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What Affects Price Per Square Foot? | What Does it Cost to Build a Custom Home?

All costs updates as of 5/7/2021

Factors That Affect Price/Sq.Ft. When Building Home

Hey everyone. Brian Freeman with Freeman’s Construction. Hey, today we’re gonna go through video number six of our Custom Home Building Cost Guide series, and we’re gonna be covering what affects the price per square foot to build your custom home. So there’s three factors involved as far as how you can actually control the cost. So if we can either keep it lower or we can go higher, and what those are.

Factor #1: Actual Square Footage

So, the first factor is the actual square footage itself. So, for example, we have a 2,500 square foot home and we have a 2,000 square foot home. Both of them would be a four bedroom, three bathroom home. The home that’s gonna be cheaper at price per square foot will actually be the 2,500 square foot home. Now, the reason why is the bathrooms and the kitchens are some of the most expensive parts of the home to build. So, if we have the same size kitchen and the same amount of bathrooms in the 2,500 square foot home as we do in the smaller home, those expensive areas are stuck into a smaller space in that 2,000 square foot home, which actually drives the price per square foot up. So, what we do is we go back to what we call open footage. The open footage is gonna be the areas that would be, say, in a family room, or a bedroom, or a hallway. And these are areas that we can add to the house and they are cheaper. So you don’t have your electrical in those areas, you don’t have plumbing, a lot of times you don’t have cabinets, so, in those areas it’s cheaper price per square foot, you know, when you add that back into the home. So you take that 2,000 square foot home and you add 500 square feet of open footage, it takes the average price per square foot down for that larger home. So, that’s a really good example of the larger home with the same amount of bathrooms, very similar size kitchen actually being cheaper price per square foot. So, that’s factor number one.

Factor #2: Bathroom Square Footage 

The second factor that drives the cost per square foot for your home is the bathrooms itself. So, we just mentioned the bathrooms are very expensive to build price per square foot versus the open footage of the home. So, what you’re gonna do is if, for instance, in that, let’s say we had a 2,500 square foot home that had three bathrooms, versus the same 2,500 square foot home that had two bathrooms. Well the home that has the two bathrooms is gonna be cheaper price per square foot than the home that had the three bathrooms. So, when you’re figuring the cost of adding a bathroom or subtracting bathroom from a home, you’re gonna wanna figure about $25,000 for a secondary bathroom. So that’d be a full bath that’s maybe servicing the main part of the house or some bedrooms. So $25,000. And if you were to add on a master bath, you’re gonna spend somewhere in the ballpark, you’re gonna go $40,000+ of what you would add to the cost to actually build that house. So bathrooms, very big part of the cost for the home. So you can adjust up or down in kinda chunks as far as how many bathrooms you add by using those $25,000 numbers for a secondary, and then go into the $40,000+ for a master bath, just depending on how elaborate it is. Okay, so that’s factor one, factor two.

Factor #3: Materials to Finish Interior & Exterior 

Factor number three is the actual materials that you choose to finish the inside and exterior of your home. So the materials that you choose to finish are gonna either drive the price up, or it’s gonna drive it down, as far as what you do. So some of the things that go actually affect it on the exterior of the home are gonna be, let’s say you do a smooth Santa Barbara finish on the stucco. So that’s a lot more money than just doing what we call a lace finish. So you’re gonna spend more money on that. So additionally on the exterior if you do a lot of rock veneer on the outside, so on the walls, that’s gonna be adding to the cost per square foot. You’ll also spend, if you have exposed wood underneath your porches or your overhangs, that adds cost. So you’ve got your labor and material, and then you’ve got your painter that’s gotta finish those, stain ’em. So, that’s additional cost.

Extra Costs for Your Home 

You also will spend additional money if you have some elaborate pavers or concrete stamping that you do in the driveways, or there’s maybe more driveway or walkway than is kinda typical, that can definitely add cost to the project as well. So, on the exterior, those are some of the items that’ll add cost. On the interior, the items that’ll add cost are, say if you have exposed wood beams inside the living areas, that adds cost. So, you’re gonna have, again, the material and the labor, and the painter that has to finish those. So that’s additional. Let’s say you have a stain-grade door and trim package, definitely more money than if you were to do a paint-grade door and trim package. So, that’s one thing you can do to control cost. 

Hardsurface Flooring 

If you have tile flooring, tile is more money than if you do like an LVP, like a luxury vinyl plank flooring, which is fairly popular when you’re trying to hit some lower budgets. So you can choose there to either save or increase your budget. So if you do tile in the showers versus fiberglass and it’s elaborate tile design, you’re gonna spend quite a bit more money doing that. You can go simple on your tile in your showers, which we actually recommend ’cause fiberglass just doesn’t have the longevity, but you can definitely increase cost with tile. So, shower tile and tile in the bathrooms, the back splashes, depending on how elaborate it is, it can definitely drive prices significantly up.

Cabinets, Shelving, & Doors

So what I also see inside, you’re gonna, let’s say kitchen cabinets, right? Kitchen cabinets are a big thing, even cabinets throughout the house. So how fancy are those cabinets? So what are we doing? How are you building those cabinets? Do we have a lot of glass in the doors? Do we have shelving that’s glass? Puck lighting in them? So those are items, as we add the glass and we add the puck lighting and we maybe even add the upper cabinet that goes all the way to the ceiling, those start driving prices up as well.

Previously Completed Custom Homes

So, by looking at the finishes and the materials we can really control cost, and probably one of the best ways to do it is to get into homes that we built or whoever your builder is and look at those homes and even go to look at pictures and things of homes that’ve been built.  So you got a really good feel for what you’re looking to build, and then you can go back and look at our projects and see what those cost to build. And then, that helps you to really get a gauge on what those finishes cost. So, that’s factor number three. So what you can do to control the material finishes and control the cost per square foot.

Next Video 

So, next week we’re gonna be talking about the actual examples of projects that we built. So we’re gonna go over the exact cost of five different projects. And they’ll range from a small house all the way up to about a 6,000 square foot house, and we’re gonna go through and tell you what those costs are to the dollar to build those homes, and then you’ll be able to link back by, if you go to our website, you can download this Custom Home Building Cost Guide and you will be able to go in here, next week, we’re gonna go over, this is four projects here and then another project on the back here, that we’re gonna go over next week, and you’ll be able to click on these pictures in here and go to our website and see the actual projects, the finishes, the videos of the home, do a 3D walkthrough and be able to take a look at what you can get for that money. Okay? So that’s it for today. Thank you again for watching, and next week we will talk to you about some of the actual cost for jobs. So, have a great week.

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