How Much? How Much a Square Foot?

How Much? How Much a Square Foot?.jpg

Is the most frequent question and often, the first question people ask.

As a builder you understand the need for the cost and you genuinely want to help and give the most realistic answer possible, but… often it is a question that does not have a realistic answer.  Without a lot of assumptions…

The question is prefaced by “ I know it is a difficult question to answer but…”.

Most still want an answer… now.

The first notion that runs through my head is “how much for what?

You start to frantically run through all the issues, questions and factors that need to be consider to even remotely give a realistic answer.

How big is this house?  What type of house?  Bungalow? Two levels? Walkout?

What kind of materials are we using?  Is it brick? Stucco? Vinyl or wood?  Or a combination of all the elements? What is the split between the materials? How big is the kitchen? What kind of cabinets? What kind of finish? What are the fixtures like? How many bathrooms? Tile? Two piece? En suite? Shower or tub or both? How difficult is the roofline to construct? Are there granite counters? Built in cabinets? What kind of flooring? Designer or Home depot? How many windows? What kind of windows, aluminum clad, wood, vinyl, or a combination? Is a garage included? One car, two or three? Maybe 4?  What is the site like? Blasting? Demolition? Clearing involved? Services required or already on site? Is the basement need to be finished? What kind of trim package? Staircases?  Doors? How many?  What kind? Solid?

All this questions run through your head and you know they want an answer that will tell them

"Are these guys expensive?”

I am challenged to price a non-existent house, which can only be described as 2000 square feet. As you try to come up with a reasonable answer to a question that really does not have a reasonable answer, you relent and say “$225 a foot”.  You put a disclaimer to your estimate that would make a United States Pharmaceutical Company blush, you know when they say…. may cause blindness, hot and cold flashes, and in some cases death if you digest our drug. 

You explain all the caveats to the number you just expressed. 

The response typically is “$225…that is too not bad” or that is “really expensive”?

The answer has more holes in it then Swiss Cheese. Does that include the garage? No. Does it include the wine cellar I was hoping for? (Did not know the gentleman wanted a wine cellar) No that would be extra. How about the Home theatre? Again no idea about the home theatre. . Answer would be again…not included.

And so it goes. Somehow the number $225 per square foot gives comfort.   A square foot estimate is just that an estimated budget. A starting point to a process that needs thoughtfulness and a level of detail that gives guidance to what a realistic amount out of resources will be required to meet the needs of building a home or cottage of such character and scope.

Not a price but rather a budget.
And at that, a very loose and preliminary budget.

Providing a budget to something that has no form, no dimensions, no specifications is really a preliminary understanding of what the range of cost is. Typically such a number is not complete. It does not typically include preconstruction costs or site costs as well as taxes.

However, we understand the need to know.

At Integrity we have created a process that we think helps answer the question “How much?

We understand a complex question needs to be addressed with thoughtfulness, knowledge and structure.  It is a process that is based in a reality that can help our clients down the path of effective planning, design and construction.

We call it the “Integrity Way”

We create a representative sketch of your vision of the design of your home. We use our years of data to create realistic budgets that take into account quality of finishes, level of difficulty of construction, room composition in order to give you a reliable data so an effective construction and financial plan can be created. 

How much? Well it depends… we can get you an answer that you can trust.


Ed FreibauerComment