HELP! What are you paying per sq. ft. for your build?

farmhousegirlMay 13, 2012

Curious what area of the country people are in, what your build is costing per sq. ft., and the type of materials being used..builder grade, medium grade, or higher end?

We are really disturbed by the quote being given to us by our builder and wondering if this is just what it costs to build these days. He says everything is sooo expensive, labor, materials, etc and he can't squeeze himself anymore. He is considered a very high quality builder in our area; but I think he's over charging. He says he is charging less because he just wants to keep his guys working in this tough economy.

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Rural Kentucky. Largest builder in our market. 2300 sq ft ranch w/ full 10' walkout basement. 9' walls upstairs, 2.5 baths. Medium grade stuff, some higher end touches. Wood floors, granite, tile work, stone, all brick outside. 133/sf.

Best thing is to get more quotes. They have to assume you will so I can't imagine price gouging but you never know!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Well, it's his lot, so we can't get more's a builder package with only this builder. We just need to walk away if we can't get it to work.

133...that's great. We are about $275 per square foot. : /

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 9:06PM
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I think we'll end up somewhere between $155-165/sq ft not including land. $275 seems really high!

Not super high end but nice, IMO. Hardwood first floor, tile in bathrooms, tiled showers, built-ins in family room, study, breakfast area, and upstairs window seat. Upgraded kitchen and pro appliances. 2x6 construction, aluminum clad casement windows (and lots of them), all brick exterior, trex deck, walk-out basement roughed in but not finished, $5k landscaping allowance. Full 2 story (9ft lower, 8ft upper), 4 bed, 3.5 baths, 3 car garage.

However, we're not paying for an architect or designer, none of our finishes (cabinets, floors, etc.) are "custom". Tiles are ceramic/porcelain not real stone. Plumbing is mostly Kohler/Moen. No fancy trim work or ceiling treatments. And we saved by putting our garage below.

I'm sure it's very dependent on area though.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 9:48PM
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Where are you located? Wowza!! We're in New Orleans and are at $135 if we end up on target and not under. We're almost at the end and are under budget. We're a custom build but not completely high end. I guess we're high-mid level? Good luck to you!!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 9:51PM
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Bucks County, PA, thirty minutes east of Philadelphia, near NJ border, one hour train commute to New York City.

While we expect to pay a little higher prices for our area, at the end of the day, the cost of materials is essentially the same. Labor is higher here, taxes higher, etc. This price does not include land..which is obviously higher..but that cost is separated out.

The house is all hardiplank with one brick chimney. The plan is 'The Homestead' with wrap around porch. We added 300 sq. ft to make it about 3200. Anderson windows, hardwood on 1st floor and 2nd floor hallway, no landscaping or deck/patio included. We do not even have 'allowances' list yet, so who knows how much extra we'll have to add in to get what we want.

This guy is used to building 5-10 million dollar houses in this area. That has dried up; but apparently he is trying to milk this. I will mention the guy has a great reputation and the location is fantastic. The lot has some downside, but is about the best we will find in our price range and commuting requirements.

Would it make sense to put together a list of everything we must have and the price we are willing to pay..and tell him he can take it or leave it? Or, would that be risky because he may cheapen the product where we can't see it?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 11:09PM
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farmhousegirl we're Berks County so not too terribly far from you (we're about an hour to hour and a half from Philly).

We paid around $250-$260 sq. ft total for our house when all was said and done (we kind of lost count of how much we were spending so I can't be more exact). That is factoring in the land, which is an extremely idyllic 5 acre lot across from a pond in a wonderful neighborhood w/ a very limited number of houses, deed restrictions to protect values, and 200 acres of wooded trails to walk on.

Our builder is a high end builder (about the only builder building $1 mil+ houses around here) and we have every fancy finish and feature imaginable including custom cabinets in every room, exotic granite, whole house music system, geothermal, sub-zero appliances, multiple dishwashers and laundry rooms, etc.

$275 seems extremely high unless you are getting finishes and features like the level we got. I know Bucks is more expensive than Berks, but it isn't that far away!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 11:34PM
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Wow $275 with all of those exclusions. That is truly unbelievable. Obviously your area is expensive but like you said, the materials shouldn't be that much more.

It is hard to know what the local government take is and that can be substantial. You could be paying $50k in permits and impacts fees. When you hear complaints from businesses about expensive regulations, you may learn how much that can carry over to residential construction.

I would ask your builder to come up with some explanation of costs. Perhaps $275 is what it takes up there.

Comparable - Cary, NC (most expensive suburb in richest county of NC), not including land. $150 sqft - 9-11 ft ceilings, 3 sides brick, 48 in subzero and 48 in wolf, energy star, Ipe deck and screened porch with fireplace, 3 car garage, 10 ft ceiling walkout unfinished basement not included in sqft cost, hardwood/tile everywhere exc 3 bedrooms, french mahogany entry doors, $18k landscaping etc etc.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 5:27AM
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If you are going into this build with $ questions regarding this builder, it will no doubt just amplify as the build goes on.
Keep looking - expand your location, maybe out of a development? Let the guy know youre going to take some time to explore other options and then do it.
We are in Northampton County just north of you. We are an hour from NYC so prices are high. But he has you cuz its his lot and pkg.
Sounds like youre compomising on the lot too? due to location? Do you have to be in a development?
Building is stressful enough when things go well if you are getting red flags proceed accordingly.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:17AM
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Square foot pricing is at best a gross number.

You can often lower it by simply adding in a large family room and larger bedrooms. Theses are much less expensive areas to build then bathrooms and kitchens.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:18AM
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$275 excluding land sounds pretty nutty, especially with the exclusions you mentioned. I would expect $200/ft would be more than enough to get you pretty high end finishes.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:35AM
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I should look for another piece of land, so you can bring in your own builder. This guy has a monopoly on the land, so why should he lower his prices? He is literally, the only builder you can use on this land, so you'll pay more than you would, if you could open up the build to more competition.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 9:18PM
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Building a 1320 sq foot home with 2 car detached garage, medium finishes, stone counters, but laminate flooring, minimal tile work, GE appliances. Got quotes on house that ranged from $450,000 to just under $700,00 and we had specified all the finishes down to towel bars! In the end, I suspect we will have about 250/sq foot into entire project(including garage) as owner builder On the big island of Hawaii. VERY expensive and why the house is 1320 instead of 1700 sq ft.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 10:09PM
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