Kephart Living


Sunday, January 8, 2012

What Does a Small House Cost?

I find the question of cost to be the hardest to answer. When cost estimates, in widely separated regions, vary greatly for the same small house I know that the difference is due to something more than regional influences. Quality, ease of access, local fees for building and utilities, and intangibles such as distance to the job site and perceived expectations all play a role.

National figures for homebuilding, as published by the “RS Means Company”, (adjusted) recognize location and quality, as modifying influences on their base square foot costs. Base costs do not include: basements, garages, utility extensions, Custom design fees, or fees for permits and impacts. We have used their highest quality level for the following example, as our finish materials include granite countertops, wood base and trim and the best workmanship available. Invisible quality features include: High efficiency furnaces, tankless water heaters, and sprayed-in foam insulation in walls, roofs, and crawl spaces.


A 600 square foot/ one-story house with a small porch

National highest quality base cost per RS Means = $210.00 per sq. ft. (adj. for small size)

Adjusted cost for the following cities:

Sacramento, CA----- $210 X 1.12 (factor for location)= $235.00 per square foot

Grand Junction, CO- $210 X .91 (factor for location)= $189.00 per square foot

Austin, Texas-------- $210 X .78 (factor for location) = $165.00 Per square foot


So why did my costs come in so much higher than these numbers? Let’s add it up: first there are local building and utility fees that can add $10,000.00 to $30,000.00 to the total cost of a home. Custom design services may add another $5,000.00 and a basement and a garage may add another $30,000.00. These things could total $50,000.00 or $83.00 per square foot for our small 600 sq. ft house (by the way this only adds $26.00 per sq ft to a median sized 2300 sq. ft house). Then there are the intangibles: a difficult to reach building site will require more hand work for everything from bringing in materials to removing excess earth from excavations, and the distance for a builder to travel will also have an impact.


The house total costs with and without the extras for the above cities are as follows:

Sacramento------$141,000.00 up to $191,000.00

Grand Junction--$114,000.00 up to $164,000.00

Austin-------------- $99,000.00 up to $149,000.00

Figures are rounded to the nearest $1,000.00

posted by Custom Blogs @ 9:25 AM 

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