budgeting for your new home 12/2013

How much should my new home cost?


One of the most challenging conversations we have with our client is about budgeting for their new home or renovation. Most of our clients have already purchased a property, or own a home they wish to add to. So in a sense, a portion of the total budget has already been spent. For the cost of construction, friends and family offer advice on how much construction costs. Also resources are readily available on the web. The difficulty is that those giving advice are often quoting cost figures that are measuring different things. For example, is the cost of site work items like a septic system or well included?  What about interior design items like kitchen cabinetry or appliances? Further complicating the decision is that different styles of design (modern vs. traditional) and different building materials (wood shingle vs. asphalt roofing) vary wildly in cost. Geographic location also influences cost. Urban areas like Boston or San Francisco are far more expensive, not only in terms of land costs, but construction costs as well. Budgeting for your home is not rocket science, but it does require a comprehensive approach where the cost factors of site work, complexity of design, and quality of construction are factored in. The three items that follow give a road map of the key determinants of cost for your new home. The complete matrix of costs is available for download on our web site: flavinarchitects.com


Site Work: Include all the work needed to prepare the site for a finished home, from excavating the foundation, to bringing in utilities, to landscape work. A relatively flat site with good soils and nearby utility connections is far less expensive to build than a remote site that is steeply pitched and must be regraded, or with underlying rock that must be removed.


Complexity of Design: Keep in the geometry of your house simple, with details that are part of your builder’s standard toolbox helps reign in the cost of construction. For example a simple gable roof is economical to frame. Complex and unusual shapes are more expensive, like a design with lots of corners or curving geometry. Remember that time is money, and a complex design, even if built of modest materials, will still be expensive.


Understanding the cost versus quality relationship: Higher quality materials translate into more expensive houses. Choose materials that are consistent with your budget. Our chart lists material choices in terms of their cost. In siding for instance, clear finished cedar costs more that painted pine, which in turn costs more than cement plank. Keep in mind that the higher quality material may also be more expensive to maintain. Clear finished wood needs to be refinished on a regular basis, unless a rustic appearance is sought.