Space costs money a smaller house will not just save on the cost of materials (quantities of everything from bricks to roof tiles, plasterboard to flooring), but will reduce labour costs and take a shorter time to build, reducing finance, rental and hire fees. Make maximum use of the floor area that you can afford a good designer or architect will be able to come up with design ideas that make the best possible use of limited space.
Stick to a Simple Design
Awkward shapes add to build costs. So fiddly shaped roof configurations, complicated house designs, non-standard window and door openings and even difficult or unusual internal spaces should all be avoided where possible all push labour costs up.
Of course you should not consign yourself to building a box but bear in mind that the more complicated your design looks on plan, the higher the quotes you receive will be.
In small homes, corridor space is relatively expensive. When you have a limited budget, squeezing as much usable space as possible out of your home is important, so keep circulation space to a minimum consider an open plan layout, with combined functions such as a dining hall and breakfast kitchen.
Build it Yourself
The most successful budget projects are often characterised by one factor the self-builders took on as much of the work themselves as possible. If you are willing to sacrifice your evenings, weekends and holidays, you will inevitably save money, but you should only take on tasks you are skilled in, and must avoid holding up the professionals. In most instances, the best savings are made by either labouring on site or fitting finishing products. Every hour you devote will save an hours labour charge.
Many self-builders choose to do away with a main contractor and find they save a significant amount of money by acting as project manager, hiring subcontractors themselves and buying in the materials. This can work very well providing you research what you are doing and can commit time to being on site.
Be Prudent with Design Fees
Failing to invest in quality drawings is a false economy, however, you do not need a top flight architect to design a simple house. You can find a designer who will work for just a few thousand pounds for a full design service. Try and negotiate a fixed fee for an all-in planning and building regulations drawing service. This should give adequate information for a builder to work to, providing the design is simple.
Use Good Quality Materials, Not Expensive Ones
You don’t have to pay the earth for materials both internally and externally of high quality. Establish what you want and then source less expensive alternatives. From an exterior point of view, brick and render tend to be the cheapest options; reconstituted materials are usually far cheaper than their natural equivalents. Stick to off-the-shelf items rather than bespoke doors, windows and staircases.
When it comes to the interior there is no excuse to go over your allocated budget. Kitchens and bathrooms from DIY superstores and builders merchants tend to be much cheaper than those from most specialist manufacturers and if you choose wisely, no one will know the difference. You can always add a touch of luxury by choosing nice taps and door handles, and more expensive cupboard doors. Spend the money where it matters most: where you can see it and touch it.