Home Building Costs – How Does an Owner Builder Figure the Cost to Build?

It’s the first thing everyone asks me. How much will it cost to build this home? I can’t argue with the question … it’s a good one. Before you build a home, or before a major remodel or home improvement, you must know what to budget for.
But first, we need to make a distinction. Then we need to determine exactly when we need to know the cost. Finally, this article will encourage the use of a homebuilding coach.
People have grown accustomed to getting bids and quotes on projects that are managed and completed by builders. This is appropriate. But, what if you build as an owner builder? How do you figure the costs when you don’t have the same resources as a builder?
First, we must understand the difference between a builder’s quote and an owner builder’s estimate of the cost to build. Here’s a snapshot of what you get when a builder quotes your project.

  • The quote is provided up front to win the job.
  • The quote is not set in stone.
  • The quote has a significant builder profit margin built in.

Now, we’ll take a look at what happens when an owner builder is figuring costs. There are some subtle but important differences. Understanding these will free you up to proceed with your project.

  • The cost to build is a process that takes weeks to complete.
  • The cost to build never becomes a quote but remains fluid.
  • There is no General Contractor markup as the Owner Builder strives to build equity for himself.

But, again, how does the owner builder figure these costs?
Hire a HomeBuilding Coach First
You pay a coach for the services rendered, not for an entire project. So, investing in a coach to help you figure the potential costs of a proposed project is a wise decision. It can help you decide if, how, and when.
Your coach may advise you to get some quotes from a general contractor. You may also be advised you to seek quotes from kit home and panelized companies. You see, your coach is your advisor and confidante and is there to provide options and support. As an owner builder, you’re in the business of building your home and you need to hire competent help.
Getting quotes and estimates from builders and suppliers will augment other costing procedures. Your coach will lead you through a process of developing or choosing your house plans, making materials choices, and preparing a plan for labor. During this process, you’ll be guided to make decisions as a result of materials and labor costs as you learn them.
Ultimately, once enough information is gathered, you’ll craft a very reasonable estimate of the cost. When done in this manner, changes and compromises are made as you go and your estimates will grow more accurate.
Soon you will learn the viability of your project. If you decide to postpone building until later, you simply severe the ties with your coach. It cost you some time and a little bit of money but you gained a lot of knowledge and avoided a potentially costly mistake.
An Added Benefit
Finally, you achieve an added benefit during this process. You will learn other options. Together with your coach, you can determine if a kit home, stick built home, or another approach will serve you better. You will also analyze and price of different materials options. Working together you’ll develop an approach that will serve you very well.
When building (or doing any major home improvement), it pays to research, learn and hire quality help. The process of pricing out your project will teach you a lot.