Cost To Build House Plans – Or some people may ask: “What is the cheapest way to build a house?” Economy is probably a better word. There are several ways to build houses; This article examines the lowest cost, starting with the most frugal and moving from the mid-range to the upper-range. And here’s some news: one of the best ways is to have an architect design it for you.
Since the firm’s senior licensed architect, Rand Soellner, RCH, NCARB, was licensed as an architect decades ago, he and his company have learned all manner of ways to design and build homes for their clients. First: Home Architects® design homes. Contractors build them. This article is based on what this company has discovered over the decades.
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The contractors this architect asked and his own experiences told this architectural company that the most economical and least expensive way to build a house: to make it 2-story on a nearly flat ground.
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By keeping the footprint more compact, a 2 story (or 1-1/2 story), simple roof offers more bang for the buck. “SunBird” (C)Copyright 2013 Home Architect, PLLC, All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Additional savings can be had by eliminating arches and wood framing details and still result in a gorgeous home with cathedral ceilings that is a great value. Click on this image to see this design by the architect.
Reason: 2nd floor level is relatively cheap and easy to frame and if you design it with economy in mind you need a single, simple straight stair race. What you get: Half the amount of foundations, they’re usually not cheap: concrete is expensive, and framing is expensive, and steel reinforcement is expensive. Also, your roof volume is reduced by half. You only have half the amount of roof and foundation that you have in a one-story house.
Also, if you are building on roughly flat ground, your foundations will probably be simple and relatively shallow, unless there are some other geological conditions.
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Now, all that being said: Another aspect of this economic approach: the kiss (keep it simple, stu***). So, the container is simpler, less work for the contractor. Also, be careful about your choice of materials inside and outside. If you want a real slate roof, be aware that this high-end feature will increase your costs. Listen to your architect’s advice.
Also: location. If you build in a remote location, there are chances that your builders will charge you more for the enjoyment of the long drive and other situations that occur as a result of being away from resources. In other words: the country is fine as long as you have electricity, water and paved roads, not too far from supply yards and people building your house.
Ideally, you’ll have a crawlspace that’s shallow enough: enough for contractors to get in there and install their systems and allow for future maintenance, but not to jack up the house’s height too much. Maybe 3′.
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Also: 2nd floor costs less to build if the first floor fits within the main roof starting on the bearing walls.
In other words: Level 2 cost is only for staircase, railings, any plumbing and finishes. The rest of the building is already there.
And: Design in 4′ increments on your architect plan view, whenever possible, which eliminates most material cutting.
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And one more thing: your architect can design your house to have the least amount of exterior surface area by using more square ratios in the floor plans (if your property and setbacks and your functional relationships allow it).
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Why would you want to have less surface area if your objective is to build in a cost-effective manner? Because it creates the least amount of material (saves labor, saves materials) and you have the least surface in external contact, so the impact of hot or cold weather on your external surface is minimized, thereby reducing your monthly utility bills (related to heating and cooling).
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However: there are other factors that are more important: like having lots of windows facing a good view. Your architect can help you evaluate what’s most important: they’re trained to do so.
A. Shed roof: A shed roof with a low slope (simple: like a large rectangle) can reduce the cost of the roof. It couldn’t be more simple than that. Once you get below 4 in 12 or 3 in 12, you’re best off switching to a metal standing seam roof finish per the metal roof manufacturer’s recommendations.
B. Metal Siding. There are some metal siding panels available through Home Depot, 3′ wide x 16′ long in a factory paint finish with a 45 year warranty for about $47. That’s about $1/sf, which is ridiculously economical for a prefabricated exterior surface. Premade to fit screws, for a penny each, with rubber washers and lower covers to protect from UV (ultra-violet sunlight). But you need a very competent architect to make it look good. Perhaps mainly the combination of this and some other more traditional looking treatment can make the main saving pleasure, with enough unique material treatment to make it all work. Try Home Architects; They can design your home with it, save you money and reduce your maintenance. For example: Most houses require repainting every 7 years. And that can run $10,000+/- depending on the size and complexity of the home. If your exterior walls are good for 45 years or more, you can avoid maintenance on your walls for half a century for $50 g. Hence it involves not only initial cost savings but also reduced maintenance.
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One of Home Architects’ farmhouse designs with a single main level over a walkout basement. (C)Copyright 2011, Home Architect, PLLC, All rights reserved worldwide. Click on this image to view the project index of this architectural firm.
However, some people mistakenly believe that the basement level is empty or almost empty, because they say it is “unfinished”. It’s a trick that contractors can spot coming a mile away. The contractor also has a term for it. They call it their “Basement Profit Center” because they know you intend to finish the basement and you want to do it in small “nibbles”. Contractors, having done this before, know that you will end up with a completely finished house, hoping that they can force your builder (or others) to help you finish the basement at a lower price.
The reality is that your contractor will charge you a premium for this when you try to piece this work together as the main effort of building your home.
Modern Plan: 2,287 Square Feet, 2 3 Bedrooms, 3 Bathrooms
This type of house is fairly compact in terms of external surface to internal usable space ratio, similar to the 2-storey approach above.
However, don’t kid yourself: it always costs less to build a normal frame wall on the ground (see the most economical method above) than it does to dig a big hole in the ground and form and pour steel. After a reinforced 8 to 12″ thick concrete wall you need to waterproof on the outside, then insulate and frame out on the inside.
And if you have a steeply sloping floor, you’ll undoubtedly want a walk-out basement. Most people do. This means that the foundation, foundation walls and scaffolding around the house have to be carefully planned and steps have to be laid to deal with the sloping ground. This of course adds cost to construction in the form of additional complexity.
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The next most economical way to build a house is probably to go all one story. It might be a toss-up if it’s #2 or #3 depending on individual circumstances.
Long Pine Estates designed by senior staff architect Rand Zollner. (C) Copyright 2011, Home Architect, PLLC, All rights reserved worldwide. Click on this image to see testimonials of this architectural firm.
This confuses many people because they see it as a simple way to build. This is However, the ratio of external objects to enclosed space is more diffuse. Also, there is more foundation, foundation wall, main floor structure, more shear walls to brace the extra space between the walls and more roof and more attic insulation. In short: this method, while simple to construct, has a high surface to space ratio. So you have some economy of scaffolding and other labor-related materials, however, this method usually has a large amount of materials: especially for the roof and foundation.
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All other forms now come into play and become more complex.
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