Home Building Cost


Below are some of the results from the "Ask George" files for Home Building Cost.

More Information on Home Building Cost can be found on the Home Building Cost page.

These questions were submitted thru my contact form which can be found on the "You Can Build Your Own Home" Ask George Page.
   
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Home Building Cost
Home Building Cost, The "Ask George" Files Home Building Cost
From Andy:

Hi George, I'm going to build a house in nc, I picked out a house plan from Don Gardner and submitted it to 2 builders. one was $10,000 less the other, is this normal?

Response:

Hello Andy,

When we got our bids some were 25K apart. You do need to make sure you are specific in what you want exactly from the builder so they are bidding properly.

All the best,

George
Home Building Cost
Home Building Cost, The "Ask George" Files Home Building Cost
From Clyde:

George, I have found a good online calculator for figuring the cost of construction. It seems to be right on with what I think the costs should be. I have built 4 of my own houses and have a pretty good handle on costs (Well I think so anyway...LOL!) The site is www.building-cost.net They get their numbers from the National building cost manual. See what you think of it and if its worth you can add it to your site.

Response:

Hello Clyde,

Thanks for the great tip! I will check it out. I haven't had much success in the past, it would be a great to have a good estimator for the website.

All the best,

George Stevens
Home Building Cost
Home Building Cost, The "Ask George" Files Home Building Cost
From Marie:

Hi George. AWESOME site. I told my husband that there has got to be somebody out there like him who does something and then shares it with the world for free. Kindred spirits.

We are about to embark on the house building journey. We would like to know one thing in addition to all the wonderful material here: What is the average cost per square foot to build? I know there are vast regional differences, but what's the bottom line for you?

Sorry if I missed it on the site, still haven't explored everything yet.

Response:

Hello Marie,

Thanks for the kind words. Sorry about the late response. I get a huge amount of e mail and I do my best to answer every one.

The cost per square foot, as you mention varies greatly, as per region and of course personal taste. Without our land we came in at around 67 per square foot. Now before you say, no way you can do that let me explain.

We got bids from builders that came in at average around 110 per square foot. I am sure that the builders had a little bit of room for the old low ball effect. As you know you always add stuff along the way, and as the saying goes, that is how they get ya. So reality was going to be around 130 or so.

How did we get from 130 to 67,you ask? Good question! We did a lot of the work ourselves, and squeezed every penny we could find. We painted and finished the inside of the house. That saved us around 16 thousand minimum. It was a huge job, and I don't know if I would do it again. We did all of our own clean up and landscaping. Probably saved another 10K. We put in our own sprinkler system and saved another 6K. I could go on, but you get the point.

We also selected our contractors and materials carefully. This alone saved us many thousands. For example the trim carpenter bids ranged from 12k to 28k with us supplying the materials.

My advice is slow down and research every aspect. Take your time and do as much research prior to construction as possible.

When we moved in we had 130k of equity. I don't mean to brag, I just want people to know what is possible if they are willing to put in the effort.

Happy home building,

George Stevens
Home Building Cost
Home Building Cost, The "Ask George" Files Home Building Cost
From Rick:

Hi, Great site!! you talk about saving 30 to 40% but you never mention if the land is included in that estimate. If you already own the land, what % savings over a spec home in a subdivision would be seen? over 40to 50? Thanks so much for the site!!

Response:

Hello Rick,

30 to 40% is an estimate. We owned our land when we built. I bought it a year before we started. Custom builders wanted 95 to 130 dollars per square foot to build our home, we did it for 67.

I did some of the work myself and was careful with how I spent money. If you plan you can save a considerable amount, but it takes time and dedication.

Planning and research is the key.

Happy home building,

George Stevens
Home Building Cost
Home Building Cost, The "Ask George" Files Home Building Cost
From Nickolas:

I have a question, a few questions and a few comments. I think what you are doing it great. It's giving average Joe's a chance at having a really nice house for almost half the cost. I would like to know how much did you house end up costing you vs. if you were to have had it built. Also, what all did you do yourself with your house? When I build my house I plan on doing as much as I can to save money, but I know there will be things I should leave to the pros (i.e. plumbing, electrical, foundation). But things like excavating, landscaping, even laying floors and carpet are right up my alley. Thanks.

Response:

Hello Nick,

We went out for bids from builders and they ranged between 95 and 130 per square foot. The lower cost builders were quoting without high end fixtures and flooring etc.. just trying to get the bid. I think we could have got a builder to complete the house for around 110. We built it for 67.

We did all the landscaping, painted the inside and did all the staining and finish work. We also did all the clean up and put in our own sprinkler. I was very picky on contractors. I did not always go with the cheapest. We did some of the finish carpentry work that was not in the original bid.

If we had contracted all the work it would have taken the price per square foot up to around 75.

If you will be financing the construction you need to think carefully about what you can do yourself. You do not want to hold up the process. Also if you have a full time job, as I do it is hard to get enough time off to do all the work yourself. For instance I can lay ceramic tile but used a contractor because I just did not have the time to lay all of it. I would have also been in every bodies way for a long time doing it myself.

If I can give you one piece of advice it is plan and organize. Take your time and think it through. Find all the answers up front and then proceed.

All the best,

George
Home Building Cost
Home Building Cost, The "Ask George" Files Home Building Cost
From Darrin:

Hello George,

I have a question for you regarding figuring out building cost. I read here that I should find new housing and see how much they cost. New housing prices always include the price of the land. How do I separate the cost of the house from the land it was built on?

Response:

Many new developers in planned communities sell the land and the houses. When we built the last time we shopped for land in several subdivisions that also offered different builders and house plans to build the house of your choice.

Most of these subdivisions would not allow you to build your own home. They also have a limit on how long you can wait after purchasing the lot before you build.

Hope this helps,

George
Home Building Cost
Home Building Cost, The "Ask George" Files Home Building Cost
From Lynda:

Hay George,

Great site!!!

Question? A question under "Home Building Cost Estimate", gave a website that has a caculator, "Building-Cost.net". I used the calculator and it estimated around 13% for the general contract (builder). You have a savings of 30-40% if I general contract the job myself. How can this be? I know you and your wife did alot of the work yourselves. Did you include your labor (painting, etc.) in the 30-40% savings? Maybe I miss-understood. I thought you meant as the general contractor I would save 30-40%. :}

Response:

Hello Lynda,

Great question... this cuts to the heart of the matter! What am I REALLY going to save by building my own home?

We built our house for 67 per square foot... our formal written bids from General Contractors (licensed builders) were anywhere from 95 to 130 per square foot. If we had not done some of the work ourselves I am sure it would have cost substantially more. Interior Painting alone would have cost us at least 16K more.

When we built we compared the cost of building vs. buying in an area that had comparable houses that we built. We would have had to pay a minimum of 30% more for the house and not gotten what we really wanted. This was for a turn key house ready to move in.

Every General Contractor, Owner Builder Program, Building Supervisor etc.. has a different price structure on how they make their money. For instance most GC's will build the house turnkey supplying all the materials from companies of their choice. They all charge more for upgrades to higher end products. This is all built into their profit margin.

A Building Supervisor just charges a flat fee, or a per square foot fee to supervise the construction. You will more than likely purchase all the building materials yourself with no additional markup.

Owner Builder programs are hybrids of all of the above mentioned. Some provide plans, building materials, loans and charge a per square foot fee. Some just charge you a per square foot fee and let you select from plans they have and modify them.

There is no pat answer to exactly what a GC charges to build a house. The programs are all different with different pricing structures there is no exact number. I suspect what the home building cost calculator has done is pick a nice round number for all of the above on the safe side to make everybody happy.

The best answer that I can give you is do your very best to compare apples to apples. In other words, what are you going to get by using a GC, an Owner Builder Program, or a Building Supervisor? The problem with comparing one to the other is they all have different programs so the only common denominator is the HOUSE ITSELF. There is no messing around with that! What exactly will you charge me to build THIS EXACT HOUSE? This your the apple...your starting point!!!

That is how you really compare and see if it is worth your time and effort to build your own home. What we did was get a set of plans and modify them to meet our needs and CLEARLY DEFINE the house WE wanted, then compare one program to the other. This is the only way to be sure you are getting what YOU want for your money.

I want to leave you with one thought. "What is not well defined is easily manipulated". Your job is to define the house YOU want very well, so you can compare services to build the house, or build it yourself. It is that simple, and that hard. It is a lot of work but OH so worth it!

In the end you may find out that the GC can build you a house that you want, at a price that YOU can live with. That was not the case for us. Our house was, and still is, our dream home. The question is: WHAT DO YOU WANT?

Remember the Build Your Own Home motto is Research.... Research.... Research.

Thanks for the GREAT question and Happy Home Building!

George

Response From Lynda:

Thanks George,

I didn't expect such a prompt reply!

This is my dilemma. Did the egg come first or the chicken??? :} I am trying to determine how much square footage I can fit into my budget. It seems backwards to me to purchase plans for the square footage I want and then find that the total cost for that square footage won't work for me. The logical approach to me would be to find what the average "cost per square foot" for the grade of house I want to build.

This is not our dream home, I just need to get as much average to good grade square feet as I can. I know that to get exact cost has to come from the plans, but I'm just looking for the average. I did what you suggested and asked a local builder what it would cost me per square foot for a medium quality home and visited some model homes to check prices. With eliminating the GC's fee, mark up on products and labor, and some do-it-yourself I figured a 20% savings off of what I found to be the average cost per square foot. I felt pretty confident at what I could afford square footage-wise until I went to the website with the calculator. It took all the wind out of my sails. It was about $15 higher per square foot than my calculations. For some that might not be much, but for me that added more up front money and an increase of $365.00 on my monthly payment (my budget was already stretched).

I plan to contact some more of the builders in my area tomorrow and see what I can come up with. I hope it's encouraging, I sure didn't want to buy a mobile home... :{

Response From George:

Hello Lynda,

I understand your dilemma. This is why I really don't endorse any cost estimation software. I like to define things better before I commit my finances. In my opinion the hardest part of building a house is all the up front work. If you do it right then everything else goes much better.

Don't get discouraged! Continue your research until you are sure what you are doing. Make sure you take the time you need. If it takes a few weeks or even months of your spare time and you get the house you want at a good price then it was worth it.

All the best,

George
Home Building Cost
Home Building Cost, The "Ask George" Files Home Building Cost





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