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How Long Does It Take to Build a House?

January 9, 2020

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How long does it take to build a house? It’s a question often posed by people looking to buy an idyllic piece of land so they can construct their dream home from the ground up. If this describes your current housing sitch, you’ve come to the right place!

So before you invest in that spacious lot with stunning views and mature trees, it’s wise to consider the time it’ll actually take to build the place you’ll be living in.

How long does it take to build a house?

Depending on the site and zoning classification, it typically takes from three to six months to build a house.

A ballpark average time for building a new home is four months if you have the pedal to the metal, says John Melsheimer, a home building contractor in Central Oregon.

The key to any successful new home building project is having approved house building permits, a process that can take a long time in some areas. So plan ahead. The biggest obstacles to obtaining a new home permit are poor due diligence, neighbors who oppose construction, and a backlog at the building department.

Main factors that affect a construction timeline

“Location and what I call environmental conditions can slow down or speed up a build greatly,” says Bill Green, president of W.R. Green Construction, a custom builder in Connecticut and Colorado.

What kind of environmental conditions? Factors such as soil type and site topography. For example, to construct a house with a slab on a level site with stable draining soil conditions is likely to take half the time it would take to construct the same house on a hilly lot. Building in a coastal earthquake or mudslide zone, or in a fire hazard zone, will also prolong the construction process.

Another major factor to consider in estimating the length of the process is how skilled the contractor is. An experienced new home builder will typically take less time to complete your new home.

Choose a contractor with a good reputation among the local municipality and real estate community. When issues arise, they’ll get taken care of quickly, says John Kuroda, manager at Sleight Farm, a subdivision of new-construction houses in LaGrange, NY.

What can increase the build time?

The overall time of a build usually depends on the weather conditions. Construction can easily be delayed by shifts in temperature or too much precipitation. Concrete must cure and framing needs to be completed when it’s dry outside. So the time of the year a project starts can greatly influence how long the home building takes.

Other factors that can cause a delay? “The owners,” says Todd Whalen, owner and CEO of Eclipse Building Corp. Yes, that’s you!

If you delay in selecting finishes or decide to add change orders to your new home during construction, you can significantly prolong your construction time. As much as possible, stick with your home design—don’t tell your builder after the drywall is installed that you want the kitchen on the other side of the house, or a different floor plan altogether.

Real estate markets experiencing a building boom may also face a shortage of laborers and subcontractors—another thing that can lengthen the overall building time.

How to shorten the building time

Planning is far and away the most important way to shorten the building time frame, according to Green.

All the components of building a new house are interrelated, so if you plan the build, you can reduce the chance of delays and mistakes.

For instance, the thickness of the tile you select for a bathroom will determine the exact location of pipes that your builder must have in place before building your foundation.

Make sure you understand the lead time on products such as windows and doors in order to have them on the building site when they are needed.

During construction, an extra few weeks waiting for something can delay your timeline. Having all the different work crews—electricians, plumbers, HVAC specialists, etc.—working as promptly as possible in the building process helps speed everything up, too.

You should hold the builder accountable, by including a penalty in your contract if the builder misses the agreed-upon completion date, says Jesse Fowler, president of Tellus Build.

Being active and staying on top of things throughout the building process—such as scheduling weekly site walks to check on progress—can help keep everything on track.

The post How Long Does It Take to Build a House? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

How Much Does It Cost To Build a House—and Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build?

August 27, 2019

is it cheaper to buy or build a house

Feverpitched/iStock

How much does it cost to build a house? According to data from the National Association of Home Builders, the median price of constructing a single-family home is $289,415, or $103 per square foot.

Just keep in mind that the cost to build a home can vary widely based on where you live. So if you’re wondering “can I afford to build a house?” and want a more targeted estimate, go to realtor.com®/local to find out the price per square foot in your area.

Only why does building a home cost so much? Let’s break down the costs.

The main costs to build a house

There are a few main costs involved in the construction of a home, says Andy Stauffer, owner and president of Stauffer and Sons Construction. Sure, each time you build a home, costs are a little different, but here are the biggies:

  • The shell of the house, which includes walls, windows, doors, and roofing, can account for a third of the home’s total cost, or $95,474.
  • Interior finishes such as cabinets, flooring, and countertops can eat up another third of the budget, averaging $85,642. Use this calculator to plug in your ZIP code, exact square footage, and level of finish to come up with a general budget for various projects.
  • Mechanical—think plumbing and heating—runs around 13%, or $37,843.
  • Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to build, especially when the average cost for finishes like cabinets and countertops alone is $16,056. So if you’re looking to save money, ask yourself whether you really need that third full bathroom, or will two plus a half-bath do?
  • Architect and engineer drawings will run about $4,583.

Additional costs to build a house (not included)

Now you know the basic cost to build a home, but the expenses don’t end there. Here are a few extra costs you’ll need to be aware of that aren’t factored into the above price:

  • The cost of a plot of land to build on averages $3,020 per acre. That said, the average home is built on only 0.2 acres, so unless you want a lot of space in a highly desired neighborhood, that alone won’t break the bank.
  • Excavation and foundation work are by far the most variable cost when building a home, according to Morgan Franklin of Kentucky’s LexHomeHub. In other words, you never know what you’re going to find until you start digging—be it bad soil or massive boulders. If excavation and foundation work goes relatively smoothly, the average cost for both is $33,447.
  • You’ll need a building permit, of course—it averages $908 nationally.
  • Other costs you’ll incur before you hammer even one nail include land inspections ($4,191) and an impact fee, levied by the government to cover the costs a new home will incur on public services like electricity and waste removal ($1,742).

Advantages of building a house

That’s a fair question—particularly since you can buy an existing single-family house for a median price of $223,000, or $66,415 less than building one. You will also save yourself the headaches that inevitably come with construction.

Building a house does have its advantages. Everything from pipes to the heating and cooling systems will be new. That means no costly repairs in the near future—and so a newly built home could end up costing less in the long run. Plus, of course, you get to design your home to your exact specifications. If you have very clear ideas of how you want your home to look, this blank slate could be worth every penny. (That said, designing your dream home from scratch has its challenges, too, so make sure to not make these mistakes.)

Is it cheaper to buy or build a house?

Does it cost less per square foot to buy or build your own house? It’s smart to weigh the pros and cons of new versus old construction—and the price you pay for construction costs versus an existing home is only the beginning. Here we lay out everything a home buyer needs to know about buying an existing home compared with building one from scratch or having it built by a general contractor.

There are actually two things to consider: the upfront costs of buying verses building, and the ongoing maintenance costs.

The upfront costs

If you buy an existing home: According to the latest figures, the median cost of buying an existing single-family house is $223,000. For the average 1,500-square-foot home built before the 1960s, that comes to about $148 per square foot. That said, the exact price can vary widely based on where you live. (Go to realtor.com/local to see the price per square foot in your area.)

If you build a new home: Building a house will set you back an average of $289,415. That’s $66,415 more than the cost of an existing home!

Still, you’ll get a lot more for your money. For one, new construction is usually more spacious, with a median size of 2,467 square feet—so the cost to build per square foot, $103, is actually lower than that of existing homes.

Another advantage of having a builder construct a custom home is you pay for only what you want, whereas an existing home may have interior and exterior features (e.g., a finished basement or a basketball court) you’ll pay a premium for, even if you don’t want them. But if an older house happens to be your dream home the way it is, that may be the more bargain-friendly route.

Maintenance

If you buy an existing home: Older homes have more wear and tear, which means certain things may need more maintenance—or, if they’re on their last legs, replacement, points out Michael Schaffer, a broker associate at Colorado’s LIV Sotheby’s International Realty.

Naturally, the cost of this upkeep isn’t cheap, so make sure you know the age of the main items. For example, the average furnace is expected to last 20 years and will cost $4,000 to replace. The typical HVAC system lasts 15 years and costs $5,000 and more to replace. Another biggie is the roof: The average shingled roof holds up for about 25 years. If you need to replace roofing, you’re looking at a bill of at least $5,000. Plumbing and septic systems can go for some time without a problem, but when something goes wrong, it’s an emergency.

With an existing home, unless you step into a high-end home with everything you want, you may want to start changing things, even if they are still functional. Home improvement shows make it seem simple to change countertops and flooring, or even overhaul floor plans. When you’re paying for material and labor costs for plumbing and drywall work, you may start to think your total cost might have been less paying a builder for a custom home in the first place.

If you build a new home: Considerably less upkeep is one of the primary reasons to build your own single-family home, because everything from major appliances to the HVAC system is new and under warranty. In fact, sometimes the entire home is protected for up to 10 years because a builder generally offers a construction warranty “for any problems that arise,” says Schaffer. Your interior and exterior maintenance outlay for a decade is potentially zero dollars. That can make up for some home construction costs per square foot that you paid by opting for a custom home.

Landscaping

If you buy an existing home: A major perk of older homes is mature landscaping with large trees and established plantings. That may not seem like a big deal until you consider that the U.S. Forest Service estimates that strategically placed mature trees can add tens of thousands of dollars to a property’s value and save up to 56% on annual air-conditioning costs.

If you build a new home: Builders often do little or no landscaping to new construction. It may take thousands of dollars—and many years—to get the yard you want. For instance, one 6- to 7-foot-tall red maple will cost about $120 (if you plant it yourself), which will then grow 2 to 3 feet a year. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of adding complete landscaping is $3,219.

Energy efficiency

If you buy an existing home: The latest U.S. Census found the median age of American houses to be 36 years. Older construction means dated windows and appliances—dollars flying out the window on wasted energy expense.

If you build your own home: Recent construction almost always beats older homes in energy efficiency, says Kyle Alfriend of the Alfriend Real Estate Group Re/Max, in Ohio. Homes built after 2000 consume on average 21% less energy for heating than older homes, mainly because of their increased efficiency of heating equipment and building materials. This translates into reduced energy expense every month, even with the higher square footage in many newer homes.

Appreciation

If you buy an existing home: The nice thing about old homes is that there’s context to your purchase: You can research the home’s previous sale prices, as well as prices of similar homes in the area (known as comparables, or comps) to get a feel for whether prices are rising or falling in your area. If the prices for your home and others in the area have been steadily rising, odds are decent that the trend will continue, which bodes well for you if you decide to sell later on.

If you build a new home: New house construction, particularly in up-and-coming neighborhoods, can be more of a gamble. Without a proven track record of lots of comps, there just aren’t enough data points to really know what could happen down the line. This is also true for all of the latest amenities you might ask the builder to install in your home (think self-cleaning toilets).

“Some trends die quickly, dating the home, and can negate any appreciation,” says Alfriend. So when in doubt, try to steer clear of anything that screams it’s a passing fad.

That said, if you pay reasonable home costs when you build a home, and your local community is thriving, you should be able to get a good sales price for your home down the line.

The post How Much Does It Cost To Build a House—and Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Built My House

August 4, 2019

The DeCarbo house in western South Carolina was completed in June.

Beth DeCarbo/The Wall Street Journal

Construction on our new house was about half done when the plumber went out for nearly two weeks because a cut on his finger was badly infected. That held up the electricians, who needed to run wire for all the lights, outlets and switches. That delayed the Sheetrock installation, which delayed the painters. The shell of the house stood empty. I was tempted to drive to the plumber’s house to personally flush his hand wound and administer antibiotics.

Now, after roughly 11 months, our new home is finally finished. While building a house from the ground up has been one of the best experiences of my life, I learned some tough and expensive financial lessons along the way. Here are some of the things I wish I knew before I built my house.

Starting. Takes. Forever.

Waiting to break ground was the most frustrating part. It involved three major hurdles: Getting the floor plans approved by the development’s architectural-review committee, which meets monthly. Getting the final contract from the builder. Getting a construction loan from the bank.

“We want clients to know there will be a lot of emotional ups and downs. It’s not a controlled environment—there’s weather, there’s subcontractors.”

Beth Larchar, vice president of development, Obodo Builders

I won’t bore you with the twists and turns, but all the paperwork pushed our start date back six months. We had already sold our old house in New York, and our new house in South Carolina wasn’t nearly finished. As a result, we rented a house near the construction site and put our furniture and other belongings in storage. In all, that set us back about $20,000. If I had known it would take so long, we probably would have listed the house later than we did. On the flip side, moving early meant we could visit the construction site every day and be part of the process.

Lots of expenses aren’t included in the price of the house.

We paid $20,000 for the land, not including property taxes and property-owners association fees. Before construction could begin there were some preliminary steps required by the POA, the builder and the county where we reside. We spent $1,400 for a required topographical map and tree inventory; $630 to outline the home’s footprint with stakes and tape; $800 for the architectural review; $3,000 to the development’s road-maintenance fund for wear and tear; $150 for a septic-system permit, and $450 to drill test holes for the septic system. These expenses couldn’t be included in the loan—because we didn’t have a loan yet. And the money was due before our New York house sold, so our financial adviser suggested selling some of our holdings to cover the upfront expenses.

Record rains delayed construction work.
Record rains delayed construction work.

Beth DeCarbo/The Wall Street Journal

You don’t know what you need until you need it.

After moving into our rental house, we suffered a series of power outages in December, when low temperatures were in the 20s. The blackouts didn’t happen often, but they were frequent enough for us to want a backup generator in our remote location. That set us back another $15,000.

There are sneaky ways to save money.

Buying remnants of granite and quartz for the countertops instead of full slabs of stone saved us several hundred dollars. We paid only $100 for a floor-model sink that had been discontinued. We also asked the appliance store manager for a discount on a kitchen-laundry package. And finally, we planted much of the landscaping ourselves, with savings estimated at $5,000.

“In the beginning, clients don’t want to divulge budget numbers because they don’t know yet if they can trust you. It goes so much faster when you talk about the nickels and dimes up front.”

David Cooper, managing director, Connecticut Valley Homes, East Lyme

There are more cost-effective ways to design a house.

I wish we had asked more questions about cost-savings upfront instead of just pursuing our dream design. It cost almost $64,000 to clear and level a sloped lot, install a septic system and dig the foundation and basement. Another $30,000 went toward the concrete foundation and walls. The metal roof cost about $35,000. I should have asked: How much can we save if we choose a floor plan with a smaller footprint, but the same square footage? The cost of site prep, cement and roofing would have been far less. How much less, we’ll never know.

The same is true for the materials. Instead of stonework, should we have gone with stucco? Instead of a long, curved driveway leading to the garage, would the topography have allowed for a shorter driveway?

In the end, we spent about $100,000 more than we had wanted, but the proceeds from the sale of our house in New York covered most of the cost of our new home in South Carolina. And while I consider this my “forever home,” I ask myself, “Would I ever want to go through new-home construction again?”

I’d do it in a second.

The post Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Built My House appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build a House? Compare the Pros and Cons

July 12, 2019

is it cheaper to buy or build a house

Feverpitched/iStock

When you decide it’s time to put down roots and become a homeowner, you may wonder: Does it cost less per square foot to buy or build your own house? Unless you’re rolling in money, you’ll probably want to weigh the pros and cons of new versus old construction—and the price you pay for construction costs versus an existing home is only the beginning.

Here we lay out everything a home buyer needs to know about buying an existing home compared with building one from scratch or having it built by a general contractor.

Is it cheaper to buy or build a house?

First, consider the upfront costs.

If you buy an existing home: According to the latest figures, the median cost of buying an existing single-family house is $223,000. For the average 1,500-square-foot home built before the 1960s, that comes to about $148 per square foot. That said, the exact price can vary widely based on where you live. (Go to realtor.com/local to see the price per square foot in your area.)

If you build a new home: The latest figures show that the cost to buy or build new construction will set you back an average of $289,415. That’s $66,415 more than the cost of an existing home! Still, you’ll get a lot more for your money. For one, new construction is usually more spacious, with a median size of 2,467 square feet—so the cost to build per square foot, $103, is actually lower than that of existing homes.

Another advantage of having a builder construct a custom home is you pay for only what you want, whereas an existing home may have interior and exterior features (e.g., a finished basement or a basketball court) you’ll pay a premium for, even if you don’t want them. But if an older house happens to be your dream home the way it is, that may be the more bargain-friendly route.

Maintenance

If you buy an existing home: Older homes have more wear and tear, which means certain things may need more maintenance—or, if they’re on their last legs, replacement, points out Michael Schaffer, a broker associate at Colorado’s LIV Sotheby’s International Realty.

Naturally, the cost of this upkeep isn’t cheap, so make sure you know the age of the main items. For example, the average furnace is expected to last 20 years and will cost $4,000 to replace. The typical HVAC system lasts 15 years and costs $5,000 and more to replace. Another biggie is the roof: The average shingled roof holds up for about 25 years. If you need to replace roofing, you’re looking at a bill of at least $5,000. Plumbing and septic systems can go for some time without a problem, but when something goes wrong, it’s an emergency.

With an existing home, unless you step into a high-end home with everything you want, you may want to start changing things, even if they are still functional. Home improvement shows make it seem simple to change countertops and flooring, or even overhaul floor plans. When you’re paying for material and labor costs for plumbing and drywall work, you may start to think your total cost might have been less paying a builder for a custom home in the first place.

If you build a new home: Considerably less upkeep is one of the primary reasons to build your own single-family home, because everything from major appliances to the HVAC system is new and under warranty. In fact, sometimes the entire home is protected for up to 10 years because a builder generally offers a construction warranty “for any problems that arise,” says Schaffer. Your interior and exterior maintenance outlay for a decade is potentially zero dollars. That can make up for some home construction costs per square foot that you paid by opting for a custom home.

Landscaping

If you buy an existing home: A major perk of older homes is mature landscaping with large trees and established plantings. That may not seem like a big deal until you consider that the U.S. Forest Service estimates that strategically placed mature trees can add tens of thousands of dollars to a property’s value and save up to 56% on annual air-conditioning costs.

If you build a new home: Builders often do little or no landscaping to new construction. It may take thousands of dollars—and many years—to get the yard you want. For instance, one 6- to 7-foot-tall red maple will cost about $120 (if you plant it yourself), which will then grow 2 to 3 feet a year. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of adding complete landscaping is $3,219.

Energy efficiency

If you buy an existing home: The latest U.S. Census found the median age of American houses to be 36 years. Older construction means dated windows and appliances—dollars flying out the window on wasted energy expense.

If you build your own home: Recent construction almost always beats older homes in energy efficiency, says Kyle Alfriend of the Alfriend Real Estate Group Re/Max, in Ohio. Homes built after 2000 consume on average 21% less energy for heating than older homes, mainly because of their increased efficiency of heating equipment and building materials. This translates into reduced energy expense every month, even with the higher square footage in many newer homes.

Appreciation

If you buy an existing home: The nice thing about old homes is that there’s context to your purchase: You can research the home’s previous sale prices, as well as prices of similar homes in the area (known as comparables, or comps) to get a feel for whether prices are rising or falling in your area. If the prices for your home and others in the area have been steadily rising, odds are decent that the trend will continue, which bodes well for you if you decide to sell later on.

If you build a new home: New house construction, particularly in up-and-coming neighborhoods, can be more of a gamble. Without a proven track record of lots of comps, there just aren’t enough data points to really know what could happen down the line. This is also true for all of the latest amenities you might ask the builder to install in your home (think self-cleaning toilets).

“Some trends die quickly, dating the home, and can negate any appreciation,” says Alfriend. So when in doubt, try to steer clear of anything that screams it’s a passing fad.

That said, if you pay reasonable home costs when you build a home, and your local community is thriving, you should be able to get a good sales price for your home down the line.

The post Is It Cheaper to Buy or Build a House? Compare the Pros and Cons appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.