# Building costs

• posted on October 16, 2005, 9:03 pm
Next year I am going to build a house on some property I own in northern California. The house needs to run off of solar as there is no power in the area. It also needs a well and a septic system. The plans for the house can be viewed here:
http://www.connectlan.com/flooplan.gif The artists endering can be viewed here:
http://www.connectlan.com/view.jpg
What would be a ballpark figure for having this house built by a general contractor? The square footage is 1200'.
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• posted on October 16, 2005, 2:33 pm

If you have no idea, how are you going to know if you are running below or above projections? If you have no idea, how are you going to know when the contractor wants to charge you \$1200 for \$300 worth of lumber?
Do your homework. YOU need to know from analysis and cost projections YOU do.
Then, at the end, take the total cost, divide it by 1200, and there's yer per square foot cost.
All sorts of things that you cannot control can skyrocket the cost. Remoteness of site. Terrain at site. Availability of workers. Complexity of systems. The need of trained personnel to install technical systems.
But the hard costs, you should figure out ahead of time to make sure you don't get screwed into buying a \$700 toilet that you can get at HD for \$149.
Unlessen, of course, you just have lots of money, and you want to trust others.
In that case, I am available.
STeve ;-)
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• posted on October 16, 2005, 9:56 pm
wrote:

I have somewhat of an idea. Around 100,000.00 to 120,000. This is just for the house and does not inlude septic, well and solar.

What if I build the house myself? How do I estimate what each square foot should cost?
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• posted on October 16, 2005, 3:16 pm

Figure out in advance the cost of everything you will use. Add 15%. Divide by 1200.
Steve
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• posted on October 16, 2005, 3:35 pm

Since the soil issue is unknown, relates to foundation. The finishes are unknown, and the roofing is unknown. There is no pratical method of knowing what the cost will be. CA requires earthquake construction do they not? more \$\$\$\$\$
Are permits required in your area? Are engineered plans required? Do you know if you can even put a septic in the area? Can you drill a well on the property?
New homes slab on grade in AZ are going for \$200-250 a foot if your willing to drive an hour each way to central Phoenix or live in the river bottom. Stucco, tile roofs and very basic inside finishes. Add in a HOA of \$70 a month. This includes a water and sewer connections.

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• posted on October 17, 2005, 5:59 pm
Al Moran wrote:

What do you mean by build it yourself?
A. Physically build it with your own two hands... Determine materials necessary, quantities of each and unitt costs, equipment rental, site prep, etc. Add up costs and divide by 1200.
B. Act as general contractor... Have numerous sets of building plans printed, send to several (3-4) of each type of sub needed and ask for bids. Take an average, add in materials, permits/inspections/impact fees, total and divide by 1200.
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• posted on October 16, 2005, 9:09 pm
wrote:

oops that should be
http://www.connectlan.com/floorplan.gif
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• posted on October 16, 2005, 9:38 pm
Al,
All I saw on your web-site was a very conventional floor plan.. The artist's rendering is nice but confirms that this is a very conventional home. Has the architect led you to believe that these plans will allow you to live with just solar power? If so why do you have a wood stove? The architect should be able to answer your questions and give a rough guess for building but many of the building trades are going to assume the home site has electricity for their power tools. You'll probably need to get a big generator.
Dave M.
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• posted on October 16, 2005, 11:41 pm
I know very few contractors who don't own at least one generator.
================== David Martel wrote in message
Al,
All I saw on your web-site was a very conventional floor plan.. The artist's rendering is nice but confirms that this is a very conventional home. Has the architect led you to believe that these plans will allow you to live with just solar power? If so why do you have a wood stove? The architect should be able to answer your questions and give a rough guess for building but many of the building trades are going to assume the home site has electricity for their power tools. You'll probably need to get a big generator.
Dave M.
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• posted on October 17, 2005, 1:32 am
Al,
As others have said, you really need to do a lot of homework on your own. Start by typing the following into Google: building cost estimator
You will discover 27,000,000 hits on those search terms, and the first one appears to be very adequate for a reasonable ballpark estimate: www.building-cost.net
Obviously, the estimator is making assumptions which may not apply in your case, such as site accessibility, site grade, etc.
Satisfy our curiosity a bit: What are your plans for solar power? Generating electricity? Enough electricity for conventional AC? Enough for heating with a heat pump? Or are you planning direct solar heating without the intermediate step of creating electricity?
What are your anticipated power needs? Heating requirements based upon the location and your life style; Cooling requirements; Electrical requirements.
You don't seem to know much about construction. Do you know much about the front end costs of solar systems? And the eventual maintenance costs such as battery bank replacement? The installation of solar systems, especially electrical generation, is very expensive.
Don't forget to include the likely cost of super insulating the home because of your solar requirements.
Have you considered and investigated other energy sources? With LP gas trucked in to on-site storage tanks, you can obviously heat your home, you can generate electricity with a generator set up for LP gas, and you can cool your home with a gas AC unit. Fuel oil can also be stored in tanks and used for all 3 energy requirements. If you wish to augment this with solar, then I'd guess that solar water heating and solar home heating are the two most cost effective choices.
Describe your site. How accessible for construction and how accessible for fuel delivery? Can you legally install a well or a septic system on the site. I have a friend who owns 2 empty lots in a very desireable and established area. The lots are worth a small fortune except for the fact that neither wells nor septic systems can be installed on the lots. (Existing homes are grandfathered under older zoning laws).
By the way, the one particular cost estimating website that I mentioned above will itemize material costs, labor costs, and equipment costs. Still, based upon your questions, I'm not too certain that you sound like a person suited for performing as a general contractor and primary laborer. This is a lot more work than you think and is going to involve a lot more homework than this simple cost estimating which seems to have you overwhelmed. Just being realistic.
Good luck, Gideon