Selection of construction materials and finishes will have a major impact on both your new home’s appearance and the overall cost to build

When you begin your search for the perfect set of house plans, please keep in mind that no matter what decisions were made by the original homeowners regarding materials and finishes, you can make totally different decisions without having to alter the plans.

A house that was originally built with board-and-batten siding, asphalt shingles on the roof, and shutters flanking the windows would look completely different with wood shingle or brick siding, a metal roof, and contemporary windows. And a change in materials and finishes can have an equally great impact on the interior of the house as well.

I spoke with a woman a while back who had a problem. She and her husband had finally found the ideal set of plans on our website that suited both their needs and their property. But they had always dreamed of building a house with a brick exterior, so she thought she would have to pass on the perfect floor plans because the house they were enamored with had shingle siding. I gently explained that a house can be clad in any material, as long as it’s suitable to the local climate. And I went on to explain that they could choose different roofing material, doors, windows, trim, etc. by simply telling their builder.

Knowing that you can change the appearance of a home subtly or dramatically can really make a difference as you search for the perfect house plans. This is why we and some other sites display floor plans before photos. Interior modifications are often made, but they can be difficult if they are extensive. So falling in love with the “look” of the house will just set you up for disappointment if the floor plan does not suite your needs.

I often refer to the decision-making process regarding materials and finishes for both the exterior and interior as the “the blessing and curse of building a new home”. The “blessing” is that every single surface one can see will be something you really like; while the “curse” is the amount of time and energy you’ll need to expend looking at all the materials available.

Your choices of materials and finishes can have a significant impact on construction costs as well. The list of alternatives – for siding, roofing, windows and doors, flooring, countertops, lighting and plumbing fixtures, etc., etc. – is nearly limitless. There is no simple or best way to go about this — finding the best quality and most attractive products without breaking the limits of your budget – but your builder should be of help steering you in the right direction.

In my experience, folks tend to spend more in the parts of the home that are most important to them. These areas are usually the kitchen, the master suite, or both. But that still leaves plenty of space where substantial savings can be realized. From the lights in the ceiling to the carpet on the floor, the choices can seem endless.

I know it sounds daunting, but I remind everyone facing this that every house they’ve ever seen in their lives was built by someone who had gone through this process, and survived!

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We highly recommend that you click on two boxes – the number of bedrooms you know you need, and one less bedroom. For example, if you need 4 bedrooms, click on the boxes next to 4 and next to 3. Otherwise you will not see homes where existing rooms on the lower, main, or upper levels might work perfectly well as a bedroom instead of as an office, study, etc.