas end up uncomfortable because of piping or ductwork that takes up too much space?
Take time to investigate low-cost house designs and floor plans. Look at elements like plumbing, electric, and ductwork. How can these be made as compact as possible? These should have little impact on living spaces. Ductwork should be straightforward – the more you have winding around, the more air conditioning you’re wasting. Longer ducts also mean more space in which the air temperature will change. Nice, cold, refreshing AC will warm by several degrees by the time it reaches through all your ductwork. You’ll end up spending much more on cooling (and heating) than you would if your ducts had been designed and built in a compact and efficient manner.
When a home is designed to make the hidden elements as compact as possible, the living space is that much more livable. Not only this, but if you have to confront an electrical short or a leak one day, a more compact system will present less of a challenge. It’s easier to ferret out the problem, which means less expense paid to fix it.
The perfect balance between small design and smart design is a compact design. It’s one that can still afford you spacious areas, but will rely on compact design approaches that reduce many of the hidden costs of both building and operating a home.
Choose an Efficient Floor Plan
You also build smarter by maximizing the usability of every space. Efficiency in terms of low-cost house designs and floor plans means a few different things:
Spaces that serve the same purpose aren’t always necessary. If there’s a living room, a family room, and a den, can two of those be rolled into one? Perhaps a living room and a den is enough. Combine them into one larger multi-purpose space. This doesn’t diminish how the room is used, but it does increase the spaciousness of the space you have. Walls take up an incredible amount of room, and make spaces feel very constricted. This doesn’t interfere with a dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, or any other crucial areas, and it still maintains the luxury of a focused family gathering space as well as a smaller, more private space.
This balance between communal area and private area is important in any home. As long as both options are maintained, then you have comfortable, enjoyable options for family members to be together and stay connected, as well as to find quiet space to get work done, rest, and recharge.
You still want separate rooms for more specific purposes: kitchen, bedrooms, dining room. Those and more are all there. At the same time, constricted communal areas don’t make anyone feel good. Multi-purpose rooms are key to achieving this kind of efficiency of space. By opening these up, you create more space while both taking away some initial costs and making long-term maintenance less expensive. It’s great to have separate spaces where you can watch TV and host a party. Yet if both those spaces are going to feel tight and limited, it’s better to have one larger room where you can make a few quick changes to adapt to any needs. If your office can also serve as a guest bedroom with a few quick adjustments, you’ve just saved on space without impacting your daily life.
Opt for Energy Efficiency
These two elements lead naturally to a third: energy efficiency. When wiring, piping, and ductwork are compact, you’re wasting less energy operating your home. When living space is more open, there are fewer separate areas to cool and heat. Both of these benefits mean there’s less construction material being used and wasted – that’s already a cost savings to start out. Beyond this, you get to save year to year as well.
An energy-efficient home can save you hundreds or even thousands in yearly costs. A floor plan that naturally directs cooling and heating throughout the house without having to do extra work means you don’t have to work your HVAC harder to achieve the same effect. That means a lot of savings off one of the most expensive yearly bills you’ll face.
There’s even a benefit beyond that. By using your HVAC less intensely to achieve the same effect, your equipment will last years longer. That means less future cost in replacement.
On top of this, there’s an even greater savings: homes built with energy-efficient floor plans and performance will build value better in years to come. That means they’ll fetch you a higher sales price down the road, and they’ll maintain their value better should there be any economic downturns.
In other words, compact HVAC and plumbing combined with an energy-efficient floor plan means savings on construction materials, savings on yearly operation of your home, savings by extending the life of your HVAC, and added value to your home should you ever sell it. That’s what’s meant by “build smarter.”
The reason why it’s important to work with experienced home builders is that they’ll be able to identify crucial choices that can make a big difference now and in the future. Some choices are obvious in terms of size, design, and materials. Some are less so. Energy-efficient windows can reduce cooling and heating loss. Planting trees that give you shade on the East and West sides of your house can reduce the heat absorption and thus your cooling costs, but which trees will be best for this?
Another example is choosing the right insulation material. Choosing the right insulation is incredibly important because you aren’t just looking to stop air transfer. You’re looking to stop moisture transfer as well. Moisture in humid air transfers heat more quickly than the air itself does, so an insulation that repels moisture can be a major cost-saver. It can also help protect spaces from mold and mildew accumulation – which helps you avoid major potential expenses.
It even comes down to appliance choice. An experienced builder of cost-efficient homes can help you choose the best appliances to meet the needs of your household and your budget.
Many of these choices also deeply impact a home’s value over time. Energy-efficient homes will retain their value, riding out down economic times with more stability than homes without this advantage. During strong economic times, these homes will build value faster and stay relevant on the market well into the future.
Be Thoughtful About Storage
One big oversight in homes that waste their space is storage. Many homes provide extra square footage by eliminating storage space. This begins to misrepresent the nature of the home. Without enough storage space, things get left everywhere. Rooms have to be converted into storage rooms and suddenly all that extra square footage you thought you had isn’t really usable in your everyday life.
Storage areas vastly increase the size of a home, and therefore the costs to build, maintain, and operate it. They rack up expense quickly. Some homes are even half storage space – think about how people use attics and basements vs. living spaces. Too much storage space can balloon the cost of your home.
It’s important to think about whether you need all the things you want to store, and whether it might be more cost efficient to store them outside your home. The more attic, basement, closet, and cabinet space you have, the more expensive your home is to build and the less efficient it is to maintain and operate. You don’t have to get rid of all the things you want close by you and your family – that wouldn’t be any fun.
It is important to ask yourself questions about whether you need access to certain things year-round, or if you’re done using them. This can help cut down on need for storage space, on living space clutter, all while making your life a little easier and your wallet a little happier.
Cost-efficient homes prioritize storage so that the space you have is the space you’ll continue to have. Ample storage means you always have space to put something away. You’re not always looking for it; you know where it is because there’s a specific space for it. This can drastically decrease everyday stress.
Many homes are impractical when it comes to providing you storage space. Cost-efficient homes know they have to provide this so that you get the absolute most out of your living area.
The affordable way to build a house in Florida isn’t just to buy all the cheapest elements and assume they’ll last. This is a quick way to having to re-build a house in Florida. You don’t want that. A better way to think about cost-efficient homes is to think of them as cost-effective homes.
For instance, if a slightly more expensive insulation will save you on cooling costs, it can be worth it. This is both cost efficient and cost effective. Energy-efficient windows can cost a little more, but pay themselves off quickly when the summer gets hot and damp. By holding the cool air in so much better, they save you on the money of owning your home.
Be willing to focus on a larger multi-purpose room as the core of your home. This may mean one larger room instead of two smaller ones, but people are generally much happier with this kind of set-up. It makes your home feel spacious and more social while still maintaining all the more private spaces that allow your family to relax.
Balance the costs of building your home with the costs of operating it, and you’ll have a perfect, cost-efficient Florida home.
If you have more questions about energy- and cost-efficient homes, ask the experts at Synergy Homes. We’re here to help!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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