Component Cost Vs Whole System Cost
Are quality, performance, maintenance and replacement costs among your considerations?
Are you engaging in life cycle cost analysis?
Are fair labor practices and environmental standards part of your equation?
Are you supporting your local economy with your choices?
Are you balancing material and system costs with their associated labor costs?
Are less expensive materials going to cost you more in labor?
Are you accountingfor the carrying costs of your budget?
Interest costs are often the largest single budget component over the lifespan of a building. Are you accounting for this in your financial planning?
Making Good Decisions
When budgeting for a sustainable building project, it is good to keep the “triple bottom line” in mind:
1. Social performance (People)
2. Environmental performance (Planet)
3. Financial performance (Profit)
Material choices made solely on the basis of bottom line cost are likely to ignore some obvious repercussions in terms of social and environmental factors — there is usually a reason that one option has a lower price tag than its competitors, and it is often the degradation of people and/or the planet. The values you bring to your building project should be consistent with your purchasing values.
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There is endlessly conflicting advice available on the costs of building a home. It is important that you don’t rely on any form of budget estimating other than getting specific quotes for the specific components you want to use in your specific design and location. Anything else is speculation, and no way to go about planning for what is likely to be the biggest financial investment you will make. Internet claims and manufacturer advertisements are obviously suspect sources, but off-the-cuff estimates or “ballpark” Decorating Gallerys from contractors are not necessarily any more accurate. While you may use such sources to help guide the initial planning stages for your project, no plans should be finalized without a complete and accurate quotation from all of the relevant suppliers and trades to ensure that budget expectations are realistic. Enough time should be included in the design process to ensure that quotes can be obtained and adjustments made to the building plans to reflect real-world costs. Draft plans can be sent to competing material and system providers to establish which options will best suit the budget, and the drawings can then be further completed with those options inserted.
Once decisions have been made about materials and systems, the budget process should not be considered over. Refinements to the plans can offer opportunities to lower costs, while add-ons, upgrades, and features can inflate costs. The budgeting process takes place throughout the entire design-build cycle.