The home building industry is constantly trying to accomplish one thing: building a stylish, quality house for as little money as possible. This is easier to do in a strong economy when homes are selling, but things get tricky when real estate is flat, the economy is limping along, and the credit market is tight.

You can always buy land for cheap and use building panels and modular techniques to control costs. But how do you outfit your interiors—and exteriors—to look good without breaking the bank?

The trick is to get creative—to think outside the box, as it were. Yes, this is a cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. So let’s assume that you’ve done all the recommended things, such as chose a simple building form, used advanced framing techniques, and picked standard-sized windows and products. Now what? Now it’s time to use some imagination.

We have assembled here 10 money-saving tips and tricks that we’ve picked up from architects, designers, and forward-thinking builders. For example, U.S.-based architects have been preaching for a long time that plywood can be used for floors. Architects overseas also feel the same way. We have tracked down a house in Italy—yes, all the way over there—in which Italian architect Francesco Moncada used marine-grade plywood flooring to great effect in a stunning remodel. You can see the entire house on the design e-zine dezeen.

The following architectural features might not work for every buyer—or every builder, for that matter—but they could pay off big for those who want to get creative.

Nigel F. Maynard is a senior editor at Builder magazine.