Building & Remodeling
How Much Does A New Home Cost?
Many times in my twenty six years in the construction business I had been called by someone looking for a house in the area. They have all looked at many and liked very few. Their thoughts then went to new construction. “Maybe we should design and build the house of our dreams” they think aloud. “Let’s call a builder” they decide. So my phone rings and the question of the hour is “How much does a new home cost”? Those that have done some research and don’t really want to tip their hand will ask “What is your average square foot building cost”? There is no easy answer to this one. I ask in return “How much does a new car cost”? All are reliable transportation with four wheels. When shopping for a new car, you have already defined your budget by going to the Audi or Honda dealerships. Even then, you need to match your desires with your budget.
The largest impact on the price of the new home is not actually part of the home. The choice of building lots will likely have the most dramatic effect on the overall price. A line item called “Site development Costs” will vary with a greater percentage, from one lot to another, more than any other single cost. Comparing lot A to lot B will go something like this. Is there subsurface rock (Blasting) required on one and not the other? Is there a sewer available? If not, you must install your own septic system. A sewer system hookup may be a few thousand dollars where most septic systems are ten thousand dollars or more. Let’s stay with just septic system variables for a minute. What is the ground water height shown on the “deep test pits”? What is the soil quality shown on those same “test pits”? Those two factors have a tremendous bearing on the design of the new septic system. You may have to truck in thousands of yards of approved septic gravel… or not. We are talking hands full of thousands of dollars here folks! Confused? We haven’t even gotten to pour the foundation yet! Many times the more expensive building lot is the better deal after your builder and engineer have looked at the details. Insert lesson one here… Involve the builder before site selection has been finalized!
Now the easy part. Let’s design the house! Square is less expensive then curves or angles. Formica is less expensive than granite. Stock cabinets are cheaper than custom ones. Stop! “I don’t want a cheap production house! I want the kitchen and bathroom of my dreams” you say. I get it and agree. That makes the question “How much does a new home cost” simply too complex to answer. Your selections should be yours and yours alone. Want a state of the art, high efficiency, heating and cooling system? You got it! Here’s how it can really be done.
Always start with a realistic budget that is agreed upon by you and your builder. Remember that everything going into the house is brand new. The overall price for a new home will be much higher than that of an equally sized thirty year old home. Involve the builder early in the process and keep getting his input during the architectural design process. There is no use in having an architect design something you love but can’t afford!