The short answer is yes, for a while. But...

It takes a good understanding of the short and long term tradeoffs in the choices that you make. Some things you need to think about when balancing your choices are:

  • Maintenance Cost - When paint became lead free it also became less effective in protecting wood. If you want to spend more on regualr repainting costs go with wood. If you want a maintenace free exterior go with brick or stone.
  • Replacement Cost versus Durability - If an item lasts the lifetime of the house, it may appear more expensive now but will not requirement replacement ten years out. If you plan on keeping the cost for a while, keep track of the expenses you'll have later or the costs you'll have when its time to restore the house to "like new" condition.
  • Unforseen Problems - There are a lot of new housing innovations that appear to be less costly now but may have unforseen problems. For example EFIS, short for External Foam Insulating Sytem, was (and still is) marketed as a low cost alternative to brick. But brick exteriors rarely if ever cause problems. However, when EFIS has problems it can be very expensive to repair.
  • New Problems - I can't recall ever seeing a serious mold problem with older homes constructed with "old fashioned" materials. I've only found mold problems in newer homes built with newer "cost saving" materials.
  • Resale Value - Some items like granite counters often translate into higher market value and marketability. If you put these items in when you build, you get to enjoy them while you own the house.

One last thought. Extra costs for quality materials typically end up in the mortgage. Costs for repair and maintenance often come at the worst possible time.

William S. Briggs

William S. Briggs, Architect, pllc

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