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Ballparking Cost/Sq. Ft.


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By Bruce in Oceanside, CA on 7/16/2006


I am just starting this venture and I have downloaded the spreadsheets.  I am planning to build a single story, 2800-3500 sq ft., in the area around Parker, Colorado.  I am aiming for a custom level of quality.  Excluding land, I'd like some help in "ballparking" the cost/square foot so I can use it in the spreadsheets and get a baseline in place.

Anyone have some thoughts on this?


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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 7/17/2006


Bruce,

  Even though you see $/sq ft numbers all over the place, I don't know how valuable that information is.  For one thing, it's not linear.  A 5000 sq ft house does not cost 2x as much as 2500 sq ft house of the same style and level of finish.  I would guess that O-B's end up anywhere between $50/sq.ft. and $150/sq.ft.  I know $150 sounds outrageous, but the latest Fine Homebuilding shows a custom house in La Jolla that cost something like $290/sq.ft.

  I would be very careful about estimating your build cost by selecting a $/sq ft number and multiplying that by your living area, if that's what you had in mind.

  A better approach might be to try the building cost estimator at build-net.com.  They take some basic information about your house and give you a good starting point for your finance calcs.

building-cost.net/

Good Luck!

Jon


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By Bruce in Oceanside, CA on 7/19/2006


Jon, Thank you, thank you. That is more than what I was hoping for and seems to be an excellent toll to use both for playing with ideas and having something to use with the other tools on this site. Bruce
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By Jon in Ellicott City, MD on 7/21/2006


Bruce,

  Glad I could help.  You might want to apply a "safety factor" on the numbers you get from build-cost - multiply their number by 1.2 or 1.25 and use that as your projected cost.  If you are disciplined enough to build to the cost they estimate, the savings will be a pleasant bonus.  If you slip a little on your budget (which we all seem to do), you'll have a little room in your budget for it.

Good Luck with your project!!

Jon


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By Tim in Dunlap, TN on 7/21/2006


If I use the build-cost.net software and accurately put in information the final cost to build a 1827 sq ft house with a 600 sq ft porch gives me a cost of $265,000. In my area I can buy a new construction 2964 sq ft house for $269,000 . I can't figure out why the discrepancy in price since they are similar homes. Builders around here charge anywhere from $75-100 a sq ft. Should I just wait and try to bid everything or is it possible that a builder could simply build cheaper. It is a pretty cut-throat business around here.

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By Tom in Stroudsburg, PA on 7/21/2006


Tim I think you hit the button for the Gold Brick driveway. Seriously though, you're not the first to have discrepancies with these so called costing programs. It is way high for standard construction but as you said, it lets you try out a few different options and allows you to see its impact. Once you narrow down what you want then you can join the rest of use that ran around getting preliminary numbers from contractors. If you O-B remember to keep your numbers on the high side, costs continue to rise...... I think faster than the house....


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By Kolan in Somerset, KY on 7/22/2006


Tim,

We are also in the planning stages.  I entered my information on a 4000 sq ft with 600 sq ft porches, 1200 sq ft garage all grade 1 quality and got 314,000 for labor and materials.  If I add the GC markup and his insurance etc. the cost goes to $397,000.  So I do not know why you got these numbers.  But I can tell you most GC put grade 3 quality in the construction, which dropped my cost to 270,000 for materials and labor.  I agree with you proper budgeting and costing of our projects are so important.  Has anyone out there actually used costing software or did everyone get bids from GCs and use that for their budget?  Thanks.

Kolan

 


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By Tim in Dunlap, TN on 7/22/2006


Kolan,

I think that when you add the square footage for the porch into the building-cost.net software I think it may skew the numbers as the computer is looking at it as living space. A GC told me that the cost for building was $75 a sq ft and he generally charged another $40 a sq ft for a porch though another GC said it generally costs him about $20 a sq ft. I have figured out it will be hard to build for a significant savings versus just letting a GC do it. Most people that use a GC still tend to have about 20-25% equity against their appraisal. An O-B might do 15% better if they are lucky and plan and shop well. Back to the software, I think it also is not able  to take very local conditions into account. GCs and subs in the area often undercut each others bids to get the job at the expense of a good profit and one building supply sales at cost. These are conditions the software just can't account for.

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