November 19, 2018

This is Part Three in our Construction Lunch and Learn Series…Start here for Part One! Grab your lunch (or dinner or snack) and read on to learn more!

How much per square foot does it cost to build a home?

That’s probably one of our most frequently asked questions! The answer is…it depends. 🙂 On the larger homes, there is an economy of scale that can bring the price per square foot down. If you think about it, every home built into that price per square foot is a driveway, and a kitchen, and a garage. Those are things that every house has regardless of how many square feet it may have! So, as those costs average out over the rest of the home, it can make the cost per square foot vary greatly for different sizes of homes!

Of course, we also see a lot of variation based on selections that are made for each home. Carpet or Hardwood? Laminate or Granite? Stone or Brick? All of those things can make big changes to the cost per square foot.

However, most people want to have some idea, so as we look back over the last 12-18 months, we can analyze the homes we built. We have found that our price per square foot tends to be anywhere between $130 and $175 per square foot.

Now, that’s a big spread, so it’s not a great idea to design a house based on a particular price per square foot as your budget guide! Which leads to our next question…

How does “Smart Design” work?

We believe our concept of Smart Design is especially applicable to our exclusive collection of floor plans. We have already thought through some of the spaces that can make square footage (and therefore overall price) creep upward. “Is this extra hallway space really necessary?” Or “How can we minimize some of those areas that don’t really have any livability to them?” We think these floor plans really create value that way and it is just one of the things Tom works really hard to incorporate into all of our designs.

That’s another great point! Tom has designed all our floor plans which can be found here. You can see…at the top, if you click on floor plans, you can click specifically McKenzie Glen, or Somerset, or Stone Ridge, or on-your-lot, to see the different types of homes that can go in each space.

How long does it take to build a house? And, what are the variables?

If we’re building one of the homes in our floor plan collection…take Summerset for example. If someone came in today, loved our Camden floor plan and said, “Let’s go for it!”, it is possible that they could be moved into that home in six to seven months. Construction time on our smaller homes (usually without a basement) runs in that five to six month time frame. When we’re doing a larger home, maybe out on land with a finished basement and all that, the process can take longer, and we’re normally into that eight to ten month range depending on how much square footage, how many spaces we’re doing, and how much detail work is going into that home.

If we’re doing a truly design-build, start-from-scratch plan, we probably have two to three months of upfront design work, bidding process, selections and all those kinds of things that go into that type of home. All of that that is eliminated when we pick one of the homes from our floor plan collection. The nice thing with these homes is that we have already thought through all the design issues and make up that time. But more importantly, we’ve already bid them which can be another chunk of time. Plus, historically, it has been easier for us to get better pricing when we’re bidding a plan that contractors know we will build more than once. It save them time, and they don’t have the surprises when they go into a new home. And they can be very efficient, so from a value standpoint, those homes really end up working out great for people!

And of course, since we’re in Indiana, the time of year can play a big role. It can definitely slow things down. We build during all four seasons though so we don’t let it get to us too much!

What is the difference between 2×4 and 2×6 construction?

2×4 and 2×6 construction is referring to the exterior walls of the home – are you using a 2×4 or 2×6 stud? The reason that you would pick one versus the other, for the most part, is the amount of insulation that that wall cavity will hold. The six inch wide wall will hold a deeper amount of insulation than a 2×4 wall. So, the convention is that the 2×6 homes are more energy efficient. Now, there are certain situations where we need 2×6 framing on homes just from a structural standpoint, depending on the size of it, or the height of the wall, and those types of issues.

In terms of energy efficiency (the insulation question), we are building homes to a five-star plus program. Each home gets rated by a energy consultant that gives it a HERS rating (Home Energy Rating System) and our homes score very well. To calculate that rating, they’re looking at the energy efficiency of the house as a whole. So they’re checking our windows, our furnace system, the size of the air space in the home, the types of windows we’re using, all of those kinds of things go into it, including the insulation. And that whole package goes together to give us an energy rating.

And what we’ve found is, to have very, very efficient homes, we have not needed to go to a 2×6 wall to accomplish that. That doesn’t give us as much bang for the buck as, say, increased insulation in a roof, or a better furnace system. So when we look at energy efficiency, we’re trying to increase the return on investment for homeowners. So there are some things out there that are very efficient, but they’re also very expensive, and the payout is just not there.

We’ll continue this series with Part 4 – stay tuned!