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Costing out Concept House Plan


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By Randy in cameron, AL on 3/14/2002


Requesting any assistance and advice regarding costing out my concept house plan. I'm about 18 months from retirement and currently don't live in the area where we plan to build. My wife and I have gone through searching a number of plans to identify what we want and have drawn our concept plan using a home architect software package. Before we take our draft plans to a Home Designer/Architect we want to ensure our house plan will be within the ball park of our planned budget. Our plans call for building a custom two story home with garage and an unfinished basement. The current plan has approximately 4000 SF of livable/heated area (approx. 3000 SF 1st floor,1000SF upstairs, and 2200 unfinished basement). Our target budget is around $280000. We already own the land and plan to do our own landscaping and some of the finish carpentry and cabinet work. What is the best method to cost out our plan for feasibility before we go to a professional Designer, is livable/heated Square Footage or total Square footage the best way to go? If total square footage is the best method to approximate, then how do I calculate basement, garage, and unfinished upstairs areas? Just don't want to spend the money having our plans drafted and fine out later that it is too much house for our budget. The current Real-Estate market in the area cost $85-$90 per heated SF for existing homes. I assume building a two story house is cheaper than a single story because of the footprint and roofing area. Would appreciate any help regarding these questions. 
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By Jeffrey in Vail, AZ on 3/20/2002


This is a tough question, I think. I didn't look at your location, but from the general 'rules of thumb' that I have heard, I think that you are going to be really close, one way or the other. You can go to this link: building-cost.net/. It gives a jumping off point. In relative terms, basement space should be cheap, as long as you are in a suitable location. More excavating, more concrete, or block, and more labor, but very little finishing, which is the expensive bit. I am thinking maybe $20/sq foot, but that is a real stab in the dark. I always thought that a second floor space was cheaper, but I have heard some say that it isn't really as much cheaper as you'd think. The rest of the house has to be built to support it, there's more high work (scaffolding, etc.). Cost really depends on where you are. Remember that the numbers the real estate people are talking about include the land. You own yours, so your cost is less. Maybe you talk to a custom builder, and get an idea of his price range for a house similar to what you want. As owner builder, you expect to beat this. At this point you would want to be conservative, so maybe only give yourself 15% or so. Then see what you think. In a way, I think that you need to be prepared to pay what the builder would charge, if that is too much, then maybe the project should be rethought.
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By Pete in Boulder, CO on 12/19/2002


I spoke to a couple of bankers regarding our O-B project. Most of them require you to get a bid from a licensed GC even if you act as GC. The reason for this is the bank wants to be sure that if you get injured or lose interest, there is someone there who can complete the project and the economics of it still make sense. In any case, even if your bank does not require this, I would get a couple of bids just and then compare it to your budget. Then you can see exactly how much potentially you can save. Good luck on your project.
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By Nancy in Tampa, FL on 11/13/2003


We took our plans to 5 different builders to get a ball park estimate on cost. They came pretty close to each other. Then we decided to try it ourselves. With what we learned interview builders we were able to start getting costs from different subs and suppliers. Once satisfied, we made our decision to build ourselves with the help of a construction sub who would work for us and make sure the subs were doing good quality work and check deliveries for quality of items ordered.
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By Greg on 12/7/2003


3
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By Nancy in Tampa, FL on 3/29/2004


Hi Greg! Thanks again for the tickets. Suggestion for Forums: Have a Subject titled "Contracts, Forms, Projet Mgmt". Where people can post for download or post that they are willing to share theirs or post a request. Would help us all keep the costs down and save our time if we could share these things with each other. I prefer a place where one could upload and download these things. Saves a person from having to send it out to upteen xxx peoples requests. I ordered the Owner/Builder CD Rom ver 2 about two plus weeks ago and still haven't received it. So a site like this could help. TNX Nancy
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By Jeff in Provo, UT on 3/29/2004


Nancy, I'll make sure that you get the CD ASAP. I'm not sure what happened. The forum that you suggested has been added.
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By Nancy in Tampa, FL on 3/30/2004


Thanks Jeff! Nancy
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By Nancy in Tampa, FL on 3/30/2004


Hi Jeff.........Where did you put it? Can you send me the direct link? TNX
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By Lynnette in Orlando, FL on 4/29/2004


Hi Nancy, I live in Orlando and was curious as to what kind of sq ftg price you got from the different contractors you talked to. Since we don't do basements in this state I think you and I could more accurately compare apples to apples. My neighbor out at my lot O-B his house about 4 years ago or so and when he got a loan from the bank they alloted $45'sq on the loan. His wife told me they came well under that (the house is 4,000'sq) and it was done in 4.5 months. It is really beautiful too and they did many upgrades. I just wanted to compare their situation with what you were told by contractors. maybe we could also share information on subs and suppliers?!
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By Nancy in Tampa, FL on 5/11/2004


Lynette, with prices going up and all we seem to be hovering between $45 and $50 a sq ft. Your finish can determine your final overall price. Just shop and shop and hopefully not in a hurry to purchase. You can find what you want for your budget. I also am putting my money where it counts and either going with a lower price or waiting to do it later. Also doing some of the work yourself where you can. We can save about $8000 by doing the painting ourselves. I've talked with other O-B's and I've have a 100% feedback that painting is okay to do......Good Luck!
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By Nancy in Tampa, FL on 5/11/2004


Hi Jeff......I still can't find the forum titled "Contracts". Which forum did you put it in? I think a Forum of it's own would be better. Otherwise people will be putting contracts, project mgmt etc., in other places. If they are all in one place people can pick and choose as needed. Thanks!
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By Lynnette in Orlando, FL on 5/12/2004


Nancy, thankfully we have many connections for suppliers as well as some labor. Due to the nature of my husbands business I think we will be able to come out at the $45-$50 sq ft price. I do have a friend who is a sales rep for a construction supply company and he priced me out some building materials. He says that they only do roofing materials, metal studs, stucco mix, and drywall, but that is a great start. Also, we are able to get set up as a sub-dealer for Kraftmaid cabinets and are in the process of that right now. I still don't know the pricing of that yet, but I am sure it will be much better than I otherwise would have found. My husband and I would like to take everything that we are able to access and try to find a way to help other O-B's to purchase their construction supplies for the lowest possible price. We are also looking into that. He already has accounts set up from many years ago to purchase corian and formica, so that is no problem. I am now in the process of trying to track down the best pricing on lighting. I keep quizzing my husband as to what he realistically feels he will end up doing himself as far as labor and he says definitely no roofing, electrical, or drywall. Those are projects he despises even though he has the ability to do them himself. We already own an airless sprayer, so painting would be no problem. We also have an account with a flooring distributor and can get carpet and tile at cost. We were able to purchase our ceramic tile for our current home at $.76/foot a couple of years ago. Realistically I know we will be able to do more upgrades because of our connections and hope to be able to come out further ahead than we are estimating right now and be able to throw a pool in too. I have a cousin whose brother in law is a rebar contractor on pools, so he could probably hook us up with other pool contractors and we would contract the pool out ourselves too. My husband says that is all pool company's do, general contract out the materials and subs and charge us for it. I now know for a fact that he is correct.
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By Nancy in Tampa, FL on 7/28/2004


Lynette, Can you send me some of your supplier name & phone numbers along with what can of a deal you got? I find that some say they are giving builders pricing but when I check the web they are within $5 of retail. We Owner-Builders need to save money. Right now I'm doing Kitchen & Bath fixtures. TNX in advance for the help.

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By Lynnette in Orlando, FL on 7/28/2004


Nancy, My husband and I were discussing the plumbing fixtures just last night. He said when we go to price them out we will be getting them from his cousin's company that he works for. His cousin is a plumbing installer in new million dollar homes in this area. He will be doing the installation at our property when we get started and also supply the fixtures at cost. I really don't know what price cost is right now, but I will talk to him and see if I can get any info from him right now, and also I will ask if I can order anything from them now so that if the price is right maybe you can order from them too. It is difficult to get a straight answer from my DH since he is so involved in a huge project from work these days, but I promise to get you an answer soon. Also, my plans are not totally finished so we have yet to be able to bid anything out. I do know that flooring we can for sure get at cost. That includes, tile, carpet and linoleum. If you give me your e-mail address I will forward you the e-mail I got from my friend who is a rep for a construction supply company. He gave me pricing info on it and you can see and compare with what you have. Let me know what (if any) difference you find.
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By Nancy in Tampa, FL on 7/29/2004


Thanks Lynnette, it's theeldreds@tampabay.rr.com
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