As custom home builders, one of our primary duties to make sure we work within your budget. We want to ensure that your dream home project never oversteps the bounds of what’s comfortable for you and your budget. Involving a builder from the very beginning of your home building project is the best way to stay on budget because including the builder in the design process invites expert building recommendations that help you stay on budget. 

Here are some home design suggestions we make to help keep the cost low and you happy:

1. Build Up Rather Than Out

The wider the blueprint, the more expensive it is to build. Ranch homes are popular designs but due to the need for additional foundation and roofline over usable space, they are pricey. Moving some square footage either up into a story or one and a half story above and/or into a finished basement below can save you substantial money. It makes more fiscal sense to have multiple levels to your home than to have everything on one floor. 

2. Attach the Garage

While detached garages are growing in popularity, they’re also more expensive. When you don’t attach the garage to the rest of the house, there’s an added cost of another foundation and roofline– possibly tens of thousands of dollars. The less costly decision is to attach the garage to the rest of the home in the blueprint.

3. Keep The Exterior Wall Plan Simple

The number of exterior walls and the complexities of those walls will be a big determiner of cost. The more angles and bends you have in the exterior walls, the more expensive it will be. Your best bet to keep cost low here is to stick to a simple square floor plan with no angles. When in doubt, square it up.

4. Invest In The Rooms You Care About the Most

Budget for the rooms that you will spend the most time in– the areas of the home you dream about the most. The master bedroom and the kitchen are typically rooms people like to invest in. But perhaps you want to invest in a family room or some other rooms in the house. Determine what you want to prioritize in the home and allocate your budget accordingly. 

5. Use Carpet in Secondary Spaces

In spaces where you spend less time– secondary spaces –like additional bedrooms or a finished basement –you can save with flooring costs by choosing carpet over hardwood floors. Hardwood floors can cost between $8 and $12 per square foot but carpet is $3 to $5 square foot.

6. Keep the Roofline Simple

Like the exterior walls, this is an aspect of the design you want to keep simple to keep costs low. The more your roof varies in slopes, shapes, and ornamentations, the more it will cost. Keeping the roof simple will keep the cost down.

7. Prioritize Upgrades

Set strict budget allocations for the upgrades in your house that you want the most will help keep the overall cost cheaper. And remember that you can always make upgrades in the future– after the initial build. If you plan to live in your home for many years, you have time to make those upgrades as you gain more of a budget for those projects. 

8. Go for Sales & Remnants

When you get to the point of making selections for rooms such as flooring, appliances, cabinets, and countertops, you can find the cheapest options at closeout sales and from remnant sections– which are only provided to builders by some vendors. Having a builder such as Donnelly Timmons can help you find these deals.

9. Take Advantage of Energy Efficiency Credits

There are some existing tax credits and incentives available to homeowners who make more energy-efficient choices such as geothermal systems, wind turbines, solar energy, and other renewable energy systems. You may also be able to get tax credits for ENERGY STAR® windows, doors, and skylights.

10. Keep Your Deck Design Simple

Request from your architect that the deck design fits standard planks of wood to keep costs low. Using standard planks will reduce the labor of cutting and reduce lumber waste. You can also save by choosing to have a standard straight board layout rather than a diagonal layout.


These home design tips will help you save on building costs and keep you comfortably within your budget. For more suggestions on how to save, work with a trusted and experienced home builder. Donnelly Timmons has more than 25 years of building experience and can provide you with a custom home that fits your budget in Nashville– including Forest Hills, Oak Hill, Green Hills, Franklin, and Brentwood. 

Contact Donnelly Timmons for a free consultation today!