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Sundog Homes grocery bag full of items.

Price Per Square Foot

Published

586 words | 3 min read

We're often asked by prospective clients, "What's your price per square foot?" This is a very reasonable question to ask any home builder. However, a meaningful answer requires a thoughtful explanation.

The short answer is, it depends, or to quote Sundog Homes President David Earley, "How much does a bag of groceries cost?" He doesn't say this to be rude or glib. It's his favorite way to quickly communicate to his clients that without having a list of well-defined project details that question is nearly impossible to answer.

Just give me a number, please

It's easy for us to look back at our most recent builds and tell you a broad range (and if you're wondering, it's between $275 to $450 per square foot), but usually, that information is of little use to someone who is serious about building a custom home that meets their unique criteria.

In order for us to help you shape your expectations around cost, we have to collect a significant amount of information.

What information is required?

The way that a home plan is positioned on the land is mission critical. In order for us to establish a baseline cost opinion, at a minimum we must have these two things:

  • The construction drawings for the home plan you'd like to build
  • A topographical survey of the homesite

This information allows us to estimate costs associated with the site conditions, accessibility, and foundation of your custom home.

From here, we can start to focus on the additional items that you'd like to add to your grocery bag. Some of these items (typically exterior materials, windows, and sometimes even doors) might be dictated by an architectural review board. It's important to collect ARB requirements upfront so that we can avoid unnecessary surprises down the road.

The costs associated with the rest of the items in the bag can be controlled by the client when making selections in our design studio (the fun stuff!).

Apples to apples

When interviewing local builders, it's important to understand when you're comparing apples to apples and when you might be comparing apples to oranges.

Some builders will quote square foot pricing that only includes "sticks and bricks," meaning the cost of the foundation of the home is not being factored into the price.

We've spoken to dozens of people who've spent weeks with a builder only to eventually learn that the home they want to build will cost 2x or even 3x more than what they had originally been quoted. We can't stand bait-and-switch builders! And we refuse to do that here at Sundog Homes.

More things to keep in mind

If marrying a home plan to a homesite were a dance, it would be the Tango.

The price per square foot of even the most modest-seeming home plan can increase drastically if it doesn't jive with the shape and topography of the homesite.

Some folks start with a floor plan they love and look for land that will accommodate that plan. Others prefer to buy land that they love and think about what kind of plan will fit nicely within it. Of course, it is possible to blend these approaches and do both at the same time.

Without a great real estate agent or a great builder by your side, it can be difficult to know if you're setting yourself up for success. No matter where you are in the process, it's not too early (or too late) to contact us. We look forward to meeting you.


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