We get this question constantly, “what is your cost per square foot to build”? Cost per square foot has become a popular measurement for looking at houses, and construction. But that metric can vary widely on a number of criteria. It is a little like asking, “how much does a new car cost?” Or going into a Toyota Dealership and asking what the cost is for a brand new Toyota. Obviously it varies widely.
Here are the main reasons it varies:
- Footprint. The largest driver of cost to build is the footprint of the house. That is because much of construction costs have to do with foundation, walls & roofing. A two story splits those costs between two floors, reducing that effect on the cost per square foot by half. That is why a basement is so inexpensive. (We always recommend doing basements, even if unfinished for that added value).
- Finishes. Your selections–things like flooring, counters, cabinets, lights–heck even paint and trim. We see a tremendous variety in what people expect in finishes. We can build the same plan twice on similar lots and one client could spend easily an extra $100k or $150k on finishes. We have 2500 Sf Ranch (single story) homes we’ve built for $500k not including land, and $1 million not including land. Not everyone wants to spend $30k on lighting in their home…and some people want a $30k chandelier in their laundry room. So when people ask us for our cost to build per square foot, much of that depends on their selections.
- Lot. Building on a developed urban lot, versus a country lot with acreage makes a huge difference on the total cost. In an undeveloped lot you have extra utility fees to pipe in utilities. Sometimes we have to do an electrical transformer and power poles. A country lot will usually require a septic. Plus, a water tap on acreage is often twice as much as on a lot in the city. Those things are not even taking into consideration the difference in lot prices. In the Front Range, as you get closer to Boulder the demand goes way up and inventory available goes way down. You can get an acre close to Boulder for $450k, or even just on the other side of Longmont, pay $175k for the same sized lot.
- Locale. Municipalities and counties differ widely in their requirements and restrictions. The building process in Broomfield is very different than Boulder county, or Larimer county, or Erie. Each place has its own set of rules and different fees. Some require greater amounts of insulation and even testing. Some restrict how powerful your air conditioner can be. Not only can the municipality affect price, but it also changes the build length. But an important tangent–your property taxes vary greatly, even in the same jurisdiction. Many new subdivisions, even Weld county (known for lower taxes and much fewer restrictions) have Special Metro Districts. These SPD’s can double your tax bill to pay for infrastructure for the subdivision. There are places in Weld that have property taxes as high as Boulder county because of Special Metro Districts.
Ultimately, like anything else in life–it pays to do your homework and make yourself aware of the details. We apologize for not giving a direct answer to the question, “how much per square foot is your cost to build?”. But with so many variables, its an impossible question. We have built anywhere from just over $100/Sf to over $350/Sf.
However, if you have a plan and a place to build, and an idea of your type of finishes then we can absolutely give you an estimate to build. Our estimates break down the cost to build so that you see all the variables involved.