The Cost per Square Foot to Construct a New House

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People who work in residential construction jobs usually base their building prices on a dollar amount per square foot. Unfortunately, this price is not completely straightforward because many contractors have differing ideas of a square foot. In truth, it is unwise to entirely rely on the cost per square foot method because construction costs depend on many more factors besides total square footage. Fortunately, there are numerous research methods buyers can use to determine the real costs of their new home. Knowing the actual costs of building their house will ensure that they do not exceed their budget.

First of all, it is a good idea for home-builders to research the costs of existing homes that fit their idea of their new home. Even though the cost per square foot method has its shortcomings, it is still wise for home-builders to find out the per-square-foot costs of these existing homes. First, they should find out the selling prices of these homes, as well as the value of the land they were built on. Thereafter, they should subtract these land appraisals from the home prices. Then, they have to divide the difference by the total square footage of the home. The resulting quotient reveals how much money it roughly costs per square foot to build that home.

For homes, the most common per-square-foot cost is $100. The homes that have this value usually do not include more extravagant features such as high-vaulted roofs and wall-long windows. These features are two examples of how the cost per square foot elevates, even though the size of the living space itself remains constant. Therefore, it is important for home-builders to survey the homes that precisely fit their concept of their new home. If they like a house whose costs are too high for them, they need to take into account any design features of that home that may have raised its price. For instance, they can research whether the house is located on more expensive land. If the land on which they plan to build their own house is less expensive, they may very well have the financial means to replicate that house.



Counterintuitive as it may seem, a smaller house often has greater per-square-foot costs than a larger house. This is because a smaller house compresses the costlier rooms, such as bathrooms and kitchens, into a smaller space. Moreover, smaller homes often have larger foundations than two-story homes. Two-story homes further cut costs because the upper level is less expensive to construct than the lower. Therefore, a two-story home model will cost less to build per square foot than a one-story model that sprawls over more land.

Again, land costs greatly figure into the per-square-foot costs of homes. First of all, land that is naturally flat costs much less to build on than land that is irregular in topography. Irregular land that requires builders to dig, grade, blast out rocks, and haul in more soil will enormously raise construction expenses. Furthermore, the home’s land depth through its basement or cellar raises the buying price. If a home is deeper than 32 feet, it will need more roof-support framework that further drives up expenses. Lastly, land that is prone to earthquakes can greatly raise a home’s final costs, since contractors are required to implement many earthquake building codes on this land.

When attempting to lower their construction costs, home-builders should first know that homes whose shape is more streamlined cost less per square foot. Conversely, houses that comprise many angles and corners are more costly for laborers to construct, since they require more materials. Basically, homes that have the fewest amount of these angles are the least expensive to build because they make efficient use of materials. That said, dome-shaped homes are the least expensive type of residence to build.

On that subject, the increasing trend of energy-efficient design is leaving its mark on residential construction. Many home-builders are choosing energy-efficient designs to reduce the square-foot costs of their homes. To do this, they consult with “green” architects who are knowledgeable of the latest sustainable construction developments. These architects often hire contractors who likewise specialize in energy-efficient construction, such as environmentally sound materials. These contractors may be also familiar with energy-efficient design techniques, such as solar energy panels and insulation installation. Though green design may cost somewhat more per square foot, many home-owners are finding that it repeatedly pays for itself in the long run.

Since the cost per square foot method is demonstrably unreliable, home-builders need to investigate other price-calculation options. One option is the take-off method. This method consists of separating each component of a home (everything from its windows to its construction materials) and calculating the cost of each. “Take-offs” may take people working in construction estimator jobs a week or more to perform, since so many components go into residential construction. It also requires greater research on the owner’s part so the contractor can know the desired components. However, take-offs gives a more accurate estimation of a home’s true building costs, rather than quoting a ballpark estimate that is, more often than not, misleading.

In contrast to take-offs, the per-square-foot assessment is based on concepts and not concrete construction plans. It comprises too many contingencies that may easily cause the home-builder to overstep his means. Home-builders should treat the per-square-foot method as a rough reference point for projected construction costs, rather than an indicator of a building’s true cost. Therefore, it is highly recommended that home-builders consult at length with people working in construction consultant jobs over the exact components they want for their new home. Knowing even the smallest details will save home-builders money and stress, because their building costs will almost positively remain within their budgets.
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