Cost To Build FAQ

How long does it take to get a Houseplans Cost-to-Build™ Report?

Your Cost-to-Build™ Report will be emailed within 1 business day of speaking with an expert plan advisor.

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Where does the home construction cost data used in these reports come from?

The construction cost data used in Houseplans Cost-to-Build Reports is compiled from real world market information supplied by industry professionals with resulting data currently produced for over 430 geographic and economic markets throughout the USA and Canada. Construction cost estimating industry leader Xactware compiles and provides this data using a team of construction analysts with over 175 years of combined experience in the construction industry. Additional information regarding the calculated construction costs is listed below:

Calculated costs include factors for all materials, labor, and equipment needed to construct the home according to national building codes plus any known adjustments required for seismic, wind, frost and snow-load conditions. Cost for permit fees, general contractor overhead and profit, and any applicable sales tax for your area are also factored into the total.

Costs are reflective of building the home on a relatively flat or gently sloping lot. Additional costs will need to be added to account for lots which slope greater than 15 degrees.

Certain assumptions are made of the quality and quantity of specific building materials found to be common for the type, style and size of the plan chosen. Custom additions or changes may not be reflected in this value if they fall outside of the standard practices for this type of construction.

Costs are based upon finishes and features outlined in the plan you have chosen, and the actual building of the home may increase or decrease these costs. We recommend a contingency amount of 10-15% be added to address these possibilities.

Our numbers are not based on national averages, and our reports are not "canned". Each estimate is made to order for the house plan, construction quality and postal code you choose.

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What items are included in a Cost-to-Build Report?

The construction materials, labor and overhead data in our reports are very comprehensive and include the items below. It's important to understand the quality of construction you choose can make the resultant report vary significantly. Be sure to check out the assumptions we make for the level of quality you choose when preparing your report.

Foundations: Concrete that is used for the footings, foundation walls, basement floor slab (if required), garage floor slab, as well as any concrete columns that may be required for post/pier foundations types.

Heating/AC: Includes furnace, central air conditioning unit, and all metal ductwork needed to provide hot and cold air for the entire home. The number of furnaces and air conditioning units is determined by the total square footage of the home.

Rough Framing: Wood framing used to build the structure of the home. This includes all walls, floor joists, and roof trusses. It also includes any plywood sheeting used on the top of roof trusses and floor joists, as well as outside of the exterior walls. Also includes any insulation in the walls and ceiling.

Floor Covering: Includes any material used to cover any floor in the home. It also includes any needed sub-flooring material and carpet pads. A standard ratio of 80% carpet and 20% Vinyl Tile, unless the plan indicates some other material, such as stone or hardwood flooring should be used.

Exterior Finish: The finish material that is added to the outside of the exterior walls of the home. This can include any combination of brick, stone, stucco or siding.

Appliances: The electrical appliances typically supplied by the builder when a home is built. This usually includes a range, dishwasher and garbage disposal. If additional appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, and trash compactors are chosen in the system, these will be included as well. (They are not usually selected.)

Windows: Windows for the home, including any specialty, accent or transom windows, as well as mirrors that are normally installed in the bathrooms. The material for the window frame varies depending on the size and quality of the home, from aluminum to high-grade wood horizontal sliding windows. Currently, the system does not use high energy, or insulation windows in the calculations.

Interior Finish: Anything that covers the wooden structure of the walls and ceilings, and brings the interior of the home to a finished state. This includes all sheetrock, drywall finishes and paint. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets are also included in this section. 100% paint finish is selected for all walls and ceilings.

Roofing: The material that is installed on top of the plywood sheeting above the roof trusses. This is usually some form of shingles, but could be metal panels, copper and gravel style roofs.

Electrical: All electrical options for the home. This includes rough wiring that is installed prior to any finish, all outlet and lighting fixtures and the main connections from the available power source to the home.

Plumbing: All plumbing options for the home. This includes all rough plumbing installed prior to any finish, plumbing fixtures for the bathroom, kitchen, and utility rooms, a water heater typical for the home, and the main connection of the water and sewer lines.

Special Features: These options are selected by default depending on the size and quality of the home. They include the following: Water Softener, Central Vacuum System, Fire and/or Burglar Alarms Systems, Intercom Systems, Programmable Lighting, Home Management Systems, Fire Sprinkler Systems and Solar Panels, swimming pools, hot tubs, fountains, and home theater systems that would be included in this category.

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What items are not included in a Cost-to-Build Report?

Houseplans Cost-to-Build Reports do not include:

  • Site preparation of any kind
  • Removal of existing structures
  • Purchase of the lot
  • Preparation of the lot
  • Flatwork (like driveways
  • Detached garages or other structures
  • Landscaping
  • Modifications/customizations to the house plan
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What is included in "Other Fees and Taxes"?

This estimated cost breakdown includes Permit fees, Overhead and Profit, and other misc. fees.

Permit cost is an amount added to Cost-to-Build's total estimate to cover building permits typically assessed by local governments for residential construction. A flat fee of $500 is added by default. Permit costs can be lower or higher than this depending on your local government's assessment.

Fees are added to cover the cost of any work associated with local home design compliance and structural engineering. We add 3% to the total estimate for this. These fees can be lower or higher than this depending on the specific issue.

Overhead expenses are those costs incurred by the builder or general contractor to operate their business, but are not attributable to any one specific job. We add 10% to cover contractor overhead. Overhead costs can vary significantly from contractor to contractor. Some examples of overhead costs are general and administrative expenses, office rent, utilities, office supplies, salaries for office personnel, depreciation on office equipment, licenses, and advertising.

Profit is formally defined as the excess of the selling price of goods over cost. Profit is typically added to the cost of a construction-related job to allow the home builder performing the work to grow their company through reinvestment. We add 10% to cover contractor profit. Profit can vary significantly from contractor to contractor.

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Home Quality Definitions

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Foundation

Item Economy Standard Above Average Premium
Foundation Shape Rectangle or L-shape. Rectangle or L-shape with one or two offsets and/or cantilevers. Mostly L- or T-shape with several offsets or cantilevers. Irregular more often than not. Multiple offsets and angled sections with cantilevered areas such as bay or bow windows.
Offsets None. One or two offsets and/or cantilevers. Several offsets or cantilevers. Multiple offsets and angled sections with cantilevered areas such as bay or bow windows.
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Roof

Item Economy Standard Above Average Premium
Type Straight gable. Gable or hip with one or two overbuilds. Gable or hip, with several overbuilds and/or dormers. Gable, hip, or combination. Multiple overbuilds to accommodate shape of the home, with several dormers as well.
Style Manufactured roof trusses or conventional stick frame. Manufactured roof trusses or conventional stick frame. Manufactured roof trusses or conventional stick frame. Conventional stick framing (due to the complexity of shape).
Slope Less than 6/12. Less than 6/12. 6/12 to 8/12. Often 8/12 or higher.
Material Asphalt composition or asphalt shingle. Asphalt composition to lower-end architectural composition or asphalt shingle. High-end architectural composition shingle to metal and/or concrete tile. Highest quality roof covering. Metal, slate, or clay tile not uncommon.
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Exterior Walls

Item Economy Standard Above Average Premium
Siding Vinyl or aluminum to Masonite. Medium-grade vinyl or aluminum siding to Masonite or natural wood (based on climate). Depends on style of home (cape cod vs. colonial vs. contemporary): high-grade vinyl or aluminum siding or Masonite or natural wood. Depends on style of home (cape cod vs. colonial vs. contemporary): any siding is highest quality of vinyl, aluminum, Masonite, or natural wood.
Veneer Small amount of brick veneer (like wainscot). Often masonry veneer on a portion of home. Possible masonry veneer or stucco finish on entire home. Often masonry veneer or stucco finish on entire home.
Decoration None usually. None usually. Columns, pediments, or ornate handrail on porch. Quoins, keystones, columns, pediments, or ornate handrails on porch standard.
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Interior Walls

Item Economy Standard Above Average Premium
Material Plaster on wood lath or gypsum drywall . Plaster on wood lath or gypsum drywall. Plaster on wood lath or gypsum drywall. Plaster on wood lath or gypsum drywall.
Coverings Paint or inexpensive wallpaper or sheet paneling. Paint with wallpaper in the bathroom/kitchen. Possible higher-grade sheet or natural-wood paneling. Paint with high-end wallpaper in bathrooms/kitchen. Wallpaper borders and natural wood paneling common in some rooms. Paint with high-end wallpaper in bathrooms/kitchens. Wallpaper borders as accents is normal. Natural hardwood "judges" type paneling common in some rooms.
Molding Minimal moldings. Painted or stained, chair railing or crown molding in one or two rooms. Painted or stained (which can be slightly oversized), chair railing or crown molding in several rooms. Usually oversized, painted or stained with highest-quality multi-coat. Multi-piece chair rail, crown molding, and baseboards common.
Extras None/minimal None/minimal Some built-in bookcases, wet-bars, etc. in rooms other than kitchens and bathrooms. Columns, built-in bookcases, wet-bars, or other cabinetry in rooms other than kitchens and bathrooms. Curved or ornate staircases. Door/window casings are fluted or reeded with use of rosettes and plinth blocking.
Doors Hollow-core legacy-style Masonite or lauan. Hollow core colonist style Masonite. Hollow-core colonist style Masonite to stained birch door. Typically solid 6 or 8 panel.
Ceilings Standard 8' ceilings. Vaulted ceilings in some areas. Vaulted or trey ceilings common with possibility of exposed structural or decorative wood beams. Vaulted or trey ceilings common as well as 9-12' ceilings throughout with possibility of exposed structural or decorative wood beams (depending on style).
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Cabinets/Fixtures

Item Economy Standard Above Average Premium
Cabinets Solid pine or other soft wood to pre-fab modular box style from particle board with "photo finish" veneer. Solid pine or other soft wood to pre-fab modular box style from particle board boxes with hardwood frames and door fronts. Solid pine or other soft wood to pre-fab modular box style from particle board boxes with hardwood frames and door fronts. Solid hardwood to pre-fab modular box style made from solid hardwood and hardwood veneers.
Cabinet Door Fronts Standard. Could have flat recessed panel style. Often raised panel door and could be cathedral style or have glass panes. Raised panel doors, could be cathedral style or have leaded or beveled glass.
Countertops Flat-laid or post-formed laminate style. Flat-laid or post-formed laminate style, possible hardwood edging installed. High grade, flat-laid or post-formed laminate style top with hardwood edging installed. Solid surface material or ceramic tile common. Highest quality solid-surface material with decorative edging, or solid natural marble or granite.
Bathroom Vanities N/A N/A Bathroom vanity tops cultured marble with integrated sink bowl. Bathroom vanity tops can be cultured or natural marble with an integrated sink bowl.
Bathtubs Bathtubs are cast iron with ceramic tile surround or one-piece fiberglass tub and surround. Bathtubs are cast iron with ceramic tile surround or one-piece fiberglass tub and surround. Often cast iron with ceramic tile or cultured marble surround, possibly a jetted tub and/or separate shower unit. Often have glass doors installed. Usually cast iron with a cultured or natural marble tile surround. Jetted and/or oversized "garden" type tubs, as well as large walk-in shower areas surrounded by cultured or natural marble common. All bathtubs and showers have high quality glass door installed.
Faucets Faucets are inexpensive chrome-plated style. Faucets are medium grade chrome plated or polished brass style. Faucets typically a higher-end chrome-plated or polished-brass style with decorative handles. Faucets are highest quality chrome, polished brass, or even gold plated and commonly have decorative handles.
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Flooring

Item Economy Standard Above Average Premium
Floors Low end "economy" or "builders grade" carpet and sheet vinyl. Varied (based on decor), limited to medium-grade carpet and sheet vinyl with ceramic tile, hardwood, or laminate flooring in limited areas. Varied (based on decor) usually a mixture of high-quality carpet and sheet vinyl with some ceramic tile, hardwood, and/or laminate style flooring. Varied (based on decor) but will usually be a mixture of very high end carpet (i.e., wool), ceramic tile, imported marble or slate, and select hardwood.
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Have a Question?

You can also give us a call at 1-800-913-2350 (6am - 6pm) M-F to ask us your question(s).

Thank you for your inquiry. We will try to respond to your question within 24 hours and often respond within minutes, even after hours.