While the high end is rocking again, how to attract first-time buyers is a question on everyone’s mind. You’ve heard the reasons why it remains a prickly problem: The down payment. The loan. Student debt. Just plain playing it safe in a nerve-racking economy. Turning renters into buyers is a matter of cutting costs, “a hard pill for many architects to swallow because we’re trained to strive for perfection and uniqueness,” says Donald Powers, principal of Providence, R.I.-based Union Studio Architecture & Community Design. But once you accept economy as a design exercise, it can be fun. “Being creative with simple is what makes a production house good,” Powers says, “but you have to understand how it’s going to be built.”

While design is an important part of the affordability equation, so, too, are factors such as land and labor. See below for a list of seven strategies to consider from those who have already cracked the code.

The Seven Strategies