10 Ways to Make Your House Design More Affordable

With the cost of building in NZ at a record high, we’ve put together a helpful guide of ten ways to make your house design more affordable. 

It may appear that our Arcline Architecture pencils only sketch large, expensive homes. But actually, most of our week is spent designing New Zealand dream homes that are bespoke yet affordable. 

Let’s get straight to the point:

10 Ways to Make Your House Design More Affordable 


  1. Compress the size of your house; this is the biggest impact on build cost 
  2. Keep the shape simple, rectangular 
  3. Have as few external corners as possible
  4. Use trusses for the roof structure, and a flat ceiling
  5. Keep the roof style simple, no parapets or tricky junctions  
  6. Minimise the external wall length/perimeter
  7. Choose joinery from a standard suite, in standard sizes 
  8. Use economical, low maintenance cladding
  9. Simplify the interior fitout – only tile the floors, not the walls 
  10. Leave the extras till later – concrete drive & pool
Read below for a deeper explanation on each of these critical ways to make your home design more affordable. 

1. Compress the Size of Your House  

Reducing the size of your home is the only gauranteed way to make your build more affordable. Square metres literally equals $$, so the smaller your home can be, the better. Read our Cost of Building a House in NZ article to find out more. 

2. Keep the Shape Simple 

Complex shapes, angles and curves are all ways to make your house….yes, less affordable. Squares and rectangles are the easiest designs to buy materials for and build. Top tip – ask your designer or draftsman to size rooms and spaces in accordance with material sizes, as it can help save wastage. 

3. Have as Few External Corners as Possible  

Corners around the exterior of your house = cost. Every external corner involves added flashings, labour to cut and install often tricky cladding sections, and the extra junctions often result in tricky roof details and shapes. 

4. Use Trusses for the Roof Structure, and a Flat Ceiling   

Trusses are widely known as the most affordable roof structure on a house. They utilise standard timber sizes which are readily available to truss manufacturers. Also, by having a flat ceiling (not raked) will mean less ceiling lining material, less GIB stopping and less painting, all helping with affordability. 

5. Keep the Roof Style Simple   

Stick with a simple mono-pitch, hip or gable roof structure. The less corners, junctions, parapets and valleys the better. A lower pitched roof will help minimise material use and assist the roofing installer, reducing roofing costs. 

6. Minimise the External Wall Length/Perimeter    

The less external wall length – the more affordable your home will be. Every extra metre of external wall length means more cladding, framing, insulation, painting….the list goes on. By keeping the house in a simple square or rectangle you’ll help the home be more affordable. (Arguably, a circle shaped home has the least external wall length…but circles aren’t easy to build!) 

7. Use Standard Joinery     

Choosing joinery from a standard suite, in standard sizes, will drastically reduce the cost of the aluminium joinery in your home. Many fabricators have standard joinery sizes, standard glass sizes and hardware which they can supply a lot cheaper than custom joinery. Take a look at the Starke Swift Series

8. Choose Economical, Low Maintenance Cladding      

By selecting cladding that is easy to install, doesn’t require painting (both on install and down the track), you can save yourself a lot of pennies. To help choose the right cladding for your project, take a look at our Wall Cladding Types & Prices guide. 

9. Simplify the Interior Fitout      

It’s fairly simple to build the shell of the home in an affordable manner, but it’s often the interior fitout where we let costs get out of control. Instead, only tile the floors of bathrooms, use acrylic showers, reduce the number of interior ‘features’, and shop around for affordable vanities and hardware. All these items seem small but quickly drive the cost of your project upwards, reducing affordability. 

10. Leave the Extras Until Later       

We get it. You want the pool, the concrete drive, the spa. But postpone those luxuries until you’ve built up your equity again, a year or two down the track. As Kiwis we want custom everything, but forgoing those luxuries will ensure your project remains affordable. 

To Conclude: 10 Ways to Make Your House Design More Affordable

We trust this guide on ways to make your house design more affordable has been an insightful and helpful read. These are only our top ten, there’s certainly many more which we haven’t covered. 

If we were to pick one – it’s size. Keep the size of your home down and you’ll automatically increase the affordability. Do away with those extra spaces and rooms and see what spaces you can use for multiple activities. 

And of course, if you wish to find out more information about building an affordable home, specifically designed to your site, get in touch with the  Arcline Team today

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