Average per square FT cost Build House
One of the first questions a prospective client asks us is “How much will it cost to build what we have in mind?” It’s a hard question, but we’ll try to answer it.
Contractors, not architects, actually price projects of course, but architects develop seat-of-the-pants estimates in order to get the design in the right general ballpark. And then there’s a back and forth to arrive at a construction cost that works for the client.
Prices below reflect conditions in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, unincorporated King County and environs as of May 2017.
Your total Project Cost is made up of…
- Construction Cost (What it costs to build the building itself.)
- Sitework Cost (what it costs to prepare your particular site for the building, including access for people and cars, utilities, sewer or septic, landscaping. Foundations are included in Construction Cost.);
- Design and Consultants’ Fees and Reimbursable Expenses, and
- Permit Fees.
On this page I’m talking only about the hard costs of Construction Cost and Sitework Cost–what you’ll pay the builder. I’m happy to discuss the soft costs–design and permit fees, with you in person. (Architects are prevented from publically discussing their fees by anti-trust laws designed to prevent price-fixing.)
Also: We’re talking about single-family houses here. Multifamily buildings, including townhouses, row houses and apartment buildings, are much less expensive per square foot than single-family houses. The construction costs for multifamily buildings vary enough that I’d rather talk with you and respond to your specific situation. Call me!
Let’s declare some general assumptions about houses then:
- For a new house, the site is relatively flat and soils are good. For a renovation, the existing foundation is in good shape and structurally sound.
- For a house (either new construction or renovation), total square footage is between 1, 800 and 4, 500, including the square footage of an unfinished basement and garage, if those are present. Cost per square foot is higher on smaller projects and on projects where all space is finished to the same degree, and lower on larger projects.
- You hire an excellent, reliable, licensed and bonded contractor who carries appropriate levels of insurance and pays his or her (legal) workers decent wages (such as one of these companies). The prices below are median ranges quoted by those contractors, updated to reflect conditions in 2017.
- You start construction eight months to a year from now. I’ve built in a little uptick for inflation and increases in costs.
- You implement a comprehensive yet sensible range of green building strategies such as those we mention in the techniques section of our manifesto and you build to the Passivhaus standard of energy-efficiency.