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5 Areas Not to Skimp on When Building a New Home
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Amanda Ringler

By: Amanda Ringler on August 21st, 2019

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5 Areas Not to Skimp on When Building a New Home

energy efficient home  |  new home construction

You’re building the house of your dreams that you and your family will love and cherish for the years to come.

When it comes to your budget you’ve already planned where you’re going to splurge a little, but there are likely some areas you’re not thinking of. These are places where you don’t want to go with the cheapest options because it could end up costing you even more money further down the line.

RetroFoam of Michigan has been insulating homes across the lower peninsula since 2002. In that time, we have helped with our fair share of new build homes, so we have a pretty good idea where you shouldn’t skimp on cost.

In our continued efforts to educate homeowners, we have done some research to find the top areas of the home where you shouldn’t cut costs on.

Where Not to Cut Costs When Building a New Home

I’m sure you think we’re going to talk about the kitchen or the bathroom, but honestly, there are other things in your home that will take precedence over those countertops.

From your HVAC system to your insulation, let’s take a deep dive into splurging on these features to consider when building a new home.


You don’t have to break the bank on the windows for your home, but you definitely don’t want to cheap out on them either.

Specifically, what you should look for are double pane windows with the Energy Star logo. Something else to look out for is windows with a low emissivity coating. This means there is a thin metallic coating added to the window that keeps heat inside the house in cold climates. It also works to keep heat out in hotter climates, so it’s a win-win.

HVAC System

Your HVAC system is another great place to throw money at when building your new home.

The key to buying the best system for your home will be the testing done by your HVAC contractor to make sure you get the right-sized system for your home. A Manual J calculation will ensure you’re not wasting money on a system that is too big for your home.

A properly sized HVAC system won’t cost you money in the long run and will help with your energy efficiency goals.


There is an advantage to buying Energy Star appliances – the money they’ll save you on utility bills.

This goes for every appliance in your home, whether it’s your refrigerator, your furnace, or your washer and dryer. You might think it is better to just buy cheaper appliances so you can spend more in other areas of your home, but that cheaper price tag comes at a cost.

Energy Star appliances might cost a little more upfront but will save you money each month because they run much more efficiently.


You are going to want your roof to last a long time.

The climate you live in really determines the average lifespan of a roof. For example, asphalt shingles found in cooler climates will last longer than those found in warmer climates. Here is the average lifespan of the most commonly used roofing materials, according to RGB Construction Services.

  • EPDM (rubber): 10 to 16 years.
  • Built-up or modified bitumen: 10 to 16 years.
  • Asphalt shingles (3-tab): 15 to 18 years.
  • Asphalt shingles (architectural): 24 to 30 years.
  • Metal: 30 to 45 years.
  • Concrete tile: 35 to 50 years.

What you choose really comes down to your budget. Architectural asphalt shingles are what you commonly see on homes across the U.S. They are an affordable option that is more durable and has a longer lifespan than the 3-tab shingles.


You might not be well versed in all things home insulation but it’s important to choose the right material so you don’t have to spend more later to replace it or upkeep it.

Both fiberglass and cellulose are options for your new home, but both of these materials have a shelf life. As early as 15 years in some cases fiberglass may need to be replaced. Cellulose on the other hand, in spaces like the attic, needs to be maintained frequently to ensure you have the coverage you need to slow down air leaks.

Another option available to you is open cell spray foam insulation. This material is the only one that can create an air seal that will keep the air you pay to heat or cool inside where it belongs. Spray foam also works to keep outdoor air and pollutants out as well. 

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends creating an air barrier in a new build home to prevent air leakage. This leakage accounts for more than 30 percent of a home’s heating and cooling costs.

Smart Budgeting While Building a New Home

These areas we discussed are all places that can help you save money in the long run in your brand new home.

Now, we’re not saying you can’t splurge on the marble countertops or jacuzzi jets in the bathtub, because your house should feel like home to you when it’s completed. 

These areas we suggested above are places where you will see a return on your investment, which will be great further down the line.

Related Articles:

6 Tips to Get on the Same Page with Your Building Code Inspector During New Home Construction

Michigan Insulation Code: New Home Insulation Requirements

Spray Foam Insulation for New Build Homes: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Foam Insulation Learning Center

About Amanda Ringler

Amanda previously has worked as a breaking news and crime reporter, TV news producer, and editor in Flint and Detroit. Throughout her career as a journalist, she has won several awards from the Detroit Chapter of Society of Professional Journalists and the Michigan Press Association. As part of the RetroFoam of Michigan family, Amanda uses her experience as a journalist to write content that will help educate homeowners on the benefits of foam insulation. When Amanda isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and rescued huskies. She also loves knitting, making art, cooking, and hosting dinner and a movie night for friends and family.