A key focus for the success of your new home is to address the budget early and realistically. You should always expect value and beauty for your money, but also understand that value is more than just low price. Value is a combination of price, quality, service, operating costs of the project, maintenance costs, and resale value.
Engaging with your builder early in the design phase of the project is essential, and it's during this phase when the budget is best addressed. Every project can be beautifully designed around your budget. The most common mistake builder's encounter is when clients engage the architect or designer before selecting the builder.
Often when working with an architect first the tendency is to over design the project, over size the project, or both. Some architects are better at understanding construction costs, but your builder will provide accurate design guidance from a cost perspective. All too often clients will spend $5,000, $10,000 or more on the plans, only to find that the cost far exceeds their budget. This is easily prevented with early builder involvement.
A common mistake is to engage several builders for “free” cost estimates. If plans are dropped off without clear specifications, it's then left up to the imagination and the scruples of the builder to only assume what you want. Unfortunately the quality of these estimates many times will be proportional to the "free" price. Proper estimates when done right, can take the builder several days, all while getting to know you, communicating with you and understanding your ideas and wishes for your project. You deserve a better project in all aspects, and will find far greater success and best results by working with an experienced builder that understands all the valued components of your project.
Wishing you great success in creating your ideal home!