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.
Two major factors that can affect your final price per square foot on any new home building project:
- 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.
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 multiple that by the number of stories in order to get a square footage. Many builders only include the heated area of a home when calculating square footage. And basements count depending on who is providing the quote. Square footage costs often do not include the price of the land and site work, landscaping, design costs, wells and septic installations and utilities.
Here are some characteristics of your home to keep in mind during the lot, home plan, and interior finish selection phases that raise or lower your cost per square footage figure:
- 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. With either a one or two story home, decks, porches and garages can add significantly to the cost.
- The Bigger They Are... 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.
- Footprint. 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. The various levels of design will also need more engineering.
- 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.
- Millwork. 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. There are also various levels of quality for the interior finishes of your home. We often categorize them as good, better, best or standard, luxury or a combination of standard and luxury. These grades of finish can affect the price 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 is there to help you determine your budget and the cost per square foot for your chosen home design.