Square foot cost of addition? $300/sqft?????

norfolkmomMay 29, 2006

HELP! I feel like I'm being taken. After a very expensive, very time consuming, yet very successful and beautiful renovation to our 100 year old house (all new bathroom/plumbing, new kitchen, new electrical throughout, etc.), we are finally moved in and ready to start the addition on the back side of the house (which won't be as disruptive as the other more extensive renovations).

Our contractor has worked with us on a "cost plus" basis for the renovation on the current structure to date, using a 26% add on to his costs. I think this is high, but he has been good and generally very reliable (FYI, we are located in Southeastern VA, in NOrfolk). As we'd been warned, the costs and the time were double our original expectations...however, with such an old house, I suppose we should have expected as such.

Now onto phase 2. For the addition (1000 sq. ft, 2-story addition, no plumbing...family room on 1st floor, master bedroom on 2nd floor...brick 1st floor exterior, shingle 2nd floor exterior, Lamarite slate replacement roofing shingles, hard wood floors, high end moldings, gas fireplaces in each room, coffered ceiling on 1st floor, trayed ceiling on 2nd floor, inset balcony on 2nd floor), we've asked for a "fixed bid," as we thought this part of the project was more distinct and manageable. Our expectation was that this would come in somewhere b/w $150-$250/sq. foot.

However, we rec'd a quote for $447K!!! Now, this also includes several other items: connecting the main house to the existing garage with a 95sq.ft. non-insulated connector; a 200 sq. ft. blue stone patio (not covered); and, adding a bathtub to the current finished master bath.

Backing out these other items, AND, considering we've already purchased all of the windows, we're looking at b/w $300 and $350/sq. ft. for the addition.

These seems astronomical...are we crazy to consider this????? (The current house is 5K sq.ft. in an upscale neighborhood of old houses in the downtown area; great land, on 3 city lots w/ a full garage (rare in downtown).)

Tell me if I'm out of my mind here...I feel terrible with this cost.

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Not unheard of...but very high. You need to get other bids.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 1:35AM
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You may or may not be out of your mind now, but you will surely be before it is all over!

On the surface it sounds a bit high. But, you did list some items which would push the price. And, you did want a fixed price which will surely push the price.

Question has to be asked is if you can recup the costs?


    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 4:54PM
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Wait a second....high-end moldings, coffered and trayed ceilings, gas fireplaces (no doubt with high-end surrounds and mantle pieces, too), hardwood floors, brick and shingled exterior??? It sounds like you're going to have a lot of very specialized labor involved. I don't know about Virginia, but where I live, good finish carpenters, skilled masons and any painter you'd want to set loose on high-end moldings --- always command premium prices.

In my experience, fixed bids very often end up costing more than time & materials, especially if you have carfully detailed plans at the outset -- and don't make any changes. Contractors always build in a certain amount of padding to protect their bottom line in the event of unexpected price jumps or other unforseen events.

I would say, however, that 26% for profit and overhead sounds a bit excessive to me. A more typical range for P & O would be 12%-18%, depending on locality.

Just my two cents.


P.S. There is one other approach you could present to your contractor. It's unusual, but becoming more common -- and it can benefit both you and him. You would have two contracts. One for a fixed fee for the entire project as agreed at the outset. The other contract would be for time and materials which would be billed to you at actual cost. That way, your contractor is guaranteed his fee, and you don't have to pay additional P & O if the cost of materials goes up, or more labor than is budgeted is required (and vice-versa, it benefits him if costs are less or the project is completed faster than expected). Naturally, any changes or additions outside the scope of the initial contract would require a written change order, which would rightfully include an agreed percentage of P & O on the additional costs.

You can read more about these types of agreements by reading a Commentary article on page 26 of the Summer 2006 Issue (No. 179) of Fine Homebuilding magazine's annual issue "Houses". It should still be available on your local newsstand, or you order it from The Taunton Press.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fine Homebuilding Houses - Summer 2006

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 9:11PM
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