New Home Cost: Cheaper than Expected?

New Home Cost: Cheaper than Expected?

“When the price is higher, people tend to focus on the things that make it higher. When the price is lower people tend to focus on things explaining why it’s lower,” William Poundstone wrote in his book, Priceless. Which do you want? Prospective buyers touring your homes to figure out why your prices are cheaper, or having them appreciate what makes your homes more expensive?

In most markets, national/production builders can offer what appears to be the “best prices.” Rightfully so, as they may enjoy economies of scale that can provide certain cost advantages in terms of land, building products, and even labor. The model homes are attractively presented, consumers notice the Delta faucets and Whirlpool appliances, and the sales representatives show how easy it would be to own one of their homes. (Photo courtesy: Delta Faucet)

Delta faucet

Some of these builders deliver an outstanding value, but oftentimes, in checking online reviews and apps such as Next Door, the builder’s reputation, quality, and customer service may be suspect. Buyers reason that is how the builder can price their homes cheaper. Aware of this, some buyers will accept those risks and buy on price; others rule out that builder, fearing the potential disappointment and regret.

If you’re not the lowest price builder in your market, your challenge is to help possible buyers identify what makes your homes more expensive. Those factors, if they matter to the buyer, will help them justify choosing you, so you may also need to help those folks appreciate why you build that way and/or include those amenities. Remember, buyers buy on emotion and subsequently justify those decisions rationally. Wanting to buy a home based on factors other than the lowest price is emotional.

Hy-Lite Awing Window

Some of the factors might be obvious – the Craftsman touches add to their home’s curb appeal. They fall in love with the look, can’t wait for their friends to see it, and value aesthetics. Other factors might require demonstration – the glass block windows (photo courtesy: Hy-Lite®) in the suite’s bathroom that provide both light AND privacy, plus crank out for fresh air, too! Factors might even be hidden – like the high performance insulation that will make their home more comfortable to live in, and is estimated to save them $XX monthly in utilities, giving them “bragging rights” as well as appealing to their desire to be environmentally responsible.

So, how do you make sure new home shoppers become aware the many reasons your home is a better value, even when it is more expensive? Besides the obvious model home tour, focus on rapport and trust. Rapport is a two-way street. The buyers want to know more about you, your company, and the homes you build. On the flip side, they’ll appreciate talking with someone who listens, cares, and truly has their interests at heart. Trust takes a little longer, though most people initially believe people they meet are trustworthy until they have reason to doubt. Knowledge of home building and your models is an important component of establishing trust. So is discovering things you have in common with the hopeful buyers (e.g., affiliations, schooling, interests, hobbies, preferences, etc.) – such similarities can go a long way with both rapport and trust. People like to do business with others like themselves. Transparency also aids in building trust, especially when it comes to pricing. Think pre-priced options and upgrades. Intriguing signage in your model home that calls attention to a specific feature that might be overlooked or under-appreciated can aid your buyer’s learning about amenities they would really want, but may not have even been aware of, further establishing trust.

As a business thought-leader and author, Seth Godin points out, price is a story, “People form assumptions and associations based on your pricing.”

Hyundai’s pricing strategy is very different from that of Mercedes Benz, and they sold a million and a half more vehicles world-wide last year than Mercedes. Yes, people form assumptions about Hyundai and Mercedes vehicles based in part on their pricing. But Mercedes sales pros probably aren’t losing any sleep over Hyundai prices!

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(Product spotlights are for informational purposes only.)

Healthier Home = Healthier Household

Healthier Home = Healthier Household

How your choices affect the cost of your new home.

With all four children plus mom suffering from asthma and allergies, Paul and Cindy opted to invest $3,000 in a high-performance air filter and air purification system when building their new home. They feel it was the best choice they made, particularly when it cut their family’s dependence on maintenance and rescue medications in half! We rarely appreciate feeling good and take our health for granted. Learning about some of the healthy choices to consider is the first step to making the best new home investment decision.

Indoor Air Quality is becoming an increasingly important aspect of new homes. Today’s tighter homes can potentially trap airborne pollutants, from annoying odors to molds, pollen, and bacteria. An estimated half of illnesses are directly related to or aggravated by the air we breathe. These same pollutants can trigger adverse reactions in the 40% of U.S. households having one or more members suffering from asthma, allergies, or another respiratory ailment. Some of today’s building materials and furnishings can release chemicals bothersome to sensitive individuals, or harbor indoor air pollutants. Wise product choices can greatly reduce indoor air quality problems.

Eliminate Sources of Air Pollution. The first step is to improving air quality is to eliminate sources of possible indoor air pollution, removing paints, cleaning chemicals, gasoline, pesticides, etc., from inside the home. If they will be kept in an attached garage, you will want to ensure the garage is air-sealed from the walls/ceiling of adjoining living spaces in the home.  

Bed Covers. Bedding can be a significant source of allergens. Dust mite allergy is the most common allergy, and there are two million dust mites in the average double bed! Many doctors recommend a mite-proof box spring and mattress and pillow encasings. 

Radon. According to the U.S. EPA, radon, a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless gas causes an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. It is a radioactive gas that is produced from the breakdown of uranium in the ground and leaks into the home through the foundation. The EPA has developed a nationwide, county-by-county map indicating potential radon levels broken into levels 1 (most serious), 2, and 3. (See map at right.) Adding radon-resistant construction features typically add $350 to $1,000 to the cost of building a new home (Source: EPA).

Radon Zone Mape

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Air Filtration. Filtering the air you breathe is the second step for improving indoor air quality. Air filter effectiveness is expressed by its MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) Rating, which describes the filtering effectiveness of increasingly smaller particles. MERV ratings range from 1 to 20, with higher numbers doing a better job of filtering more (and smaller) particulates in the air. Traditional furnace air filters are designed to protect the furnace—not people. Typical ‘disposable’ one-inch fiberglass filters have a MERV rating of between 1 and 4. One- to two-inch pleated filters with MERV ratings between 7 and 12 will remove most harmful contaminants (e.g., mold, dust). Yes, you won’t have to dust as often! Larger pleated filters with MERV ratings of 13 and higher can capture bacteria, smoke, and some viruses. But higher MERV ratings are not always good. Because they are so effective at filtration, they actually restrict airflow, causing furnaces and air conditioners to have to work harder and operate for longer periods of time to achieve comfortable temperatures. Filters with MERV 13+ ratings should be used only when the HVAC system has been designed for such high filtration.

Air Purification. Air purifiers, the third step in improving air quality, destroy bio-aerosols. Most models employ ultraviolet (UV) light(s) around which air passes prior to being circulated through the ductwork. Bio-aerosols, mold, viruses, and other live organisms in the air exposed to UV light for a long enough period of time are destroyed. Installations wherein the UV light is adjacent to the air filter may work best, where the UV light can kill living organisms trapped in the filter.

MicroPure Air Purifier

MicroPure®: MX4™ Ionic Oxidation utilizes propriety metallic technology and UV light energy to naturally produce ionic air scrubbers and destroy many indoor pollutants, such as bacteria, viruses, mold, VOC's, mildew, allergens, and odors.

(Photo courtesy of Dust Free)

Wise Product Choices can help minimize potential problems.

  • Enamel-coated wire closet shelving is highly preferable to particleboard shelving. Particleboard can off-gas chemicals and block air currents moving in the closet. With wire shelving, there is no outgassing and air moves between clothes hanging in the closet, helping them stay fresher, longer.
  • Factory prefinished wood floors give off little or no VOCs—a problem that can continue for up to 6 months after finishing traditional wood floors on site.
  • Low-VOC or no-VOC paints and adhesives.
  • Use a mildew-resistant paint in the basement.
    (Photos courtesy of Sherwin-Williams; click on the image to enlarge.)
  • Frameless shower doors are not only elegant, but easier to clean and keep clean because they eliminate the frame and its glass seal where contaminates can breed.


Sherwin-Williams Harmony Paint
  • Energy-efficient sealed, outside air combustion natural gas fireplaces, furnaces, and water heaters utilize a special vent pipe to bring outside air into the combustion chamber to feed the fire, and all products of combustion are exhausted out of the house instead of potentially spilling (‘backdrafting’) into the home. An illustration may be helpful. Let’s assume you build a fairly tight home. With the clothes dryer, bathroom exhaust fans, or kitchen range hoods running, you are likely exhausting more air from the home than can naturally leak in, causing the home to depressurize. Traditionally vented gas appliances cannot vent the products of combustion outside if the home is depressurized.
  • Touchless faucets and toilets help minimize the spread of germs. (Photos courtesy of American Standard and Delta Faucet; click on image to enlarge.)
  • A seamless integral sink formed of the same material as the countertop eliminates the seam or rim, which is an area that’s often hard to clean and where mold and bacteria can grow.
American Standard Toilet, Delta Faucet

Fresh Air Exchangers. A fresh air exchanger expels potentially stale, polluted indoor air and brings in fresh outdoor air at a controlled rate. Some models incorporate a high-performance air filter, filtering out any contaminants and allergens in the outside air before it is circulated through your home.

Lighting. Most of us underestimate the importance of natural light. Windows not only connect us to the world around us, they are very important for health. The number of windows, their sizes and placement, open design concepts, transom windows between living spaces with walls, and even lighter interior colors all increase light levels in the home, known to reduce eyestrain, headaches, and fatigue. According to lighting pioneer Dr. John Ott, the UV rays in natural light actually help our bodies absorb calcium and reduce cholesterol.

Water Purification. “Although the U.S. has one of the safest drinking water systems in the world, there are an estimated 4-32 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) per year from public drinking water systems,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When looking to purchase water filters, look for those that have been certified by the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency.

Most people rely on the water filtration that comes with their refrigerators. Such filters are typically rated for about 300 gallons, or six months of use, and will set you back $80 to $100 per year for replacement filters. Water filtration systems that attach to the end of your kitchen faucet run around $30 but are typically rated for only 100 gallons before the (approximately $10) filters need to be replaced. For larger households and/or filtered water for cooking, consider under sink water filtration systems that can provide 50 to 100 gallons of filtered water per day for $200 to $300 and expect to spend another $50 or so per year in replacement filters. Whole house systems provide filtered water for all of your needs – drinking, cooking, bathing, and laundry. Often rated 5 to 10 years and from 500,000 to 1,000,000 gallons, such systems are priced between $800 and $1,500, plus you’ll want it installed by a plumber.

Quiet. Due to their superior insulation and air sealing, much of the unwanted clatter that goes on outside cannot be heard inside energy-efficient homes. Few things in life are as important to our health as a good night’s sleep. Having a home free from outside noise not only betters our chances for rest, but the quiet promotes concentration, reduces irritability, and has been shown to have a positive impact on our mental health. Inside our homes, quiet appliances, bath fans, and furnaces reduce ambient noise.  Solid core doors, and various soundproofing measures can be taken during construction to minimize noise transfer from one area to another.

Healthy home product choices typically aren’t as exciting as kitchen and bathroom selections, yet nothing is more important than the health of everyone in our households. As a nation, we spend the majority of our time indoors, so building a healthy home just makes sense. Next time we look at choices for building stronger/safer homes – yet another definition of a high-performance home.

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(Product spotlights are for informational purposes only.)

Cover image courtesy of VELUX.

5 Green Choices that Won’t Break the Bank

5 Green Choices that Won’t Break the Bank

Eco-friendly home upgrades can be beneficial for a variety of reasons for both you and the environment. From installing new systems and appliances to reducing our waste, every green choice we make helps us create a better environment for the planet. It’s important as citizens of this planet that we consider our daily actions and the ways that we can do our small part.

However, these home upgrades can become costly depending on the choices you make. Incurring expenses such as these can be particularly difficult to manage as a new homeowner who has already invested a lot in the house buying process. Because of this, it’s important that you research your options and decide what is best for you. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of green choices to implement into your new home that won’t break the bank.

Check for Proper Installation

When you purchase a new home, it’s always important to have a proper inspection completed. This will help highlight any areas of the house that need improvement. Many home inspectors also offer what’s known as a green home inspection. Ask about these services during your inspection. This can provide an expert opinion on any areas of your home’s structure or systems where efficiency may be lacking, such as leaky air ducts.

It’s important as a new homeowner to be aware of these efficiency gaps so that you can fix them and improve your home’s energy output. Otherwise, air will be able to escape, causing certain systems in your home such as heating, venting, and air circulating (HVAC) to work harder, thus increasing wasted energy, utility bills, and the effect your carbon footprint has on the environment. Thankfully, before you purchase the home you can also get a home warranty, which will help cover any maintenance and repairs of these systems.

Aeroseal - Sealed Ductwork

Photo courtesy of Aeroseal

Invest in Smart Home Technology

Another cost-effective green upgrade is incorporating smart home devices into your home. Whether you choose to purchase a smart thermostat or a smart outlet, these simple devices can help you monitor your energy consumption. Thanks to the increasing demand for smart home devices, they have become more easily accessible and affordable. There is a wide range of vendors to choose from, so be sure to research the difference in these devices’ capabilities before committing to one.

Roost Smart Sensor System

Depending on which devices you choose, you could save an average of 5%-22% annually on your energy bills. The savings you will notice on your energy bills will quickly accumulate enough to pay for your initial investment into these devices.

Photo courtesy: Roost Home Telematics 

Choose Eco-Friendly Lighting and Appliances

One of the easiest home upgrades you can make is switching out your home’s current lighting and appliances for more eco-friendly options. Though LED light bulbs cost a little more, they can last significantly longer than their incandescent counterparts and also use less energy. This project can also be completed in one short afternoon, making it well worth your time. (Photo courtesy: iLumigreen)

iLumigreen Lighting Example

When choosing appliances, you’ll also want to look for the most environmentally friendly options available. Appliances that use less water and energy typically cost about the same as traditional options. Simply ask your local appliance store to show you options that are certified by the federal Energy Star program. These products are labeled with the official Energy Star seal and will be marked as so. This signifies a product that meets the requirements of the program's energy-efficient rating system.

Repurpose Furniture

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 12.2 million tons of furniture and furnishings waste is produced each year. This waste can be hazardous to the environment and producing new furniture only adds to our global carbon footprint. By purchasing used furniture from an antique shop, a thrift store, or simply repurposing an old piece that you or a family member already own, you can  avoid contributing to this growing statistic. By upgrading the fabric and using green-certified paint, you may be surprised to see what potential is hiding in an old piece of furniture. These upgrades can also help you save money on expensive furniture sets.

Evaluate the Landscaping

Many new homeowners tend to only consider eco-friendly upgrades on the interior of their homes, but many external factors can help contribute to lower energy costs too. Properly planning and maintaining your landscaping can help promote an eco-conscious environment for both the exterior and interior of your home. For example, when trees are planted in the right locations, they can help decrease heating and cooling costs. This is because trees create natural shade in the hotter months and when they lose their leaves in the colder months natural sunlight can pass through, helping reduce your heating costs as well.

Choosing to plant trees is an affordable option and also great for the environment. Trees have been proven to reduce pollution, improve air quality, save water, and create a natural habitat for wild animals. (Arbor Day Foundation)

No matter which upgrades you chose to make on your new home, you’ll be creating an eco-friendly environment that is beneficial to your family, the environment, and your wallet. The idea of green home upgrades doesn’t have to equate to large amounts of investment. Thankfully, there are a large number of eco-friendly projects you can do that won’t break the bank.

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Cover photo: <a href=''>Nature photo created by freepik -</a>

Revealing the Real You – Selections for Your Home

Revealing the Real You – Selections for Your Home

How your choices affect the cost of your new home.

While a 2,000 square foot home selling for $350,000 works out to $175 per square foot, all square feet do not cost the same. For example, square feet in the kitchen are much pricier than square feet in bedrooms. Some of that difference is due to the presence of added products such as cabinetry, countertops, and appliances in the kitchen. And some of that difference can be attributed to your choices.

The Minter (#29305) plan has a kitchen measuring 11' x 19'. A basic appliance package (microwave over the range, refrigerator, dishwasher) in stainless steel finish prices out at about $3,000 (retail). But stepping up to a top of the line refrigerator, ultra-quiet dishwasher, microwave with convention cooking, and a serious 6-burner gas range puts the appliance package at $18,000!

Kitchen cabinetry. The size and number of cabinets, style, materials used/wood species, finish, construction features such as dovetail joints, and hardware such as full extension drawers and soft-close hinges all impact cost. Cabinetry in this kitchen would start at about $5,000, with custom cabinets more likely coming in around $12,000 or more.

Minter - #29305

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Countertops. Laminate countertops for this kitchen would start at about $1,200, while solid-surface, granite, or quartz countertops might come in around $2,500 - $3,500 or more. Adding the appliances, cabinetry, and countertops, a budget approach to the Minter’s kitchen totals $9,200; the high-end choices are closer to $33,000. That approximately $24,000 difference works out to more than $12 per square foot in the overall price of the home.

Cedar Pointe - #42389

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Bathrooms. As originally designed, the Cedar Pointe (#42389) plan has a 3' x 5' shower, private toilet area, and 3' linen closet in the rear suite. If you want a bathtub, that same bathroom space can be reconfigured to also have a 5' tub. Is that going to be a $500 or $3,500 tub? By the time you’ve paid for the additional plumbing, faucet, and the 4' x 4' window, you may have added $5,000 to the cost of the home.

Then there’s the same cabinetry and countertop cost drivers illustrated in the kitchen example. Even your bathroom mirror(s) can vary in price by $1,000 or more.

Flooring choices are another area that can affect your new home’s cost significantly, and there’s wide variability in costs even within the same product. Carpeting costs vary by the fiber, style, density, and padding. Hardwood varies due to thickness, wood species, size of the planks, and finish. Tile cost differences show up in ceramic vs. porcelain, tile size, and finish. LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) and LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) have come on strong in recent years due to the combination of durability, looks, and easy care. Several builders offer buyers the choice of LVT/LVP or wood flooring at the same price.

Some choices are more obvious than others. Few amenities can match the ambiance of a fireplace, but to keep price down, dashed lines in the family room of the Womack Springs (#29389) plan show the suggested location of an optional fireplace. Heatilator offers a variety of great looking fireplaces, with electric units starting around $850 and natural gas models running about $1,800 - $6,000+; that’s without installation costs.

Womack Springs - #29389

Or consider lighting. We’ve had clients come to us to design their one-of-a-kind home and they’ve already picked out one-of-a-kind light fixtures. Stunning – both in their looks and price tag. On the flip side, hidden in plain sight, Design Basics’ popular Hepburn (#42065) plan has sixteen 32"-wide interior passage doors, a size that is truly appreciated when moving furniture! Arched, 2-panel, hollow-core molded interior doors cost around $100 each, while their hefty, sound-deadening, solid wood door counterparts are likely going to run you $200+ each. A difference of $1,600 for the Hepburn – with similar looks.

Schulte closet system

Photo courtesy of Organized Living
(Click on image to enlarge.)

Storage and organization. You may not have been thinking about spending extra money in your closets, but storage and organization are a high priority with many home buyers. The standard closet shelving offered by your builder may be perfectly adequate. But a well-designed closet system with just the right amount of double hanging, long hanging, cubbies, shelves, and drawers that are easily reconfigured as needs change can be a beautiful thing that eliminates stress. Yes, there’s a price tag. It usually comes down to priorities. If you had to choose between a dream closet and, say, a heated tile floor in your bathroom, which would you choose?

Big and small, your choices of products in the home can add up to significant added costs or significant savings. Another example of why it can be misleading to compare new home prices on the basis of cost per square foot.

Next time we look at the cost of some popular energy efficient and green building choices.

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Cover image courtesy of iLumigreen.

(Product spotlights are for informational purposes only.)

Brake Light Homes

Brake Light Homes

How your choices affect the cost of your new home.

What’s a “brake light home”? One that is so stunning, that brake lights come on as people slow down to take in its beauty while driving by! New homes of almost any size, at almost any price point, can exude curb appeal. But curb appeal has a price tag. While your home’s exterior design and style will, in large part, dictate costs, there are still many choices you can make that will significantly affect your home’s attractiveness and cost.

#8532 Kendrick

The Kendrick (#8532) plan is less than 1,200 square feet, yet is a definite “Brake Light” home!

Your choice of roofing can have a sizable impact on your home’s price and appearance. More than two out of three homes get topped off with asphalt shingles, which also tend to be among the most competitively priced options. Typically backed by a 20-year warranty, three-tab shingles are the thinnest and least expensive. Adding dimension and shadow lines, architectural asphalt shingles are thicker, heavier, more expensive, and often backed by 30-year and even longer warranties. Depending on where you live, spending a little more for hail impact-resistant and/or high wind-rated shingles may reduce your homeowner’s insurance premiums more than their incremental increase to your mortgage payment, reducing your actual monthly housing cost. Also, keep in mind that light-colored shingles reflect sunlight, helping lower utility bills in hot climates, while dark shingles absorb sunlight, keeping homes warmer and reducing heating costs in colder climates.

Residential metal roofing has been growing steadily in popularity. Steel and aluminum are the most common metals used, though copper has long been a popular accent metal roof product. Metal roofing prices start competitively with higher-end architectural asphalt shingles. You can expect metal roofing to last 50 years or longer, and many metal roofing products qualify for insurance discounts. Standing seam metal roofing has visible vertical “ribs,” and newer metal roofing profiles simulate wood shakes, shingles, tile, and slate. One reported downside is that metal roofing can be noisier in rain and hailstorms.

In spite of their distinctive good looks, cedar shakes have fallen out of favor due to their higher initial cost and high ongoing homeowner’s insurance expense. Slate is sometimes still used in the northeast; clay or cement tiles predominately appear on roofs in the southwest and Florida, a natural complement to Mediterranean exterior styling. In addition to being more expensive roofing material, slate and tile are heavier, requiring additional roof engineering and framing expense.

Shingles Cost Comparison Chart

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Man-made composite shingles have largely replaced wood shakes and slate roofing. Often considered a green building product due to using recycled content, composite shingles look strikingly similar to their natural counterparts but are much lighter, backed by long warranties, and very durable – with some carrying those insurance discount opportunities for high wind and hail impact ratings.

Your siding options, like roofing, also have considerable impact on your home’s appearance and cost. Vinyl is the most widely used siding material due to its relatively low-maintenance (no painting required!) and generally being the lowest cost. Thickness of the siding and the presence of insulated backing are primary cost factors. Engineered wood (e.g., LP® SmartSide®) and fiber-cement (e.g., James Hardie HardiePlank®) prices start comparable with high-end vinyl siding. Both options are very durable, with HardiePlank carrying a non-pro-rated 30-year warranty, while SmartSide’s 50-year warranty is pro-rated after 5 years. As with natural wood siding, which tends to be slightly more expensive than engineered wood, re-painting every 5-10 years adds to the cost of ownership, but also allows you (or the next owner) to change your home’s color. Note: siding profiles other than the traditional horizontal look, such as shakes, board and batten, etc., will add cost. Typically, higher than wood siding, masonry products tend to be relatively close to each other in pricing, with stucco (natural or EIFS) a little less than brick; and brick a little less than faux stone (e.g., cultured stone). Real stone, however, can be two to three times more expensive. Due to the added costs, masonry finishes are often used as accents and focal points, rather than completely covering your home’s exterior. Masonry products not only look great, they require little upkeep and are extremely durable, helping you avoid future replacement costs.

Windows can have a sizable impact on your home’s price, but you may not “see” the difference. We’ll limit this topic to standard windows as specialty windows run the gamut of pricing. Beyond the number and size of windows, major factors include the type (e.g., single hung, double-hung, sliding, casement); frame material (e.g., vinyl, wood, clad); window performance, options such as grids between the glass panes; and of course, brand.

Type. Single-hung windows are typically the least expensive, having a stationary upper, while the lower sash raises and often tilts in for cleaning. Based on retail pricing for egress windows from a well-known brand, next on the price ladder are casement windows (25%-40% higher than single-hung), which are hinged on one side and crank outwards; sliding windows (60%-90% higher than single-hung), having one sash which slides horizontally; and double-hung windows (roughly twice the price of single hung) in which both the upper and lower sashes raise, lower, and tilt-in.

Frame Material. Vinyl windows are usually the least costly as well as being low maintenance. Expect to spend 15%-30% more for fiberglass, around 50%-75% more for wood, and 75%-200% more for clad and composite windows. Keep in mind, these price differences are for the windows only, not including installation.

Even for a modest home like the Krebs Pointe (#42395), the window frame material makes a big difference in price. Using retail pricing for the egress windows from a well-known national brand, the vinyl double-hung window package cost is $1,880, while the aluminum-clad/wood interior window package priced out at $5,176. 

Krebs Pointe - #42395

Window Performance. With new homes being built to more stringent energy codes today, most windows are going to be double-panes of glass, and many are built with low-e coatings on the glass and may be filled with a gas such as Argon between the panes. For additional energy savings, some windows have three panes of glass. Also, some windows are impact resistant for protection against flying debris, and/or built to withstand very high wind pressures – all of which add to the window’s cost.

Options. Nearly invisible window screens, varying grille styles, upgraded hardware, and an emerging array of technology options can add to your home’s beauty and enjoyment. And cost. One design option you may have is to join (“mull”) two windows together to make a single double-wide window. This provides the same amount of daylight as having the individual windows but reduces installation costs.

Cedar Hill - #42435

Providing room for a bed headboard, the Cedar Hill’s (#42435) Bedroom Suite 1 splits its windows. With two holes to cut in the wall and two separate windows to trim out, those split windows will be more expensive than the same size windows that have been mulled together as in Bedroom Suite 2.

Brands. Quality… research and development… service…  warranty… style… options… years in business… leading window brands became leading window brands for a reason. Sure, performance ratings as provided on the stickers adhered to new windows are one basis for making your decision. But what is the value of knowing when you have an issue with your home’s windows that it will be taken care of, versus saving a few dollars up front and gambling that a new window brand will be there for you 10 years from now? Resale should be kept in mind as well, as highly regarded window brands are one of the surest ways to communicate yours is a quality home, potentially enhancing both the home’s value and leading to a quicker sale.

Garage Doors. The humble garage door. It goes up and down and keeps your golf clubs from getting stolen. But one of your home’s focal points? If your garage doors face the street, did you realize those doors are probably the single largest architectural element on the front of your home? Everybody’s home doesn’t look alike, yet when you drive down many streets, everybody has essentially the same garage door style – often the raised 32-panel door. Because of their size, and because they are sometimes the closest part of your home to the street, garage doors style should not be overlooked.

Size, insulation, and warranty are reflected in garage door prices. But the material they are made of, style, and brand likely have the most significant impact on price.

Good, better, best? Garage door manufacturer Clopay® offers an online Door Imagination System™ that is a great way to visualize how your home would look with different garage door styles and materials. Using their tool and the rendering of Design Basics’ Kendrick (#8532) home plan, shown at left is the lower-priced Classic™ Steel raised 32-panel insulated door; at right, a stunning wood door from the Reserve® Wood Semi-Custom line; and, balancing cost and aesthetics, in the center, a wood-look insulated door from the company’s Gallery® Steel series. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Steel Garage Door
Wood-look Garage Door
Wood Garage Door

Entry Door Systems. Did you know that stylish entry doors could increase a home’s perceived value by an average of 4.2% or $18,750? That’s what a study by one of the leading door manufacturers, Therma-Tru, found. Akin to garage doors, too often a home’s front entry door was the “default” selection – the good old Colonial 6-panel door, or whatever is the builder’s standard front door.      

Material composition, glass options, and style are large influencers of entry door system prices. Insulated steel doors tend to be the least expensive, followed by increasingly popular fiberglass doors, and at the pricier end of the spectrum, wood doors. For aesthetics and security (we like to see who is at the front door), entry doors will either have glass in the door, sidelites, or both. The presence of sidelites may be limited by the width of your home’s front entry design. For an even brighter entryway, there may be a transom window atop the entry door. All of these glass options add to the cost.

It would almost be a crime to install a standard 6-panel entry door if you were building the Kinney Haven (#42461) design. Both your personal style and your home’s exterior style should be reflected in that door! Modern? French Country? Craftsman? Does the door you chose look “right”? As guests arrive, your home’s front door can make a big impression. This can be money well spent; you enjoy the stylish door, and as the Therma-Tru study reported, you may recoup the added investment (or more!) at resale.

Kinney Haven - #42461

(Click on image to enlarge.)

While your home’s exterior design is the primary cost driver, as you have seen, roofing, siding, window, and door choices can affect your new home’s price by tens of thousands of dollars. Most of us have budget restrictions when building a new home, or at least a price we are comfortable with. So, it becomes a balancing act, usually requiring tradeoffs to meet your budget and vision for your new home. Similarly, product choices inside the home have a surprising impact on your new home’s cost, which we look at next time.

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Cover Image: Cedar Hill (#42435)

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