Pick the Best Building Materials for Your Home
“Where do I start?” is a common question asked by homeowners when considering materials for a new home or a home remodel. It is a valid question, too. There are so many options available, it’s a difficult task to select the best building materials for your home.
While research is required, a few questions will help you narrow your options. First, ask a professional what you can expect from the different materials. Then ask how those materials work for your budget and your vision for your home.
At Morgan Contractors, we recommend reaching out to a professional right away. We’ve found that this often avoids headaches later in a project and streamlines the selection process.
Of course, if your new home or remodeling job is still just a dream, it pays to get a head start in the process. To help you move dreams toward reality, we’ve compiled a short article about picking the best building materials for your home
Start with Your Budget
For most of off, the cost is the biggest determining factor when it comes to building materials. But with building materials, even more so than other items like clothes or furniture, the lower the initial cost, the shorter the life-span will be. Essentially, to quote the adage, “you get what you pay for.”
There are always exceptions, but after almost 2 decades in the business, we’ve seen this idea prove true. When considering building materials for your home, it is often best to think about their life-cycle cost – especially if you plan to own your home for 5 to 10 years, or more. Here’s a quick example:
Life-cycle cost is the actual cost of a building material over time. If shingle “A” costs 1.5 times shingle “B,” but shingle “B” will last twice as long as shingle “A,” then shingle “B” will actually be cheaper over the timeframe of two installations of shingle “A.”
You can think about life-cycle cost when it comes to energy as well. Cheaper windows might be…cheaper…but they may also leach heat more quickly than better windows, and lead to a higher utility bill.
Go Beyond Cost
Your budget is your budget, but you shouldn’t neglect aesthetics either. Remember, you are the one that puts a real value on how something looks and the pleasure it affords you. Some houses are also built with more expensive materials than others. If this is the case with your home, you need to consider issues that might arise from not using materials that match its core aesthetic.
For every material, try creating a matrix where you compare materials of increasing cost and their aesthetic appeal. You can often find a middle-ground that is both pleasing to your eye and fits within your budget.
Of course, there may be a few points where aesthetics wins out over budget. If you absolutely must have the high-end slate siding and will smile every time you see it, then it may be worth the cost.
Now that we’ve explored the way you should think about the problem, let’s explore the materials themselves. This may also help you visualize the massive scope of a new home or significant home remodeling project.
Choosing the Best Building Materials and Components
Basements and Foundations
Depending on the slope and soil type of your lot, a basement can be a good idea. If it’s suitable, the small added cost of a basement can give you a lot of usable space.
Wood framing is most common in the United States, but steel framing is becoming more popular. Wood is more affordable, though steel is certainly more durable. Ask your contractor about the pros and cons of each.
Siding comes in many varieties, including wood siding, brick, stone veneer, composite siding, fiber cement board, vinyl siding, stucco, and masonry. Costs can vary widely, so create that matrix we suggested above!
Windows and Patio Doors
House windows are highly engineered and sophisticated building components. And, they are a key player in energy efficiency, maintenance, and the appearance of your house. Check out our window installation article for an in-depth look at the question.
Front doors are one of the few remaining places where you can create a unique look or your home without harming your budget. Your front door is a statement about your home. There are plenty of pre-fab and custom options available.
Asphalt shingles, wood shingles, metal roofing, cement tiles, and even rubber roofing are available. And like most building materials, the price range is wide. Of course, value and utility vary as well.
At first glance, drywall seems simple, but there is a lot to consider. Beyond the physical properties of its strength, moisture resistance, and fire resistance, there are many styles of finish to think about as well.
Today, there is a lot more than oak to choose from. There are tropical woods, reclaimed wood, and synthetic/engineered hardwood floors that offer interesting appearances and high durability. Keep a lookout for our next 2 blog posts, which will provide a complete guide to hardwood flooring.
Tile Flooring and Wall Tile
Beyond ceramic tile, there are many choices in stone tiles and porcelain tiles available.
Another massive subject with many possible answers to fit your budget and stylistic preferences. Check out our blog posts about how to paint your home to achieve the moods you want.
Cabinets are among the materials that vary most widely in terms of aesthetics and price. We explored this subject in detail in a previous blog post about custom vs. pre-fab cabinetry.
Decks are so much more than simple pressure-treated wood these days. Materials range from tropical, reclaimed, and engineered woods, as well as hybrid structures that involve stone or concrete. Of course, before you consider materials, ask yourself, do I need a deck?
If you want to add some elegance to your home, try pavers for driveways and walks. You might be able to get the cobblestone look at a fraction of the cost. Plus, pavers can remove the risk of cracks in your driveway.
This is just the beginning, of course. We hope it helps, but don’t forget our advice to seek out professional assistance to help you pick the best building materials for your home.
At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services, including building materials consultation, to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!
For more information about our building materials solutions, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.