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Design Decisions and How They Can Affect Cost

Saturday, May 4th, 2013 | Uncategorized | No Comments

By Michael Jamison – Jamison Homes Inc.

How much will it cost? How much a square foot? This is what everyone wants to know before building and what builders are asked frequently. But first lets talk about design and how it can affect your building budget. There are many things about the design of a home that have a direct affect on the cost; the size and shape of the building, the exterior and interior finishes, and the building’s location all will have an impact on cost.

What is a square foot? Three different homes, all 1,000 square feet:

In the examples above, each home is 1,000 square feet, but they are very different in complexity. The simple home on the left has four corners and a simple gable roof, but it has twice the amount of foundation and roof area as the two-story on the right. The third home above has 12 corners and four intersecting roof lines. As you can see, the costs will be very different for each home because of their shape and design.

What will be used for the exterior finishes, brick, stucco, stone, and siding (wood, vinyl, cement board)? What about architectural details, arches, corbels, lintels, and roof overhangs? The more architectural details there are, the more interesting and appealing the home will be, but better materials and details will cost more.

What type of materials will be used for the interior: builder grade windows or high-end windows and doors? What size and style trim will be used: hollow core doors with standard hardware or six panel solid wood doors with solid brass hardware? Will the appliances be standard selections or high-end appliances like Wolf and SubZero? Custom cabinets or box cabinets from a building supply? Formica, granite, quartz, or poured in place concrete for the countertops? Plumbing fixtures, builder grade or high-end items from Kohler for sinks, tubs, faucets, and showers? All will effect the final cost of the home.

What type of building materials will be specified for the construction, type of foundation, roofing choices, framing materials, insulation choices, mechanical systems (HVAC), ventilation, driveway material, patios, decks, and retaining walls?

The building location could also increase cost if it is a difficult site to access, has a steep grade, or has trees that need to be cleared for the building. Sometimes different communities will have impact fees or assessments for new schools and services that can add cost.

So, you can see a square foot is not a square foot when it comes to cost. In fact, two identical homes built side-by-side by the same builder could have significant differences in cost when using different interior and exterior finishes.

How can design help you stay on budget and contain cost? Most people look at several floor plans when looking for a home and sometimes find that a home with all of the features they want is either too large or has additional features they don’t really need. A custom design can address these problems and doesn’t really cost much more than a standard plan, especially when several changes are made to a standard plan. A custom design can actually cost less when the design only addresses the client’s needs.

Think of the rooms in your current home and how they are used. What are their sizes; are they too small, too big, or just right? How will the rooms be arranged in your new home; will they work well with the way you live in your home? Do you require a formal dining room, office, craft room, or maybe a home theater? What size does each room need to be to fit your activities and furniture?

By thinking about what rooms you want and their sizes based on the way you live in your home, the true size of your home will emerge, not some arbitrary square footage number. Most people will be surprised to find that when taking this approach, they realize the home they really need is smaller than they thought.

Next month we will discuss a common sense approach to energy efficiency.

Jamison Homes
(423) 884-3886

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