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cost per square foot

How to understand cost per square foot

Part of the home building journey for most includes researching all your options. Chances are you've likely had a discussion with a custom home builder about the cost per square foot either in person or through a conversation online. You might be asking yourself what does this cost actually mean to you and how does it relate to the value of your next home? Let's break down the facts.


What is it?

The cost per square foot calculation is meant to break down every part of the home into an easy to understand metric that theoretically, should help you compare home builders. In our industry, quite a few components of the home are purchased this way through our vendors and helps us calculate the overall cost of building your home.

Items like hardwood flooring, tile surrounds in showers and carpets are some of the easier items to calculate. Other items such as cabinets, stairs and appliances are not typically calculated this way, but can be included in the overall number a custom home builder would provide.


Why is it important?

As you're looking around Edmonton and its surrounding communities this price per square foot metric, in which all builders use internally, is a quick and easy way to get an idea of how much a builder would charge, at a rate that can easily adjust depending on size. One thing to keep in mind is that this number can vary greatly between builders and it's important to understand what's included.

When custom home builders give you pricing, they typically break it down to the land value and the construction value. Most home builders purchase the land from the developers and sell them to clients without any added profit, so most of the cost per square foot calculations you're given will not include the land.



How do items like appliances affect the cost per square foot?


Does it cover all aspects of the home?

Since it's a loose metric overall, what's included isn't the same from all builders. Does it include the appliances? How about items required in the Architectural Guidelines? If hardwood is included on the main floor, how many square feet of hardwood is actually covered?

Another aspect to consider is the design of the floor plan. This can greatly effect the cost per square foot and can change the livability of spaces. If the floor plan you're exploring has a dropped foyer or varying ceiling heights there likely multiple building planes to consider. Think of it more as having extra 'floors' to your home. More importantly these items can greatly change how you feel and how your guests interact in the home. These levels will also impact the cost per square foot but not the overall size.


Is it the right way to compare custom home builders?

We like to think the answer is no. When you're deciding on your custom home, there's lots of details that you'll want to include which will drive your decision to go down this route. We feel that the more important piece of the puzzle is getting the home you want, with the design that caters to how you live day to day. Having a builder that understands the process of building a home properly, has tools to mitigate risks, and the technology to keep you in the loop can be essential to your peace of mind and not always reflected in this cost. More importantly it should be about how you perceive this value and how it compares to other builders potentially offering homes at a lower cost.


02 great room from hallway

Items like large windows can add to the price per square foot, but consider the atmosphere they bring to your home.


What else should I consider?

There's plenty of decisions that need to be made while you're selecting your custom home builder. Our suggestion would be to always understand what's included in the construction specifications. Ask as many questions as you need and find out if their building process is what you want. Find a floor plan that works for you and has the option to be tweaked to your own personal style. Starting a wish list of items to include in your next home will set you on the right path to creating a home that is not only functional, but designed with your lifestyle in mind. Feel free to contact us with your questions.


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