Are Modern Homes More Expensive to Build?

Are modern homes more expensive to build?

Are Modern Homes More Expensive to Build?

“Many sources online will tell you that modern homes are more expensive to build, but as an architect, I am telling you they are not.” – Chelsea Anderson, AIA (Architect / Founder at Habitable Form)

As an Architect, I often get asked the question, are modern homes more expensive to build? There is a huge misconception that modern homes are more expensive to build. Well let me give away the conclusion and tell you – they don’t have to be!

Efficient Floor Plans

The budget can stay low in a modern home with the use of formal geometry. Traditional homes often have architectural details where the exterior walls move in and out and this can become expensive. These architectural details may be to emphasize a doorway or a picture window, or a specific roofline. These additional corners on the geometry of the footprint of the home get expensive. This means more work for the foundation crew, and more likelihood of the footprint becoming inaccurate. This can also mean trim material for the siding, and a more difficult roof geometry for the framers and roofers. Builders look at the floor plan of a modern home and are joyful to see how simple the footprint is. A simple footprint can make their job much easier.

Asymmetrical Design

In order to serve symmetry in traditional design, often floor plans become inefficient. There are areas of the home that go underutilized. This comes out of a support for the but solely serve the formal design and symmetry. The modern design removes the formal rules to allow the home to function very efficiently.

Open Plan

Many people like the aesthetic appeal of a colonial home but I promise will not want to live the way they did in the 1800s. Do you want to go back to a time with no plumbing and air conditioning? The modern movement became popular in the mid-20th century and our culture in the home had shifted. Now we seek connection and interaction in the main areas of our home. It has become popular to knock down walls in older homes to achieve the open-plan lifestyle.

Modern design comes with open-plan living baked-in.

Minimal Ornamentation

Ornamentation on traditional homes can be expensive! Many traditional designs come with ornate columns, crown molding, and detailed window trim. In the modern movement, much of this ornamentation was stripped away as much of the reason it was originally there for is no longer needed. With the implementation of modern building practices, crown molding is no longer needed to cover the seam between the ceiling and walls and exterior window trim is not needed with the implementation of rainscreens. In the cases where trim is needed, it is paired back in modern design and can be provided with stock-supplied lumber at a low cost.

Big Windows

When many people think of a modern home they imagine large windows. Many modern homes have large windows to bring in natural light and views to the outdoors. This comes as a huge benefit to homeowners and is absolutely worth the added expense. With the larger openings can increase the costs of the structure to support it.

So, Are Modern Homes More Expensive to Build?

Now it goes without saying that any home can become expensive, modern or traditional, it is all in your choices as the homeowner. If you work closely with your architect and builder you can stick to your budget regardless of what it is and regardless of the style you chose that best reflects you and your lifestyle. We would love to help you design a home that aligns with the lifestyle of your family, reach out to us to talk about your home!

AuthorChelsea Anderson

Award-winning architect Chelsea Anderson is the founder and lead architect of Habitable Form and lecturer for the Clemson University Graduate School of Architecture at the Clemson Design Center Charleston.

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