The most frequently asked question to us here at Rijus Home Design is: “What does it cost to build a house?”
Typically, estimates are given to potential customers based on what builders will roughly charge on the ‘price per square foot’ basis. This ‘price per square foot’ is not the final price, as there are many other factors that will affect your price, but for the homeowner it gives a better indication of what the cost of their new house will be. This is important to know in early planning as you figure out finances, create a design, and commit to moving ahead in the process of home building.
So what composes the “price per square foot?”
Generally, the ‘rule of thumb’ is that a larger home cost less per-square-foot than smaller homes. With a larger home, there is more square footage to dilute the costs of more expensive materials.
Certain clients will spare no costs when building a house and will have the best of everything, while others clients on a tighter budget will try to save money where they can. Some clients want to build an elaborate home, outfitted with the latest technology and luxuries while others simply cannot afford this. Most often, clients are simply looking for a house that makes them content and meets their needs. Because of the wide spectrum of clients, its important to figure out what the goals are of the house for the customer, and begin to create an estimate price based on the fulfillment of those goals.
Let’s look in more detail what composes this ‘price per square foot’ term and how different factors could lower or raise the cost of your house:
1. Local building permit costs & lay of property:
Depending on what municipality/region you build in, pricing for building & development costs can range from as low as $10,000 to $30,000. For example, on a 1,800 square foot home, this translates to a difference of $11.00 per square foot.
Building a house on a low-grade property most likely requires extra work in regards to raising the grade and bringing in extra loads of fill. This obviously increases the price. Moreover, building on a lower property may allow for a walkout basement which also is adds to the cost.
In addition to this if the proposed house is located far off the road and a long driveway is required and hydro is needed to be brought in as well the costs can be in then tens of thousands for that alone.
2. Style of Home:
Typically, two storey homes are the cheapest house to build compared to their counterparts. The city mentality of ‘building up’ is cheaper than ‘building out.’ A two storey has a smaller foundation and thus, less concrete, not to mention less roof, as well as plumbing and mechanicals are more compacted on a two storey with shorter runs.
Storey & ½ house typically costs more than a full two storey. The difference in large is based on the amount of labour involved to framed the roof structure of a storey & ½. Additionally, storey & ½ also have less “useable” space than a full two storey due to sloped ceilings on the second floor.
3. Shape Simplicity:
Most people don’t want to build a square box as their dream home. If the shape of the house is more complex, the foundation & roof structure is more dynamic and as a result, can be more expensive. More angles and corners generally cost more, but these angles and corners also add character & design. This is a win-lose kind of situation.
4. Smaller is not always Smarter:
Sometimes altering a house design in the name of ‘cutting square footage’ actually costs more. If ‘cutting’ space creates jogs, which creates changes in roof & foundations, it could cost more money. Opposite of ‘cutting’ is adding square footage, which does not always mean more money. If pushing out an exterior wall 2‘-0” creates the ultimate desired room, then we encourage it. Adding a space of 2’-0” in a typical cross section of a wall, usually requires one extra truss, 2 floor joists and minimal amount of concrete.
5. Hiring a home builder vs. build yourself:
The most likely largest determining factor of the cost of your house will be whether you decide to hire a builder or act as your own contractor. Hiring a builder will obviously cost you more money as they need to make a profit as well. There are many benefits to having a builder involved and that is why this is the most common way to build a home. But for homeowners with some past building experience and extra time, the savings can be well worth the efforts.
These are some of the factors of pricing a house.
Other obvious items include: overall size & square footage, quality of materials & finished (laminate vs. granite), type of exterior finish (brick vs. siding), time of the year of the build, economic conditions, wood commodity rates, site conditions, digging of a well, etc.
Even though having a firm quote provides security for the homeowner, it’d be safe and wise to budget for the cost of ‘extras,’ cost overruns, during build modifications, and potential roadblocks.
We are licensed home designers here at Rijus Home Design. We design house plans of all sizes, shapes, and styles. We are not builders and therefore, can only provide rough estimates based on our experience and our communication with those in the building industry. We always recommend you take your concept floor plans and elevations to different builders and trades to obtain estimates. Its at this stage that we proceed with the final house plans you need to acquire a permit.
Based on this article, it is clear that it is difficult to estimate the price of the house until some decisions are made and plans are discussed. An estimate is just that: ‘an estimate;’ until a clearer picture of what is being built, by whom, and where, is finalized.
Generally, we find the ‘price per square foot’ rate to be around:
- $170 – $220 per square foot to build a house your own (self build)
- $250 – $300 per square foot to hire a custom home builder