Designing a smaller house is perhaps the best way to keep overall costs down but this article is about keeping the relative cost or the price per square foot ratio down. Most new custom homes in Asheville fall between $150 and $300 per square foot to build. In other words, a 2000sf house built at $150/sf will cost $300,000 to build- this includes all materials, labor and contractor fees, but not land. But why, the reader may ask, are some houses twice as expensive to build? Many people who aren't familiar with construction costs might assume that a good way to save money is to shop for the cheapest builder- but this is rarely a good idea. The cost of the house is dictated almost entirely by the design and selections.
In this article I'm going to discuss 3 powerful strategies to maximize square footage and quality while keeping the price per square foot ratio down. The first 2 strategies, and perhaps the most important depend on smart design. The third strategy depends on intelligent selections of finishes.
Most of the recommendations in this article have the double benefit of keeping construction AND maintenance costs down which is important if the house is owned longer term. There’s a lot of good information here—things that I’ve gleaned from being a designer, builder, home inspector and estimator. I hope this article helps those who want to bring more affordable houses to the market by adding value with smarter design and selections.
DESIGN STRATEGY #1: SIMPLIFY THE FORM
Reduce Foundation Corners. The more corners a house foundation has the more complicated and expensive it will be to construct—from foundation to roofing and framing, to finishes. The simplest and cheapest house to construct and maintain has 4 corners. When a homeowner or architect adds corners to the design it adds costs. The owner should ask themselves these questions: Do the added corners make the house more livable or functional? Do they add visual appeal? Are the additional costs and maintenance worth it? If the answers are no then simplify.
More people are considering buying undeveloped land in the Asheville area to cope with limited inventory and rising costs. Buying land is a great option for knowledgeable buyers but it is also riskier and potentially more expensive than buying developed land. This article is broken up into the 3 Most Important Things to Look For when buying land in the area. This article is for potential landbuyers and real estate and construction professionals. Make sure you check out the Resources section at the bottom of the article and print out the Buncombe County Development Checklist (also provided).
WITHIN CITY LIMITS:
The big advantage to buying a lot within city limits, aside from location, is that utilities are readily available and there can be big savings here.
There are some things to be aware of though. It is rare to find a good lot selling at a modest price in the city. Remaining lots are steep, odd-sized, and may contain un-compacted fill or garbage. Look carefully for easements on the land which are common in the city.
Here are some resources and typical costs for a 2000sf home in the city:
City Sewer (MSD): There is an initial connection and monthly usage fee (about $3000 for typical home):
City of Asheville Sewer tap (MSD)
City Water: There is an initial connection and monthly usage fee (about $2600 for typical home):
City of Asheville Water Application
Gas (PSNC): If a lot is located in their service area generally they will connect the house for free if your water heater and/or furnace is a gas appliance. Check gas availability for your lot.
Electricity (Progress): Initial connection is free within service area. The builder will need to work with Progress Engineer to establish temporary power during construction. Underground trenching for long distances may cost extra. Progress (Electricity) www.progress-energy.com (800) 452-2777