I finally had a few minutes to sort my actual construction expenses and put them in some reasonable categories. This is a brief summary of the construction costs.
First, the basic parameters of the house:
- 4348 sq-ft of space, including the garage
- 3-level “walk-out” design
- 2092 sq-ft footprint
- 4 bedrooms
- Cathedral ceilings in upper levels
- 5 bathrooms
- Enclosed deck on upper level
- Front and rear paver terraces
The total construction costs were $619,000. This is every dime I spent from the time we applied for a permit to the time we received the certificate of occupancy. It does not include the design fees (architect + structural engineer), which were about $60,000. It also does not include the cost of about 15 trips from Philadelphia to Utah, which cost about $10,000.
The cost comes out to $142/sq-ft of enclosed space. The square footage includes the garage but does not include the enclosed deck off the master bedroom, nor the covered terrace. I believe the calculation should include the garage, because the garage basically has the identical finishes as the rest of the house (same concrete, framing, drywall, paint, windows, casing, electrical, etc.).
In many ways calculating by the square foot is misleading. So, I’m providing a lot of detail on the costs by category in the following PDF file. This breaks down the costs by item with the usual “units” that are used to calculate the costs. For instance, the counter tops cost $7489 and comprised 135 sq-ft for a cost of $55/sq-ft.
ParkCityHouse-Costs-2010 (PDF File)
If I had been on site full time and done all the GC work myself, I might have saved another $40k, which is what I paid my friend to coordinate the job.
I believe that if I had hired a conventional general contractor for this job, it would have cost quite a bit more, but I don’t know how much more for sure. My guess is that the bids would have come in at around $750k and that the change orders would have pushed the total cost to $800k.
My original budget was $550k. I expected to spend at least $50k more, because that’s what happens…and that is basically what happened.
The “just in case” and “nice to have” items I added (mostly during the design phase) and which pushed up the cost were:
- Snow bars above hot tub $2000.
- Cool-vent ventilated roofing panels $3000.
- Ice shield on the entire roof $1500.
- Heat recovery ventilator instead of normal bath fans $5000.
- Spray foam insulation $5000.
- Granite or quartz on all counter surfaces and vanities $2000
- Handmade backsplash tile $1000
- CVG fir doors (instead of a less expensive species) $2000
- Programmable “landlord” thermostats in 9 heating zones $1000
- 5/8″ drywall instead of 1/2″ drywall $1000
- Ipe decking instead of synthetic wood decking $1000
Thus, I think if pennies were pinched, this house could have been built for about $25k less.
The only other way to have fundamentally changed the cost structure of this house would have been to engineer out the steel, which probably would have required manufactured roof trusses instead of the conventional rafter and truss system we used, and some changes to a few walls. We could also have supported the front terrace awning/roof with columns instead of the “store front” tie rods. These actions together might have taken out another $15k.
Still, I’m glad I didn’t pinch the pennies and I’m glad I didn’t do the roof or awning differently. The $40k is worth it for what are some of the most distinctive features of the house. All things considered, $142/sq-ft is a screaming deal for a highly custom contemporary home like this.