Construction Costs: What You Don’t Want to Hear

Construction Costs: What You Don’t Want to Hear

Construction Costs: What You Don’t Want to Hear is about the information this Architect of custom mountain homes has to share about the reality of construction prices these days.  10-19-2020.

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During the last 30 days (mid Sept 2020-mid Oct 2020): wood construction products have gone up about 300%.

A sheet of 3/4″ OSB (4×8) used to be about $12  two years ago.  That same sheet is now $45.
This appears to be nationwide.
An 8′ long 2×4 used to be about $2.50.  It is now $9. Once again: nationwide.  Confirmed by another Architect-Contractor in Denver 2 weeks ago.

These examples are much more than the overall lumber cost hikes, but serve to illustrate what is going on.  This company’s Senior Staff Architect asked Jennings Building Supply in WNC “Why?”  The answer: “Everything.”

Don’t expect for these costs to be going down.  Rarely do construction product costs go down, once they have increased.  So for those ill-informed people who think they are going to build their custom mountain dream home for $100/SF: that ain’t happening.  Not since about 1980.  We don’t know where people get such misconceptions.  Wishful thinking.

This firm’s Architect pulled every deal he could to build his own custom home 2018-2019-2020, and the cost would have been around $300/HSF (Heated Square Foot) if he had a local Licensed General Contractor run the whole job for him.  He ran it himself, daily being on the jobsite from 7AM through 6PM everyday for a year.  That same house, if started construction today, would likely be closer to $350 to $375/HSF today.  It was mainly drywall and paint inside, with some minor stained timber details, and post and beam front and rear porches. It includes a 3BR/2.5Ba main house with attached 2-1/2 car garage, septic, well, paved long driveway, gate.

If this house would have had A MEDIAN amount stone and wood and other “classic” mountain features, it would now be costing OVER $400/HSF.  If it would have had a LOT of stone and wood and other higher end mountain features, it could easily have cost $500/HSF or more.  Welcome to custom mountain home construction costs 2021.  Listen carefully to your Architect, people.  Have more than TWICE as much cash to build your mountain dream home as you have been thinking (and probably more).  And have IRAs and other “pockets” of cash that you can draw on if you need to to complete your mountain dream house.  You’re going to need it.


The good news: your Architect can help you Value Engineer size, features and other aspects to help control your costs.  But don’t expect your Architect to guarantee any cost or range of construction costs.  That’s the job of your General Contractor.  But the Architect can inform you when your choices are “more expensive” or “less expensive.”  Listen to them.