There was a time that most custom home builders would answer that with, ” That depends…” and then spend time on educating their buyers on the process of comparing apples to apples when building a custom home. Now, custom home builders are forced to quote prices that are in line with ‘track’ builders who build the same house or variation thereof over and over again, in hopes of not scaring a perspective home buyer off. Anything but the bottom line square footage cost sounds like an excuse from the builder not to be competitive. No matter what is said, most of today’s perspective home buyers are looking for a bottom-line number.
If I could tell people who are trying to get a handle on the true cost of new construction in this economy one thing, it would be this: asking how much a custom home builder charges a square foot is like walking into a Toyota – Lexus dealership and asking the salesperson how much they charge a square foot for a car. Assuming he would play along, the salesperson would have to ask, ” Well, do you want a Toyota, or a Lexus?” His next move would be handing you a list of all the amenities you could choose. Once he knew all the specifics of the car you are looking for, he could take his cost, divide it by the square footage of the car, and come up with an answer. If he has not had this conversation with you, he might quote you a price for the stripped down Toyota on his lot, when you were thinking he was quoting a price for the Lexus with all the bells and whistles.
To truly know how much your custom home is going to cost, a builder needs specifics. If I just finished a custom home for a client, I can tell you exactly how much that house cost and assuming your lot had exactly the same development costs, materials prices were stable and fixed, and you wanted exactly the same house and the same finishes, you would receive a true cost of building that home. Unfortunately people building custom homes do it so they can get the home they want, not necessarily the home their neighbor built. Isn’t that the meaning of ‘Custom’? Rather than quote you a square footage cost that really has no meaning other than to get my foot- in the -door so to speak, (no pun intended), a reputable builder will sit down and spend time getting to know your wish list, find out what your site looks like, and spend hours pouring over a set of blueprints to truly give you an accurate square footage cost. Ask me how much the last house I built cost, I will tell you if you let me walk you through it and show you the apples to make sure that when you go shopping you are comparing it to similar apples. Ask me how much your house is going to cost, be ready for a two way education- You telling me about your dreams, and me sharing with you how much your particular dreams will cost in light of today’s economy. It can be the start of a beautiful thing! Trust me when I say, there has never been a cheaper time to build a quality home.