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The Architecture Thread

sugarbutch

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Labor cost certainly drives construction prices in San Francisco
 

venessian

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Yours is indeed a very broad question, too broad to answer with any useful specificity, but: excluding land costs the low end of construction costs for a single-family standard FFE (tract-level Furniture/Fixtures/Equipment) nationally (so not a very useful number) in the USA was approximately $120/sf in 2020. The attached link, while far too average to be locally useful, does at least indicate a useful breakdown of all the contributing categories. Call that average more like $100-$175/sf depending, just to start.

That number is then incredibly affected by location (zip code), site accessibility, project size, contractor/labor availability, materials prices, soils conditions, etc. Any "added features" will balloon costs very quickly, on-site project revisions as well. Timing is also a huge variable: for instance the sf cost in Texas and the Frozen South last month was certainly not at all what it will be (much higher) in the coming months.

The most accurate method by far will be to check with at least several local contractors/architects/builders first...then to much lesser degree online for "residential building costs per square foot in [12345 zip code]", RSMeans Construction Data, and other similar resources.
 

Nbarbar

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Yours is indeed a very broad question, too broad to answer with any useful specificity, but: excluding land costs the low end of construction costs for a single-family standard FFE (tract-level Furniture/Fixtures/Equipment) nationally (so not a very useful number) in the USA was approximately $120/sf in 2020. The attached link, while far too average to be locally useful, does at least indicate a useful breakdown of all the contributing categories. Call that average more like $100-$175/sf depending, just to start.

That number is then incredibly affected by location (zip code), site accessibility, project size, contractor/labor availability, materials prices, soils conditions, etc. Any "added features" will balloon costs very quickly, on-site project revisions as well. Timing is also a huge variable: for instance the sf cost in Texas and the Frozen South last month was certainly not at all what it will be (much higher) in the coming months.

The most accurate method by far will be to check with at least several local contractors/architects/builders first...then to much lesser degree online for "residential building costs per square foot in [12345 zip code]", RSMeans Construction Data, and other similar resources.
If cost is driving the planning process have a look at https://www.marmol-radziner.com/category/architecture/prefab/ I think its an interesting alternative to hiring a practice with a good outcome. I've been in the Desert House and it was impressive.
 

venessian

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If cost is driving the planning process have a look at https://www.marmol-radziner.com/category/architecture/prefab/ I think its an interesting alternative to hiring a practice with a good outcome. I've been in the Desert House and it was impressive.
MR are excellent architects (and acquaintances as well). Their work is indeed impressive, very coherent, extremely well-developed, and they have a long and legitimate track record. But I highly doubt their work is near the cost tier the OP mentioned; it is not exactly "lower-end" in terms of budget.

In general, ironically, prefab has rarely resulted in the overall reduced costs that are so often envisioned/purported/promised, and certainly not on sites that MR, Michelle Kaufmann, et al typically build on. One issue among many others is that often local contractors are not authorized by prefab builders/designers to erect the structures, since many of the systems are of course partially factory-pre-installed by the companies' own M/E/P etc fabricators...so pricing reductions via different (non-affiliated) contractors is typically not an option.

That said your suggestion to the OP is definitely a very valid option for them to research: if there are nearby pre-fab builders, then on more normal sites, with much more standard FFE than MR etc clients desire, lower-cost prefab shells are certainly a type to investigate. A friend built very cost-effective single-family housing using quonset huts/silo structures, dirt-cheap stuff, and the result is beautiful imo...but then again certainly not most people's cup of tea.
 
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brokencycle

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MR are excellent architects (and acquaintances as well). Their work is indeed impressive, very coherent, extremely well-developed, and they have a long and legitimate track record. But I highly doubt their work is near the cost tier the OP mentioned; it is not exactly "lower-end" in terms of budget.

In general, ironically, prefab has rarely resulted in the overall reduced costs that are so often envisioned/purported/promised, and certainly not on sites that MR, Michelle Kaufmann, et al typically build on. One issue among many others is that often local contractors are not authorized by prefab builders/designers to erect the structures, since many of the systems are of course partially factory-pre-installed by the companies' own M/E/P etc fabricators...so pricing reductions via different (non-affiliated) contractors is typically not an option.

That said your suggestion to the OP is definitely a very valid option for them to research: if there are nearby pre-fab builders, then on more normal sites, with much more standard FFE than MR etc clients desire, lower-cost prefab shells are certainly a type to investigate. A friend built very cost-effective single-family housing using quonset huts/silo structures, dirt-cheap stuff, and the result is beautiful imo...but then again certainly not most people's cup of tea.
I like the idea of prefabs after seeing some on Grand Designs like the Huf House. When I look around online though, it does seem you're right that they don't save money. I read that in the US there are a lot of regulations that prevent having a 100% done house that just needs to be assembled (inspectors need to inspect the plumbing, electrical, etc). Some of the prefabs I have seen that post budgetary pricing are often far and away above what it costs to hire people.

One of my neighbors is actually in the process of doing a prefab now, so I'll be curious how it comes out pricing wise.
 

Rumpelstiltskin

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Is anyone in this thread an actual architect?
 

jeradjames

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Roommate/best friend who I live with is an Architect at a residential firm in Seattle and said average is about $300 per sq ft being conservative (new construction). My girlfriend's parents are building a home in Montana and their architect said they would be lucky to get away with $300 right now. Definitely higher priced areas though so interpret that as you like.
 

Nbarbar

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Here in Sydney you are looking at 6-10 K AUD per sqm. This is high level etc but you don’t save a lot underspec’ing finishes.
For reference the builders on a recent project were on $700 AUD a day cash per person. This is labour only and ex materials. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
 

venessian

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Here in Sydney you are looking at 6-10 K AUD per sqm. This is high level etc but you don’t save a lot underspec’ing finishes.
For reference the builders on a recent project were on $700 AUD a day cash per person. This is labour only and ex materials. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
There in Sydney you also have Glenn Murcutt, one of the greatest modern architects ever. So very fortunate, Sydney. 👍
 

Nbarbar

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There in Sydney you also have Glenn Murcutt, one of the greatest modern architects ever. So very fortunate, Sydney. 👍
Yes, he is one of the greats. You might enjoy some of his students work, Peter Stuchbury is worth a look for example.
 

bdavro23

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We are in the planning process for building a house in a midsized, midwestern city. We own an infill lot in a desirable neighborhood and have been working with an architect we like for over a year, but first met him about 4 years ago when we bought the lot. The house is mid-century inspired, with simple details but not industrial. We intended on using ICF for our build, which is a 1800 sq ft (each floor) ranch over a full walkout basement.

We have struggled, like many people, to find contractors qualified to do the work largely because of the ICF. Additionally, the price increases over the last year have been insane. We recently got a fairly detailed building estimate this week for $750,000, which is great except for the fact that our budget is $500,000...

The ICF blocks we were going to use raised their prices 20% on April 1st, and other materials seem to be going the same way, on top of the increases we saw during the shutdowns. Our architect and builder are convinced the price increases at this point are unrelated to anything other than driving profits, since production is largely back at full capacity. Whether those prices are sustainable or not seems moot since the wont be returning to pre-pandemic numbers irrespective of the market cooling off some. This process has been legitimately crazy and I honestly dont know how this is going to end.
 

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