When considering home building materials cost, one must also consider the cost of labor to install them. Some materials cost very little but require a lot of skilled labor to install. For example natural stone can often be found on location, but stonemasons are highly skilled workers who often charge a premium wage. Inversely, sometimes materials are quite costly but install easily.
Another consideration is that sometimes one material replaces two or three other materials. For example, insulated concrete panels or ICPs fulfill the function of framing, studs, insulation, dry wall, and sheathing plywood. If you desire, they can replace the exterior siding as well because while exterior siding might look more appealing in some applications, it isn’t strictly necessary. When one solid piece of material replaces several pieces and many types of materials that would have to be assembled it drastically reduces onsite labor.
We must consider the per-hour cost of labor and the number of hours, as well as material costs, when comparing the price of materials. What we are calculating in the cost of building materials is commonly known as the shell price. This is not to be confused with the cost of a finished home. Finished homes include electrical wiring, appliances, cabinetry, floor coverings, wall treatments, light fixtures and plumbing fixtures. Shell price means only the bare structure and sometimes does not include insulation or dry wall, other times it does.
The Shell price does however include the cost of the windows, doors, walls and roof. It’s necessary to calculate the cost of all the materials including the windows and doors. Also remember that you can use ICP or ICF to roof an ICP or ICF home, or you can choose to use traditional framing for the roof. It’s your choice. It is possible to mix materials in several creative ways, but you may need the advice of an architect or experienced home builder to determine if your plan for mixed materials will support the home.
When pricing a material for the shell it is important to know exactly what measurements might be used. Log home kit prices and shell prices are often based on the square footage area of the home. Though prices vary, a completed shell usually costs around $25 to $35 per square foot. Insulated concrete forms or ICFs, and insulated concrete panels are often priced by the square foot, but this is the square footage of the wall surface, not the floor space. In order to calculate the square footage of a wall Add the length of each exterior wall to get the perimeter of the home. Add the length of any interior load bearing walls that also need to be made of ICF Then multiply that number by the height of the walls. The price of insulated concrete forms is ranged from $1 to $4 per square foot of wall surface.
In order to compare ICP with traditional framing we must compare the cost of ICP or ICF with a combined price of framing lumber, plywood for sheathing, closed cell insulation and dry wall, as well as exterior siding. We must also consider the labor involved in traditional building, compared to the quick insulation of ICPs and ICFs.
When you finish comparing the total cost of both materials and labor, you will find that there is actually very little difference in the price of most shell materials, once you add up all the labor, and all the materials that comprise the shell structure. It seems that most shells cost about the same. One exception is stone. Stone is usually more expensive because of the labor involved. It is also important to know that stone is not a good insulator, except for extremely thick applications, so you may want to use a stone veneer applied as siding, or discuss creating a faux stone look with cement over a ICP or ICF or a shotcrete application. This can be done with special molds, and concrete dyes.
Of course it costs more to use heavier lumber, thicker ICPs or heavier floor joists, but in all cases it is well worth it to go with the heavier choice. Don’t waste money by creating a structure that will not last, and that will leak away your heating and air conditioning dollars. Use either 2 by 6 lumber or ICPs with insulation over 5 inches thick and has a heavy application of concrete. Why not build a home that will last for centuries, and reduce your electric bills? Consider the cost of building an energy inefficient or unsound structure. It is far more sensible to build a strong and lasting energy efficient structure.
While the cost of shell materials and labor do not vary a lot between one material and another, the cost of interior materials does vary. The main material cost variables in a home are the countertops, the cabinetry, and the plumbing fixtures. Floor covering costs are also a huge variable. Hardwood materials and the labor involved in installing ceramic tile can be more expensive than merely laying vinyl or carpet over ply-wood. It makes sense to save money on the little stuff, not the structure. Cutting corners on structure makes no sense, and the shell generally cost approximately the same regardless of type of material is used. The only differences in price generally apply to quality. Do not cut corners when considering the home building materials cost.