Category Archives: Park City Mountain Modern

Cost Estimating

There are basically two ways to estimate costs. You can use square footage and estimate cost per square foot, or you can work up costs from each line item in a construction budget. I did both.

Before I explain each, let me state the obvious. There is no upper limit on what a house can cost. If your house has a $100,000 photovoltaic system in it, that adds $100,000 to the cost of a house without that system. If you put 4000 sq-ft of antique wormy chestnut flooring in the house at $25/sq-ft that will cost $100,000, or about $60,000 more than nice oak flooring, and about $80,000 more than carpeting. Most of this post will relate the basic costs of building a high-quality structure, and not to the expensive jewels you might place in or on that structure.

Caveats: “market conditions” and “sweat equity.”

Estimates Based on Square Footage
Very rough.

Bigger houses will cost less per square foot than smaller houses. These costs are pretty good estimates for a house 3000-5000 square feet.

Custom home 3000-5000 sq-ft built by professionals…pretty much can’t do for less than $100/sq-ft. Plenty of homes are $500/sq-ft. I believe my actual construction costs will come out to about $133/sq-ft not including any design, engineering, or surveying costs (the costs you incur before you break ground). Everything, including all soft costs will probably come out to $150/sq-ft. Unless you are obsessive about cost management, I believe you should assume you will do worse than that, probably closer to $200/sq-ft. Most architects consider $200/sq-ft a low budget for a custom home.

What’s in square footage? All enclosed areas including garage, finished basement, and storage. All covered decks and patios. Mine does not include a large terrace, which has a foundation, pavers, and an awning that is 8 ft. deep.

Bank’s cost worksheet

Some good rules of thumb I used, and which proved to be pretty accurate in 2010:

Windows and patio doors cost $300-400 per unit, where a unit is an individual sheet of glass in a frame.
Interior doors are $200-400 per unit, depending on whether they are painted 6’8″ doors or finished wood 7′ doors.
Appliances: make a list…get quotes from
Framing $7-10/sq-ft of floor space, not including materials.
Foundation $200/cubic-yard of concrete placed.
Excavation: could be as low as $10k for a flat lot with a crawl space or $60k for a steep wooded lot with full basement.
Fire protection (sprinklers): $1-2/sq-ft
Framing materials:
Lighting fixtures: very little to a lot
Lighting controls: $0 to a lot
Tile: $10/sq-ft for installation

RS Means

Means Residential Detailed Costs: Contractor’s Pricing Guide (Contractors Pricing Guide)

Baltic Birch Media Shelf Unit – CNC Routed Parts

In the Park City house, we have three bedrooms that all are set up nearly identically with wall-mounted TVs. We fed the wires through the wall, but then have the pesky cable box to contend with. I wanted a shallow media shelf of some kind that would accommodate a cable box and a DVD player, but be relatively small and unobtrusive. The main problem with some of the products on the market is that they are too deep. I really wanted something about 11 inches deep, which is plenty for the items to be stored.  So, I designed a shelving unit that could be assembled from tubing and flat shelves. Here’s what I ended up with. It’s 32″ W x 11″ D x 21-1/2″ H.

I originally wanted to do it in MDF with PVC pipe or galvanized pipe, but my wife thought it was too raw. Here’s the prototype I whipped up of that concept using about $15 worth of Home Depot parts. (I used white “Sharkbite” PET tubing and particleboard shelving, with plumbing strapping on the diagonal in back for stiffening.) I kind of like it as is, and in fact, used it for a year in the house with no complaints.

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Under-Vanity LED Lighting (courtesy of IKEA)

I used wall-mounted vanities in the Park City house because I like preserving as much floor area as possible, and because I envisioned using some kind of under-vanity lighting as a “night light” for the bathrooms. I had the electrician wire in switched outlets for each vanity. It took me a year to get around to the the lighting. Here’s what I figured out.

IKEA sells LED lighting strips with power supplies (“Ledberg”). These are roughly 24 inches long and they have a modular connector system so several can be ganged together. I simply mounted these to the bottom of the vanity about 3 inches back from the front edge with the cord fed through a hole in the bottom of the vanity.

This was easy and inexpensive. The light color is a little cooler than I’d like, but overall I’m pretty happy with the results.

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Flush terrace gutter

Just one defect emerged in the Park City house over the winter. About half of the main roof drains onto the front awning and then onto the paver terrace. A lot of water hits that terrace, and much of it drains down through the terrace instead of running off the front edge. As a result, the pavers settled a lot over the winter. One of the architects had suggested the possibility of inserting a 12″ c-channel into the paver surface to serve as a gutter from the point where the water hits the terrace to the edge. I wasn’t wild about introducing a 2-3″ groove in the terrace, as I thought it would be a trip hazard. Instead I designed a nifty welded gutter assembly with a slightly sloped top surface which feeds a 3″ c-channel beneath it to drain off the terrace. Hard to explain, but hopefully the pictures are clear.

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