a life on a dime

Benefits of Building Small – Build Small Save Big

Three Choices we Made to Save Money and Sanity

Our first home was a 1970s ranch style. We loved it; with all its quirks and inefficiencies, it was home. We realized the equity in our fixer-upper was the key to secure our family’s financial future. The outdated home we’d slowly renovated with cash and started our family in was also the way out of our consumer debt. We needed to build small, save big.

When we decided to build we were determined to build small. Build small, save big. Yes, we were building our dream home, but we were also building a better future. We needed a low mortgage, small utility bills, and big peace of mind. 

Build Small, Save Big

1. Get rid of the Wasted Space

Our new house isn’t huge. It doesn’t have multiple roof lines and isn’t filled with closets and narrow hallways. It is that way by design. Build small, save big. Hallways block light and allow for closets where your stuff goes to hide for ages before ever seeing the light of day. Why not skip it all? 

We kept an open floor plan for the living area with the living room, dining area, and kitchen mostly open. We have large sliding windows across the house and a sliding glass door in back. There isn’t a whole lot of empty wall space, which will save me time and money decorating and dusting. 

2. Invest in Energy Efficiency Now for Ongoing Savings

This is pretty obvious, but the smaller and more energy efficient your home is the less money you spend each month on utilities. One of the bigger expenses of our house was the insulation. We have a tightly sealed little home with very low electric bills, which is desirable since we are all electric in our neck of the woods. 

One thing our builder sold up sold us on that we are very happy about is our hybrid hot water heater. We paid more money upfront, but after doing our homework and checking out a video our builder sent a link to we realized that the hot water heater we planned to buy actually has a higher cost of ownership over the life of the appliance.

The heat pump pulls warm air in from the room (handy in the laundry room) and uses it to heat the water. If you’re a tech person it is pretty cool. I just like the fact that our electric bill stays low and my water stays hot!

We bought a stainless steel suite of Samsung appliances in our kitchen and scored big savings during the Black Friday sales which just happened to fall around the time we needed to buy appliances anyway. An error made with delivery scheduling (only one appliance showed up the first time) was made right with quick turnaround delivery of the rest of the order as well as a 10% refund. Prior to landing on the sale we had price comped the appliances we wanted at multiple stores around the area.

 

3. Basic Fixtures

For the most part with this build we kept it simple; the entire house is painted the same soft shade of gray. There are no granite counter tops in this house either. We opted for good old laminate counter tops in the kitchen and engineered stone in the bathrooms.

The cabinets felt like the bigger investment. They were made by a local cabinet shop and we saved big there too. Ten years from now if we change our style I will not feel like I have too much invested in the counter tops to replace them. The farmhouse sink in the kitchen seems like a huge upgrade, but came from Ikea, and cost far less than anticipated. 

With a small deck in back and full length front porch we have increased space to watch the sun go down and entertain. The kids don’t feel trapped inside when it rains either.  

In the end our small home is only about 60 square feet smaller than our previous home. Most of that space was cut out of the hallway and endless closets. The majority of what was in those closets has been donated or sold.

What we gained by losing those 60 square feet was financial freedom for our future. Cleaning takes a lot less time than it did when we had countless shelves housing all our unused possessions.

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