How to Use a Cost Estimate Spreadsheet

Summary: Whether you build your own new home or have it built, controlling construction costs is the most critical part of construction. A cost estimate spreadsheet gives you that control.


I bought your book, Be Your Own House Contractor, and after reading it I went onto your website and I found where I could download the Cost Estimate Spreadsheet.

Oops, I only have a Mac computer and this software program is for Windows only. So I thought I will build this spreadsheet in Excel.

I got to studying the Cost Estimate Spreadsheet in the book and I don't understand why columns B+C+D should = total of column A.

You don't cover filling out this form in the book. At least if you did, I missed it.


Hi Don,

You didn’t miss a thing, it’s not there. I will attempt to explain B + C + D = A, below.

As for the software for the Cost Estimate Spreadsheet, yes it will only run on a PC.

There is however, a free, already formatted Excel Cost Estimate Spreadsheet available on the same web page (Excel Cost Estimate Spreadsheet).

The Cost Estimate Spreadsheet basically represents your total original estimated cost to build vs. the actual cost to build.

As construction proceeds and the real costs are realized, the Adjusted Cost Estimate Column (A) total may have to be changed. It will have to be changed by whatever the difference is when you add B + C + D.

If you are lucky, the total of column A will decrease as construction proceeds.

More likely, it will increase.

As long as you have sufficient funds in the Misc. category, you can adjust for increased costs in other categories. When the Misc. category hits zero increases in the total of column A start coming out of your pocket…ouch!

I have a web sample that works on a Mac or PC that will give you an idea how my Lender friendly formatted Cost Estimate Spreadsheet looks and works. You can see a web sample of our spreadsheet here.
If you are using FireFox or Safari as your browser, use the Tab key or your cursor to navigate the columns instead of the Enter key.

Play with some numbers on the sample (sorry, you can’t save them on the sample). When you see a “red” number (or minus sign) in the far right column (D) for a category, you have gone over budget for that category and need to adjust column A for that category…and so on, and so on.

And that’s how B + C + D = A, works.
Hope this explanation helps, if not please let me know.

Thanks for buying my book,

Carl Heldmann