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Residential costs by category

Wood Guy

Clients always want to know what their house or renovation will cost before design work starts. Square foot pricing gets us into a wide ballpark, but I need a breakdown by category, such as framing is X%, insulation X%, etc.. Obviously it won't be any more accurate than square foot pricing, but does anyone have a resource that shows typical percentages? (I do a wide range of residential projects in a variety of locations with many different contractors, and I'm never involved in CA to the point where I see contractor invoices, just oversight.) 

 
Sep 24, 20 9:37 am
Jay1122

The most accurate is definitely projects done in the region with schedule of value break down from GC. But since you don't have access to that, the next best bet I would go is construction estimate books. Like this Proest Costbook. I never used them though. We hire estimate consultants, and they use Proest software. So I would expect their book to be somewhat in the ballpark.

Sep 24, 20 9:47 am  · 
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Wood Guy

Good idea! When I started out as a GC without enough experience 25 years ago I used RS Means for data, but quickly found that their numbers didn't work for me. I also found that running a construction biz didn't work for me--maybe connected?! I'll look into Proest, thanks!

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archanonymous

My firm doesn't do much residential, but we did make a concerted effort to track costs across 10+ years of projects so that we can say exactly that - structure is 20% of project cost, facade 10%, interior finishes 30%, etc, etc... 

I'm not sure how useful someone else's information would be in this situation - at least for us it's much better to know how this works out specifically on building's we've designed, not just generic commercial projects. 

Sep 24, 20 9:50 am  · 
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Wood Guy

This is specifically because I have a few clients who plan to do a lot of their own construction on their homes, which I advise against but it's nearly impossible to find builders near me for the high-performance homes I design. So it's really to help them more than me. I prefer to get a builder on board during SD (or earlier) and work as a team, with them providing pricing as we go.

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Jay1122

Residential project swings so much. That % has no real value unlike in commercial. If you go with a thick CI rainscreen clad with large storefront in a cheap 2x4 wood frame, the envelope % will jump up so much. Similar to interior, If you do high end wall panels, custom designer cabinet and high end stone counters, it will jump real high. Unit price of those assemblies is usually the best way to do it. Adjust it with local multiplier. Location really matters, if you build in the deep mountain with no easy truck access, then you know what happens. I would give the client a comfortable range with enough safe padding. They never get mad when they can save from your estimate, always get mad when it is over your estimate. I am surprised you cannot find builders. 

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Jay1122

"I have a few clients who plan to do a lot of their own construction on their homes" As in hire Pros to do the foundation and framing. They do the finishes and sidings themselves kind of thing? So they want to know the price for those foundation and framing part? Hmm, that is real funny.

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Wood Guy

Jay, I live in rural Maine, with a lot of DIY-minded people who have the skills to build. Building is not difficult. (Building profitably is a different story.) I mostly design homes and renovations in the Portland area, and have a lot of builders I can recommend there. Where I live now, about 75 miles from Portland, the economy is slow and the builders who are here do not want to work with an architect (or designer, like me). I specialize in energy-efficient, low-carbon, healthy, net-zero, etc. homes and the builders who want to do things differently from their standard practice is even smaller. I could go on but hopefully that fills in the picture for you a bit.

I have had owner-builders set their own ICF foundations, or frost-protected raft slabs. Others may hire out the foundation work but no foundation contractors here will follow my specs, so the owner has to help out with things like waterproofing and insulation. I know it's crazy but that's how it is in rural areas, at least for projects for middle- and upper-middle class people. 

There are zero dedicated framing crews here, builders are typically frame-to-finish. There are insulation companies, drywallers, painters and roofers, and of course the licensed trades, but many homeowners are capable of doing their own electrical and plumbing, and allowed to do so. 

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gibbost

I recently purchased a resource from DCR for cost/sf breakdowns. https://www.constructionbook.c...    I like the book because it has several case studies for specific project types.  Admittedly, most of them are commercial, but there are a couple SFR included.  Here is one for reference--that includes percentages.  

Sep 24, 20 10:49 am  · 
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proto

does the book do regional deltas? NM, the link says yes

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gibbost

Yes, there are regional multipliers that can be applied. They're broken down by major cities within all 50 states. It's proven to be a pretty great resource.  In the past, I always swore by RS Means.

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SneakyPete

Everyone can do this but Architects, if Architects do anything like this it's price fixing and they get busted.  (Hyperbole)

Sep 24, 20 12:23 pm  · 
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wurdan freo

Even in the same market price is super variable... for example I can get framing labor for SFR in Denver anywhere from $4/sf to $12/sf... and I know there are plenty of companies that are higher, especially if you're talking about estimating pricing in California and other states. 


A simple spread sheet with quantities and unit costs can be a quick way to develop a ballpark estimate but even then you need to stay up to date with unit costs and have accurate unit costs in the area you are building in. 

Sep 24, 20 8:30 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

Wow, really, that low? I know framing was running around $10/sf for labor in MA when I was building there 20 years ago.

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wurdan freo

There's so many things that effect the range of pricing it's hard to quantify.

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wurdan freo

damn return button... $4 would be in the realm of finishing a basement or framing a garage. $12-$15 for an addition and $7-$10 for new construction... plenty of framers out there charging way more but I'm building spec's soooo... there's that aspect of the game.

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Wood Guy

You might think I'd remember this similar thread I contributed to a month ago before posting a new one, but you'd be wrong:  https://archinect.com/forum/th...

Sep 25, 20 12:32 pm  · 
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