Friday, May 11, 2007

What things cost

While I said when I started this blog that I would be frank about how much everything costs (because that was the info I most wanted to know when I started exploring this process), I've been tardy in getting the numbers up for people to see. That's mostly because we weren't sharing this blog with anybody. But now that we are I need to figure out a way to present what everything has/will cost in a way that makes sense. For now it'll just be in the form of this post. But if anybody has any better ideas about how to maintain such a thing on blogger (or questions about costs I haven't detailed), let me know.

The cabin will be a 3BR 2BA, roughly 2000sf space. Master bedroom, common bath, open kitchen/dining/living space on the upper floor (the factory-manufactured box); 2 bedrooms, common bath, mechanical and rec/media room in the walkout basement (see the May entry on Floor Plans). The walkout wall of the basement will be panelized in the factory (with windows/sliders) and installed by the set crew before the box is set on top. We haven't hired a GC; instead we've hired a very competent excavator to get us up to the site and dig the foundation, and a contractor who has lots of experience doing traditional modular sets and finishes to pour the foundation and coordinate the set. There's not a whole lot of complicated stuff going on here (that's getting done in the factory!), and Res4 (and my contractors) has been really great with guiding us through the process. We've done some significant interior renovations (kitchen, bath, plumbing) ourselves before, but no real construction management competence to speak of. The biggest negative of not having a GC so far has been having to get out to the site often enough (it's a 2-3 hr drive, depending on the time of day).

We hope to do most of the finishing work on site ourselves. That will include installing the cedar siding, building the deck, and finishing out the basement. The skills I'm sure we'll need contractors for are electric, flashing and HVAC; we'll see how the rest goes.

OK - our ballpark budget for the house (excluding land) was about $250K when we started. Our original intention when we first met with Res4 was to put a single bar on concrete piers and be done - a crowded 2BR design was worked out, with minimal site work to speak of. But after walking the site with Res4 and talking it over with them, it made much more sense to do a walkout basement - the construction cost for that kind of space is about half the cost we were looking at out of the factory (which was already very economical at about $150/sf), and we thought the extra space made more sense both for rental and resale purposes (not to mention personal use). So we opened our budget up a bit more, and continue to believe that we can economize with some sweat equity in finishing the basement.

That said, here are our rough numbers so far:

Land: $142K - 30 acres in Lost River, WV;

Prefab Module: $155K - 16'x64' (1024 sf) factory manufactured unit, including all interior finishes except appliances, excluding exterior siding and flashing (*here's a place where soft costs need to be kept in mind - that $155K number INCLUDES tax (which is a tricky thing to figure for the purchase of a prefab module), transportation-related expenses, the structural engineering, third-party stamps/seals, and the panelized front wall of the basement);

Road: $38K - our land was unimproved and getting a road up to the homesite was an exceptional cost for this site, which we knew going in;

Foundation, septic, HVAC, basement wiring and plumbing, well, polished concrete basement floor: $75K (this is still an estimate);

Deck, siding, finishing basement (most of which we hope to do ourselves): unknown, but rough numbers for the materials at this point are around $10k;

Design fee (15% of the rough construction cost of $225K): - $34K.

So the math works out like this - excluding the land and the road, our house cost is less than $275K for just over 2000sf (figure another $40K or so if we had a contractor finish the basement out). That's pretty affordable, as far as we're concerned, for the terrific design and streamlined process that we're getting, and we're thrilled that Res4 has been so close with all the numbers we talked about in the beginning of this process. Long way to go, still, but it's all going to happen very quickly over the next month or so...


WoodsLady said...

Hi, I've just scanned your comments about building a PreFab project in West Va. Your 30 acre building site is wonderful.

Thanks for doing the blog. The practicality of seeing a timeline for start-up and on-site responsibility was just what I needed today. I live at a much greater distance from my wooded land than you do from yours. So, losing myself in cyberspace for hours on end researching "what's happening" in the panelized housing industry is more like a hobby than a serious building plan.

I've wanted to put a factory-built or panelized building for about seven years on a charming 30 acres I have in southern Indiana. Family caregiving issues have been a priority...soon, my creativity and resourcefulness can focus on a peaceful retreat house just inside my own part of the forest.

Like you, I've decided on a walk-out basement foundation. In addition to more under-roof living space, my need is to plan for safety at the edge of "tornado alley."

I'll be checking back...your project is interesting.


Chris said...

Woodslady - thanks for your comment. Keep reading along and let us know what you think and especially what else you'd like to hear more about. I'm trying to hit the highlights but I'm sure there are things other people want to know that I'm missing...

lavardera said...

If the cost works out the way you broke it out then you are looking at about 137.00/sqft. Thats pretty good - lets just say its getting a whole lot closer to what was hoped for when Res4 won the Dwell House competition.

Great project. Can't wait to see it come together.

Chris said...

Thanks Greg. We've been paying attention to your stuff for awhile and you deserve a lot of credit for keeping people focused on the bottom line. Our project is obviously different in that we're going to be able to keep the post-set costs down (only one module means minimal button-up costs), but Res4 is really striving to maximize in-factory production and it sounds like they're making pretty good headway.

Please be sure to highlight any places you'd like to see more info - costs, technical aspects, anything. The more feedback we (and Res4) get, the better.

lavardera said...

The walk out basement figuring as part of the overall area of the house is a big reason for the overall cost/sqft looking so affordable. But hey, if your interest in prefab is to arrive at something affordable, then that is a great strategy.