### Author Topic: Cost of New Construction?  (Read 7538 times)

#### mrigney

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##### Cost of New Construction?
« on: September 02, 2016, 11:41:46 AM »
Does anyone have a good way (or resource) to at least ballpark the cost of new construction in a given area (specifically a more rural/small town area). Basically, my wife and I potentially have the opportunity to build new construction on an inherited piece of land in a few years (so land would be no cost to us). For planning/budgeting purposes I'm trying to figure out about what construction only would cost. Obviously there's a range in any area, so just seeing if anyone has methods/input. Thanks in advance!

#### rothwem

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2016, 12:18:15 PM »
Locally, I've heard \$100-\$200/sq ft, but its really going to vary widely depending on what you're looking for.

#### mrigney

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2016, 12:22:54 PM »
Right. It can vary greatly. I guess that's what I'm getting at. Where I live currently, the median new construction is going to run you about \$90 sq/ft if you already have land. But I know that b/c I've lived here for 7 years and pay attention to the local market. I guess I'm looking for ways to back that number (median \$/sq ft) for new construction from data available online (say Zillow, Trullia, etc).

The best method I've thought of is to scrape data for several (10-20) parcels of empty land in the area I'm looking at. Then find several properties with similar amounts of land AND houses on it. Subtract out the price per acre calculated from the empty parcels, then take the remaining price to figure out the cost/sq ft of the actual house on the property. That seems logical to me, but I have no idea if it's at all reasonable. I guess I'm looking for opinions or other methods.

#### Goldielocks

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2016, 02:02:46 PM »
Foundations, utilities, services, and even grading or basic landscaping (retaining wall?) vary widely.
Get quotes for those.
_________________

After that, start at \$100 per sq.ft for construction, more if you are outside of town or if finding a contractor who wants to do this is tough.   More if you want above "builder grade" finishes.

#### poppan

• Posts: 29
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2016, 02:06:52 PM »
Are you trying to figure out construction cost or added value of house? Your scraping method would net you the latter and not the former, in my opinion. Talk to some local contractors and architects instead. My town hall was also able to give me a per sq ft construction price that in the end, turned out to be pretty right on the money.

Your own details -- the lot and the house design -- will have huge impacts but the above gives you a ballpark range to start from. The more you design the house to be a box, the cheaper the construction. Each corner you add and each detail = more money.

#### Syonyk

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2016, 08:13:58 PM »
Does anyone have a good way (or resource) to at least ballpark the cost of new construction in a given area (specifically a more rural/small town area). Basically, my wife and I potentially have the opportunity to build new construction on an inherited piece of land in a few years (so land would be no cost to us). For planning/budgeting purposes I'm trying to figure out about what construction only would cost. Obviously there's a range in any area, so just seeing if anyone has methods/input. Thanks in advance!

If you're in a rural area, get a manufactured home.  They're solidly built, built indoors, and are going to be a bit cheaper than sitebuilt, though you'll have to pay for a foundation separately.

I bought a 2000 sq ft manufactured in a rural area for about \$141k - and we went with an awful lot of upgrades.  Plus around \$20k for septic/foundation.  While we were looking around, there was a 1200 sq ft base model on sale for \$50k.

#### mrigney

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2016, 08:36:44 PM »
Quote
If you're in a rural area, get a manufactured home.

Not really an option for us...among other things, I have zero desire to own a manufactured home in the middle of tornado country. I also have problems with construction quality, durability, and resellability. As far as I know, it'd also prevent us from putting in some of the things that would allow us to be greener in construction. But maybe my perception of manufactured homes is off?

@poppan - I'm trying to figure out construction cost. And yes, you're right. My scraping method would get my net value. I just didn't have a better method. I could talk to local architects/contractors (and probably will). Was just trying to come up with other methods since 1) we're still 5ish years out, 2) Not really sure what we're going to want (and I"m sure their first question will be, "Well, tell me about what you want."). But yeah, I suspect you're right.

#### slowsynapse

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2016, 08:36:49 PM »
What about looking at some new or newish construction and trying to find some comparable lots for sale then remove the value of the lots to get an idea of construction.  I used to do accounting for a home builder and I can tell you the price range is huge based on finishes.  So if you find a place with similar finishes to what you like when you are getting your cost ideas, that can help too.  You could also have a conversation with a general contractor and try to see if they will ball park a price range for you.

#### Jeremy E.

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2016, 09:22:09 PM »
Myself, I own 2 manufactured homes. Both are HUD approved, any HUD approved manufactured home will work fine in tornado country(trust me, I had to do a ton of work to get mine HUD Approved), the construction quality varies on them and one of mine is high quality. In regards to "being greener", I bought both of my manufactured homes used, and one of them was going to be demolished, what's greener than buying something used? (especially if it was going to be demolished). I think a used manufactured home is one of the most mustachian homes, and that most people won't even consider that route because they think it's "white trash" and care a lot about what others think of them etc. and all of that is fine, to each their own.

If you do decide to go for a new home, some things you might take into consideration,
Insulated Concrete Forms for walls (with 25+ R rating)
Have most of your windows facing south (assuming you are in northern hemisphere, if in southern hemisphere, face most north)
Hydronic Radiant Heat(pex pipes in concrete floor with hot water from hot water heater going through them, I prefer heat pump hot water heaters)
Metal Roof
All LED Lights
Roof insulation Spray foam + cellulose combo
Pergo laminate flooring over concrete where concrete isn't acceptable

#### Syonyk

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2016, 09:23:36 PM »
Not really an option for us...among other things, I have zero desire to own a manufactured home in the middle of tornado country. I also have problems with construction quality, durability, and resellability. As far as I know, it'd also prevent us from putting in some of the things that would allow us to be greener in construction. But maybe my perception of manufactured homes is off?

Describe to me your perception of manufactured homes.

If it starts with "This falling down thing from the late 70s," there's a reason that the last thing you think of is from the 70s - because the standards changed dramatically in the 80s, and things have gone from there.

My home, which is quite manufactured (and I have the photos to prove it) has 2x6 exterior construction, is Energy Star rated, has drywall everywhere (zero panelboard anywhere), is rather securely strapped to its concrete foundation, has a metal roof...

Find a few manufactured home places and go look.  If any of them offer a factory tour, do it - and take someone who knows construction.  I went on a factory tour of the place that built ours, and I came away very, very impressed.  I've done enough construction over the years to have an idea as to what's going on.  If anything, my house is better built than most sitebuilt homes, because it's designed to survive transportation.

If you're not familiar with manufactured home floorplans, you could walk through one and not even realize it.  They stand out when you know what to look for, but if you're not?  They just seem like a somewhat boring single story house.  No weird angles or anything.

#### Syonyk

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2016, 09:27:31 PM »
...and that most people won't even consider that route because they think it's "white trash" and care a lot about what others think of them etc. and all of that is fine, to each their own.

Seriously.  People in Seattle thought I was nuts for buying a "trailer house."  I think they're kind of stupid for buying \$700k homes built with lowest bidder construction.

They're fairly cheap (though the cost doesn't include a foundation or entry/exit stairs), and quick to get set up.  We had about 4 months between "sign the papers" and "move in."

#### Jeremy E.

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2016, 09:48:37 PM »
Not really an option for us...among other things, I have zero desire to own a manufactured home in the middle of tornado country. I also have problems with construction quality, durability, and resellability. As far as I know, it'd also prevent us from putting in some of the things that would allow us to be greener in construction. But maybe my perception of manufactured homes is off?

Describe to me your perception of manufactured homes.

If it starts with "This falling down thing from the late 70s," there's a reason that the last thing you think of is from the 70s - because the standards changed dramatically in the 80s, and things have gone from there.

My home, which is quite manufactured (and I have the photos to prove it) has 2x6 exterior construction, is Energy Star rated, has drywall everywhere (zero panelboard anywhere), is rather securely strapped to its concrete foundation, has a metal roof...

Find a few manufactured home places and go look.  If any of them offer a factory tour, do it - and take someone who knows construction.  I went on a factory tour of the place that built ours, and I came away very, very impressed.  I've done enough construction over the years to have an idea as to what's going on.  If anything, my house is better built than most sitebuilt homes, because it's designed to survive transportation.

If you're not familiar with manufactured home floorplans, you could walk through one and not even realize it.  They stand out when you know what to look for, but if you're not?  They just seem like a somewhat boring single story house.  No weird angles or anything.
I think if I were buying new, I'd consider a modular home over a manufactured home, but I think it makes more sense to buy used manufactured homes,

I got an '89 double wide manufactured home for \$8,000 at an auction, spent \$35,000 building a basement/foundation for it and on water/sewer/electrical hookups, then another \$7,000 into upgrades. Now I have a 3500sq ft place that I spent about \$50,000 on and about a years and a half of my spare time(12 hrs per week average), and I'm renting it out for \$1200/month(I put it on land I already owned).

P.S. I know \$1200 isn't very much, but where I live rent isn't very expensive,
P.P.S. I originally bought a 1200 sq ft 1979 manufactured home on 3 lots for \$78,000, this is what I'm living in, and the extra lots is where I put the other one.
P.P.P.S. don't buy a manufactured home older than 1978, prior to 1978 they weren't HUD Approved

#### Syonyk

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2016, 09:55:42 PM »
I think if I were buying new, I'd consider a modular home over a manufactured home, but I think it makes more sense to buy used manufactured homes,

The difference, at least with the company I bought from, between "modular" and "manufactured" is basically that modular costs more, doesn't keep the I-beam frame under it, and counts as a "house" instead of a "vehicle."  I've got a title to my house, and since we don't plan to move (and there are very complex family issues if we move such that we wouldn't sell it anyway), I'm fine with that.

#### Jeremy E.

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #13 on: September 03, 2016, 10:11:54 PM »
I think if I were buying new, I'd consider a modular home over a manufactured home, but I think it makes more sense to buy used manufactured homes,

The difference, at least with the company I bought from, between "modular" and "manufactured" is basically that modular costs more, doesn't keep the I-beam frame under it, and counts as a "house" instead of a "vehicle."  I've got a title to my house, and since we don't plan to move (and there are very complex family issues if we move such that we wouldn't sell it anyway), I'm fine with that.
From what I saw they were similarly priced, both were around \$75,000-\$150,000 depending on options chosen. But it's been a while since I was looking so things could of changed. The reason I would prefer the modular is to make potential selling easier, and to not have to follow HUD when installing.

#### Syonyk

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #14 on: September 03, 2016, 10:14:59 PM »
The reason I would prefer the modular is to make potential selling easier, and to not have to follow HUD when installing.

That's fair, and from what I understand, quite valid.

I overbuilt my temporary stairs rather significantly to meet HUD standards...

#### Jeremy E.

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2016, 10:16:22 PM »
The reason I would prefer the modular is to make potential selling easier, and to not have to follow HUD when installing.

That's fair, and from what I understand, quite valid.

I overbuilt my temporary stairs rather significantly to meet HUD standards...
I'll add that it's not only harder to sell because some people don't like to buy manufactured homes, but also because it's a lot harder to get a mortgage on a manufactured home.

#### Syonyk

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2016, 11:15:27 PM »
So don't get one if you're planning to sell.

They're great if you're planning to live in it and want something a bit less expensive than a stick built.

#### poppan

• Posts: 29
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2016, 08:47:29 AM »
Also factor in costs other than construction itself. But the per sq ft ballpark number that our architect and the town hall gave, turned out to be pretty right and was inclusive of all of the below.

We had, roughly in this order:
1. Architect
2. Geological survey
3. Town planning review fees
4. Structural engineer
5. "Title 24" engineer (probably a California thing)
6. Town building permits, fees/taxes, and completion bonds
7. Contractor* (for the actual construction)
8. "Owner provided materials"*
* Everyone wanted to bid on their cost + "owner provided materials" -- for us that included doors/windows, kitchen cabinets, countertops, flooring materials, tile, appliances, bath tubs sinks etc, hardware... pretty much everything visible outside of foundation, walls and a roof.

Edit to add: if I had a flat piece of land with nothing on it, I'd go with a factory built home as well. We looked into it but it wasn't going to work for our site. The quality seemed higher / more predictable and we really liked some of the designs. Construction has been a huge stressor and headache and I wish we could have gone with the factory built one.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2016, 08:54:06 AM by poppan »

#### zolotiyeruki

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2016, 08:55:46 AM »
* Everyone wanted to bid on their cost + "owner provided materials" -- for us that included doors/windows, kitchen cabinets, countertops, flooring materials, tile, appliances, bath tubs sinks etc, hardware... pretty much everything visible outside of foundation, walls and a roof.
It sounds like "my quote is for my labor/materials to install what you want."  I was just about to ask a related question--if you wanted just the foundation, walls, and roof, with the intention of DIYing the rest of the work (kitchen, flooring, paint, trim, doors, bathroom fixtures, etc), how much does that affect the cost?

#### Dusty Dog Ranch

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2016, 09:30:31 AM »
Having south facing windows in the northern hemisphere is a great idea, but only if you have the correct overhangs to shade them in the summer. Otherwise you will roast!

We built in a rural area, and our sq ft costs were much higher than the averages that I heard from most of the builders we talked to. We had a contractor build the shell and did the rest ourselves. Our extra costs came in excavation (including blasting), concrete (earth bermed house) and green materials. We also milled our own trees for the ceiling and had those turned into T&G and installed by a local woodworker. Custom bath, soaking tub, etc. so you can see how choices add up. Plus with a small house (925 sq ft.) it costs more per sq ft. But we figure we're only doing this once in our lifetimes and we wanted everything just so.

#### Spork

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2016, 09:43:14 AM »
Does anyone have a good way (or resource) to at least ballpark the cost of new construction in a given area (specifically a more rural/small town area). Basically, my wife and I potentially have the opportunity to build new construction on an inherited piece of land in a few years (so land would be no cost to us). For planning/budgeting purposes I'm trying to figure out about what construction only would cost. Obviously there's a range in any area, so just seeing if anyone has methods/input. Thanks in advance!

Some good resources have already been mentioned for ballparking...  If you want an exact amount, a good home builder can give you price almost to the dollar.  But... you'll need to have plans, pick out finishes, etc.  Get several quotes, all from builders  someone you trust recommends.  (I think we considered 5 builders when we built ours).  At the end of the build, our builder gave us spreadsheets accounting things down to the penny.  The build price he quoted was spot on.

While you're picking out flooring/fixtures... chat up the people at the various stores.  Talk to them about the different builders.  You'll get a feeling for who they like dealing with as a vendor.  It's not always the cheapest (or the priciest) builder that will end up being the best for your situation.

#### backyardfeast

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2016, 09:51:26 AM »
We are not at all in your area, my DH is a professional carpenter, and we are going with about \$100 sq ft as a ballpark for our budgeting.  We know we will need to create some plans, and so we may need to spend \$3-5000 on an architect if we end up on a complicated site that we can't design for ourselves.  Ditto with surveys, etc; those expenses will depend on the lot we end up with.

But +1 to the complicated question of how much doing some DIY affects the cost.  I think we could easily come in for less than that, if DH does a substantial amount of the finishing work himself, or we find some salvaged/used materials when possible, etc.

#### Spork

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2016, 10:19:50 AM »

8. "Owner provided materials"*
* Everyone wanted to bid on their cost + "owner provided materials" -- for us that included doors/windows, kitchen cabinets, countertops, flooring materials, tile, appliances, bath tubs sinks etc, hardware... pretty much everything visible outside of foundation, walls and a roof.

I'm not sure if I understand this.  We did a whole lot of our own work on our house... but our GC had inroads to get materials *MUCH CHEAPER* than we could have gotten.  It was often a better deal to have him purchase materials for us.  The problem being that I was enough of an amateur that getting good estimates for things like trim work was pretty difficult.  We ended up letting him buy big things like doors, windows, appliances, cabinetry, while we bought little things like trim/paint/etc.

#### poppan

• Posts: 29
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2016, 11:55:46 PM »

8. "Owner provided materials"*
* Everyone wanted to bid on their cost + "owner provided materials" -- for us that included doors/windows, kitchen cabinets, countertops, flooring materials, tile, appliances, bath tubs sinks etc, hardware... pretty much everything visible outside of foundation, walls and a roof.

I'm not sure if I understand this.  We did a whole lot of our own work on our house... but our GC had inroads to get materials *MUCH CHEAPER* than we could have gotten.  It was often a better deal to have him purchase materials for us.  The problem being that I was enough of an amateur that getting good estimates for things like trim work was pretty difficult.  We ended up letting him buy big things like doors, windows, appliances, cabinetry, while we bought little things like trim/paint/etc.

In our case, our contractor gave us some starter quotes (with his contractor discount) but said the cost really depends on our choices, so that's why he couldn't quote us unless we knew exactly which finishes we wanted. For example for countertops, you can buy granite that's \$25/sq ft or you can buy granite that's \$100/sq ft. We'll get his 30% contractor discount in both cases, but it's up to us which one we pick. And it's the same with pretty much every finish in the whole house.

#### poppan

• Posts: 29
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #24 on: September 05, 2016, 12:01:42 AM »
* Everyone wanted to bid on their cost + "owner provided materials" -- for us that included doors/windows, kitchen cabinets, countertops, flooring materials, tile, appliances, bath tubs sinks etc, hardware... pretty much everything visible outside of foundation, walls and a roof.
It sounds like "my quote is for my labor/materials to install what you want."  I was just about to ask a related question--if you wanted just the foundation, walls, and roof, with the intention of DIYing the rest of the work (kitchen, flooring, paint, trim, doors, bathroom fixtures, etc), how much does that affect the cost?

For us I think it would be roughly half the total cost. Hard to translate though, since the level of finishes has a big impact (we're going with higher end finishes--so had we gone with lower end finishes, maybe it would be more than half the total cost to have the shell of the house done).

#### Spork

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #25 on: September 05, 2016, 06:37:47 AM »

8. "Owner provided materials"*
* Everyone wanted to bid on their cost + "owner provided materials" -- for us that included doors/windows, kitchen cabinets, countertops, flooring materials, tile, appliances, bath tubs sinks etc, hardware... pretty much everything visible outside of foundation, walls and a roof.

I'm not sure if I understand this.  We did a whole lot of our own work on our house... but our GC had inroads to get materials *MUCH CHEAPER* than we could have gotten.  It was often a better deal to have him purchase materials for us.  The problem being that I was enough of an amateur that getting good estimates for things like trim work was pretty difficult.  We ended up letting him buy big things like doors, windows, appliances, cabinetry, while we bought little things like trim/paint/etc.

In our case, our contractor gave us some starter quotes (with his contractor discount) but said the cost really depends on our choices, so that's why he couldn't quote us unless we knew exactly which finishes we wanted. For example for countertops, you can buy granite that's \$25/sq ft or you can buy granite that's \$100/sq ft. We'll get his 30% contractor discount in both cases, but it's up to us which one we pick. And it's the same with pretty much every finish in the whole house.

AH!  Ok.  I get it.  I read this as "you were going to go out, buy the materials and provide them for the builder."

#### mrigney

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2016, 01:28:24 PM »
@Jeremy E @Syonyk Didn't want you to think I was ignoring your advice. Looked into some modular type housing. The one I ran across most often was a company called IdeaBox (http://www.ideabox.us/). Is that the sort of "nice" modular construction you're speaking of? Because those houses look pretty appealing to me. (but still run abotu \$100/sq ft + site prep + delivery).

#### Fishindude

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2016, 01:37:06 PM »
Turn key cost, minus land, including:

Utility connections
Site work
Seeded lawn, minimal landscaping
The building foundations, shell and finished exterior
Drywall interior, painted, basic flooring choices
All windows doors and cabinets, standard stuff
Plumbing, electric & HVAC systems
No appliances

Low end ranch home +/- \$100 per SF
High end custom home with nicer finishes, basement, masonry, etc \$200 to \$300 per SF

#### Syonyk

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2016, 02:48:57 PM »
@Jeremy E @Syonyk Didn't want you to think I was ignoring your advice. Looked into some modular type housing. The one I ran across most often was a company called IdeaBox (http://www.ideabox.us/). Is that the sort of "nice" modular construction you're speaking of? Because those houses look pretty appealing to me. (but still run abotu \$100/sq ft + site prep + delivery).

Oh, dear God, no.  Not that hipster company.

Search your local area for manufactured home dealers.  Go look around.  Ask if they can do modular through their factory.

#### mrigney

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2016, 03:18:28 PM »
So \$100/sq ft seems to be the general consensus here. Because I'm minimally informed on new construction, more questions....

Around where I live now (medium sized city in a southern state with lots of new construction), new construction for a ~2k square foot home with decent (but not high end) finishes (ceramic tile in wet areas, stainless appliances, gutters, cultured marble bathroom vanities, garden tub, some crown molding depending on the builder) runs about \$100-105/ft. You can certainly get cheaper new construction if desired and you can obviously go higher.

As an example, here's a quick one I pulled from a neighborhood nearby where I currently live: http://www.valleymls.com/homes-for-sale/172-Kenton-Lane-Madison-AL-35756-183617912

So are mass builders just operating on razor thin margins? The \$100-105/sq ft obviously includes the price of the land. I would've expected actual construction costs to be less.

But yeah, not that I don't believe the \$100/sq ft for new construction (when the land is already bought), just trying to reconcile it with local data points.

#### Syonyk

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2016, 04:32:39 PM »
Go look at the quality of new construction at those price points.  It's usually not very good.

#### Jeremy E.

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2016, 06:44:00 PM »
@Jeremy E @Syonyk Didn't want you to think I was ignoring your advice. Looked into some modular type housing. The one I ran across most often was a company called IdeaBox (http://www.ideabox.us/). Is that the sort of "nice" modular construction you're speaking of? Because those houses look pretty appealing to me. (but still run abotu \$100/sq ft + site prep + delivery).
I was thinking something like this, but make sure the city allows them first and that your lot is zoned correctly for it.
http://www.cliffdavishomes.com/used--repo-homes

#### Syonyk

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2016, 06:57:40 PM »
http://kitwest.com/ is who I went through.

#### mrigney

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #33 on: September 09, 2016, 07:12:51 AM »
@Syonyk - I've lived in one of the homes similar to that (same builder, smaller floorplan). I bought it for \$104/sq ft in 2009 (brand new). Still own it as a rental, but don't live in it. I'd call the quality generally above average on most phases. I mean, I get that I live in probably one of the cheaper housing markets in the country for a city this size (200k city/450k metro), so maybe that has just skewed my perspective some.

Checking out the websites posted.

#### zolotiyeruki

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##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #34 on: September 09, 2016, 07:42:11 AM »
So are mass builders just operating on razor thin margins? The \$100-105/sq ft obviously includes the price of the land. I would've expected actual construction costs to be less.

But yeah, not that I don't believe the \$100/sq ft for new construction (when the land is already bought), just trying to reconcile it with local data points.
Around where I live, new homes are in the \$115-\$170/sqft.  Of course, the \$115 includes vinyl floors, cheap carpet, and laminate countertops, so they're really cheap finishes.  All the homes are put up in prefabricated sections--a truck comes in with wall and floor sections, and they have two or three guys on site nailing it all together.  The builder saves on cost by building the sections off-site, which is safer and cheaper and more efficient.  There are also a lot of small corners that can be cut.  In my house, for example:
--A single HVAC unit for a two story house
--no ceiling fixtures, only switched outlets where possible
--only put in one bathroom for bedrooms 2,3,4 (usually ok since families aren't as large)
--minimal landscaping
--tiny deck built with treated lumber
--hollow-core doors
--bare minimum insulation
--same color paint throughout the house
--don't bother sealing any of the penetrations (spigots, outdoor outlets, A/C coolant lines)
--make the garage barely large enough to hold the cars (and nothing else)

Here's the thing:  in general, as houses get bigger, they add rooms...up until you hit 4 bedrooms.  After that, you don't get any more rooms--the existing ones just get bigger.  My brother's 2,400sqft house has the same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and living areas as my 3,200 sqft house.  The rooms in my house are just bigger.  That drives the cost per square foot down--the extra 800sqft in my house only required structure, flooring, drywall, and paint.  No extra appliances, electrical outlets, cabinets, lighting, walls, doors, etc.

#### mrigney

• Stubble
• Posts: 164
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #35 on: September 09, 2016, 07:59:38 AM »
So if you look at that house I linked (very similar to one I used to live in), for \$105/sq ft you get engineered hardwood floors in non-bedroom living areas, ceramic tile in wet areas, granite countertops, ceiling fans in all BRs, cultured marble vanities, covered back patio, 2 baths, sealed penetrations...garage is on the small side (no way you're getting to SUVs into it, two 4-door sedans is doable but tight). You do get some other cosmetic amenities like rounded corners on the drywall, 9 ft ceilings (or trayed ceilings), SS appliances, gutters, blown insulation in the attic....in general would call the insulation adequate but not stellar.  And yeah...you obviously get cheaper per sq ft as you get larger. If you go up to a large house in the same neighborhood, you're talking more like \$87-89/sq ft for a house in the 3k sq ft range or even cheaper (\$78-80/sq ft) for the largest houses in the neighborhood (~ 3500 sq ft). Because yeah...it really doesn't cost more to add more air to the floor plan:-)

#### Goldielocks

• Walrus Stache
• Posts: 6747
• Location: BC
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #36 on: September 09, 2016, 08:38:14 AM »
The rebuild of our 70's home cost \$70/sq.ft 5 years ago.  (when dollar was on par with US).

BUT-- The starting point was semi-completed... kept all foundations, drain tile, utilities, sitework/grading / landscaping/sprinklers, and exterior walls (studs and sheathing), and some of the floor intact between the two levels.   We re-installed many items, such as the tub, kitchen sink, cupboards for bathrooms, exterior doors, furnance etc.

New - roof (including trusses), plumbing, spray insulation, drywall, HVAC runs, electrical, kitchen, windows, all interior finishes. New garage and added 200 sq.ft expansion.   Pile foundations for new support beams, etc.

We did many things that builders don't do. (spray insulation, wrapped heating runs, whole home eletrical off switch), kept finishes to midgrade.

From scratch, it would have been closer to \$130 per sq.ft,  at least 30% more than builder costs (when builders are putting up multiple units).

This is what I based my earlier suggestion off of -- once you have the quotes for utilities, grading and putting in foundations, (which are very site and plan specific) plan on \$100/sq.ft.

#### mrigney

• Stubble
• Posts: 164
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #37 on: September 09, 2016, 09:01:18 AM »
@goldielocks Yeah, I'm not questioning \$100/sq ft....my interest now has transitioned largely to how builders where I live are building for so cheap (e.g. \$100ish/sq ft including a quarter acre of land in a city).

#### Fishindude

• Handlebar Stache
• Posts: 2472
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #38 on: September 09, 2016, 09:17:31 AM »
In my opinion tract housing where a developer comes in and builds a whole neighborhood of homes is generally pretty crummy construction.
They build them fast and the finished product doesn't look bad, but they cut every corner possible and use the absolute cheapest labor, products and materials to keep their costs down.
Several years into living in one of these homes is when things start falling apart.

#### Goldielocks

• Walrus Stache
• Posts: 6747
• Location: BC
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #39 on: September 09, 2016, 10:55:19 AM »
@goldielocks Yeah, I'm not questioning \$100/sq ft....my interest now has transitioned largely to how builders where I live are building for so cheap (e.g. \$100ish/sq ft including a quarter acre of land in a city).

Okay,

How they do it here:

1)  Reduced capital cost of large systems -- eg., they put in baseboard heaters instead of central forced air.  In the past, only apartment blocks here had baseboard electric heaters (as supplemental heat).  Boom!  instant \$7000 savings to contractor, higher heating costs to the homeowner (over natural gas).

2) Repetitive construction -- trades can move FAST when they repeat it 15 times on the same home plan.
3) Severe reduction of fixtures / electrical plugs, versus what you would put in if you decided at the start.
4) Steep discounts on materials provided.   They negotiate hard with suppliers, because they buy a lot of the same thing, and know what looks decent for very little money.  (may wear faster).
5) All one paint colour inside.  one coat, fast paint job.
6)Put in the least number / level of items they can get away with on a whole home basis, putting money into kitchen and eye catching items  (many of those will be an upgrade cost though).
7) Orange peel wall finish (very fast, quick to hide the seams)
8) Builder grade windows and doors. -- most people don't notice.
9) Few decks  / outdoor improvements, few hose bibs, etc -- everything is an extra.

10)  The floor plans are often deliberately designed to fully use full sheets of drywall, with minimal cutting, likewise the studs and other building materials dictate the room dimensions.

11)  Often few angles to reduce finish work.

12)  Everything is very well planned and coordinated from the start.  The plumber for the kitchen knows exactly when he is going in, and what he needs to do / bring each time.   Good builders will have great instructions for the trades, who won't have to figure out solutions to unforeseen interface problems.   This is due to the limited number of home plans that are used over and over again.

13)  Large enough building teams that you can use quite a few apprentices / junior (low skill) persons fully, and have the highest paid persons ONLY completing the skilled work, and quickly.

14)  limited travel time for the trades -- can't finish task x on the first home? no problem,  walk across the street and work there until the painter / plumber / carpenter finishes his work on the first home.

15)  Likely no architect needed on a per house basis.  After the first few homes built, the same plans / details are used over and over again.
etc. etc. etc.

#### Fishindude

• Handlebar Stache
• Posts: 2472
##### Re: Cost of New Construction?
« Reply #40 on: September 09, 2016, 11:31:17 AM »
Another big cost saver is that the majority of the labor on these projects is uninsured and has no benefits.

They pay them piece work, by the square foot, etc. and label them as "independent contractors" and just pay them a flat fee for their work when the job is done.  They turn in a 1099 tax form showing how much they paid these "independent contractors" and leave it up to them to pay income taxes.   Some pay their taxes, but many don't.   Very few of these workmen have any workmens comp insurance coverage, health insurance, retirement plan or any sort of benefits.

There are exceptions, but this is pretty typical of residential construction in the US.
A great big network of underground, uninsured, tax evading, transient workforce, many of which are illegals.