We moved to Maryland just over a year ago, and spent a good portion of 2014 tearing down the house we bought and building our new personal residence. I know that a lot of my readers are interested in new construction, and many have even started looking at the numbers for building spec houses, so I thought I would provide the final budget breakdown for the build, just to give some additional data on new construction costs.
DISCLAIMER: Remember, costs will vary based on LOTS of things, including location, types of contractors, finishes, style of house, time of year, your experience and negotiating skill, etc. Don’t presume that my numbers below are an accurate reflection of what your numbers would be on a different house in a different location using different contractors.
Here are some details of the project, the takeaways and finally the full budget breakdown:
- I did all the management (General Contracting) myself, so there was no overhead for a GC or builder. That would have likely added 15-25% to the cost.
- The breakdown includes the demolition of an existing ranch house (including removal of a concrete basement) and building a new house that shares a portion of the old basement area. I’d say that the money we saved by already having a big hole in the ground (less dirt removal) and not having to do any yard clearing was pretty much offset by the cost of demolition of the existing house. So, the costs likely would have been comparable if we were just building on an undeveloped piece of land.
- The new house is 3400 sf of finished space across three levels, 600 sf of unfinished space in the basement (storage and mechanicals), a large 600 sf garage, plus about 250 sf of rear porch and deck. Depending on how you add it up (finished vs unfinished) to determine average square footage costs, the square footage of the house is between 3400-4600 sf. For cost purposes, I prefer to count unfinished area as half the cost of finished area, so I estimate the square footage of this house — for cost purposes — to be about 4000 sf.
- The finishes were all mid-grade and above, but my wife is a master of savvy/frugal shopping, which that allowed us to keep the costs well-below retail. This includes some higher-end light fixtures, granite in the kitchen and baths, all tile showers, hardwood throughout the main level, stainless appliances, etc. We did save on trim by using all MDF, hollow-core doors, etc.
- For contractors, we used a number of larger, closer-to-retail contractors as we didn’t have our contractor network here. We negotiated hard, so we got some great prices, but if we were to do this project again next year, I have a feeling we would be able to get the labor prices down 10-20% more. On the bright side, management of these contractors was tremendously easy compared to the sub-contractors we typically use.
Here is the final budget breakdown, with a per-square-foot average at the bottom (based on estimated 4000 sf):
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