When researching the average square foot price of building a home, you may find a lot of confusing and conflicting information. Clarifying the confusion over materials costs, shell cost, and overall cost of a finished home can make home construction cost estimation very mysterious. In fact costs are not that hard to calculate, and professional home builders can provide an exact quote very easily using software. Even with a pen and paper, contractors of old were not too far off their estimates for construction cost. Why then are so many articles on line giving us totally different numbers for the average square foot price of building a home?
Factors that Determine the Average Square Foot Price of Building a Home
• Quality of the structure – Budget homes, quality homes, and luxury homes are built to different standards. There is a great deal of difference between a budget home and a luxury home, both in quality and price.
• Materials and building techniques – A variety of new materials and techniques vary in price from traditional building methods and materials.
• Energy efficiency – Spending extra for an energy efficient structure is always money well spent. It is not really a cost in the long run, because of the savings on utilities, but in general it does boost the average square foot price of building a home.
• Luxury items incorporated in the home – Luxury home costs, almost assume hot tubs and pools as standard, and these costs are often included in the cost of the average square foot price of building a home.
• Quality of Cabinetry – Of course it costs more to have custom cherry wood cabinets, with real marble counter tops.
• Quality of interior finishes – It costs a lot less to install vinyl tiles, than hardwood floors. Real wood paneling is more costly than dry wall as well
• Location – The average square foot price of building a home, varies by state, and usually homes built in large cities, cost more than homes built in rural areas.
• Completed home or just the shell – It is much less expensive to build a shell home, which includes the structural construction only, than to hire a contractor to build your home start to finish. Quoted shell prices on ads may or may not include the foundation, and do include the walls, roof, windows and doors. The price may or may not include insulation and drywall. It may or may not include rough plumbing, and electrical. It does not include interior finishes, plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, appliances, floor coverings, or wall treatments.
Average Square Foot Price of Building a Home Can Be Confusing
Confusing square foot of wall and square foot of floor space
When pricing insulated concrete panels (ICPs) or insulated concrete forms (ICFs) the cost per square foot often refers to the cost per square foot of walls, not the cost per square foot of a completed house, or the cost per square foot of a shell. The average cost per square foot of ICP walls is between $2.00 and $3.50 per square foot. To calculate the cost for the walls only, calculate the total length of the walls, and multiply by the height of the wall. This has little to do with the finished cost of the home, but will tell you how much the ICPs for the walls will cost.
Average Square Foot Price of Building a Home Can Be Confusing: What is Board Foot?
Board foot, is only loosely related to cost per square foot, and is merely a builder’s calculation of how much lumber he needs to buy. In large quantities, lumber is sold by the board foot, rather than by the number of individual boards. 100 boards, 8 foot long would be 800 board feet.
Average Square Foot Price of Building a Home Can Be Confusing: What is Price per Line Foot?
Some construction items, including countertops and cabinets are sold by the line foot. This means that the cabinets are most always two feet deep, so there is no need to consider anything but the length of the cabinets. A row of cabinets 10 feet long, is 10 line feet, and will require 10 line feet of countertop. Don’t forget to subtract the space that the appliances take up.
Average Square Foot Price of Building a Home Can Be Confusing: Cost per square foot of floor coverings, wall coverings and other interior finishes
Many different materials are measured and sold by the square foot. It is important not to confuse the price per square foot of the carpet for example, with the cost per square foot for total construction. Each type of material has a cost per square foot, and the cost per square foot of wall covering involves the square foot of the wall, not the square foot of the floor. Therefore you must calculate the length of the wall with the height of the wall. It has nothing to do with the square footage of the room, which generally refers to the square foot of the floor.
Clarifying often confused terms, and considering that square foot can mean square foot of wall surface, as well as square foot of floor space, can help clarify some of the costs per foot that seem out of line with common prices. Remembering that cost per square foot, varies by location, quality and luxury features, helps to explain the discrepancies in the average square foot price of building a home.