Customers often call and ask "How much do you charge per square foot for new construction?" Many are surprised when we say it depends on the house. We can give out a price per square foot range, but that will not tell you how much your dream home is going to cost you. There are too many factors that contribute to the price of a house, such as the size of the house, the type of construction and the materials used to get an accurate price picture over the phone. Square footage pricing is not a recommended way to find a contractor for your new home. Interviewing potential builders and following the National Association of Home Builders guidelines for finding a contractor is a better way to find a contractor.
Why does the size of a house affect the square footage price? Small homes and large homes contain many of the same elements. For example, both usually have one front door and one kitchen. If you divide the cost of the same front door by the square footage of the small house and the square footage of a large house, you will see that the front door costs less per square foot in the larger house. If you continued to do this with all the elements in the house, you would see that smaller homes cost more per square foot than larger homes. This does not mean that larger homes are less expensive to build, rather the price per square foot is generally less.
What is meant by type of construction? There are many different ways to build a home. The most common way to build in our part of the country is the stick built method with 2 x 6 studs on the exterior walls. Some other type of construction are: log homes, timber framed homes, modular panels, structural insulated panels ,and concrete walls. All of these methods have different costs associated with them and, in turn, affect the price per square foot.
Contractors might use different types of trade contractors. Two examples of trade contractors are foundation contractors and mechanical contractors. Foundations could be made of block walls, poured concrete walls, or insulated concrete form walls. Each of these methods could be used to build a slab on grade foundation, footings with a crawl space, or a full basement foundation. As for the mechanical contractor, some traditional choices are in-floor heat, hot water heat, forced air heat, and electric heat. There are also non-traditional choices like ground source heat pumps and a variety of solar heating options. With all the options that may go into a new home (and the varying prices associated with the options), it is important to know what elements the contractor is using when giving you a price quote. Contractors who quote square footage pricing are trying to help consumers by giving them a general idea of housing costs. Because of the many variables, such figures should not be taken as an exact cost for any project.
Comparing materials with the three little pigs. Everyone has heard of the story of the three little pigs. The first house was made of straw, the second house was made of wood, and the third house was made of brick. Let's compare that with three builders. The first builder uses vinyl siding, the second builder uses steel siding, and the third builder uses brick on the exterior. If we gave the exact same plan to all three builders, we would get three different price per square foot costs. It is important for the consumer to educate themselves in order to know what type of home they will end up with. An educated consumer will be able to tell the contractor what elements they want in their new home.