That is the million-dollar question. It is however like asking how much a car costs without knowing if you are considering a Rolls Royce or an entry level car. That said, I will do my best to answer this sometimes-difficult question without rhetoric. In my mind, there are three basic components to the cost of a newly constructed house. First off, you have the land cost. Here I am talking about a “finished” lot that is developed and ready to build on. Secondly, there are the infrastructure cost. Those are typically anything outside the walls of the house like, the driveway, landscaping, water and sewer hookup. And, finally the cost of the actual house itself. The land and infrastructure cost are close to the same for the neighborhood, but, the house cost can vary widely, so we will concentrate on that here. This last one is what most people are after when the cost of the house question comes up, but the land and infrastructure costs are important too and are necessary to be able to make an apple to apples comparison of different homes. Here in SW Montana in the summer/fall season of 2018 the cost of a middle grade house will be $200 to $250 per sf for a middle grade home. That number can move quickly sometimes. That is the average and comes with some assumptions that might not apply to your personal home. We assume granite counters, hardwood floors, a better grade of windows/doors and an upper grade of construction quality. Builders are understandably queasy about giving out these numbers for lots of reasons, mainly because we don’t know what someone’s expectations are when they ask, and we don’t want to give such a casual answer without knowing some specifics about the project. Not all builders include the same things in their price either, this is where it gets hard to compare. Ultimately, the most accurate way to get a price for an upcoming project is to have a conversation with a builder experienced with your type of undertaking or better yet, have some plans drawn with some specifications to use as a guideline. The more you define the project, the more reliable and accurate the builder’s pricing will be. Always remember that pricing is perishable and will change as time goes as well as the supply and demand factor. Right now, builders are struggling to fill their schedule with able bodies. This makes for price increases. The key to this is in the planning. Take the time to develop a good set of accurate plans and form a relationship early with your builder. That is the best chance for a reasonable build in a very busy time.
Building a house that “works”
The computer age and the technology revolution have prompted modern homes to be designed and built with a changing purpose. More people are working from their home than ever before. For example, this changes the once familiar home office. Gone are the days when the work desk was tucked away in the garage or regulated to the basement. Building a house that “works” is not limited to the home office either. Garage space has morphed into a catch-all for hobby stuff, bicycles, tools and the family’s motorcycle. Some homes now feature a fitness area, and pantries are making a comeback as well. A house that “works”, simply put, means a house that is designed and performs exactly the way you live. Not a small thing to achieve considering the same family will need 4 different homes over the course of their lifetime. You have the starter home, the family home, the empty nester, and the retirement home. This is the main reason people have a hard time accepting homes that are ready built. They can get close to what you need, but no cigar! It would seem that the only way to achieve a house that works for you is to buy one that is close to what you need, and renovate it. Most of the time this will cost more than building a new house- believe or not! A better way is to build a new house that is custom designed for your particular lifestyle, family size and budget. Although family size has declined over the past few decades, house sizes have increased. Also, upgrades of the last few years have worked their way to the standard features list. Granite counters, large windows, 3-car garages, a main floor master, etc. are now common even in more modest homes. Houses now are surely a reflection of changing lifestyles and tradition is giving way to comfort. Dining rooms are now on the bottom of the want list and media rooms are near the top. Home offices, as the prior example, are now being designed to interact with the main flow of a home so the user can grab a quick cup of coffee and just as quickly be back at work to answer that email or conference call. Comfort and convenience is the new gold standard of home design. A well designed home will fit like the proverbial glove. A house that was designed and built in another time and for someone else- not so much.