Forgive me if I don’t post something every day for the next couple of weeks. I’m away from home performing some military training with the Air National Guard, but will try to make an occasional post and respond to your comments (that’s a hint for you to comment!)
The next several posts are going to cover a few ways to save money in each of the categories I listed here. First, we’re going to take a look at plans and permits. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve used the word plan an awful lot…that’s because it’s really important! Don’t move any dirt, don’t cut a board, and don’t drive a nail until you have some sort of plan! A plan doesn’t necessarily mean a complete set of architectural blueprints, but you do need to have your idea put down on paper, along with some measurements and details. Now, I’ve got to be honest…I haven’t always done this. When we added on to the back of our farmhouse, we based our addition on the amount of salvage flooring that we had…so we added a 28′ x 28′ addition, without any sort of plan for the inside! We built the floor, exterior walls and roof, and then finished the inside a year later!
It did work out in the long run, but definitely presented its challenges along the way – like being limited on options like room sizes and configurations, etc.
Now, you may think that I’m going to tell you to draw your own plans to save money. That is one option. With the variety of software programs out there and a little practice, you can draw a very professional looking set of construction drawings. However, we have architects and draftsmen for a reason…they know some of the typical details and specifics of buildings. How many of you know how deep a closet should be? Or what size doors to install? Or where to place windows? Or how much space should be in front of a toilet? These are all details that you can learn (that’s some of what I’ll be teaching you over time!), but they’re things that most architects are already familiar with…and having those things planned and designed correctly up front will save you time and money. Let me give you one example.
Several years ago, my dad’s house burned to the ground. We designed his new house in a cool design program. It looked really good on paper! But, we didn’t pay a lot of attention to the exact dimensions of the rooms…we just made them about the size we thought they should be. We wanted the bedrooms to be decent sized, so they were all over 12′ in each direction. The problem was, they were 12’1″ or 12’2″ in each direction. Just in case you’re not familiar with construction materials, most come sized in 4′, 8′, 12′ widths, etc. Well, sheetrock doesn’t stretch…so rather than having a nice, easy, sheetrock hanging job, we had to make a lot of splices – which created more work in both cutting and finishing the sheetrock. Guess what else? Carpet comes in 12′ widths! If only we had paid attention and made the rooms 1 or 2 inches narrower, we could have saved a lot of time and money!
SO, how can you save money on plans? Drawing your own is an option, but be sure to learn all you can about design. You can do this by looking at the THOUSANDS of sample floor plans available on sites like HousePlans.com, BuilderHousePlans.com and CoolHousePlans.com. Or just google House Plans. You can look at a preview of the floor plans for free. If you find one you like, BUY IT! If you just want a few changes, most of them can be modified for a fee. The plans are drawn by architects, and they are cheaper than having custom plans drawn.
Stay tuned for next time when I’ll talk about Permits.