Calculating the True Cost of Construction
A veteran builder uncovers the upgrades that take building budgets from baseline to busted
Anybody can calculate their house’s cost per square foot after it’s built. Forecasting that number ahead of time, though, requires lots of work for the homeowner and the builder. This up-front planning forces a strong focus on the utility of each space in a house, including broad choices about size down to crucial forethought about where switches and outlets will be located. As veteran builder Paul Biebel demonstrates, the result is more accurate building plans, the homeowner and the builder seeing eye to eye, and a more realistic budget.
<p>START WITH A WISH LIST</p>
<p>Timbers can mix with 2xs</p>
<p>If prospective homeowners already have chosen land, they often come to my office with sketches of the floor plan they’re imagining. If they haven’t, we do some sketches together, working out priorities like number of bedrooms, size of kitchen, and so forth. Pictures copied from books and magazines are common in these early meetings, as are online photo galleries. These are great guideposts for the design process, but they are best set aside until after we’ve determined a base price.</p>
<p>BY PAUL BIEBEL</p>
<p>I must have met with a thousand prospec-tive clients in the last 40 years, all of whom have asked a series of questions that basi-cally boil down to this: “How much will it cost per square foot to build the house we have in mind?” They usually proceed to show me their dream home; sometimes it’s copied from a book or magazine, sometimes it’s a collection of inspirational photos saved to an online gallery, and sometimes it’s just a sketch. Often…