The 2016 annual "Houses" issue of Fine Homebuilding (issue 259) has an excellent article, entitled "Calculating the True Cost of Construction," about home building costs and how they are affected by common upgrades. The article points out that comparing cost per square foot quotes given by different builders can be misleading if the quotes are not based on detailed drawings.
Starting with a no-frills base price of $110/square foot, which assumes vinyl siding, wall-to-wall carpeting, fiberglass shower units and laminate countertops, author Paul Biebel calculates how different upgrades increase the price. These upgrades or "premiums" include:
- Stained vs. painted interior trim
- Wood siding vs. vinyl siding
- Hardwood stairs vs. carpeted stairs
- Porch vs. no porch
- Solid vs. hollow-core doors
- Tiled vs. fiberglass shower
- Accent lighting vs. minimal lighting
- Garage vs. no garage
- Semi custom vs. stock cabinets
The article is a real eye-opener regarding the financial effect of different decisions that homeowners make when it comes to designing a new home. Adding all of the premiums listed above, the price of the no-frills home swells to $181/square foot. Of course, there are many more decisions that go into a home; this is just a few of the potential upgrades that will affect the bottom line. I recommend this article to anyone who is contemplating building a new home.
*Building costs in your area may vary from those calculated in this article.