The Short Answer to
Cost Per Square Foot
"How much does a Lindal home cost per square foot?" is one of the most frequent questions we hear. It is as easy for us to answer as "Can you tell me how much it costs to take a vacation?" Or "send my kids to college?" Or "how much should I expect to spend on a new car?"
Really, there is not a short answer to any of these questions. In each case, there are so many variables that it is not possible to provide an accurate answer without asking several additional questions and gathering more information. It is also why we do not have a "price list" of our homes on this web site, since every Lindal home is unique, and the same home plan can cost more or less depending on several factors.
In this article, we discuss the factors affecting the price per square foot on any new home construction project.
Labor and Materials: the biggest drivers of cost
The two major factors that can affect your final price per square foot on any new home building project are Labor and Materials:
- Materials. Material costs can fluctuate based on local building codes, construction moratoriums, zoning laws, covenants and restrictions, availability of supplies, weather conditions, natural disasters, public or private water and sewer and several hundred other factors. Then making personal choices to finish the interior will greatly affect the final price, depending on whether you choose standard finishes or luxury or somewhere in between.
- Labor. Labor can vary substantially based upon the time of the year, complexity or uniqueness of the project, good or bad economic times, jobsite conditions, regional markets, the unemployment rate, availability of workers and more.
No uniform method of calculating cost per square foot
To make it even harder to calculate cost per square foot, there is no uniform method of measuring square footage. Depending on how the square footage is measured, cost calculations can vary greatly on the same project.
- Some will simply measure the exterior walls and then multiply that by the number of stories in order to get a square footage.
- Many builders only include the heated finished area of a home when calculating square footage.
- Basements and garages are counted depending on who is providing the quote. In a Lindal home, the basement is only counted as part of the final square footage calculation if it is a finished space with interior partition walls, doors, trim, etc.
- "Bonus" areas, such as lofts, screen porches, and covered breezeways may or may not be counted, yet can greatly affect your final price. In a Lindal home, loft space is measured as part of the square footage, but usually covered outdoor areas are not.
- Turnkey Cost Per Square Foot: Square footage costs often do not include the price of the land and site work, landscaping, design costs, wells and septic installations and utilities.
Things to consider when planning
Here are some characteristics of your home to keep in mind that raise or lower your cost per square foot:
- One or Two Stories. Two-story homes are typically most cost-effective. A two-story home will have a smaller roof and foundation, and the plumbing and ventilation is less spread out.
- Size. The general rule is that large homes cost less per-square-foot than small houses. The larger the home, the more square footage to spread the cost of expensive items over. A fixed cost for a standalone item such as a $1000 refrigerator would add $1 per square foot to a 1000 square foot house, but only $.25 per square foot to a 4000 square foot home.
- Complexity. Simple rectangular houses with straightforward, moderately pitched roofs are less costly for labor and materials than houses that have many wall jogs, hips and valleys, steeper roofs and dormers. More complex homes will incur more engineering costs, possibly larger beams, and more details to finalize. Large roof overhangs can also add to the finished per-sqare-foot cost.
- When, Where and Who. The time of year a house is built, the building sites, accessibility and the contractor who builds it all play a part in cost. Starting your building project in the slow season can change labor costs. Some contractors demand higher rates depending on their workload and use sub-contractors who are slightly more expensive. A flat site that has been back-filled is easier for a crew to work on than a steeply sloping site that may have high land-developent costs. Also, each and every Lindal home is engineered to meet or exceed local structural code requirements, so the high load bearing capacity of a roof in mountainous snow country will cost more than a lighter-duty roof in tropical locations.
- Windows and Doors. The best advice for making sure your windows and doors always perform is to make sure that you use good quality windows, doors and skylights even if it costs a little more. Generally, casement windows cost more than double-hung windows. Hinged patio doors cost more than sliding patio doors. Operable skylights and roof windows cost more than fixed skylights. Arched fixed glass, circles and trapezoids all cost more than rectangular glass. And, the wood species chosen for the frame will affect the price of your home. Often, Douglas fir costs more than pine; recycled timber is more expensive than new and kiln-dried timber raises the price of millwork.
- Interior finish affects price. Marble or linoleum? Tile or carpeting? Cedar liner or drywall? There are also various levels of quality for these interior finish selections in your home. These grades of finish can affect the final price price per square foot of your home considerably. For example, you can select cabinets and appliances for a $20,000 kitchen or a $60,000 kitchen and greatly change your final price per square foot.
Your local Lindal dealer will work with you to determine your budget, which will ultimately determine the cost per square foot for your chosen home design.