Philippines Construction: December 2011

Construction cost to Build a House

Simple House Building / April 22, 2021

A complex shape is more expensive to build The French County design is the same size but less efficient; with the master bedroom suite moved from the upper floor to the lower, the roof area and foundation area increase by about 500 square feet – but the overall size of the house stays the same at 3, 000 square feet. More roof and foundation containing the same area; same size but with more lumber and concrete = more cost.

Colonial homes have simple gabled roofs. In the simplest examples the roof is made entirely with just one truss configuration. That’s a huge sigh of relief for the truss fabricator and the framing crew – every truss is the same! And without any intersecting roofs or dormers, there’s no overlay framing and no flashing or valley metal to install.

But French Country design is distinguished by its more “rambling” nature; an attractive home of this style spreads itself out a bit. French County roofs are typically hipped rather than gabled (hips are more expensive) and are often steeply pitched – more lumber is required and the roofing labor is more expensive.

Every angle, intersecting roof, bay window, porch, or level change adds complexity to a house. If you’re evaluating several house design ideas, look for complexities in the layout that may make one significantly more expensive to build than the other.

Bath - high cost per square foot

3) Finishes and Fixtures

Let’s compare two houses again, only this time they’re both 3, 000 square foot Colonials. One has a fiberglass tub in the master bath (about 0) and one has a 00 whirlpool tub. That one change adds 00 to the cost of the house but more importantly, it changes the “square foot” cost of the house by almost .50 per square foot.

Careful - here’s where homeowners get “nickeled and dimed” to death. Perhaps you were quoted a base cost of 0 per square foot for your house. Add the tub, and it’s gone to $121.50. Add hardwood, granite, under-mounted sinks, brass hardware, and other upgrades and suddenly you’re at $140 per square foot and way out of your budget.

Finishes and fixtures (flooring, cabinets, countertops, trim, etc.) represent about 30% to 40% of the cost of a house. You may only increase the cost of each item a little but because so many items fall into this category it’s very easy to lose control of the total cost.

If you want nicer finishes but your budget is tight, do what my clients do – put the nice stuff in the kitchen and master bath and the cheaper stuff everywhere else. More importantly, assemble a list of the finishes and fixtures you want at the beginning of the project and stick to it.

A Few More Notes on Controlling Cost
"Budget creep" is the gradual, sometimes unnoticeable increase in the cost of your project as new items are added, mistakes are uncovered, or unusual site conditions are revealed. Budget creep happens slowly, one decision at a time, creeping up and devouring your building budget before you know it. It can afflict you during the planning of a house project but more often it’s a disease of the construction phase.

A little planning, patience, and foresight can help avoid it.

On any project, start with a clear idea of the level of finish and quality you expect. Don’t assume that your builder is in tune with your ideas about finishes – discuss your expectations in detail and whenever possible, see the actual finishes and fixtures. If you’re not the detail-oriented type, hire a professional interior designer.

Poor quality drawings cause additional unplanned work during construction, and always end up costing homeowners money and time. My firm’s been hired many times to correct drawings done elsewhere that contained glaring errors, omitted necessary structural steel, or just plain didn't work. Sloppy drawings are an open invitation to Project Creep.