The single most asked question, when prospective clients come to us, even before we’ve helped them pick the perfect lot, is how much is our dream home really going to cost?

1410 Kurtz Road

According to Kate Rumson, founder and creative director of The Real Houses of Instagram, a go-to resource for anyone thinking of buying, building, or remodeling a home, there are hundreds of materials/finishes that go into construction of a house and almost every single one of them comes in several options ranging from very basic to the highest quality.

“That’s why when someone asks how much it costs to build a house, it’s very similar to asking how much it costs to buy a car? There’s Ford Fiesta at $15k and then there’s Rolls Royce at $300k – both cars will get you from point A to point B, but your comfort, safety and the overall experience will be very different. The same applies to houses.”

Liam Sullivan

And to further explore this question we sat down with Liam Sullivan, Director of Estimating for Joy Design + Build. With more than 20 years’ experience in the industry, Liam is skilled in all aspects of new home construction, from carpentry to project management. His expertise in estimating project costs is invaluable.

1. What is the typical cost per square foot in your region?

While I am not sure exactly what the average cost is in our region, our clients are typically between $225 – $250 per square foot.  This is based on the finished square foot of the house and not the exact footprint of the home.  Our clients are looking for a custom home with fine finishes and details.  I am sure a production builder is much less than that.

2. What are the biggest factors that affect the cost of a home?

Besides the size of the house, the biggest factors are typically the level of finishes.  An example would be flooring.  The range in in price for flooring in its various forms is quite wide.  What works for one client does not work for another.  Appliances, plumbing & electrical fixtures, and countertops follow the same formula.  Most clients save in one area to spend in another, but if clients decide to go all-in on every one of those categories, the prices can increase dramatically and quite quickly.

3. What do homeowners most frequently underestimate when budgeting for a new home?

The most common items are landscaping & furnishings.  Typically, clients are moving into a larger home and don’t realize that they will most likely get new couches and furniture to match the size and finish of their new home.  With landscaping, most clients have a vision of what it should look like but don’t realize the costs involved for patios, outdoor kitchens, etc.  HGTV does not help either.  Clients will see that something was done on TV for a ridiculously low price only to find that it cannot be done in the real world without national sponsors.

4. Do you have any tips for cutting construction costs?

Construction costs for the home typically stay the same.  Framing the house, pouring the foundation, and those types of items are generally the same from company to company.  It’s what is put in the home, cabinets, countertops, & fixtures that really drive the price.  Building the box is the same time and again, making the box pretty is what drives the cost. 

5. As Director of Estimating, is there anything a client can do to make your job easier?

In a word, Houzz. This website is extremely helpful for us! Clients can browse through millions of photos by style and room to create “Ideabooks”. These Ideabooks of the spaces and products they love allows me to more closely estimate the quality and corresponding price points the client is wanting.

Still have questions? Take a look at some of the dream homes we’ve built. Then give us a call.