A new first step #2

After the post on strawbale houses (A new first step), I sent an email for more details and help on the best way to look at a new build.  I am impressed by the answers that I received:

Thank you for taking the time to complete our Preliminary Checklist. Through it I am happy to learn of your desire to construct an off-grid and fully accessible home.  My apologies for the tardy reply. We were closed for the holidays and it is taking some time to catch up on the deluge of emails awaiting our return.  Below are my responses to your queries.

I can appreciate your desire to begin ballparking your early budget figures. It is always a bit of a chicken and egg situation at this stage where it is difficult to assess  real costs until a concept plan has been completed, yet it is sometimes difficult to prepare a concept plan without knowing if it can conceivably completed within the allowable budget. This is the unfortunate paradox of custom building.  Given that the property (that you will yet purchase) helps define many of the opportunities and limitations that will impact on your final design (including their cost implications, alternative energy implications etc), it is even more difficult to assign even budget figures at this stage without knowing more about the natural lay of the land.

Having said that here are some basic notions regarding costs:

If someone like ourselves were to be hired to provide a turn-key home/cottage, current construction costs for custom homes tend to range from about $145+ to $265 sq/ft. The wide variance in costs relates significantly to your choices of finish materials, heating systems, flooring, roofing and site-specific determinations regarding the ease of installation of waste system, driveway etc.

Encouragingly, whenever we have been bid against conventional custom home builders, we have typically come out in the middle of the pack. Said differently, we regularly are able to provide a greener, more energy efficient and natural option in the way of a straw bale house/cottage at a price similar to standard offerings. Perhaps equally importantly, because we provide full design-build services, we can also collaborate with you to develop a suitable plan that meets your goals while simultaneously providing you with assurance as the builder that it will absolutely meet your budget – no surprises and no hidden extras as sometimes can be the case when a contractor works to a set of plans created independently by others.

We can move from pricing generalities such as the above, to firmer estimates and even fixed quotes based on formal, professional plans. And we have our own in-house designer (who also knows real life construction costs) who can produce such plans or you may opt to have the plans produced by an external designer. Regardless of who prepares them, my ordinary advise is to not expend any significant monies presently on plans as too often it turns out that the “rough plan” developed without a particular property in mind doesn’t end up being optimum, if even at all ideal for the land that is ultimately purchased. Consequently, it is more common for one to use broader and less perfect ballpark figures to assess whether one could afford to build a house of an approximate size on a particular property, when considering placing a bid on the land.

I hope that this provides some direction and assistance. You are certainly welcome to contact me further with additional questions as you continue you research and property search.

Very best of luck in your continued endeavour.

Ben Polley

elegant. efficient. ecological.
Evolve Builders Group Inc
Harvest Homes
Fermata – Works of Earth
P 519.265.6546  F 519.265.6576


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