chiefuserrick

Cost estimating a house plan

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I have recently completed (as best as a novice user can) a house design for a potential retirement home in the mountains. My goal was twofold, learning Home Designer Pro and determining if the house plans of our dream home are in our estimated future budget at all. So I downloaded the material list to Excel and have attempted to estimate every item in the list. Not finding a good source on the web for building material costs, I mainly used Home Depot's website. At the end of a long day I added costs for a well, septic and HVAC system. But this is mostly just materials, does not include waste, nails, staples, caulking or adhesives and such. I added 20% for contingencies and 20% (material cost X 1.2) for home builders labor and profit. The final number is affordable at roughly $380K or about $150/sq ft living area. The home will be built in the western mountains of North Carolina not Manhattan.  What prompted this was a very brief phone call with a local builder who looked at the original architects plan brochure and high estimated it a around $700K (not affordable) due to the "40 corners" on the house foot print.The house is a 3 2 1/2 with a two car garage at 2600 sq ft living. All of the corners on the design are what gives it charm as we don't want a rectangular box to live in. So my question to the forum is, did I use reasonable means to price the materials and is a 20% markup high or low for the home builder.

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What matters is not what you estimate, but what the builder charges. 

 

What are other homes selling for in the area?

 

Do you really need 2600 sq ft in a retirement home? 

 

A builder friend is just finishing a spec build of about the same size and price. I'll run your numbers by him and report back.

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Best method I have used to date is to go with the following:

 

Normal frame construction=$130/sq ft living space. This assumes a 2 car garage which is fairly standard

 

Add $60/sq ft for any garage space over 700 sq ft

 

California or New England add $15/sq ft of total floor space

 

Alaska add $25/sq ft of total floor space

 

Brick or stone veneer add $7/sq ft of brick or stone wall

 

Hardwood flooring add $10-35/sq ft of wood floor, depending on species.

 

These calcs are labor and material for the structure and do NOT include cost for utilities/septic/land/landscape.

 

This will give you a very good estimate of costs in general, at least enough to make up a budget. But you will need to contact a builder in the location of the construction to get a proper quote.

 

So to summarize, a 2600 sq ft living and 3.5 car garage (estimated to be 1250 sq ft) dwelling in Alaska with NO brick or stone and NO hardwood flooring will cost

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It looks like you have allowed a 20% markup for overhead / Profit but I don't see anything for the Builder/subtrades Labour or subtrades materials or fixtures(electric/plumbing). Are cabinets in there ? countertops? appliances etc etc....

 

M.

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No decent contractor will work for free. If there is no profit in something, no apparent gain, why should anyone but you be interested? The conservative way to go would be to get three or more estimates from builders who have good references and track records. You can certainly be your own General Contractor, taking that responsibility for yourself. But your subcontractors intend to survive (make a living) as well, so there is a point past which something can and can't be done, no matter one's budget. You either get a larger budget or have smaller dreams that you can afford.

 

As a designer the easiest thing I can do is to design something beyond my client's budget. I learned this lesson early on that you serve the people you are working for and not one's grandiose ideas of an ideal Architecture.

 

DJP

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Hi, all, thanks for the advice. The materials list contains EVERYTHING that is in the design including the two cars in the garage and furniture. Framing, roofing ,siding, trim, cabinets, soapstone counter tops, flooring, fixtures ( stove, sinks,refrigerator, bathtub, toilets), decorative beams inside and out, insulation, windows, deck, all doors (including $3000 garage doors) hinges, door knobs, lighting, switches, outlets, a $15,000 hot tub, $5000 outside grill, fireplace, concrete driveway, sidewalk, some landscaping, drywall, paint + $5000 well, $5000 septic and $25000 HVAC. All for $271,000 not including furniture and cars which we own. We also own the property. So on top of the $271K , i added 20% contingency and another 20% labor/profit for a grand total of around $380K or just under $150.sq ft. some of the items have labor in them so my markup is 40% (in reality) over material cost.

 

When the time comes I will get 3 home builders to quote the job but I want to be armed with an idea of raw material costs so that I can mange their expectations rather top of the head quotes (eg $700K) to manage my expectations. I'm an engineer and project manager and this is how i think.

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My builder buddy reports a 35% difference between cost to build and selling price on one specific house. House was a simple build -- open, level lot, a rectangle except for a small bumpout for the eating area and 2 car garage that protrudes from the front.

 

Selling price was $385,000 for just over 2500 sq ft.

 

Not sure any of this is relevant at this was in Colorado. 

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maybe I misunderstand you ? not sure I want to work in TN if 20% is the going cost for Labour on a whole project , I know Labour must be cheaper there but 54K for all the labour?  wow....  

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My builder buddy reports a 35% difference between cost to build and selling price on one specific house. House was a simple build -- open, level lot, a rectangle except for a small bumpout for the eating area and 2 car garage that protrudes from the front.

 

Selling price was $385,000 for just over 2500 sq ft.

 

Not sure any of this is relevant at this was in Colorado. 

Not sure if this is valid number as we are not building this house to sell but the price and sq ft are very close to my final price as well as the sq ft. Thanks

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maybe I misunderstand you ? not sure I want to work in TN if 20% is the going cost for Labour on a whole project , I know Labour must be cheaper there but 54K for all the labour?  wow....  

I'm building in NC and the difference between my material cost and grand total is actually over 40%. 

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I'm building in NC and the difference between my material cost and grand total is actually over 40%. 

 

Ok , its more how you worded your OP , that Overhead/Profit AND Labour was 20%......

 

40% labour AND 20%  OH+Profit ?  that seems closer.....  for rough sqft pricing but the level of finish and the "details" can add substantially to the cost , and your originally "phone quote" wouldn't of had any ideas on that is my guess so I am not surprised he went high , he would also have been trying to ascertain IF you were serious of just Price Matching someone you were already working with etc...

 

M.

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I do takeoffs for homeowners and builders as part of my job at my building supply. If you have a plan, I can do one for you for a fee. I normally don't charge, but I must since I have no potential to furnish the materials. 

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