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Budget Estimate

Home Building: Creating a Budget

A budget estimate is a financial plan for your entire Design/Build process. It is the dollar equivalent for all the work it takes to design and build your new home. You are NOT expected to create this document accurately at the outset of your experience so it's best to begin with estimates and refine your financial plan as time goes by.

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The primary purpose of preparing a budget is to understand and control costs. Beginning with the estimates, one is able to guess the total dollar amount OBS

      Newsletter Signup for the style and size of a home on a particular lot. At the very least an Owner should be able to consider if the project is feasible once estimates are made. The total dollar amount can be broken into two categories: hard costs and soft costs. Hard costs include labor and material to build the house. Soft costs include everything else. The budget format provided here outlines products and services which one utilizes during the Design/Build process.

The budget estimate for material and labor is a departure point for considering the scope of Drawings and Specifications. These budgetary considerations BEGIN early in the planning phase of the Design/Build process. Consider the initial study of costs as an exercise in project feasibility. Based on your projection of costs for material and labor, the Owner should be able to weigh and consider the Design/Build options. With estimates prepared, attention can be given to the Budget review process: 1-identify priorities, 2-recognize trade-offs, 3-do cost/benefit analysis, 4-revise cost estimate.

The following percentage estimate of hard costs is a ball park guess. It simply is a beginning point for determining if the amount you have to spend is even close to the house you want to build. One should realize that this is a very VOLATILE estimate. For instance, if you choose the "Sub-Zero" brand refrigerator for your appliance package (and if comparable products are used), then you might as well accept that once you complete your estimate, you will hold the price tag on a very high-end, luxury house. If you purchase the "General Electric" brand refrigerator for your appliance package (and remain with comparable products), then your estimate will result in a medium-priced, custom house. There is a cost range from economy, to modest, to custom, to luxury which CORRELATES with the products and materials you choose to install in your home. Match material/product choices with the price category in which you can afford to build.

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Remember: You're NOT looking to be a "weekend warrior" by doing the work yourself! You're job is to create a preliminary budget estimate by accounting for all the labor and material it takes to complete your home building or remodeling project. The following budget list represents cost categories to which you must assign preliminary dollar amounts for the work to be accomplished.


Download this free, Excel spreadsheet as a preliminary beginning point for your budget estimate BUT REMEMBER THAT YOUR LOCALE AND SITE REQUIRES THAT YOU ADD OR DELETE LINE ITEMS BASED ON YOUR CIRCUMSTANCE. You must go through a budget review process with your architect, designer, trade contractors and suppliers in order to do a thorough cost analysis.

Click to download this free excel spreadsheetDESIGN BUILD BUDGET EXCEL SPREADSHEET

  • Private Septic or Public Sewer
  • Private Well or Public Water
  • Electrical Service from Utility Company
  • Private Fire Sprinkler or Public Hydrant
  • Gas or Oil Service from Utility Company
  • Drawings & Specifications Development
  • Permits & Special Fees from Building Department
  • Site Access and Street Culvert as well as Driveway
  • Excavation/Backfill/Grade
  • Foundation/Structural Slab-on-grade
  • Flat Concrete/Aprons/Patios/Sidewalks
  • Frame Lumber/Trusses/Labor
  • Decks/Porches/Veranda
  • Roofing/Flashing/Ventilation
  • Windows/Skylights/Solar tubes
  • Siding/Exterior Trim
  • Gutters/Downspouts/Storm water
  • Fireplace/Stove/Insert
  • Plumbing and Trim Fixtures
  • Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning
  • Electrical and Trim Fixtures
  • Exterior Doors & Garage Doors
  • Weatherization/Firestuffing/Insulation
  • Drywall/Tape/Texture
  • Paint Interior/Wallcoverings
  • Paint/Stain Exterior
  • Cabinets/Counters
  • Interior Doors/Trim/Hardware
  • Floor Coverings
  • Appliances
  • Bath Accessories
  • Clean-up/Recycle/Landfill
  • Landscaping
  • Contingency
  • Superintendence
  • Profit/Overhead
  • Sales Tax (if applicable)

Getting started on a Budget Estimate can be exasperating with no formal training in the business of residential architecture and construction. However, as you think about your home building or remodeling project, may be some of the information resources will be helpful to you.

Get more info for your project

The purpose of this feature news article is to help you create a budget estimate for your home building or remodeling project. Still another resource provided by Craftsman Books is the "free trial estimator" download. Click on their "Try It/Buy It" button and they let you download any of their cost books and estimating program for a free 30 day trial offer. Also, Sierra Log Homes provides an online estimating tool to help better understand the costs of a log home.



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