When structure a house there’s a lot to consider. The location, the timeline, what functions you want. But the biggest question ~ above a home buyer’s mental is constantly cost, and that’s frequently the inquiry with the most difficult answer.

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Unfortunately, also many contractors have one all-too-ready answer for this question, and also this answer actually tells you much more about the builder than about the home they’re propose to develop you. The answer is the house’s price every square foot, and also it’s a deep problematic answer supposed to trick rather than inform you.

Before you start comparing building contractors by the prices per square foot they’re quoting you, let’s check out how these expenses are determined, what determinants are at play that deserve to skew a home’s price, and also how you have the right to truly compare builders to choose the best one for you.

Too numerous consumers get in the residence building process relying on contractors who are much more interested in do money turn off of them than working as partner to create their dream home. With the information I’m about to share v you, you will have the ability to buy your practice Oklahoma residence with confidence there is no falling for poor sales tactics or paying because that a builder’s incompetencies.

Cost every square foot is a damaging metric!

If girlfriend are in search of a contractor to develop you a custom home, yes sir a good chance you’ll come throughout one or more who will quote girlfriend a price based on a home’s price per square foot. This easy-to-calculate number is the house’s in its entirety price separated by the size of the house and is meant to offer the the person who lives a sense of the home’s worth to contrasted to other homes.

Unfortunately, this simple metric is a terrible one come compare dwellings with because it pipeline so much out.

When a builder talks about price every square foot, I always want to ask lock to develop me a residence that"s only one square foot. I"ll provide you $125, you provide me a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

Sounds absurd, right? That"s just how it sounds when builders quote a price based specifically on a square foot. It"s a chicken-and-egg kind of problem. Perhaps you"ve already come up with the perfect home plan. How have the right to you know how much a residence will cost to build without adding up every the aspects of that certain plan? Why is one square foot worth $125? Is each square foot precious the exact same amount? Why is one square foot worth more than another? it doesn"t make any type of sense, and that"s since builders who price per square foot aren"t really certain on what it"s costing lock to build a house.


Pricing per square foot is backwards, and also it virtually always leads to a negative deal for you. A builder who"s pricing the house that means is usually pricing it at a range where he"s comfortable the he can make a good profit. What gets sacrificed in that equation is her budget.

Let’s store talking around why the mathematics doesn’t quite work-related out once comparing the price per square foot of various house plans and how you deserve to make the most of your budget with proper home plan comparisons by reputable builders.

How perform size and also features impact price every square foot?

The concern of price per square foot in structure a brand-new home comes up often and also the explanation of exactly how that price is figured out can it is in confusing. Due to the fact that of this, I wrote this situation study to compare 2 residences my firm built in 2016 to give you, the potential home structure client, insight into the price every square foot game my market has forced everyone come play.

Oklahoma situation Study

I choose 2 homes of 2 different sizes and also 2 really different configurations to present the result of square footage on the price every square foot and the means configuration (meaning the layout that the rooms, cabinets, etc.) affect the price that the whole house, regardless of square feet.

The residences had comparable finishes, were built in the same time frame, and also are in the same sector area. They were both built using the same collection of suppliers and contractors, for this reason labor and also material unit expenses are the same. My agency contracted the structure of both houses, therefore the management systems to be the same.

Here is a summary of the 2 residences in the situation study:

House #1:

2908 square feet of conditioned (living) space

3 vehicle garage

4 bed

2 1/2 bath

House #2:

3670 square feet the conditioned (living) space

3 car garage

6 bed

3 1/2 bath

Cost compare by all at once item cost

Below you"ll discover the all at once costs for certain groups the items, and also these space actual numbers. To save it readable and not entirely confusing, I merged lots of separation, personal, instance items together, otherwise the table would have actually over a hundred items. Also, over there are plenty of items not contained here due to the fact that they aren"t relevant to the overall point and simply make it confusing.

Cost Comparison: overall Item Cost

House #1(2908 sf)

House #2 (3670 sf)







Trim, cabinets, paint



Countertops, flooring



Land development



Again, the above table doesn"t incorporate every solitary item that takes to build a house, but what"s included is a great snapshot the the stuff the isn"t totally square footage dependent.

Cost compare by item price per square foot

Next, let"s look in ~ the cost per square foot of each of the over items. In various other words, the amount that each item contributed to the expense per square foot:

Cost Comparison: Item price per Square Foot the House

House #1 (2908 sf)

House #2 (3670 sf)







Trim, cabinets, paint



Countertops, flooring



Land development



Numbers don"t lie

As you deserve to see, everything except trim / cabinets / paint cost much more per square foot in house #1 than in home #2.

What this demonstrates is the principle that together the size of the house goes up, the price every square foot goes down.

That rule applies for any houses of similar quality and also finish levels.

Land Development

Also keep in mind that the Land development category cost practically twice as lot in house #1 than house #2 - that"s a category that is entirely unrelated come the size of the house. Every little thing it costs to prep the floor (dirt work, well, septic system, hauling off trees and/or debris, etc.), is what that costs. If you have actually lots of square feet to spread out that price over, then you"ll have a lower expense per square foot. The will show up together a number in the expense per square foot calculation, however is irrelevant as a comparison between 2 houses.

So what"s the point of all this? I desire to present you how dangerous it is to get suckered in by a discussion of expense (or price) per square foot once you"re comparing houses or builders. There are so plenty of factors associated in determining cost to construct that it"s basic for the seller of any type of house to video game the mechanism by manipulating what is consisted of to one of two people raise or reduced the price per square foot.

Let’s proceed on come further discover why larger dwellings have reduced prices every square feet and how those numbers don’t account for every one of the crucial factors.

Why do bigger residences have a lower price per square foot?

In theory, looking in ~ the expense per square foot once building, buying, or selling is one easy method to compare one residence to another. It"s like searching for the cost per ounce when deciding what size of mustard or mayonnaise to buy at the grocery store store, right?

Not exactly.


When it involves houses, larger dwellings generally have actually a lower cost per square foot. Why? due to the fact that the larger the home plan, all other things being equal, over there are an ext square feet to spread out the expense over.

Earlier we looked at the prices of building two homes and also how the smaller home had actually a higher cost every square foot than the larger house only due to the fact that it had less square clip to spread out the cost of materials and also building. Here’s one more example the demonstrates the exact same point.


Let"s say you have a $40,000 kitchen planned for her dream home. That cost contains everything in the kitchen—cabinets, granite countertops, flooring, appliances, lighting, etc. It"s her dream kitchen.

Put that kitchen in a residence that"s 2,000 square feet. That kitchen expenses $20 every square foot of your total house. Currently put that kitchen in a residence that"s 4,000 square feet. Same specific kitchen now costs $10 per square foot that your complete house.

Here"s an insider an enig to consider: the critical square foot is the cheapest square foot. Friend candesign a house plan with every little thing you want, and it comes the end to 2,500 square feet. Now include three feet the width right down the middle, and also that house is 2,800 square feet. That last 300 square feet is strictly living space. The just materials forced are slab, frame, roof, drywall, paint, and carpet (or other flooring).

Square footage that outcomes in strictly living room is the cheapest sort to build, yet you"re still adding square clip to the house and also thus raising its resale value. That"s beneficial square footage!


Adding extra square footage will reduced your all at once price per square foot also as it adds to the overall cost come build. Yet if friend choose simple living space for added square footage rather of much more expensive square footage (like kitchen or bathroom space), the lower cost per square foot functions even much more in her favor.

This is how builders decrease the price every square foot in houses while enhancing the in its entirety price, make it appear that the larger house is at some point the much better value since it seems you’re getting an ext for much less as the house buyer once really you’re just getting more empty space.

Sure some buyers might want the space, but ultimately this practice skews the price per square foot and also makes the a useless tool for consumer trying to compare residence values. This practice also causes problems for house buyers who space looking to cut prices when developing a tradition home.

Why no shrinking a house arrangement make it less expensive?

Savvy residence buyers recognize that contractors will have tricks to gain the most money out of them, so countless will shot to use some tip of their own to acquire what they desire at the price castle want.

Early in the procedure of building a tradition home, many world will look roughly online at a selection of residence plans come start obtaining some ideas of what they want. That"s a good thing, really, since it helps specify your concerns so girlfriend can comment on them v your builder throughout the actual architecture process.

But all too often, someone drops in love with a house setup that"s well beyond their budget. And then lock ask, "Can ns shrink this residence plan and make it less expensive?"

The answer? No, girlfriend can"t.

Remember what we said earlier--the critical square foot you develop on a residence is the cheapest. That"s also the an initial square foot you take out if trying to shrink a home plan.


We’ll use another example to show what ns mean. Let"s to speak a builder quotes you $200,000 because that a 2,000 square foot home. That"s $100 per square foot come build. Now let"s to speak your budget is only $180,000. If you reduced 200 square feet the end of the plan and also build it because that the very same $100 every square foot, the home now fits her budget, right?


Here"s why

That $100 per square foot is the average expense of every the square feet in the house. Let"s say the house has a $1,200 range in it. Stove takes up about six square feet, so it actually expenses $200 per square foot. When you shrink the house, space you going to take out the oven?


Let"s speak the air conditioning equipment expenses $8,000. Will certainly you placed a smaller air conditioner in a house that"s just 200 square feet smaller? Nope. Therefore the cost of your air conditioner simply went native $4 come $4.44 per square foot.

The square clip you take out isn"t going to be the expensive stuff, choose light fixtures, appliances, cabinets, countertops, toilets, heat and air, or the floor the residence is built on. You"re going to take out stuff prefer lumber, concrete, carpet, and shingles. You"re going come take the end living room that doesn"t price much come build.


Plus, a architecture you shrink isn"t going to work the method the initial did. Designers don"t create elements of a house in isolation and then pole them together to create a house. Once you randomly shrink rooms, you"re more than likely creating new design problems that will need to be solved.

If you"re budget-conscious and want to build a new home, start with a architecture that"s smaller than what you have the right to afford. Do a plan bigger is much less expensive per square foot, since you"re including inexpensive living an are typically. The math now works in her favor.

How execute you compare price per square foot between builders?

So shrinking a house setup won’t do it fit right into your budget like you hoped, however there are means to to compare price every square foot in between different contractors so you can uncover a custom house that has the functions you want and also still pole to your budget.

Because houses aren"t prefer cars or other items you might purchase, (you can"t go to 3 different builders and also look in ~ the exact same make and model), it"s really daunting to do any kind of kind of systematic comparison. To compare 2 various houses, with various features, sizes, and locations, is an overwhelming because the 2 houses might not have actually anything in common.

That’s why people shot to compare residences according to price per square foot. All homes have a price and also a size! currently all you need to do is compare price per square foot and you can tell which residence is the far better value, right?

Whycan"t you to compare it the way?

Oh, exactly how I great it were that simple. As my dad says, “Let me throw the hope Diamond in the bath tub and climate let"s number the price per square foot".

I just checked Wikipedia, and also the hope Diamond is valued at everywhere from $200-250 million dollars. Let"s be conservative and also say it"s only worth $200 million. If you put it in the tub of a 2,000 square foot house, the value of that house would increase by $100,000 every square foot.

That"s a quite high price every square foot - for that price, do you think that residence should also come through a garage door opener?

That"s a ridiculous example, the course, however it demonstrates the trouble with comparing residences using cost per square foot.

Every residence iscustom

Every residence has various features and also materials that contribute to the expense per square foot and overall worth of the home. That’s why once comparing house plans and also builders you have to take into account much more than the price per square foot. You have actually to think about what’s really beneficial in the home and not necessarily just how the cost of those attributes compares come the room of the home.


Items that impact that price

Here are the huge items that influence price every square foot. Compare these item in a residence you"re considering building or purchase to help you compare one house to one more (or one builder to another):

Land: If you"re looking at a house / land package, and also the land expense is surprise in the total, try to discover out what the land actually cost. In the instance above, I supplied a 2,000 square foot house because it renders the math simple (and I"m an easy math sort of guy). Let"s speak you"re to compare 2 houses, both 2,000 square feet, and house number 1 is sit on a many that expense $20,000. That"s $10 every square foot simply for the land. Let"s say residence number 2 is on a lot of that cost $30,000, which is $15 every square foot just for the land. There"s a $5 per square foot difference in the two houses already, and we haven"t also looked in ~ the dwellings yet.

Garage size:

When you division the price that the house by the size, the dimension you"re making use of is the living area, or the area that the residence that is spanned by heating and also air conditioning. That area doesn"t include the garage, but the garage still costs money come build, right? for a usual garage stall (one car), i usually number a price of around $10,000, which means a 2-car garage would cost about $20,000 and a 3-car would cost about $30,000. That expense gets spread out over the square footage, for this reason the 2-car contributes $10 every square foot, and the 3-car contributes $15 per square foot. Simply as in the land example (notice exactly how I used basic math again - keeps me from messing up), there"s a $5 per square foot difference just in the garage size.

Covered porches and also patios: similar to the instance of garages above, the extended porches and also patios add to the cost, but not come the square footage. To provide you an idea, I generally figure around $38 per square foot because that porches and patios, for this reason a 12x12 patio will certainly cost about $5,500, adding around $2.75 every square foot to a 2,000 square foot home or $2.20 per square foot come a 2,500 square foot home.

Cabinets: many of the houses we construct have a kitchen (duh), 2 or 3 bathrooms, and a to wash room. Let"s take it the typical 2,000 square foot residence again, and also let"s to speak it has actually 2 commodes (and a kitchen, that course). Now, doesn"t the seem realistic that ns could construct a 3,000 square foot house and also it still has actually 2 bathrooms and also a kitchen the sizes comparable to the rooms in the 2,000 square foot house? Sure, I perform it all the time. So, the cabinets in each house cost the very same - a reality number for each home is $5,500. In the 2,000 square foot house, the cabinets add $2.75 per square foot, whereas in the 3,000 square foot house, the cabinets add only $1.83 every square foot (OK, I had actually to get out mine calculator for that one). That"s a distinction of $0.92 per square foot, and you"ll notice an amazing thing... The bigger house had actually a lower cost per square foot because that the cabinets. More about this phenomenon later.

Heat and also air: This one is related to the size of the house, due to the fact that a bigger residence needs a bigger waiting conditioner, however air air conditioning don"t come in an infinite variety of sizes. In various other words, you can acquire a 3-ton waiting conditioner (a "ton" is the measure of an wait conditioner"s volume to remove heat from the air - for nerds choose me, that"s 12,000 Btu"s because that each ton), but you can"t get a 3.1-ton wait conditioner. That method a 2,000 square foot house and also an 1,800 square foot house can have the exact same size waiting conditioner, because a size bigger would certainly be too big for the 2,000 square foot house and a size smaller would be too little for the 1,800 square foot house. Let"s say we usage a 4-ton AC because that each house, in ~ a expense of approximately $6,800 installed. Again through the calculator, that"s $3.40 per square foot because that the 2,000 square foot house and also $3.78 for the 1,800 square foot house. Again, note that the price per square foot is higher for the smaller sized house.

OK, ns think you obtain the idea

There are fairly a few items that might be the same expense in dwellings of really different sizes, which means cost every square foot have the right to vary commonly in two dwellings that have actually identical features. You can imagine how various light fixtures, faucets, appliances, and also flooring could have a vast influence end price every square foot. The bottom heat is that the item you pick to get in your brand-new house will recognize the cost, and also the cost per square foot, much an ext than the selection of builder will.

The only way to acquire the exact number, fairly than comparing home builders by some arbitrary price per square foot, is to find the builder girlfriend like and also trust, and work with the process of developing or picking a home plan, clues the features, and adding it every up. Otherwise you’re just going to autumn for one unscrupulous builder’s tricks and also get hit v a many of covert costs.

Why is price per square foot a bait-and-switch?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, there"s a dirty little an enig about price per square foot that the structure industry would favor I didn"t share through you: price per square foot is a game home building contractors use come reel friend in.

In fact, I supplied to play the too—until i realized i was law my customers a disservice. I"m pretty sure I"ve lost some deals by no playing that game, and I sincerely expect those civilization I lost acquired a great deal somewhere.

The problem

Here"s the problem with the price every square foot game. V a custom home, there"s no method to quote a price per square foot till I understand every detail around the home. It"d be dishonest.

Think about it: the residence you"re structure on your land is your home, not your builder"s home. If your builder offers you a price per square foot prior to you"ve shared any type of of her wants, needs, and also dreams, how deserve to that residence they"re selling you be what you want it come be? Wouldn"t he just be quoting you a price every square foot because that a home HE wants to build?

Or worse: the builder knows that the factor you"re questioning is therefore you have the right to compare, or shop around, so he has actually every catalyst to low-ball girlfriend so he deserve to reel friend in.

Here"s exactly how the video game works:

1. The builder advertises, or tells you, a really low (and attractive) price per square foot. Not having any type of real means to compare, you make an appointment and also sit down v a builder based on that low price every square foot.

2. Together you acquire into the details of the actual house you desire (as opposed to the house with the really short price per square foot), you start to get really excited together the builder encourages you to save the details, the great list, coming.

3. Girlfriend spend numerous hours working through the builder, going earlier and forth on design and also detail changes, till you get to the dream residence you"ve wanted to build so badly. At this point, you space 100% emotionally invest in that design and also that builder.

4. Indigenous here, among two points happens:

The builder walk his estimating and also comes back with a price for the house. You carry out the arithmetic, and also the price every square foot go from the $85 / square foot that reeled friend in v to a more realistic $115 / square foot that it"s walk to take it to construct the house. You"re so much down the path currently you can"t imaging starting over.


The builder comes back with a expense estimate and an market to construct the residence as "cost-plus", meaning you pay the price to develop plus a fee. You"ll discover out around halfway through the develop that the builder"s calculation was 30% low, yet it"s also late through then.

Either way, you"ve invested a whole lot the time, and also probably a significant amount that money, just to find out that the expense to build your forever residence is really different 보다 the story the builder told friend to gain you in the door (and rather frankly, the story you to be all too willing come hear).

Commodity pricing isn"t for homes

A builder couldn"t start to honestly provide you a number till he or she to know exactly what you want. Us don"t buy our cars by the pound or our apparel by the thread. Why usage a commodity price prefer price every square foot because that something together dear to us as our forever home? Commodity pricing works for corn and potatoes—but for her home?

Don’t loss into the trap of oversimplifying the pricing of your dream home. If that too an excellent to it is in true, yes sir something lock not informing you. That’s why i’m sharing this secret with you, for this reason you deserve to avoid the mistake various other custom residence buyers make all the time.


How execute you prevent the price every square foot trap?

So exactly how do you gain your dream home constructed within budget with all these sneaky building contractors trying to mislead you v their prices? Luckily there room plenty the honest builders out there too. You simply need to do your research and know what come look for.

Here’s what i suggest


Seek out a builder who listens an initial before giving you an unfounded price per square foot quote or shoving a ten-page perform of included features in your face. Who cares what the builder think should enter your home? Shouldn"t the be your choice? structure items aside, what goes right into your house should ultimately be your decision.


Be wary of the builder who has a ready answer for "How lot are your homes per square foot?” whatever the number is, there"s no method it can be based on the vision you have actually in your mind. As we’ve questioned before, how deserve to it be?


Look for a builder who is committed to your needs and wants and to remaining within her budget. Share plans and also generic perform of contained features typically don"t cut it for family members who desire to make certain they"re maximizing their budget.

Questions come ask

Ask about various jae won options, and also don"t forget everyone"s financial case is going come look different. Can your prospective builder help you work through miscellaneous options? What around helping v financing challenges? just how willing does he or she it seems to be ~ to be to listen and help you come up with an imaginative financing solutions?

There"s for this reason much an ext that goes into the worth of a residence than the price per square foot. You are much, much more than a commodity, and so is your dream home.


One much more question the will aid you uncover a professional builder

I want to give you one more tip that will assist you pick a builder that knows what castle doing and is confident in the high quality of homebuilding lock offer.

Usually, when I"m in a conversation v someone who wants to construct a custom home on your land, I can tell whether or not they"ve to be shopping roughly for builders.

How? It"s in the questions they ask.

If they"ve been interviewing numerous builders, civilization will asking very good questions that strike come the love of the matter.

That one question

One of the most common of those inquiries is, "What"s the smallest house you"ll build?" Typically, human being ask that question since they"ve interviewed a couple of different builders, and each time they"ve been told the the house they want to construct is smaller than the builder"s minimum square footage.

So the builder isn"t interested in structure their home.

While that"s a common answer, ns can"t tell you just how many human being I"ve talked to who are frustrated by the building process because they desire to construct a house that is exactly sufficient room, and no more. Maybe they want a 1600-square-foot home with a two-car garage (or no garage!) or perhaps they"re ready to sacrifice room for the design touches and also finishes they"ve dreamy of because that years.

Why this inquiries helps for this reason much

Why is that so difficult for world with those desires to discover builders? and how can this question assist you find a great builder no issue what size of house you want?

Builders" minimum

Let"s discover a small bit why building contractors have a minimum in the first place. It comes down to skill—but possibly not in the method you"d think.

My dad has been structure in central Oklahoma because 1964, and he"s always told me that it"s much more daunting to construct a tiny home than a huge one. We tend to think that larger homes as more fancy and requiring a various skill collection from the contractors than a smaller, less complicated home would.

Here"s the dirty little secret: every house builder supplies subcontractors, and also the very same subcontractors who space doing work-related for the entry-level residence builder are additionally doing occupational in Gaillardia and also other deluxe neighborhoods.

The difference

The difference isn"t in the skill collection of the subcontractor, it"s in the skill set of the builder. The smaller the home, the much less room there is for error. A builder has to coordinate several aspects smoothly in order to properly develop a house:

Home design/blueprint

Document control

Scopes of job-related for contractors

Schedule for all parts of the build

Client communication

If the hasn"t master those elements, a builder will make enough mistakes building a home that the only means he deserve to make a living is to have actually a huge margin of error. The larger the home, the enlarge the margin because that error.

Of course, it"s eventually the customer who pays for that. Due to the fact that a smaller house comes through a smaller sized price tag, over there is a smaller sized margin for error together well. And there may not be enough wiggle room for that builder to be comfortable structure a smaller sized home.

So rather than telling you he can"t afford to build a smaller home because he knows he"ll make too numerous expensive mistakes, he"ll merely tell you that your home is listed below his minimum square footage. When really, it"s just past his skill level.

Even if you room looking to construct a large house, asking a builder if he has actually a minimum square clip can give you a clue as to his skill level. If he has actually a minimum, it may be a authorize that that lacks the confidence and also experience to develop a house with couple of to no errors and also any errors he does make will come the end of her pocket. Look because that a builder that knows he have the right to maintain high requirements of quality no issue the size of house.


Final thoughts on why price per square foot is a bad metric

How lot is the price per square foot for a brand-new house? great question. Tough to answer.

There’s a lot an ext to pricing a house than meets the eye, and it is easy for a builder to offer a manipulative (and also deceptive) price per square foot to lure you into a sales pitch. In fact, it is why they try to quote you a price based upon cost every square foot, to lure you right into a deal that feels great to you however is really only an excellent for them. Yet this is her dream home and it should be all around you.

That’s why I’ve provided you the right concerns to ask so friend can obtain the real answers you require when picking an Oklahoma home builder.

See more: Bonds Result From The Transfer Of Electrons From One Element To Another.

If you want an accurate quote because that a tradition house, you have to find precise builder, one that recognizes that there no always an easy answers for basic questions and also is willing and also able to job-related with friend to uncover the admittedly an ext complicated, however honest answer. You require a builder that puts your needs and wants an initial and has the skills to deliver them within budget without offering misleading details or making errors that you’ll need to pay for later.Building a custom home is all about getting what you want, ~ all.