Building a traditional colonial

Rory20January 29, 2014

We are planning a new construction outside Philly.

I wanted to share a inspiration picture and wanted to get a rough estimates of what some of you more experienced folks think it would cost to build something similar with about 3000 square feet. Is 550K to 600K building cost totally unrealistic?

Ideally we would like 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Some other dream "wants" are hardi plank exterior siding, wide plank floors, marble/ soap stone in kitchen with minimal upper cabinets but a generous walk in pantry.

We would like also to consider a loft like space (like in the inspiration photo- above garage) and basement that we could complete in future so that we can keep initial cost down and expand at later time. If that a reasonable idea?

We understand the area we like to build is expensive but location is important to us so like to know how we can keep cost down.

I understand we are asking for a lot but just wanted to draw on experiences of those who built and get some kind of realist picture.

I also want to add that we saw a lot of homes in our preferred areas and we did not like anything we saw. Most houses are built with wasted spaces, or too large or too cookie cutter. Ultimately we decided that it may just be better to start from scratch.

I will be deeply grateful for all your guidance and help.

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No, you won't get that for $550-600K in suburban Philadelphia, at least not in Chester Co as far out as Tredyffrin Township.

You could get a house that *looks like this, but it will be stucco-front with vinyl siding on the rest and more conventional prefinished flooring.

I was involved in a project that was slightly larger, but they already owned the lot and tore down a small house, and Hardi-Plank and wide plank flooring had to be dropped from the list. It had nice details, but was clearly a new build.

The house you pictured is probably a $2M build in Philadelphia suburban area with details as shown.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:45PM
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here is the link

It's a handsome Colonial Revival, a style from a period much later than the Colonial period with many colonial and classical elements combined in endless variations.

It could be simplified as long as the windows are large, the corner pilasters are kept and the portico is grand. Brick end walls and chimneys will be expensive.

Here is a link that might be useful: the link

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:20PM
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That house looks to be above 4000 sf, maybe above 5000 s.f.

You will need to do a smaller version.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:53PM
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the 600K does not include the lot. I realize that the home pictured (especially interiors) has a lot of fine details and would be very expensive to build- especially the family room and kitchen.

I wanted a home that look like (exterior) with nice details inside but not quite elaborate (and expensive)

Can someone guess how many square feet does this home appear to be?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Thank you renovator for the link. It was very informative.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:12PM
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Take a look at this link, I am only showing it to you so you can get the idea of the size . That is a 3,300 sf quickly found online.
I am sure you can find an architect to help you with a balanced colonial style house in the size you need.

Here is a link that might be useful: 3300 sf

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:46PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Whatever you think it's going to cost you, add 30% and then you'll be about right.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:26AM
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Might be doable if you tone down finishes and trim to something a lot more subdued (probably still well builder grade, just not as fancy as in the pics). Last year we built a slightly larger home (3400sf) in north NJ and our final cost was under $180/sf, including demolition of the old house.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:44AM
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My husband and I are building in Delaware County- Thornton PA, it is a 4133 sqft center hall colonial with stone exterior, 4 bedroom 3.5 bathrooms. Not counting the cost of the land we are at $600,000 for construction which includes a very expensive septic system (might just pay to bring in public sewer) so depending on your lot it could be less. We also have nice finishes which include hardwood throught the first floor, custom cabinets, nice millwork etc. definitely not spec home. I can give you the name of our builder we LOVE HIM and swear by him. Seriously he is the most knowledgable and honest person we have met in the business thus far. He does a lot of mainline homes too. If you want more information about our home and building process you can follow our blog at we will be documenting the whole process!!!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our building blog!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 3:59PM
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I suspect that'd cost $500,000-600,000 here in the South, where our cost of living is significantly less than up North. However, you called it an "inspiration" picture -- search for something smaller, more simple, but with the same general feel.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 8:44PM
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