Every project we work on is different. They should be, when you’re building custom homes. These homes typically represent the fulfillment of a family’s dreams, some they’ve had for decades. But no matter what the project, every single one involves the same two questions:
One obvious factor is size. Bigger houses cost more. There’s more dirt to excavate, more materials needed to frame up, more pipe and wire and ductwork and drywall, simply more space to finish. The size of a house can also hit the budget in ways you might not expect. For instance, if you need two or three outdoor units for the air conditioning system, that’s a quick way to double or triple that part of the budget. A larger home also takes longer to build, so size impacts labor on these projects as well.
Another big factor is finishes. Some of these are plain to see: if you want 24k gold plates for all of the light switches and outlets in the home (important note: do not do this), that’s going to be expensive. But it’s not just outrageously lavish choices that drive cost. Sometimes it’s just math. For instance, there’s a wide range of coverings you can put on walls and floors, beyond just picking tile, or wood, or carpet, or drywall. The type, size, or shape of material you choose can heavily impact the cost, and from there the material cost is just math. More expensive price per square foot means a greater overall cost.
Another factor in your choice of finish is labor. For instance, it takes twice as long to install 1-1/2-inch wide wood plank flooring as it does planks that are 4 inches wide. And that’s before you opt for any kind of showstopping and beautiful herringbone or parquet pattern. Intricate details and master craftsmanship are precisely why people build custom dream homes, but it absolutely comes at a cost.
Now multiply these choices by many other parts of a home, including windows, doors, cabinets, pulls, doorknobs and other hardware, faucets, molding—it can be exhausting just to think about it (which is why we tell people design is the hardest part). Here's an article about careful design and how to do it right. We are here to help you work through all these decisions. We’ll help you identify the places you want to splurge, and the places you can save some money. All of this is aimed at having a rock-solid plan in place, because one underrated way that costs spiral is through change orders.
A change order is when you change your mind about something in the home after it has been built, installed, or in some cases, just purchased. Changes like this happen, and it’s understandable: seeing something in place, in real life, is completely different from seeing it in a photo. Even having the real item in your hand isn’t the same as seeing it on the wall, on the floor, surrounded by the rest of your home. Change orders are part of the process. But we’ll work with you in the design phase (there’s that hard work again) to minimize change orders and help keep your overall cost from ballooning.
A lot of this has been focused on price—that is, what do you pay for all this. But there’s a better question: what do you get for all this? Your dream home, of course. Your home, just how you want it. These are often intended to be multi-generational homes, serving as a home for one generation and as a home base for another generation (or two, or three). We build them to last for multiple generations, with as little maintenance as is possible.
What it costs is something that depends on a whole wide range of choices. But what it means is something utterly priceless.