The 3 Big Things You Must Know to Control Your Home Construction Budget

Bedroom - low cost per square foot
I don't like being the one to tell people their house dreams and construction budgets aren't going to agree.

But we take frequent calls from nice folks like you who've been given bad information about what new homes cost to build.

Often that information is based on a very simple (and way too low) "square foot cost", and sometimes that info gets you way, way off track.

Figuring out how much you should spent to build your new home before you design it can make you feel like you're in a maze - you don't know what to budget until you have a design, but you don't know what to design until you have a budget.

Hang on, there's a way out.

When Is It Too Cold To Build A House?

Years ago, before I'd thought of Architecture as a career, I worked a bit as a construction laborer and framing carpenter.

Some days, working outside was great fun for an 18-year old (read:summertime).

I learned a lot about construction those two years, including the fact that construction doesn't only happen on sunny, warm, summer days.

They expected me to work in the winter, too.  Outside. In the cold.

Fortunately here in central Ohio, winter doesn't really kick in hard until after the first of the year. That's when we sometimes get long periods of below-freezing temperatures.

The harsh weather often makes it difficult to build - but when does it become impossible?

Everything's New In This Total Makeover and Addition Project

This is a project I've been looking forward to sharing since the day construction began.  A family with a modest farmhouse in Muskingum County, Ohio wanted a new home with open spaces and room for visiting family and guests - and decided that rebuilding the home they're in was the best way to achieve that.

One addition opened up the kitchen and added a bright, colorful sunroom; a second addition created a new master suite, garage, home office, and recreation room.

The expanded kitchen is all glass on one wall. Two islands separate cooking and serving, and opening walls in the existing house creates a view from one end of the house to the other.

10 Reasons Why You Should Rekindle Your Love Affair With Tudor Homes

I love Tudor Revival-styled homes, but it seems I’m in the minority. In more than two decades of Residential Architecture practice, I've had one client express an interest in English Tudor style.


I've mentioned it to a few other clients over the years, but the reaction I typically get is something along the lines of “yuck”, “ewww”, and “I hate Tudor”.

I hear similar sentiments from real estate agents and homebuilders, too.

That's too bad, because once upon a time, Tudors were loved.


Tudor Revival style, loosely based on English building traditions from several eras, was the second most popular home design style for most of the first half of the 20th century.

A Homeowner's View of Who Should Be - and Who Shouldn't Be - On Your Bidding List

An important part of the comprehensive service Residential Architects provide is helping our clients choose the right builder for their new home or remodeling project.

I've written a couple of blog posts about the subject because the success of your project depends on the skill and knowledge of the people who build it.

But almost as important as that skill and knowledge is the “fit” of your builder to your personality and your tastes – after all, you’re going to spend a lot of time, and a lot of money, with them.

That’s why I ask my clients to interview builders before we consider adding them to their bidding list.  It’s no guarantee that we’ll find Mr. or Mrs. Right, but it helps weed out the ones that we know aren't going to fit.

For the projects we design, we’re typically looking for smaller companies that focus on well-crafted, quality homes, rather than on cookie-cutter or big "show" homes.

In other words, if they’re running a half-page color ad in the Sunday newspaper, well...we’re probably not interested.

Which brings us to the following testimonial from an out-of-town client, for whom we’re designing a very private home, hidden back off the road on a large family farm.

Make Your Foyer Fit Your Home

Your home probably has several entries - front door, back door, garage door - but you only use one to welcome guests into your home. The front door in most homes opens into a foyer, a word derived from French and originally referring to a small room that separated the heated rooms of the house from the outside, keeping the cold out.

Fortunately, central heating made that function obsolete. Today, a home's foyer serves several other important functions, not the least of which is giving your guests a glimpse into the style and character of the rest of your house.

That's important, because a well-designed home should lead your guests naturally through a sequence of spaces from the street to the living areas.  If any of those spaces seem out of character with the others, then the whole house looks awkward and out of sync.

For some homeowners, the image of a foyer is a grand space - twin staircases, twenty-foot ceilings, an eight-foot diameter chandelier.  That's fine for a grand house, but not for a more informal home design.

A crazy-big and elaborate foyer gives your guests the impression that there's a crazy-big and elaborate house beyond - if there isn't, the foyer will be seen as pretentious and showy.

So what kind of foyer fits your house?  Check out these examples of foyers that work well, set the stage for the rest of the house, and do it all with character and style:

This contemporary foyer is the center of contemporary house - literally.  It separates and connects the two halves, and with all-glass front and back walls, lets light pour in from everywhere.  The "drama" here comes from the shapes and the light, not the size and volume of the space.