With so many choices of building materials and house components and parts available today, how can you ever know which is best for your home building or remodeling project? The answer comes from learning what you can expect of the materials or building components, deciding what you want to pay, and thinking about what suits your house design or remodeling project. The first consideration in choosing building materials and parts for your house is cost. But, cost is a relative term.

With building materials, as with most things we buy, the less expensive something is initially, the shorter its life-span usually is. There are some exceptions to this rule, but most of the time you can count on replacing or repairing the less expensive item sooner than the one that costs more at the outset. Unless your budget is extremely limited, I suggest you consider the life-cycle cost method of analysis. Life-cycle cost refers to the actual cost of a building material over a period of time.

For example, if roof shingle “A” cost 1 ½ times roof shingle “B,” but roof shingle “B” will last twice as long as shingle “A,” shingle “B” will actually be cheaper over the time frame of two installations of shingle “A.” Its life-cycle cost is lower because one installation of it is cheaper than two installations of the other over its life-cycle. If you plan to own your house for more than a few years, you’ll want to consider the cost of building materials and building components in this way. Another life-cycle cost consideration is the cost of energy. Less costly windows may not be as energy efficient as more expensive windows. The energy savings of better windows, better insulation, or a more efficient heating and air conditioning system might offset much of the initial cost over time.

But cost is not the only factor you should use when selecting building materials or components. The aesthetics are extremely important. Only you can put a value on how something looks. We all make these decisions from different viewpoints. Are shingles with a thicker, slate-like look worth the extra money? They might be if your house has a prominent roof. A good looking roof material might be the pivotal factor in making sure the house will look great.

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