Existing home price as guide to new construction

August 7, 2008

My wife and I are in the process of designing a custom home. While we have seen several floor plans we like, nothing exists exactly as we want it. Our plan is for a 2100 square feet single story home with brick siding and a bonus room over the three-car garage. We also want deep porches on both the front and the back of the home (as in 24' long by 8' to 10' deep on both porches, both of which will be under roof).

We are trying to get a handle on costs. The lots we are looking at run anywhere from $36K to $50K depending on size ($50K is for an acre). I would like to keep the budget within $200K excluding land. I've looked at existing homes where we are thinking of building and most of them with similar or bigger square footage runs anywhere from $210,000 (I imagine desperate sellers) to $250,000. Is this a good way to determine how much it would cost to build our home? Most of the homes I look at in this price range have granite countertops, custom cabinets, tray ceilings and massive palladian windows, none of which we will have. In addition to the porches, our only real luxury will be a 3x5 ceramic tiled shower in the master bath. Our ceilings will only be 8' because I've never liked higher ceilings.

The reason I'm asking is that when I use estimating software, it shows us coming in around $250,000 or so. However, when I go to it shows that home costing anywhere from $400,000 to $600,000 to build, which I find ridiculous given the existing home prices for homes far fancier than this one. As an example. It shows $35,000 for exterior siding while I talked with a brickyard this morning that gave me a price for basic red brick at $625 per thousand installed (or $7,800 for our application). That makes me think the website is screwed up.

I would appreciate any comments or advice.



Comments (31)

  • sierraeast

    I think getting real world estimates in your area will get you closer than relying on web based sites.

  • tnkcfan

    Not sure where you live, but the prices you listed sound about right for the area I live in (TN). Houses around here cost an average of about $100/sq ft. We are currently building & are subbing the jobs out ourselves instead of hiring a contractor & doing a lot of work ourselves. We are hoping (& praying!!) to build our house for $75/sq. ft. Our house is a one level, 2 car garage w/ bonus room & a full unfinished basement. Main house is approx. 2100 sq. ft. not including the bonus room above the garage. We are not wanting to go over $175k. We're not doing anything extravagent either except hardwood in LR, DR & foyer...if you want to call that extravagent. We have 5 acres that thank goodness was given to us by my father in law. If we had to pay for the acreage, we wouldn't be able to afford to build what we're building! Not sure if this helps or not, but good luck!

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    Definitely agree with sierraeast. We found the web site estimates to be fairly worthless. Even the general "cost per square foot" estimates we were given when we started talking to real builders didn't mean anything until we sat down and specified everything. It is a long process, but really the only way to get a financial handle on the project.

  • sniffdog

    You should not use existing home prices either - they are not a good basis for new construction costs. And you should not use large residential builder pricing either (like Toll Brothers etc). If you are building a custom home, you need prices from a custom home builder to build to your plan on your lot - and there are many variables.

  • chisue

    If you put the porches under the main roof, you're building something more like a 2600 sq ft house. You'll want at least 10' depth; 12 is better.

    You can get *some* idea of price per square foot by looking at new homes in a development, deducting a bit for the land price, which the developer got 'dirt cheap'. Look at how many baths, level of finish, brick exterior, quality windows, hardwood floors, etc. -- the expensive parts.

    Your insurance agent may also have a 'replacement price estimate' he could quote you.

  • plh71

    typical nice covered three sides open porches built on a house (under main roof) including foundation, flooring, roof, etc, should not run you more than $40/SF in the southeast. I agree people tend to disregard them in pricing, but even nice ones are not on the same expense level as finished inside living area.

  • worthy

    You need details and specifics for your area of the continent.

    Even your brickyard quote is too vague. "Basic" is not a size and "red" bricks come in all prices. Who pays for the mortar, sand, ties? Does the mason need a bricklifter?

    Here, you couldn't build anything but a treehouse for $40sf. I build high-end homes and my costs, if I started now, would be $150++++ sf. And I don't work for free.

    As you've discovered, housing bargains abound in the resale market. In the last housing bust here, I knew tract builders who bought their personal homes from desperate specs rather than build for themselves.

  • rob63

    Thanks to those who have responded so far.

    tnkcfan, we are looking in southern Indiana. I would love to have wood floors anywhere in the house, but I just don't think it will be feasible. Carpeting and sheet vinyl will be the choices. I've thought about trying to be my own GC, but honestly I don't think I have the time and definitely don't have the experience.

    sierraeast, I guess the problem I have with getting the real world estimates now is that our time frame in building is so flexible (meaning it could be a few years before we're even ready to start). I don't want to waste the time of a builder even though we do have a plan. We don't have the plans put into blueprint form yet and obviously if we build in three or four years, prices will have changed and we will have to go through the whole process again. I have been getting some prices on things like windows and doors and the facebrick which I can call and just say "hey, what's this going for now?" I even got a quote from a lumber yard for attic trusses, although I clearly told them we weren't going to be building anytime soon.

    Worthy, the term "basic" was mine. We would probably use a standard or modular size. The price quoted to me was $250 per thousand (the brickyard owner said if I wasn't too picky about color choice, he could get them from a new plant that recently opened for that price). I then asked him what the general going rate for labor is, and he said anywhere from $325 to $400 per thousand depending on the complexity of the job. Apparently, masons are begging for work now in this area.

    Worthy, let me ask you this. If I came to you with a print out of a floor plan that I designed with a list of items that we wanted (specific flooring information, appliance model numbers as well as specific fixtures we wanted) would it be worth your time to give me some idea of a real estimate even though you knew I wouldn't be building for at least two years, maybe longer? Although our house is by no means high end, have you as a builder done something like that in order to try to bring business your way?

    Again, thanks to everyone who has responded so far.


  • anthem

    Worthy has already told you his price range. Basically builders build in their price range. You don't want a builder who generally builds at 150/sq ft to build you a house at $75/sq ft and vice versa. It just won't be a pleasant experience for either side. You should always remove land cost from the equation for building.

    But generally, for materials for building, I would say if you use a contractor - in non major metropolitan areas, you are looking at $50/sq ft to get dried in. So, most low-end houses you are looking at 75/sq ft, middle of the road $100-125. mid/high end at 150, and its pretty limitless above that. Unfortunately with cost of materials, unless you are providing a lot of sweat equity, the floor will be there. Also, because you are building a smaller house, some economies of scale just aren't there. E.G masons want to set up and go for awhile. If you have 4 days of work, they aren't going to be terribly eager/happy on the job.

    I doubt worthy will spend much time to get you an estimate unless he's going to get the business. I can't speak for him, but estimating is a time consuming job and unless someone is being compensated (or potentially compensated), it just isn't worth doing.

    Almost everywhere existing home prices are below what it costs to build. This isn't always the case, but it is now. You have to figure that it will cost you more to build than what is out there now. Thats almost guaranteed.

  • meldy_nva

    You are concerned about the time element affecting the cost. It will, and it's impossible to know by just how much. BFE (Before Fuel Extravaganzas), I would advise starting your specifications list now, and then add 10% once a year to each cost. You have to apply some guesswork, but if your item is local, 10% is probably still a reasonable COLA. If your item must be shipped to you (from more 100 miles) then even a 20% increase may too low. Who knows?! Just remember that two years ago, fuel cost less than half what it does now.

    But I do think you need to start your spec list. There is absolutely no way *anyone* can give you an accurate cost otherwise because there are simply too many variables. For example, switch covers (those little plates around light switches and outlets) can range from 50 each to $50 each, with the average common cost being about $5 per plate. If your house will have 100 of these --and it will probably have many more-- then you are looking at a cost variance that ranges from $50 to $5,000. Contractors don't estimate on the high side (hey, they want your business and that rarely goes to the highest bid), but the more expensive plates might be what you'd prefer to have... and thus the contractor's bid would be low until you put in a change order, which would affect the overall cost of the build. Now consider how many items (there'll be a couple thousand) will have this variance and you will understand why bids are guesstimates unless you have already made all your selections and costed them out.

    It takes time, a LOT of time, to make your choices and then search for the best buy. IMHO, the most hours will be spent making your choice -- costing is the fast part. Consider the kitchen cookstove -- you need to know just what you want: gas or electric? 4,6, or 8 burners? with or without a grill? updraft or downdraft or standard venting? countertop, slide-in, or separate? how big and with or without an oven? do you want a wall oven? or two WOs in different sizes? and in what finish: stainless steel, enameled [color choices], or in the case of countertop burners there will be a selection of types of top. Do you want a Big Name maker or (at considerably less cost) everyday mass produced? Once you decide all that, you will access your spreadsheet [or hardcopy notebook] and then list date, manufacturer, entire model number, color/finish choice, and price range. Whew! And that's just one common item. The more items you can specify, the more likely the bid will come close to actual cost; and if you don't specify then the contractor will -- and s/he will not know your preferences.

    link is to one on-line resource. Please remember that all on-line sites are dated -- and in this time of skyrocketing fuel costs, on-line cost estimates are very unreliable. What IS good, is that you can learn the basics, and maybe a bit more about what is actually needed for your cost estimate. Personally, I never estimate labor -- that's the contractor's part of the business -- but I do have a firm knowledge of all the required materials, and what their likely cost will be.

  • sniffdog


    you could try talking to builders now and asking them for rough ballpark per sq ft estimates. Be upfront about your time horizon.

    When we started looking for builders - almost all of them had a rough ballpark number that they would give out for budget planning. However - you have to really know what is in the number the give - is it structure only (typical) or does it include eveything (not typical) like site devlopment, septic, well, driveway, permits etc. It is also quite common to get a number based on the builder's standard finishes - which weren't what we ended up with.

    I remember the number we got from our builder (and he was the only one who included everything in his ballpark). In the end - our house cost about 15% more than the ball park number were given (which actually isn't bad when you think about it). So if you do get numbers, you have to add plenty of margin - maybe 20% - just to make sure you are covered.

    Once you get the numbers, then you can scale it for inflation to the expected time when you think you will start. All it takes is a little of your time and the builders time. Nothing wrong with starting the dialog now as long as you are honest about when you think you will start.

  • rob63

    By the way, I only mentioned this to Worthy as a "what would you do in this situation" example and not in a "would you really do this for me" way.

    Meldy nva, we are working on our spec list now and are pretty far along with much of it. My issues are coming up with the actual costs for framing, excavation, etc. We would be building in a subdivision that has all utilities, so hook-up costs would be the only factor there, but I have no earthly idea how much it would cost to get a house dried in and that will determine whether or not we can even build. I am willing to accept a lower price refrigerator or stove (something I can control) but I want the "bones" to be the best possible, but I can't seem to figure out that cost.

    Sniffdog, I appreciate your thoughts. Most of the builders I am looking at have web sites, and I've thought about e-mailing them and explaining what it is we are doing, so that way I don't have them on the phone or in person tying up their time when they could be making money today and not a few years from now. But then I wonder if doing it by e-mail might make them less likely to take my inquiry seriously...oh well, something I'm going to have to determine.

    Appreciate all the input. You guys are great.


  • chisue

    While it's good to have chosen all your building components before you start, I wouldn't expect a builder to run numbers that include every nut and bolt (or switch cover). It's too time consuming for a ballpark bid.

    Your choices could become obsolete. Some product lines change every six months to a year -- in style, finish, product number, *price*.

    Some subs will install fixtures you provide. Others won't install or warranty materials they have not purchased.

    Your cost for, say, windows, won't reflect the builder's discount. (I just ran across our 2001 Pella bill: $42K *with* the contractor's discount.)

  • jnjmom

    Ok, Rob, what I think you are asking is if a builder can build a home and sell it for $250, can I assume that I can build one for that? I would yes, if you are a reasonable, careful person.

    What I am saying is that existing home price can be somewhat of a guide for new construction in that you should be able to have a home built for what new homes are selling for in your area. If a builder can do it as a spec house, he ought be able to do it for you. The problem comes in the upcharges that buyers add to the builder's base construction. In all actuality, you ought to be able to build for cheaper (especially if you GC) in that you don't have the 6% realtor fees involved.

    Since you are pretty confident that you are not going to GC, I see nothing wrong with taking your plans to a builder to give you a rough quote. It's the way the business works. How many people do you show houses to that don't buy right away or even *gasp* end up going with a different realtor? You won't be locked in to someone because they quoted for you either; they are going to be working for you, don't feel bad about asking them to earn that right.

    HTH and good luck!!

  • anthem

    I think people are still missing the point. A builder will NOT be able to build YOUR house at the same price as others are selling in your area. The down real estate market notwithstanding (which puts downward pressure on the existing inventory) - it just isn't going to happen. The "spec" houses that builders build, they build tens to hundreds of times with minor tweaks here and there. You are talking a "custom" house (or even if its not custom, a house with plans that a builder has not seen before) which takes a lot more time, work, unknowns, liabilities, etc than a house that he is intimately familiar building.

    I'm sure other builders will agree - it's a lot cheaper to build something you've built before than one that you've never built before.

  • meldy_nva

    rob63 ~ let the builder come up with the framing & labor estimates, unless you are planning non-conventional materials and/or unusual methods! A stud is a stud is a stud; and he's going to have a much better idea of the numbers than any non-builder. While you should be specific if you have preferences as to insulation/wraps/shingles and/or exterior materials such as vinyl/brick/stone etc, let the builder compute what he expects to be the cost. It doesn't hurt for you to have an advance general idea, but he's the one who's going to know what he thinks is a fair price. That's a part of why we get multiple bids!

    Excavation is going to be your surprise. There is no way to do more than guess at the cost, and when it comes to earthmoving (foundations, driveways, retaining walls), absolutely no one knows what will be beneath the surface until the equipment shoves the dirt aside. Regardless of what anyone says about other portions of the various building trades, I have never been anything but impressed with experienced earthmovers; whether bulldozer or trencher, they tell you up front they are guessing -- and that's why they are so often paid by the hour not the job.

    chisue ~ Allowing for the difference between a contract and a ballpark bid, I agree builders won't [and shouldn't] run "every nut and bolt" for their guesstimates. My point was that the owner should make a great many decisions in advance and have a good idea of what those decisions cost *before* it gets to bid time. As for product obsolescence, I would feel that any company which indulges in semiannual product changes is likely tossing feathers in the air and I would be very careful to research the product before I deal with that company. OTOH, adding a 10% annual COLA is usually (or was, BFE) sufficient to cover manufacturer's usual price increases. Model changes obviously mean the cost must be updated, but I've found that in plumbing fixtures, lighting, and appliances, actual model changes occur more on the order of every three or four years, not every 6 months. Your cost figures are far more likely to have to allow for distributor's price increases than for a real model change.

  • dalcolli

    rob63 - fellow Southern Indiana resident here. I am in the Louisville area and just a bit further in the process than you. We bought land about 2 years ago just before moving back from Indy and still have not broken ground. This is such a daunting task. In the last few months, we have finally settled on a builder and are getting things together this weekend to apply for the bank we settled on just this week.

    We had a similar experience finding plans and finally found a drafter to put together my drawings about a year ago we hope to meet with him next week to make "final" changes. We also started out trying to estimate based on new construction in the area we found it was not a great indicator unfortunately. We have readjusted our expected cost by almost double (ours started out the same as yours). I am sorry this is not good news, but I am hoping to save you some of the frustration that we experienced (as in, why does that same size house go for XX and our estimates come in at 2XX?!?). In addition, the house went from a 2-story walkout to 1-story walkout and lost a couple rooms.

    Our builder created an estimate for us and I am investigating some allowances on my own. His estimate seems much more in line with what we think this house should cost, but some of the allowances seemed too low and consistently low on estimates from several different builders (appliances especially for some reason were very low on all estimates). I have met with the builders supply company to nail down kitchen and bathroom cabinetry and windows two areas I especially have my doubts on (but how would the builder know my tastes in this area). In any case, this process has taken some time but we plan to live there a long long time and our plans have continuously evolved. Hopefully we will break ground within a couple months. Good luck! And if you are in the area, I would be happy to recommend some places/people.

  • rob63

    I am nearer to Evansville (actually, I live in Illinois but since we work in Evansville, we will eventually move there). I think I saw your plans on another post. I really like the look of your home. I wonder though, were the building costs higher because of your proximity to Louisville? Did you ever find out what it would have cost to build in Indy. My sister-in-law built a home there, although it was by no means custom. I have no idea what she paid, but I do know she doesn't make a lot of money and she isn't married, so she has only one paycheck.

    Anthem, I was looking again at the realtor's website and at least two of the homes I was comparing to were listed as "custom" which may or may not be accurate (we all know how realtors like to "massage" the truth). In conversations I've had with various suppliers, most have said the housing downturn has also affected contractors (as my brick quote attests to) and what they can reasonably expect to make. Besides, I find it hard to comprehend how a 2K SF house should cost more than a house that is 2,400 SF just built last year and listed as a custom home (with far more custom features than a spec home normally has, or that I would ever want). However, I also accept the possibility that I'm not looking at a big enough picture.

    Jnjmom, I imagine if I had the time, I probably could attempt to GC the job, but while I never miss an episode of "This Old House" or "Hometime" I don't think that gives me enough knowledge to do this. I guess I look at it in a similar way to practicing medicine. I know enough to take an aspirin when I have a headache but I don't think that qualifies me to do brain surgery. Besides, with my own money, I have to be as cautious and conservative as I can be.

    Meldy nva, while I do plan to approach some builders, I'm just going to have to accept that there's only so much information I'm going to get now, and the final decision will come on that day when we can actually proceed.

    By the way, how much information do lumber yards need to do a take-off on the materials? Do most do it for free or is there some kind of charge, especially if you're unsure when you're going to start? I've got one that I really like and that most of the contractors deal with, but I'm not sure what the SOP is with that.


  • garymunson-2008

    As anthem pointed out, the existing housing situation has changed the game considerably. We finished our new home last Nov. after a 12 month build as owner builder. Had I known back then what was going to happen, I probably wouldn't have built. Having been the owner builder, we still didn't get hurt by what has happened since but we certainly did not save much compared to what we could buy now with all the homes in all the work we had to do. Given the current dynamics of the situation, my advice would be to buy an existing house rather than build, incredible deals out there on someone else's dream house that may well fit your criteria. You'll get much more for your money and when the whole situation improves, sell and build then. Who knows how long this situation will last but if you sit down and REALLY examine the dollar situation, you'll have to reach the conclusion that building at the current time is not cost effective unless you want to do the owner builder route but then will have your labor and the hassle to justify....not sensible right now to me...
    As for not getting what you really want, my wife and I now find there are still things we'd do differently and plan to try again once the situation gets better. There is no perfect house...once you build your's, you'll see.


  • jnjmom

    Anthem -- What I was saying is that a builder should be able to build Rob the same house for (at least) the same price as what it is selling for in his area. Builder's aren't building those spec homes for free and although the industry has certainly slowed, there are still specs going up around here. I agree that a large scale, detailed, 'custom' home will not sell for the same as a cookie cutter spec, but around here - like Rob said - many spec homes are now 'customish' (is that a

    Now, maybe we have to define what is a custom home? I understood from Rob's post that he wasn't looking to do large scale upgrades. And, sure, for a builder a home he has done 5x will be cheaper than one he's never built, but if you are still talking about a basic 2000sqft rectangle and just moving a few walls (not extensive roof lines or jut outs), you shouldn't see a drastic difference, right? Well, again that probably depends on your builder. With my framer, I can say what if we do this and this, and he's like...sure :o)

    Rob -- Unless you are weilding the scapel, you aren't doing the surgery. So, with that analogy you are sort of the hospital adminstrator hiring a very well educated, professional brain surgeon with awesome references to do your surgery for you. Now, I'm not saying GCing your own project will not require any knowledge of home building, but you don't have to know how to lay block to hire a good block layer. That's why you pay the professionals. We did not have direct knowledge of building before we started this, but we have educated ourselves - well, mainly my DH, I'm just along for the ride :o) However, you are right in saying that if you don't have the time it's not the route for you, for we have found it pretty time consuming.

  • anthem

    jnjmom: I think you're wrong there. A builder generally isn't going to be able to build you a house (and certainly not willing) that it is being sold at right now. The downward pressure of the market right now forces existing inventory to be a good chunk cheaper than building new.

    Moving a few walls here and there might be minimal change, but could also be significant. There is the whole issue of support/structural walls and a bunch of other things. We're not talking about a particular footprint the builder has done and then moving interior walls - we're talking about a plan that the OP is intersted in building. You can't just apply that to any old 2000 sq ft house. Yes, you might think - how many combinations of 2000 sq ft houses are there ? more than you want to know. . .

    OK, people don't seem to get this - but if a builder has built a house before, they generally just order the same lumber package, the same brick package, the same appliance package and its headache free. Any time you move any walls, then you have to potentially deal with cabinet sizes, with different size appliances to fit in the space, clearances with doors, toilets, sinks, etc, etc. As I said before, certainly doable, but it all involves time/money/oversight. I've seen the time it says builders when they build spec houses - and we're not talking basic spec houses. A builder can build a 3000sq ft house you've built tens of times, for less money than it will take to build a 2000sq ft house he hasn't built. It will also take much less time, headache and oversight as he's done it multiple times before and his subs all know what/where things go. It's quite significant.

  • rob63


    I certainly don't doubt that you know what you're saying, and I do understand your point, but would you please look at this website for one of the builders we are considering, and tell me how he is able to charge an average of $93 per square foot, and if I'm missing something. Thanks.


  • worthy

    rob63 said: I've thought about trying to be my own GC, but honestly I don't think I have the time and definitely don't have the experience.

    In that case, what is the obsession about trying to discover the price of every last element--labour and materials--that go into building a house?

    As others have said, refine your specs and your design, so when you're ready to approach a builder in a couple of years, you won't be stammering and stuttering about exactly what you want.

    I have as much idea as anyone else where prices will be in two or three years and certainly can't give you a quote on that. If you want to start quizzing me on what it costs to do this and that today, sorry. Unless you've signed a contract, I'm not an open source!

    You keep asking why it costs more to do a custom than a spec house. It's simple: with a spec, the builder doesn't have anyone looking over his shoulder with an eagle eye insisting that every last detail match his specs and often with an exaggerated idea of the craftsmanship that should go into the construction. When I'm building spec, I usually tinker with room sizes during framing, trimming details, fireplace finishings etc. with no one to say "boo." (Except for mrs.worthy!) For instance, in a spec I did a few years ago, the powder room fixtures couldn't be placed as on the plan as a triple 2x10 beam interfered. So I moved them. I can only imagine the complaints from an owner or the expensive fix I would have had to come up with.

  • rob63


    The reason for my obsession with every cost element is because this is the largest investment I will ever make in my life and I have every right to be concerned about the cost and getting this home right. One of the biggest problems I see with many contractors is that they feel the homeowner doesn't have any rights other than to sign the checks and just stay the hell out of the way. God forbid he should have the audacity to say "this is my home, you work for me and you will do it the way I want and you will explain to me why you think it costs $2000 per thousand to put brick on the side of my home when I see it done for much cheaper elsewhere." I'm sure you're a very successful contractor, but if that is your attitude toward your clients, I certainly can make it without your input.


  • worthy

    When I build a home on a fixed-price basis, the client's only concern is that what they get is what they bargained for. What it costs me is no more their business than what the repair shop pays for the new parts and labour for fixing my vehicle when it's damaged is my business. Most people seem to get that.

    As for Selective Homes, I have no idea what costs are in their neck of the woods. An obvious reason for any price advantage is that they're a small company and the principals claim to be on site every day physically doing work. The builder has even listed his personal home for sale on the website. Toll Homes, this is not.

  • anthem

    And therein lies the dilemma. If you want to pore over everything and examine everything, you can go right on ahead. I'm certainly not going to stop you. I will say that you run the risk of any GC of tacking on another 10% or more for your "headache" factor. If you want to do it yourself, you're certainly welcome to as well. No one is stopping you.

    I do want to make one thing of note. I am not sure why you are getting agitated with others since you aren't contributing one iota of information. Everyone else is giving you information, you continually ask for more, but are getting agitated with others ? It's like the rest of our time is at your beck and call. I think you need to explain to yourself what you are trying to accomplish with what budget - go out into the world and do it. Hypotheticals several years in advance are useless. . .

  • jnjmom

    I think the source of irriation is that OP is consistantly being misunderstood. I never got from any of his posts that he wants everyone here, plus every builder in his area to give him an exact cost analysis. What he said in the OP is what any of us has looked at who is wanting to build a home - can I afford to do this?

    Anthem - Ok, so I can't decide whether or not you are a contractor. I can tell from your posts you are, at worst, extremely knowledgeable, and are possibly a builder yourself. I still disagree with you about what you disagree with me :o). I am certainly NOT a professional, however, I have talked to a couple of builders locally and am in the process of GCing my own home. I realize that there are people out there who will try to get you to build them the taj mahal for a doublewide price, but not every homeowner is like that. Again, that is why I used words like rational, careful, thoughtful, etc.

    I suppose we are beating a dead horse, but Rob's plan is not exuberant, and I would even guess if he took it to a local builder who was worth his mettle, he has probably done something similar enough to get a rough estimate. I do get what you are saying about duplication being cheaper, that isn't rocket science. But also, in this market, at least in MY area, builders would rather work for someone with money in hand than build a spec every single time. I'm not saying it's an exact science, my experience - again, in this area - is that new home price can be a soft estimate for home building.

    Rob -- it's crazy for anyone to think you shouldn't know how much investment you are looking towards BEFORE you make a commitment. I suggest you take your ideas to a builder or two in your area and see if they have done anything similar. Or, just for starters, ask them what you can look to spend per sqft. That is not hard, there should be an average that they know off the top of their heads from recently finished projects. Now, this too can vary extensively but you get the idea...

    Sheesh, good luck! :o)

  • rob63

    Anthem, I'm not really sure what information you seem to think I'm withholding. All I've asked is whether or not I can expect to build a home and pay around what existing homes are going for. You and worthy both say no. Fine, that's your opinion. However, I've seen evidence that your opinion is wrong. All I've asked is why it seems that way. You say all the homes I'm looking at are spec homes. Some obviously are but some are not. Other sources also tell me the same thing. If you think those sources are wrong, again that's fine. Where the rubber will meet the road is when we actually are able to build. If we can't stay within what I believe will be our budget, then we will have learned a great deal from this discussion group. Same holds true if we can. One thing I've certainly learned is that I will be careful as to the type of contractor I'm willing to work with. Anyone who thinks their client is a headache because he or she feels a right to oversee what they're investing in is someone I will avoid at all costs.


  • worthy

    rob63 said: I've asked... whether or not I can expect to build a home and pay around what existing homes are going for. You and worthy both say no.

    Au contraire!

    "As I (and others) have said, housing bargains abound in the resale market." To which I should add new but unsold market, as builders unload inventory.

    Whether this is the case in your area I can't say.

    btw: Nice job garymunson-2008. I like the entry that adds character to a small home without looking pretentious or out of place.

  • anthem

    Rob: I'm saying you are withholding information. I'm saying you are on a public discussion forum. take the information for what its worth. My astonishment is this is give and take. I don't see you contributing to help in any way - so what we're talking about is that you're freeloading and pretty ungrateful at it. . .

    Now, getting back to your "right". If you fix bid a house, you have no right or obligation to see beyond what a contractor bids and you accept to build your house. Their profit margin is for them to know. If you do a price + percentage bid - then you have a right to see every cost that is associated with your build. Now, whether or not you want to build cost-plus or fixed fee is up to you.

    Now who or what you want to avoid is up to you as well. I'm just telling you that if you dont want to do the build yourself and you want someone else to, then yes you want a trusting relationship but you do want to let the people do what they do best. I will warn you that I know many builders will factor in a "hassle" factor for people who are too troublesome. Some of that is they just don't want to deal with you, some of that is if they do, they are going to be compensated for it. Take it for what its worth. unfortunately many of these are also the good builders as they can afford to pick and choose which projects they want to work on.

  • dalcolli

    rob63, my sil and her husband live in Evansville - nice town and I think much more reasonable than my area, which is driven up A LOT by having the only really decent school system in the area. We purchased a starter home in Indy out of college and never looked at moving or building there since we always knew we would move back home. Prices were extraordinarily reasonable where we were on the south side, which is a nice area but not the trendy side to live on (that was the N/NE side).

    One more thought on the spec homes - those builders must get some major volume discounts. We see so many spec homes with all the same exact brick, tubs, windows, fixtures, etc. Also, I think some custom looking features are often done when one of the contractor's offers a "deal" and the builder is not picky. For example, we looked at one builder's spec homes with a "custom" feature, which was an inlaid wood medallion in the entry - well, a few houses of his later that all had this exact same feature started to not look so custom.

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