Doesn’t A Healthy Home Cost More To Build?
"Doesn't a healthy home cost more to build than a regular home?" If you have had this thought, please raise your hand. You are not alone in that assumption! The truth is, health and wellness focused homes can cost more to build, but they don't have to!
Living in a healthy home is vital for your family's health and well-being, and I do not want the misconception of a high price tag to be what keeps you from building your wellness home.
There are many ways to design a home that enhances your family's health, happiness and longevity without breaking your budget. But doing so requires thoughtful consideration during the design process and a knowledgeable team to execute the construction. I'll walk you through this in today's Design It WELL video.
BUT, before you begin assessing your project budget, I want to make sure you are crystal clear on your project goals. Knowing these goals will help you when determining your budget. If you haven't done so yet, get clear on your goals now by reading this blog post on project goal setting.
Here is a summary of the video:
(But make sure you watch the video to get the full scoop!)
What are the most costly parts of a healthy home?
There are two areas where higher costs are necessary in a home designed for wellness. But that's it! These costs can easily be made up for in thoughtful design and construction ideas. We'll talk about those next!
1. Material selection: This does not apply to all materials! But some, mostly finish materials, will cost more for the healthy option. This includes flooring, (choosing solid hard wood over vinyl) and kitchen cabinets (choosing solid wood over particle board or plywood cabinet frames).
2. Mechanical ventilation system: A healthy home must include a mechanical ventilation system to bring in fresh air and remove toxin-filled, oxygen-depleted stale air. Mechanical ventilation is usually not added to typical homes (even though it is much needed), so this would be considered an added cost.
What really matters in a healthy home, but doesn't add cost
A lot of design decisions go into creating a healthy home, but these decisions do not add cost to the budget.
1. Having the right design: This means that during the design process thoughtful consideration is given to things like the layout of the house, room locations, and window design.
2. Material selection: Some materials will cost more as mentioned above, but most healthy materials do not cost more than their unhealthy counterparts. Research and material understanding is required by the design team to know which materials to select to build your healthy home.
3. The right construction details: Your design professional needs to know how to draw construction details that will keep water and moisture out of your walls and roof, while also making sure the wall can release the moisture if it does find its way in, and will keep air from leaking through your walls and roof. This is very important for a healthy, mold-free, durable, and thermally comfortable home.
4. It needs to be built right: Along with the architect that needs to know how to design proper wall and roof assemblies, the construction team must know how to build these details correctly. Choosing a contractor that is experienced with high performance buildings is a must for a healthy home.
How to align your goals with your budget
Understanding your goals is key so that you can design a healthy home that will align with your budget. Here are a few examples of how to do this:
1. You want a spa-like bathroom but can't afford a big free-standing tub. That's ok! There are a lot of options for comfortable, soaking style tubs that are a combo bath/shower unit. You can still have a relaxing spa-like experience in your bathroom without paying extra for a free-standing soaking tub.
2. You want a super insulated house to make it thermally comfortable. One option is to wrap the exterior of the house in rigid insulation. But it is pretty expensive. Another option is to built thicker exterior walls and fill the big cavity with fiberglass or mineral wool insulation. This is a much cheaper option and still gives you super insulated walls.
Best way? Build a smaller house! This will save you money on materials and on the mechanical systems.
Don't be frightened by the idea of living in a smaller house. Clever planning and design makes smaller homes (and I'm not talking about Tiny Houses!) very comfortable and beautiful. Design professionals are trained to listen to your goals and thoughtfully design a house to meet your goals while staying within your budget. This is one reason why working with a professional is so important.
Where you can actually save money with a healthy home
Not only will a healthy home not add cost, it could actually save you money in the long run.
Up front cost savings:
1. Materials: Some healthier materials can actually be less expensive than their unhealthy counterparts. Let the design team do their research to find these products for you.
2. Mechanical systems: if you are building a well insulated, air tight house with a smaller footprint, your mechanical systems don't have to be as big as a typical home, which will save you money.
Future cost savings:
1. Lower energy bills: A well insulated and air tight house will cost less to heat and cool, saving you money year after year.
2. Lower maintenance costs: A durable house that doesn't leak and doesn't grow mold will require little maintenance. And choosing durable, long lasting finish materials instead of cheap materials will keep replacement costs low.
Cost savings that are less direct and usually not considered:
1. A healthy home will mean less trips to the doctor, lowering your medical bills.
2. A healthy home will mean less sick days so you aren't missing work as much or having to stay home with a sick child.
3. You will be more productive because you are getting better sleep, and being more productive can generate more money!
Your house should be part of your preventative care routine just like healthy eating and exercise. On top of all the other benefits of living in a healthy home, this will save you money in the long run.
Think about the process of buying a new car. You are probably willing to spend more money on a car that is reliable, doesn't require a lot of maintenance, and that will keep your family safe. You might willingly spend 10 or 20 thousand dollars more for a car that is reliable and will keep your family safe.
Don't let it be any different when you are building or buying a house. You spend much more time in your home than in your car, and it has a far greater impact on your health and happiness.
Be willing to spend more on the healthy items that will keep your family safe and thriving, and know that it will have a major impact on your family's lives now and in the future.
Related: How to Budget for A Home Renovation