Cost estimating: Ask the Architect

"Hi, I am having a very hard time cost estimating.

My father in law will be our GC, he and my husband will be doing most of the work themselves. We plan to hire out the outside frame and the roof (to save on time as time is a big factor), septic and well. Our electrician friend will do electrical and only charge material. My father in law will do all pluming.

How can I do a cost estimate with so many different factors? The home will be built in NH and is 2140 sq ft, pretty basic, six corners.

Also, should I hire an architect to do the cost estimation; they tend to be right on, don't they? If I did that I should only go over if I do any upgrades?

What is an average cost to hire an architect to approve your plan and do the cost estimating?

Thank you,


The best way to estimate your costs is to ask for estimates from the individual subcontractors who are building your house. Unfortunately, when you hire friends and family, it's often hard to ask them for estimates before they start work. It's even harder to enforce those estimates after the work is started.

I wouldn't recommend hiring an architect to estimate your costs unless you find one who specializes in estimating.

Carl Heldmann has assembled some excellent material about estimating your own building costs on Cost to Build a House, on his website

Good luck with your project,
David Moore, AIA
Original Home Plans

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