"How much is that per square foot?" If you ask that question, you're playing right into the hands of the builder who is about to give you the old bait and switch.
There's a dirty little secret about price per square foot that the building industry would rather I didn't share with you: price per square foot is a game home builders use to reel you in.
In fact, I used to play it too—until I realized I was doing my customers a disservice. I'm pretty sure I've lost some deals by not playing that game, and I sincerely hope those people I lost got a great deal somewhere.
Here's the problem with the price per square foot game. With a custom home, there's no way to quote a price per square foot until I know every detail about the home. It'd be dishonest.
Think about it: the home you're building on your land is your home, not your builder's home. If your builder gives you a price per square foot before you've shared any of your wants, needs, and dreams, how can that home they're selling you be what you want it to be? Wouldn't he just be quoting you a price per square foot for a house HE wants to build?
Or worse: the builder knows that the reason you're asking is so you can compare, or shop around, so he has every incentive to low-ball you so he can reel you in.
Either way, you've invested a whole lot of time, and probably a significant amount of money, just to find out that the cost to build your forever home is very different than the story the builder told you to get you in the door (and quite frankly, the story you were all too willing to hear).
A builder couldn't begin to honestly give you a number until he or she knows exactly what you want. We don't buy our cars by the pound or our clothes by the thread. Why use a commodity price like price per square foot for something as dear to us as our forever home? Commodity pricing works for corn and potatoes—but for your home?
Seek out a builder who listens first, before giving you an unfounded price per square foot quote or shoving a ten-page list of included features in your face. Who cares what the builder thinks should go into your home? Shouldn't that be your choice? Structural items aside, what goes into your house should ultimately be your decision.
Be wary of the builder who has a ready answer for "how much are your homes per square foot"? Whatever the number is, there's no way it can be based on the vision you have in your mind. How can it be?
Look for a builder who is committed to your needs and wants and to staying within your budget.
Stock plans and generic lists of included features usually don't cut it for families who want to make sure they're maximizing their budget.
Ask about various financing options, and don't forget everyone's financial situation is going to look different. Can your prospective builder help you work through various options? What about helping with financing challenges? How willing does he or she seem to be to listen and help you come up with creative financing solutions?
There's so much more that goes into the value of a house than the price per square foot. You are much, much more than a commodity, and so is your dream home.
You can find more articles on what actually goes into the cost to build a house here.
For more on the process of crafting that perfect house plan for you and your family, download our free guide, 3 Steps to the Perfect Floor Plan:
A home builder for 18 years, Tim is the "son" in Turner & Son Homes. He is the CEO of the company and partners with his dad, Ben, who has been building since 1964.
The current home on our property has been in existence for over 80 years. We love our property, and made our decision to build our new house there. Turner and Son was the first company we considered and we didn't have to look any further.
The Wells family
March 9, 2016