The current costs of residential construction projects

M. Jason Fisher of Content Architecture + Interiors provides us with very useful information regarding the current costs of construction for residential projects.

Construction Budgets Per Square Foot:

(Content Architecture + Interiors)

Before taking a look at the numbers below, we need to have a small discussion on what areas of the home should be included in the overall square foot calculation to come up with the overall construction budget. Historically, you would take the heating and cooled square foot area and multiply that by the dollar amount.

For example, if you were looking to build a 2400 square foot home, with 200 square foot of porch area and standard two car garage of approximately 440 square foot, you would take 2400sf x $225, which would be $540,000. As exterior spaces of the homes have gotten more advanced over the years, in regards to materials, elements, and sizes, we’ve seen where most builders disagree with that formula. Some builders like to use the formula of cost per square foot and multiply it by the entire square foot area of the conditioned and unconditioned space, which in this case would be 3040sf x $225, making the total cost $684,000. We’re not a huge fan of that calculation because it shouldn’t cost nearly that much for the garage and porch areas, but we do agree that is must cost something. What we recommend is multiplying those unconditioned areas by $75 per square foot, so there is cost included for those spaces, and you won’t have sticker shock when the pricing comes back from the potential General Contractor. With this example, we would have 640 square foot of nonconditioned space at the cost of $75 per square foot, totaling $48,000 and the conditioned space at $540,000 for a total of $588,000. Now onto the different price points:

$150.00 per Square Foot

Previously we thought the starting range would be at the $125.00 per square foot level, but we just haven’t seen it happen in awhile. Home developers and builders building the same houses over and over can get to $125.00 and less because of their ability to purchase things in higher quantities for homes, unlike a typical Architect designed project that is a one off. This budget class will get you a lovely home using standard construction techniques and a good level of finishes. Exterior will probably be all cement fiber products with a larger lap siding exposure and minimal trim or a mixture of stucco and siding. Windows and doors will be more entry level with only a very few larger openings, and probably vinyl frames. Roofs will be simple without many different heights or roof lines with composition shingles. More than likely you will be looking at a slab on grade foundation system, so this will typically require a flat lot with good soil. Exposed concrete floors or inexpensive pre-engineered wood flooring in a few spaces with tile in the bathrooms and carpet in the bedrooms. Plumbing and lighting fixtures typically found in one of the big box home improvement stores and an appliance package under $8,000.00 - $10,000.00 with standard cabinetry. You’re probably looking at builder-grade items at this price point.

$225.00 per Square Foot (+/- $25 per sf)

This price point is where we are now seeing the majority of our new build projects land. You can build a home for less, but usually, when an Architect is hired to design a home, the client is looking for something a bit more than standard. Exterior of the home can be cement fiber siding with smaller lap exposure and more interesting trim work, well applied smooth stucco systems and masonry elements. Windows can be fiberglass or clad wood windows, and larger opening can be introduced. Roofs can become more complex with other finish materials added, such as standing seam metal. Foundation allows for a more irregular site, and a stem wall foundation system can be incorporated. Larger spans with more advanced structural elements can be used. Insulation for the home can be spray foam throughout and features that increase the energy efficiency of the home can be introduced. Wood flooring can be used throughout the home, with higher allowances for other floor and wall finishes. You can have mid to higher grade plumbing fixtures (think Kohler) and nicer lighting fixtures. Appliances are now in the $15,000 - $20,000 range, and your choices for cabinetry and countertops begin to widen.

(Content Architecture + Interiors)