Save vs Splurge Building Custom Home


Building a custom home is a balancing act between desires and reality, between budget and wish lists. It’s a stressful process to get it right. Spending too much or sacrificing too many wants or needs can leave people feeling unhappy with the final product. Very few people have an unlimited budget when it comes to building their dream home. During our years as custom home builders in Toronto, we’ve gained knowledge on the best things to save money on and the best things to splurge on. Here they are.


Before You Begin

Before you begin building any house, talk to your custom home builder about two things- budget and wish list. Knowing these two items beforehand are the easiest way to build a home that you’ll love and within your price range. Your home builder should be able to tell you realistically what you can expect for your budget to give you a good idea. When it comes to your wish list, prioritize the items you need or want most. These are the things you should stay firm on and maybe splurge a little bit with. Other, “would be nice” items can be added later, if you have money, or done at a lower price point.


Splurge: Labor

Always work with professionals that are licensed, experienced, and highly rated. Skimping on labor costs, or hiring the cheapest people for the job, can result in the project being accident-prone or looking low-quality. The project would run into permit, management, communication, or workmanship problems. The money that you save by hiring cheap labor usually ends up getting spent, plus additional money, on fixing the mistakes they made. Remember when it comes to labor you get what you pay for.


Save: Finishes and Fixtures

The obvious things to save money on are the items that can easily be replaced or changed later on. Faucets, light fixtures, and cabinet hardware are good places to start cutting when you have a tight budget. These are also things that go out of style faster so changing them out in a few years might be a good thing!


Splurge: Structural Materials

It should be common sense to spend more money on the materials keeping your house up. Skimping on structural materials could leave you with cracked walls, leaks, and other expensive damages. Look for low-maintenance materials too. They are a bit more expensive at installation but they will save you from the cost of repairs and replacements in the future. Using eco-friendly or reclaimed materials for your home is not only better for the environment but it could also end up saving you money. Some places even give tax breaks for this!


Save: Decorative Materials

Decorative materials should be an area you save on. Most of these items can easily be changed out at a later date when you have more money to upgrade. When you find a look you like, see if you can find a cheaper alternative to the premium materials. A $2 tile backsplash usually looks just as good as a $10 tile backsplash. Other decorative materials to save on are molding and trim, flooring in less visible or low traffic areas, and countertops in bathrooms, bar areas, or laundry rooms. Remember, find lower priced decorative materials but make sure they are still good quality so that they last you a few years until you can save up to replace them.


Splurge: Permanent Features

Permanent features of the home are definitely things you should splurge on during the building phase. Quality insulation, windows, and doors will keep your heating and cooling bills down and lower the chances of leaks. High-quality windows are also great for resale value.

Other large, semi-permanent features, like flooring should be a splurge, especially in high-traffic or highly visible locations. While cheap flooring may sound appeal, replacing a large amount of flooring down the line can be expensive. Kitchen countertops are also a good area to splurge in as they see a lot of action.

A good rule is to splurge more on items that would be harder to replace down the road. A shower, for example, is more expensive the replace later than a faucet. It’s better to be thriftier on items that will either date faster (such as backsplashes) or can be changed out easier (such as light fixtures).


Save: Low-Traffic Flooring

Some areas of the house get less traffic than others. Bedrooms are usually only used for sleeping so carpet may be a more affordable option than hardwood. For bathrooms, as long as the flooring is non-slip and water resistant, it is fine. Other things to consider are who will be using a room. Some parents opt for cheaper carpet in playrooms knowing their children will destroy any flooring in there. Rooms that run into each other, like main floor open-floor plan areas, you should splurge on but closed off, less used rooms, like playrooms, basements, or bedrooms are rooms to save on.



When building a custom home it’s important you feel comfortable with the final product. Finding the right balance between your wish list items and budget will be the key to that. Be sure to communicate this with your custom home builder. Stick to your budget and fight for those key features you really want. Contact us if you want to get started on building your custom home.