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View Full Version : Cost of building custom home vs. spec home?


jkski
04-15-2011, 08:04 AM
I am planning to build a home this year and just can't seem to find any 1 plan that I like. I can find 2-3 different plans where I like a portion of each but nothing where they are already combined.
So, my question is, does anyone have advice as to the cost of building a custom home as opposed to one where the plans are already created and available for purchase?
What does it typically cost to get a set of plans drawn for a home?

Thanks in advance for the advice.

JohnE
04-15-2011, 08:11 AM
You should be able to get a set of plans done for around a thousand. Cost to build totally depends on design and specs. You could build a 3K square foot house for $200K or $400K or anything in between.

jkski
04-15-2011, 08:16 AM
Does the cost of construction increase substantially when you have to build from plans that are newly created as opposed to something that is pulled off the shelf? If I was able to find something that is close that I could live with, that has already been drawn would I simply be saving the cost of an architect or is there savings beyond that I am not thinking of?

Hammer
04-15-2011, 08:16 AM
Most Architect/ Engineers can take an existing plan and make the changes at a reasonable cost. But you should expect to pay $5000.00 +/- all together for the plan and the changes and having it engineered. It will depend on how big the changes are. A full custom plan is going to be more in most cases by $2000 or so. Now this is just my experience.

Hammer
04-15-2011, 08:22 AM
Does the cost of construction increase substantially when you have to build from plans that are newly created as opposed to something that is pulled off the shelf? If I was able to find something that is close that I could live with, that has already been drawn would I simply be saving the cost of an architect or is there savings beyond that I am not thinking of?

Should make no difference as cost to build. Its the complexity of the plan and the details that make the difference. I pretty much have to have stock plans engineered to suite me. In most cases they under size many things and there are at times some products on the plans that are not available in this area or cost to much to get. But most of the time there is just a better way to do it.

redrobster78
04-15-2011, 08:47 AM
I would have to agree with Hammer on his last two replies... when it comes down to it are you willing to pay around $2-5,000 to get a house that you really want or save a few thousand dollars and build something that doesn't satisfy you wants and needs? Hiring an architect or a designer to work with you is an investment, esp if you are building new from the ground up.

Double D
04-15-2011, 08:49 AM
I am planning to build a home this year and just can't seem to find any 1 plan that I like. I can find 2-3 different plans where I like a portion of each but nothing where they are already combined.
So, my question is, does anyone have advice as to the cost of building a custom home as opposed to one where the plans are already created and available for purchase?
What does it typically cost to get a set of plans drawn for a home?

Thanks in advance for the advice.

JKSKI, your in luck! I am real close to you and can possibly help out. Here is what I did when I built my house. I found an outside visual look I liked and took the inside plans home. I then used my expertise in AutoCAD and knowledge of design and redesigned the interior the way I wanted it laid out, including a three car side load garage. I then presented the plans to my builder (or multiple builders) and he developed a price and had it built. Some requirements may be worse for what area you want to build in.

That being said, I can do the same for you for cheaper than having to pay an architect or plans for $1,000. Just send me a PM and we can discuss it. Maybe bring the plans and meet in the boats on Portage Lakes, or Berlin or wherever!! :D

SkiDog
04-15-2011, 09:21 AM
JKSKI, your in luck! I am real close to you and can possibly help out. Here is what I did when I built my house. I found an outside visual look I liked and took the inside plans home. I then used my expertise in AutoCAD and knowledge of design and redesigned the interior the way I wanted it laid out, including a three car side load garage. I then presented the plans to my builder (or multiple builders) and he developed a price and had it built. Some requirements may be worse for what area you want to build in.

That being said, I can do the same for you for cheaper than having to pay an architect or plans for $1,000. Just send me a PM and we can discuss it. Maybe bring the plans and meet in the boats on Portage Lakes, or Berlin or wherever!! :D

Now thats a deal right there! I was about to suggest that he find him somebody that could computer draw. You being CAD capable makes it easy for him. Good luck.

jkski
04-15-2011, 10:00 AM
Sent you a PM Double D, now I just need to find an exterior plan I like from the sounds of it. Anyone know of a good site to find home plans for post and beam/log cabin style homes? Before you answer, I have searched most of the sites available and find bits and pieces I like but nothing that encompasses the whole thing. The home will have the traditional prow of an A-frame with a full walkout basement, master bedroom, laundry on first floor with 2 bedrooms upstairs. 2 full bath, 2 half bath.
It looks great in my head now if I could on draw it!!!

Double D
04-15-2011, 10:11 AM
Sent you a PM Double D, now I just need to find an exterior plan I like from the sounds of it. Anyone know of a good site to find home plans for post and beam/log cabin style homes? Before you answer, I have searched most of the sites available and find bits and pieces I like but nothing that encompasses the whole thing. The home will have the traditional prow of an A-frame with a full walkout basement, master bedroom, laundry on first floor with 2 bedrooms upstairs. 2 full bath, 2 half bath.
It looks great in my head now if I could on draw it!!!

Yep, I will send you an e-mail soon.

Thrall
04-19-2011, 09:29 PM
Sent you a PM Double D, now I just need to find an exterior plan I like from the sounds of it. Anyone know of a good site to find home plans for post and beam/log cabin style homes? Before you answer, I have searched most of the sites available and find bits and pieces I like but nothing that encompasses the whole thing. The home will have the traditional prow of an A-frame with a full walkout basement, master bedroom, laundry on first floor with 2 bedrooms upstairs. 2 full bath, 2 half bath.
It looks great in my head now if I could on draw it!!!

I built pretty much the exact house you describe less the half baths and the loft was open. No cad dwgs though. Pretty common style/layout.

jkski
04-20-2011, 08:00 AM
Thrall,
Thanks for the response. If you are willing to share, could you PM me the final cost to build and possibly share some photo's.

Anyone have any experience with building near an active oil/gas well? I have one on my property and state regs require that a home be set back 200' from the well, problem is, that when you combine that with the back property line setback requirement of 40' I no longer have the space to build in the ideal spot. Obviously I can file for a variance for the rear line and that should not be a problem as I backup to nothing but woods, however, I need to be able to get about 50' closer to the well in order for me to take full advantage of the way the property sits for a walkout.
So, anyone had any experience with variance filing as it relates to building closer to an existing well?
Thanks in advance.

2RLAKE
04-20-2011, 09:21 AM
when we built our house a few years ago we picked an architect and had several plans that we liked ... i sketched out exactly the floor plan we wanted, a blend of several, and he tweaked and designed the final ... lots of revisions ... think we paid $8k ... cost is cost ... all depends on the complexity of the house and roof lines. My foundation has 38 corners so i knew going in that was a cost driver but it was a self choice. My roof is rather complex so that was another big cost driver .. but again a self choice. The other cost drivers will then be how you choose our house options ... all brick or siding, granite countertops or others, etc

good luck .. lots of stress but well worth it after you move in

ctjahn
04-21-2011, 09:17 AM
We researched this extensively... And still have not yet decided.

In OUR situation, we are hoping to head in the custom direction.... (As none of the A-Frame houses we saw plans for; endless hours looking, had the design we wanted.)

Again, for our situation, it came down to the fact that we could modify a modular home to fit our needs ($$) or modify a spec home to meet our needs ($$) or go the custom route.

Based upon all the research we did for the houses and builders in our area, is the difference between a spec or modular home and a custom built one is the duration of time to build.

I am no expert, I do not claim to be knowledgable on teh subject, I didnt sleep at a Holiday Inn last night, and I am still researching/learning about this whole ordeal... But this is what I have found thus far.

And I almost forgot; remember to look at the fine print. Often a lot of stuff in modular are not included such as the FOUNDATION and grading (which is no big deal unless you are expecting it in the price!).

Cj

ksdaoski
04-21-2011, 09:17 PM
Closing on a house in 2 weeks. Considered building for about 2 mins, then realized it would cost at least 20% more to build the houses I was looking at. And save 6 months of build time. May not be 100% perfect, but pretty damn close!

Lazers
05-19-2011, 02:53 PM
real estate (http://www.dfwrealties.com/)
I am planning to build a home this year and just can't seem to find any 1 plan that I like. I can find 2-3 different plans where I like a portion of each but nothing where they are already combined.
So, my question is, does anyone have advice as to the cost of building a custom home as opposed to one where the plans are already created and available for purchase?
What does it typically cost to get a set of plans drawn for a home?

Thanks in advance for the advice.

Well it depends on a couple of factors. Building a home in a so called "cookie cut" neighborhood really cuts cost as opposed to choosing a piece of land and having it custom built. The costs saved are as a result of the builder does not have to transport heavy/expensive equipment mainly. If you were to choose a cookie cut model that would likely save you a lot. On the other hand, like the gentleman said it should only cost you around a grand or 2 to get plans drawn up if you so choose.

pmkkdx
05-19-2011, 04:47 PM
I have designed several hundred custom homes over the past 35 years, starting out in a high school drafting class, then thru technical school, then on into college and then part time for extra money on the side. But when we built our current home, I used a very simple to use CAD program called "3D Home Architect" that was ~$30 ... now it appears to be a free download at several sites I just looked up. ~> http://en.softonic.com/s/3d-home-architect ... there may be others, this was just the one I used.

What I did was sketched out the floor plan using this easy lil tool because it is so easy to make changes once you get the basic layout. This way I could adjust with my wife looking over my shoulder as she was telling me things she wanted, liked, yada yada yada ... until we were both fairly happy with the arrangement. one click did an auto dimension and we could adjust room sizes accordingly on the fly. Then upon getting everything sized appropriately to our liking, you can click into 3D mode and play with doors, windows, put furniture and arrange to get a general visualization 3D from any angle ... once we were satisfied with everything, I merely ran a file translation to a .dxf file in which I then opened into AutoCAD to do all the final plans (similar to someone else talk about earlier in this thread, Double D maybe?) ... could also use the translated file into basically any major CAD program like Pro-Engineer, Solidworks, UG, Catia, etc. (I used to drive them all, but AutoCAD was by far the simplest for this application).

Then I went in to a custom builder with my complete plans for him to review and cost it out for us. I already had a certified architect that I had worked with over the years review and stamp off the plans for a flat $ fee since he was familiar with my work. We broke ground shortly thereafter.

You might be able to merely do the free download and play with the design/concept you have in your head to formulate a basic concept of a design and then have the guy (Double D?) close to you with the AutoCAD background create the more formalized plans for a reasonable fee. I would offer, but just don't have the time anymore to do this type of work, nor would you want my rates... :rolleyes:

2RLAKE
05-19-2011, 06:14 PM
we built our lake house ourselves (as in every nail) in 1994 (yes its still standing) and i used 3D Home Architect to design the house too ... small world

pmkkdx
05-19-2011, 06:50 PM
yep, great little program that is so quick & easy to use. I did the preliminary and turned my wife loose on it to play around with furniture, colors, paintings, appliances, window base heights, etc. so she had a good visualization before I went into the bowels of the details in the final design on official format heading to achitect approvals. funny thing, it was only a one story plan until they got it the first floor framed up and left a scaffle up one evening when I went by to check on things. I crawled up on the scaffle and realized the view out the back side all the way to Lake Georgetown (~4 miles north) and went home and stayed up several hours late designing how to put in a staircase and second story game room, bath, closet using the 3D Home Architect CAD program, translated out and brought in to work to do final plan additions ... went back by Architect and to the builder that day for cost roll up before they started putting in rafters... added about 1000 sq ft upstairs all under the cut in roof with a large dormer window looking towards the lake. :D ... basically lost space out of pantry for the staircase, for a minimal cost addition.

jkski
05-20-2011, 07:04 AM
Thanks for all of the great advice. The process is still rolling on and the plans are being worked on. Just got the road opening permit a couple of days ago so that I can start putting in the driveway. Had 40 ton of limestone delivered and picked-up 40 feet of culvert pipe that I will install in the next week or so....if it ever stops raining of course.
Funny story: I spoke with the county engineer a few weeks ago about the permit and having the gaurd rail removed from where my drive will be, so I get a call from him on Wednesday stating that the maintenance dept. was not going to remove the gaurdrail section until I was actually there working so they asked for a couple of days notice, to which I responded no problem. Not 10 minutes after I get off the phone with him I am going to the property to meet the guy delivering stone and hey...the guardrail is gone.......I can see this is going to be a fun process.

My next challenge is finding a lender that will allow me to act as my own general, so far those I have spoken to do not allow it and their requirements to consider someone a general are:
1) Have an established company and they will do a background and credit check.
2) Must have built at least 3 houses in the past year.

Any thoughts.

jkski
06-27-2012, 08:57 AM
Its been a while so I thought I would provide a quick update.

The plans are all drawn-up and were sent out to bid a few weeks back and so now 3 bids have come rolling-in and WOW was I way off on what I had budgeted. The bids came in at $140-$165/sq.ft. which is a far cry from the $100/sq.ft. I was thinking. There really isn't anything special about the house in terms of custom building or expensive fixtures, molding, countertops, etc.. so I am a bit perplexed. I am even removing the cost of well, septic, excavation, grading, labor for flooring and all painting from the equation. The driveway is in as well as the electric, so those costs are not included either.

Any thoughts from those of you have have built recently or who are in the field of construction? Is my thinking in terms of per sq.ft. way off or did I just pick the most expensive contractors to bid the project?

kgrove
06-27-2012, 10:25 AM
Thats difficult to say without knowing the quality of the finishes you are picking or the builder has assumed, the size of the house, the complexity of the design, what's included vs missing in the 140-165, the complexity of the site (e.g., is the lot on a hill or does it have engineering obstacles to overcome). For instance most bids I've dealt with will have an allowance for cabinetry, but the allowance could be $10k to $50k depending on the quality of the cabinets the builder is assuming you are going to pick. Sticking with cabinet allowance to demonstrate the difficulty of commenting on the cost per square foot, a house with a kitchen and three baths might have a $40k cabinetry allowance' but the impact on the cost per square foot is $20 if it is a 2000 sq ft plan and only $10 if it is a 4000 sq ft plan. I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm just saying answering cost per sq ft is a very difficult question to answer without seeing the plans, looking at what's included in the bids, and knowing something about the local labor rates, etc. Do you know anybody nearby that is a general contractor or has at least done some building and can sit down with you for some free consulting?

jkski
06-27-2012, 10:57 AM
Your comments are appreciated and true as there are many factors. Unfortunately, the local builders I know are mostly in commercial rather than residential, which really does not cross over very well to provide an accurate picture. I agree though, it would help immensely to let me know where my thinking is off or where the pricing is out of line...whichever the case may be.

In your example of cabinetry, the house is 2481 sq.ft. , 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath with first floor master and 2 bedrooms up in a loft area and unfinished walkout. The kitchen cabinetry we chose was basic Kraftmaid full extensions without the soft close option, so pretty much lower end of the scale and the total that it is adding to sq.ft. is $6.25, so really not much in the grand scheme.

georgea0731
06-27-2012, 05:12 PM
Look at Amercia's Home Place, http://www.americashomeplace.com/

There's an office in Columbus, not sure how far that is from you. They quote $50-60 aq/ft. Basement $31 finished, $17 not finished here in alabama. It already includes some extras, but nothing outside the house like grass, spinklers, landscape, driveway. We're looking at Waterstone II, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, total under roof 2758, cost $160,000ish. I've been in the models, I've talked to recent owners/customers, I've seen their stages, foundation, framing, interiors, etc. We're going with them due to the high estimates we're getting. Even if we add a lot and it comes out to $90-$100 sq/ft. its better all the others. Everyone says there's no way they can do it that cheap or it's modular or prefabed. I don't see that or have found that. They will work with basic plans and or help customize yours. It's part of the package. I just want you to know their out there.

Now that said if you use them, use us for a reference and we get $500 finders fee.

SkiDog
06-27-2012, 10:12 PM
Your comments are appreciated and true as there are many factors. Unfortunately, the local builders I know are mostly in commercial rather than residential, which really does not cross over very well to provide an accurate picture. I agree though, it would help immensely to let me know where my thinking is off or where the pricing is out of line...whichever the case may be.

In your example of cabinetry, the house is 2481 sq.ft. , 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath with first floor master and 2 bedrooms up in a loft area and unfinished walkout. The kitchen cabinetry we chose was basic Kraftmaid full extensions without the soft close option, so pretty much lower end of the scale and the total that it is adding to sq.ft. is $6.25, so really not much in the grand scheme.

Man, stay away from Kraftmaid crap! They might look good for now, but give them 5 years and you'll be thinking, I wish I'd would have listened to Skidog! Find you a custom cabinet builder and let a professional build you custom cabinets. I PROMISE you, you will NOT regret that decision! And probably, in today's market/economic times, you won't pay any more!

jkski
06-28-2012, 08:09 AM
Man, stay away from Kraftmaid crap! They might look good for now, but give them 5 years and you'll be thinking, I wish I'd would have listened to Skidog! Find you a custom cabinet builder and let a professional build you custom cabinets. I PROMISE you, you will NOT regret that decision! And probably, in today's market/economic times, you won't pay any more!

Thanks for the advice, I will be sure to look into this once I get a general price that is in the ballpark.....right now $10k-$20k really doesn't put much of a dent in the difference!

gid
06-28-2012, 11:03 AM
Some day I would love to build a house from scratch. All the ones I have owed were older fixer uppers.