Home Building - Acurrate Cost Estimating

Hi Carl, We used your construction estimator for our 1700 square ft addition and found the labor numbers to be about right.

For our project we hired a skilled carpenter and helper, who would only work by the hour (no contract). I agreed with the understanding that if the labor bill exceeded your estimate they would stop work.

Although the workmanship was top notch, they slowed down near the end and hit your number when the framing was about 95% complete. They were in the way of the roofer and excavator so per our agreement I bid them farewell (fired them) and finished the framing myself.

We are delighted with the outcome and would be happy to E mail pictures if you like.

My comment about the material estimate...because of the floor span we needed I joists and steel. Roof trusses were used but since ours is a hip roof on 4 sides, a considerable amount of stick framing was required before the roof sheathing went on. Also due to the climate on the mountain 2X6 walls were necessary.

The material bill exceeded your estimate by about 20%.Even with this increase we expect the finished cost to hit our target of $100 sq/ft.

It may help others if your calculator included building material choices as an option.

Rick C.

Hi Rick,

The construction estimator, or cost to build calculator, found on my "Getting Started" page, is not mine. It is provided by the most respected name in Building Cost Estimating Services, Craftsman Book Company and is the easiest to use and the best I have seen.

Hip roofs do indeed cost more to frame than say, a gable roof. They also use more lumber and framing materials as well as roofing materials. But, they are, in my opinion, the most striking and beautiful roofs you can build.

Courtesy, Classic Metal Roofing Systems

The additional cost of framing a hip roof is partially considered if you click “Class 1” (Best) for “Exterior Walls” on the “Select the Quality Class for each group” on the calculation page that asks, “What is the quality class of this home?

Class 1 for exterior walls shows: “Complex floor and roof plan, cathedral ceiling.”

Choosing "Class 1 results in higher labor & material costs for the framing & roofing.

Single-family homes vary widely in quality, and quality of construction is a major cost variable.

The construction estimator, or cost to build calculator is for “rough estimating”, or for “approximate” costs to build.

Until you actually start getting bids and entering them into your own spreadsheet (see my spreadsheet page for FREE spreadsheets), it will remain approximate.

However, a major cost variable that can and should always be avoided is, hiring subcontractors by the hour.

You were lucky for two reasons:
1. They got the house 95% complete, and
2. You (yourself)were able to finish it!
Most Owner/builders couldn’t have done that.

I have always said, “NEVER” hire “by the hour”.

I’m sure we all would love to see your pictures, send them on.

Good job, best of luck,

Carl Heldmann