Everyone’s seen a 70s-era pre-fab home. Maybe it was your parents’ or grandparents’ place, frozen in your memory with peeling yellowed wallpaper, buckling linoleum, and rickety metal stair rails. The cheap, poor quality home building materials used in most of these homes don’t stand the test of time, driving down the value of home prices and turning off potential buyers. Taking on a renovation project to eliminate the remnants of laminate “wood-look” paneling, vinyl wallpaper, popcorn ceilings, and other bygone-era finishes can be difficult and time consuming.
This article belongs to the Construction Process Series
The biggest reason these old finishes need expensive updating isn’t that they are just old; houses from the turn of the 20th century still boast magnificent turned-wood banisters, gleaming marble floors, and leaded-glass windows. The biggest cause of their fall out of style is that they were shoddy stand-ins for quality materials! Using top-quality materials should be a priority, regardless of your budget. Using cheap, low-quality materials can depress your home’s resale value and cost more over the long term in replacement and repair costs. A great home builder will get creative with the design and planning of your home to help keep your building costs down while still using top-quality materials.
High Quality Substitutes for Traditional Materials
Many traditional high quality materials, like hardwood floors, granite countertops, and slate flooring are extremely expensive. But just because you don’t have the budget to outfit your home with these high end products doesn’t mean you can’t use quality materials. Many alternate materials are much more affordable while still being long lasting and durable. If you can’t afford high end hardwood flooring, for example, you might consider bamboo; instead of marble or slate, think about ceramic tile. These are better alternatives than cheap imitations of expensive-looking materials, which can be easily damaged.
You can also explore salvaged, refurbished, and reclaimed options, which can be not only cost effective but also environmentally responsible. A lot of reclaimed hardwoods (especially wood from old buildings) is “old growth” wood, meaning that the trees may have been as old as 300 years when they were harvested. Most modern lumber comes from tree farms, where trees are harvested and milled as soon as they reach a usable size—often after about 25-40 years. Old growth wood, like longleaf pine and hard maple, looks richer and more beautiful and is much harder and more durable.
Reclaimed wood can be an affordable way to obtain old growth woods that are rare, expensive, and difficult to obtain. New American chestnut, for example, experienced a nationwide outbreak of chestnut blight in the early 1900s that killed billions of trees. As a result, it became very hard to find—and very pricey. Using reclaimed wood from homes built before the blight allows you to use this beautiful, unusual wood at a lower price point (and to incorporate the wood’s quirky history into your home).
Ask Your Home Builder for Creative Solutions
A great way to reduce costs and still use luxurious materials and finishes is by adapting your design to use smaller quantities of that material. For example, while large slabs of marble are very expensive for kitchen countertops, smaller pieces or “remnants” are much more affordable. A builder who can design your kitchen using smaller areas of marble counters and incorporating an island topped with butcher block or other material can reduce your materials costs dramatically while still incorporating quality, long-lasting finishes. Using hand-painted tiles as an accent pattern in a backsplash with more neutral stone tiles can make a dramatic impact without the dramatic price tag.
Your home should be a reflection of your tastes, lifestyle, and values. Quality materials help your custom home showcase your personality! Not only will your new construction be a timeless, enduring home for your family, it will retain its value better than a cheap, prefab home. When you choose your custom home builder, choose one who prioritizes quality materials in the design and construciton process.
Homes by Brill is a quality custom home builder with 37 years of experience building homes in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro area. We will help you through the entire home design and build process. Contact Homes by Brill today to get started on your own custom home!