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How your choices affect the cost of your new home.

While a 2,000 square foot home selling for $350,000 works out to $175 per square foot, all square feet do not cost the same. For example, square feet in the kitchen are much pricier than square feet in bedrooms. Some of that difference is due to the presence of added products such as cabinetry, countertops, and appliances in the kitchen. And some of that difference can be attributed to your choices.

The Minter (#29305) plan has a kitchen measuring 11' x 19'. A basic appliance package (microwave over the range, refrigerator, dishwasher) in stainless steel finish prices out at about $3,000 (retail). But stepping up to a top of the line refrigerator, ultra-quiet dishwasher, microwave with convention cooking, and a serious 6-burner gas range puts the appliance package at $18,000!

Kitchen cabinetry. The size and number of cabinets, style, materials used/wood species, finish, construction features such as dovetail joints, and hardware such as full extension drawers and soft-close hinges all impact cost. Cabinetry in this kitchen would start at about $5,000, with custom cabinets more likely coming in around $12,000 or more.

Minter - #29305

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Countertops. Laminate countertops for this kitchen would start at about $1,200, while solid-surface, granite, or quartz countertops might come in around $2,500 - $3,500 or more. Adding the appliances, cabinetry, and countertops, a budget approach to the Minter’s kitchen totals $9,200; the high-end choices are closer to $33,000. That approximately $24,000 difference works out to more than $12 per square foot in the overall price of the home.

Cedar Pointe - #42389

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Bathrooms. As originally designed, the Cedar Pointe (#42389) plan has a 3' x 5' shower, private toilet area, and 3' linen closet in the rear suite. If you want a bathtub, that same bathroom space can be reconfigured to also have a 5' tub. Is that going to be a $500 or $3,500 tub? By the time you’ve paid for the additional plumbing, faucet, and the 4' x 4' window, you may have added $5,000 to the cost of the home.

Then there’s the same cabinetry and countertop cost drivers illustrated in the kitchen example. Even your bathroom mirror(s) can vary in price by $1,000 or more.

Flooring choices are another area that can affect your new home’s cost significantly, and there’s wide variability in costs even within the same product. Carpeting costs vary by the fiber, style, density, and padding. Hardwood varies due to thickness, wood species, size of the planks, and finish. Tile cost differences show up in ceramic vs. porcelain, tile size, and finish. LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) and LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) have come on strong in recent years due to the combination of durability, looks, and easy care. Several builders offer buyers the choice of LVT/LVP or wood flooring at the same price.

Some choices are more obvious than others. Few amenities can match the ambiance of a fireplace, but to keep price down, dashed lines in the family room of the Womack Springs (#29389) plan show the suggested location of an optional fireplace. Heatilator offers a variety of great looking fireplaces, with electric units starting around $850 and natural gas models running about $1,800 - $6,000+; that’s without installation costs.

Womack Springs - #29389

Or consider lighting. We’ve had clients come to us to design their one-of-a-kind home and they’ve already picked out one-of-a-kind light fixtures. Stunning – both in their looks and price tag. On the flip side, hidden in plain sight, Design Basics’ popular Hepburn (#42065) plan has sixteen 32"-wide interior passage doors, a size that is truly appreciated when moving furniture! Arched, 2-panel, hollow-core molded interior doors cost around $100 each, while their hefty, sound-deadening, solid wood door counterparts are likely going to run you $200+ each. A difference of $1,600 for the Hepburn – with similar looks.

Schulte closet system

Photo courtesy of Organized Living
(Click on image to enlarge.)

Storage and organization. You may not have been thinking about spending extra money in your closets, but storage and organization are a high priority with many home buyers. The standard closet shelving offered by your builder may be perfectly adequate. But a well-designed closet system with just the right amount of double hanging, long hanging, cubbies, shelves, and drawers that are easily reconfigured as needs change can be a beautiful thing that eliminates stress. Yes, there’s a price tag. It usually comes down to priorities. If you had to choose between a dream closet and, say, a heated tile floor in your bathroom, which would you choose?

Big and small, your choices of products in the home can add up to significant added costs or significant savings. Another example of why it can be misleading to compare new home prices on the basis of cost per square foot.

Next time we look at the cost of some popular energy efficient and green building choices.

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Cover image courtesy of iLumigreen.

(Product spotlights are for informational purposes only.)

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