Questions on Home Building Cost Estimating

"Carl, Love the book and the web site. We are trying to get a realistic per sq. ft. build cost in Ft. Worth, TX. There are a lot of subs out of work right now, so it is difficult to find accurate numbers. Any ideas?
P.S. I did see the example you have from
San Antonio on the "Cost to Build by State" section. That region does tend to be a bit higher priced so we are still curious if there are some NAHB stats for this region that are current and reflect the housing slump.
Thanks again, Jeremy"
"Is there any place that I can go to see the differences in per square foot construction costs for the state of New Jersey. I know there could be differences depending on the areas and I'm trying to understand these differences.
Thank You, Jim"
"Hi Carl! My newlywed husband and I are looking to buy a plot of land in Southern CA and build our own home. We are looking at something that is about 3,000 square feet and has a custom (our own) design. Is there any way that you can give us an estimate or ball park figure of what we would be looking at? I sincerely appreciate you taking time out to help us. I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Regards, Alicia"
Hi Jeremy, Hi Jim, Hi Alicia,

Take your plans (Jeremy & Jim, you can just pick the 4 cornered shape for now), then look at the shape of the foundation, and then using the “cost to build calculator” on my “Getting Started” page (scroll down to # 5) to determine that “ball park” figure you are looking for.

The shape of the outside perimeter is an important consideration in estimating the total construction cost. Generally, the more complex the shape, the more expensive the structure is per square foot of floor area. The shape classification of multiple story or split-level homes is based on the outline formed by the outer most exterior walls, including the garage area, regardless of the varying level. Most structures have 4, 6, 8 or 10 corners, as illustrated in the example. Small insets not requiring a change in the roof shape can be ignored when determining the shape. Craftsman Book Company

You will be asked some very simple questions like; What is the sq footage of the house is there a basement, is there a garage, number of fireplaces, and so on.

It is very easy to use the calculator…actually, it is fun! It only takes a few minutes to come up with an estimate based on the zip code within any of the 50 states.

Tip: On the page that you have to select quality class, I would use # 6. That says that you are choosing “minimum standard” quality, but I don’t think that matters for this initial exercise.

You can always upgrade, if budget your permits, as you get into the process of actually getting estimates and bids from local subs and suppliers.

Note: a ballpark estimate is all you will get from the calculator.
Until you actually do make your decision to “go forward” to the next step, and get estimates and bids locally, you will not have an accurate estimate of the cost to build your house.

Estimating is the most important job, and the most time consuming, for any General Contractor. There are no shortcuts other than getting this preliminary estimate.

See my page “Cost Estimating Explained” for more details on estimating.
Good luck to all,
Carl Heldmann,