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Posted by Sally in Saratoga Springs, UT on 11/2/2016

How to build for under $100 sq. ft.

Many have said that they can not figure out how to build for $100/sq. ft. or less. When building our 6 homes, we always built for $100/sq. ft or less. Being your own general contractor is a full time job in itself. If you want to really save money you have to put in a lot of time to find the deals.

Now with the rising cost of everything, and not having all our bids in, it will be interesting to see if in 2016, we are able to do it for less than $100/sq. ft. But that is my goal.

I am just going to share with you how I have saved thousands while building very nice homes. Most people could not believe the bargains I found out there.

For cabinets check out RTA cabinets online. Do your research. They sell all wood cabinets. You might not have the selection like you would with custom or other places but you get a good cabinet for the money. They have all the standard sizes and most accessories needed. They sell the Forevermark cabinet. Everything I have researched with the company has been pretty positive. Sure you get a few negative but they have all been resolved from what I have found. They have a good BBB rating as well. They are out of New Jersey, I believe. If you buy more than $3000 you get free shipping. There is one company to avoid that has a very bad BBB rating so do your homework. You can find a local dealer for this company in most cities, by contacting Forever Mark. Then you can see in person the cabinets. Also those companies might assemble the cabinets for you as well. Our company KIB direct sales in SLC will for $15 a cabinet. That sounds like a cheap price but when you have close to 50 cabinets that is an extra $750 you will be spending. Doesn't sound like a lot to you, well it all adds up. You either put up the money or put in the time. To save the money you have to put in the time.

I have been buying all my light fixtures for all of my homes either on clearance, or used. I've even gotten them at garage sales. I'm not talking cheap light fixtures either. I got more than one ceiling fan, retail cost over $200 for $25.00 each. I needed to buy 14 ceiling fans so I have saved a lot there. You can't beat those prices. Places to check out. Craig's list, ReStore (Habitat for Humanity) or clearance building supply warehouses in your area. In Utah we have a newspaper website that everyone sells tons of stuff on called Great way to get things. Also, now that Facebook has a marketplace you can check that. Many communities have FB pages that say the city+ 24/7, like Highland 24/7 garage sale. Check your area. I don't do Twitter, so I don't know if they have anything like that.

Even the contractors supply houses have scratch and dent or last year models that you can get. You should be able to set up accounts at all the supply houses since you are a builder/owner. Never and I repeat NEVER pay full price/retail.

I have bought my bathtubs and whirlpool tub used for my next house already. I have also bought my bathroom vanities for 4 of the 5 bathrooms. I have been buying a few buffets to convert to the vanity. Did that in the house I just sold and it was one of the selling points of the home that people loved. You don't even have to do vessel sinks if you don't want to. This too has saved me $100s.

I always check the clearance sales and the scratch and dent sections of any store I am in. I also would not recommend the retail stores for carpet. They are way overpriced even when they say they are giving you contractors pricing. Look around, find the carpet you like, write down as much info about it that is on the back of the sample. Then look up carpet suppliers in Georgia. Even with paying freight, I have saved at least $1000 plus got the best padding avail compared to anything local. If you ask around you should be able to find an installer. That is the cheapest part of carpet, the installation. Just make sure you get recommendations from others who have used them.

For my new house I wanted double ovens in stainless but they retail at $3500+ and so I bought them used for $250. The people were remodeling and want all the same appliances. All I cared about is that they are all stainless steel. But you need to figure out what is important to you and spend the money where it counts the most. Got my microwave for $50!

Always get a minimum of 3 bids per trade and materials. Do not count on friends when pricing out the home costs. They might have good intentions but things happen and they get busy with their own life. Another thing to remember is that if you are a novice at something, don't do it on your house. My husband is in construction and is very handy with many things. But his famous saying is, You can't beat a man at his own trade. You have to take into account the time something will take for you to do the work, and if you are not sure how to do something, it will take you that much longer. Time is money, (interest on your loan) mistakes that you make resulting in more inspections (each cost you money when they come out to look) and the stress and exhaustion you will experience trying to do something that you really can't do well. You want your house to look good, so it's worth paying for the labor on electrical, heating, plumbing, drywall and sometimes painting. Most have to pay an excavator and possibly a surveyor (although we have never had to do that). If your roof is steep, pay a roofer and pay someone to do the gutters. On insulation, figure it out both ways, with and without the labor. We did the labor on or first two houses only to find out that the labor was so minuscule that it was worth paying someone to do it. And fiberglass is itchy.

We know that we plan to build and all the prep work takes over a year to get the blueprints finalized, find the lot and so on, so I start then looking for the deals. If I think of the other ways I have saved $$$$ on, I will add to this post. Happy Hunting. I love a great bargain.
Attaching some pictures of the cabinets that we are putting in the new house, other than the vanities that I have already purchased second hand.


Main kitchen wall and base cabinets
Island for main kitchen
Master bathroom cabinets
Basement in-law Suite and a game room wet bar.

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