Affordable Value: the Seven S’s of Cost Control

Cost control, value engineering, and project coordination are all keys to a successful project of any size. Achieve affordable value using these 7 S’s of cost control:

1. Standardization

Use a standard “KIT OF PARTS” approach to your design. This could be as easy as using the same detail for every soffit or window trim, or as complicated as paying attention to the tile size for a backsplash. There is economy in repetition and not needing to cut and waste a piece of material.

2. Simplification

Detailing, sequencing of trades and standardization of material sizing all make the construction of a project easier, and therefore faster. Time is money!

3. Specifications

Don’t short change the senses. You might smell something before you see it. You might see it, and not want to. Cheap has a sound. What does “cold to the touch” mean? Good design considers all of this, and the finishes, fixtures, and systems are used to enhance the design. Establish a budget for finishes and stick to it.

4. Systems

Centralization of mechanical systems can make a home feel more responsive. How long does it take hot water to get to the master bedroom? Natural light is just as important. Windows are a part of the “home system”: don’t forget them, or where they are placed.

5. Sustainability

Yes, most people are concerned about sustainability—but only if they can afford it. Incorporating energy management and sustainable features into new homes is a great way to save home buyers money in utility costs. When marketing these programs, focus on the long term cost savings to the buyer.

6. Stackability

Two floors of living space under one roof saves money on foundation and roofing. Aligning bearing walls or eliminating them with clear spans will save on structure. Try to place as much or more square footage on the second floor, expanding over the garage. A greater percentage of floor area on the second floor provides an opportunity for cost savings.

7. Structure

Structure is important for safety, longevity, and creating striking design features in a home, but can add substantially to the cost of the project. Most of us would rather spend money on those items we can see and touch such as cabinetry, counters, tile, trim, etc. It’s a delicate balance, but if you work with a creative Structural Engineer (they’re out there!), you can achieve a simple, economical structure that gives you money to spend on the items homeowners really want.

At KGA we begin each project with these elements in mind. Some play a bigger role than others, but they all play an important role in achieving affordable value. Today’s home buyers are both value conscious and design savvy, and will be expecting the best of both worlds.

Note: originally published January 13, 2015, this post was updated on February 20, 2019.