The Big Save: How to Prioritize Spending in Your New Home

We show you how to save on your dream home by choosing smart materials and learning how to wave the budget wand with ease.

The Big $ave

When you're planning your dream log home, the dreaded word "compromise" doesn't produce satisfaction. Ten years ago, any discussion of cost cutting meant your home simply wasn't going to look as nice as you envisioned.

Those days are over. With the latest crop of building materials and supplies available, you can create a style that rivals the big-ticket items—all at a significantly lower price.

Natural Stone
When placed around the foundation, fireplace or elsewhere in the home, nothing can rival the beauty of the real thing: natural stone.

Manufactured Stone
Manufactured stone, which is artificial stone made from polyester-based resins and filler material, offers more than 100 design options as an alternative to natural stone.

The bottom line
To cover a fireplace, say, 25 feet tall and 6 feet wide, as well as the foundation of a 2,500-square-foot home, you're talking roughly 1,000 square feet of stone. For natural stone, that adds up to $16,000. For manufactured stone, it's just $8,500.


Considering that wood can be painted or stained, wood-framed windows are much easier to match to the rest of a log home than the alternatives.

Vinyl windows are more energy efficient, so not only are they cheaper to buy and install, but they also can save you money on your energy bill.

The bottom line
The average 2,500-square-foot home has 30 windows or more. After you factor in installation costs, choosing vinyl instead of wood means the difference between paying $10,000 or $20,000. 

Granite's extremely hard surface means countertops won't blister, scratch or crack. They are stain and heat resistant, and have a polished surface that won't wear off.

Manmade Silestone's resistance to stain, heat and scratches rivals that of granite, and it's also just as hard. Plus, it's available in more than 40 colors.

The bottom line
A 2,500-square-foot home boasts roughly 70 square feet of counter space. That rounds out to $7,000 for granite and $4,900 for Silestone. 

Plumbing Fixtures
High-end fixtures
For kitchens, choices range from stylish under-mount sinks to polished brass and bronze sinks. In the bathroom, some highlights include a computerized steam/shower room, gold showerheads and a tankless "hatbox" toilet.

Budget fixtures
Nice-looking fixtures such as stainless-steel kitchen sinks, stylish pedestals for the bathroom and great-looking faucets and showerheads don't have to break your budget. 

The bottom line
Factor in five sinks, three toilets and two showers in a house with two and a half baths and a kitchen, and the savings can be huge. We're talking $24,000 for high-end items or $4,000 for budget items. 

Reclaimed Hardwood
Salvaged boards already have developed the beautiful patina that comes from years of weathering and can be stained and finished in any color.

Pergo is a laminated flooring product that is actually a backer board with a photo of wood applied to it. It's then finished with a vinyl coating.

The bottom line
For 1,500 square feet of flooring, the reclaimed hardwood will cost $18,000, compared to $7,500 for Pergo.

Everyone wants infinite wood, color, styles and size options—and that's what you pay for when choosing custom cabinetry—the options.

Semi-custom or Stock
Nothing can match the individualized look you get from custom cabinets, but semi-custom or even stock cabinets come close. There are so many style options now, it won't seem like you're choosing from standard offerings.

The bottom line
The average 2,500-square-foot home has 35 linear feet of cabinets. Semi-custom cabinets are typically one-third the cost of custom ($8,750 to $26,250). 

Read the full story in the June 2006 issue of Log Home Living.