No, You Can’t Build Your New House for $100/SF

No, You Can’t Build Your New House for $100/SF

No, You Can’t Build Your New House for $100/SF is about this Architect’s 52 years of experience and what you need to expect when planning your new house project.

construction costs
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EVERYONE, for some crazy reason (or just wishful thinking) believes they are going to build their new house for a hundred bucks per square foot. There is some misinformation out there on other websites that is just simply WRONG.  And that kind of bad information will result in people getting hurt financially who believe it.

We can guarantee you, here and now, in mid 2020, that ain’t gonna happen.  And certainly not with all the goodies most people have in mind.  Well, hey, if someone says that’s their budget, why can’t that happen?  Because this hasn’t been possible since the 1980s.  The cost of materials alone will be at least $100/sf (but probably much more).  And there are different types of SF:

GSF: Gross Square Feet, meaning: ALL of the square feet in and around the house of the built structures, including garages, porches, and interior (heated & cooled) space.

HSF: Heated Square Feet: meaning: ONLY interior heated/cooled area.  THIS is the SF that most people are thinking of, when they first start planning for their budget for their future house.  Which means: the budget to pay for the additional SF in any unheated/un-cooled area must be included in this amount/SF (such as for garage, porches, etc).  Unless there is NO garage or porches planned, which would be the cheapest way to build a house, but also not as enjoyable.

Okay, so how much does a house cost?  Well, that’s kind of like asking “how much does a car cost?”  The answer is of course: that depends.
On what?
A lot of things:

The land: if it’s steep, the foundations are going to be much more expensive (could be hundreds of thousands of dollars more expensive).

Also: what will the materials be?  Material choice is not like choosing different colors of paint.  Oh no.  For instance: native stone (5″ thick usually) is much more expensive than vinyl siding.

Size: generally, the larger the house, the more expensive it becomes per SF, because structural spans often become longer and that means the structure needs to become thicker and taller (for beams & girders), adding to the cost of materials, labor and engineering.

Porches?  Garage?  Driveway?  Septic field?  Power cables?  Internet?  Potable water lines or well?  Other features?  Nothing is free and everything adds to the cost.

And many other considerations.


However, there are some rules of thumb.  We’re going to share some of those with you.  However, none of these is ironclad.  There are always exceptions, in some cases, huge exceptions.
Click here:  Cost Guide to mountain homes

What this booklet (in the link above), produced by this firm indicates, is that to build these days, you will likely discover the following, by the time you are done building your new house:

(See the booklet for more information)
New custom home: $195-$225/HSF.

New custom home: $250-$300/HSF

New custom home: $305-$450/HSF (could be much more, depending)

Wait a minute: you mean you can’t build a house for $100/SF?  No.  You can’t.  Unless you’ve done something extraordinary, like stockpiled all of the materials for free somewhere, and got about a dozen brothers and sisters experienced in construction that can work for a year solid for free to help you build it.  Not sure how anyone’s going to accomplish that.


Now then, you might say: “Well, I’ll choose the LOWER END for my house and save what I can.”  No you won’t.  “Huh?  Whadaya mean?”  You’re not going to like that Low-End house.  Why?  Consider these features:
Painted 1×4 wall base.
Drywall window trim.
Carpet for main flooring.
Vinyl flooring in kitchen and bathrooms.
Plastic laminate counters.
Melamine cabinets (which is even thinner than plastic laminate)
Drywall interior walls and ceilings.
Minimum insulation values (= higher power bills).
Vinyl exterior siding.
No stone, anywhere.
No real wood anywhere.
Low end cheap asphaltic roof shingles (that will mold within a couple of years and fail within 7 years).
Metal soffits.
Lowest end 30″ wide white appliances.
No fireplace or other special features; no built-ins, no chimney.
No garage.
No porches.
Very limited, if any sitework.

Let us guess: not exactly what  you have in mind, right?  And before you ask: YES, any upgrading of any of those specifications will absolutely increase your construction cost.


Download the free booklet for more information about the other grades of construction features, like MID-RANGE and HIGHER END.  We’re thinking you’re going to like those features much more.  IF you have the funding to pay for them.  Nothing is free in construction and no one gives away anything.


And NO: basements aren’t free or cheaper and no Contractor believes that you really intend to have a so-called unfinished basement.  The mere construction of any kind of basement will dramatically increase your construction cost.  See this online article on this website: Cost of Basements


And you also might be interested in this online article:
Economical Ways to Build Houses


And if you think that your 2 weeks, or 3 months, or 6 months or 2 years of Googling in your spare time has allowed you to discover methods of construction that you THINK will save you money (like ICF, Log, Timber Frame, SIPs), because you think you are smarter than the average bear, NO you will not discover anything this Architect’s half-century of full-time, everyday research has not already analyzed in much greater detail than you, years ago and come to the conclusion that ALL of those cost MORE, not less than conventional construction.  Also, Contractors are not idiots.  There’s a reason they build using mainly conventional construction: it’s LESS expensive.  You are not equipped to second guess them or Architects in coming up with genius ways to save construction costs.  So: that ain’t gonna happen either.  Stop that.  Trust your Architect.


Confused?  Disappointed?  Sorry; the above is reality.  What to do now?  That’s easy: Contact Home Architects at the email and Contact Us buttons you see on this website.  They can help you manage your project in a reasonable manner and help turn your dreams into reality.  (but nowhere near $100/SF).  They are experts at Value-Engineering, to help you get the most bang for your buck.