Saturday, September 12, 2009

How to Triple the Cost of Building A House

3 Residents, 4 bathrooms: "We've Only Asked for the Barest Necessities."


Many people come to architects seeking assistance in renovating a house -- either one they've found or one they're already living in.

On more occasions than I can recall, I've had nearly the exact same conversation with a client as the one here in these scenes from the Cary Grant movie, "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (1948), co-starring Myrna Loy (as Grant's wife.) The movie is as timeless and as accurate now as ever.

One of my all-time favorite scenes from the movie:


Notice, the architect's first recommended design was in line with the client's budget. Failing to take the recommendations of your architect (or attorney) is a path to financial cost overruns. Is it any wonder our nation is now in the middle of this financial housing disaster? You can lead a horse to water..

The people who can LEAST afford to waste money building a house are the ones who would benefit the MOST from working with an experienced Architect.  It's a lie that working with an architect will cost you more money than if one depends (solely) on a builder.  The Architect's Fees are often not more than 4-8% of the entire development cost for new home construction.  More often than not, experienced architects provide a path to a better designed, more efficient, safer structure than what average developers & builders offer the public.  Better designs mean higher resale value.  Architect designed homes hold & appreciate in value more than Builder /Developer led properties.

Because an architect's clients have an advocate working for them, they are less likely to pay $600 for a $150 window.  If there are 30+ windows in an average size house, that could represent $4k-$15K in savings on one line item alone.  Considering that is but one way my clients save money building a house, it is easy to see how hiring an architect not only pays for itself, but can save you tens of thousands of dollars when building a new house.

And if you think it's better to go it alone without an architect's help when building, ask yourself how CNN Hero Liz McCartney's St Bernard Project is able to rebuild homes in New Orleans damaged by Katrina for $15K (w/ donated labor), but a contractor charges you $100-300K to do the same project on the open market.

With all the talk about green and eco-friendly retrofitting, haven't you ever wondered why the structures weren't better built in the first place? Developers and some builders build for obsolescence.  Like the Detroit auto-building industry the last 35 years, the goal was manufacturing obsolesence so it would create a large repair/ maintenance sub-industry.  American auto dealers make more on maintaining oil-based cars than electric cars.  The same is true of the home building industry over the last 35 years. Build it cheaply, so home owners have to call the Builder or contractor back for repairs, replacements.  Instead of buying a quality $300 faucet that lasts 20-35+ years, people buy the cheap $60 faucet, get charged $200-250 by a plumber to install it every 5-7 years. Which method is really cheaper?

Building "green" or sustainably is not expensive-- it's a choice and priority.  We already know some the benefits that building green provides:  saves operational & maintenance costs, reduces your utility bills (in some cases to zero), reduces heat-island effect (lowers temperature) in urban areas, reduces toxic run-off into our waterways, sewers, cuts down on green house emissions, carbon etc.

The homes we designed, generally don't need to be retrofitted for better insualtion in order to save money, or to be more eco-friendly.  They were designed properly the first time. Therein lies the difference between buying a builder's cookie-cutter house versus a home designed by an Architect.  

What are you doing to prepare for building or remodeling your next project?  If you don't know where to start, consider contacting a licensed Architect for help on how to get started.  Architects do much more than just provide permit plans.  We design safer structures, save you money, can help you build green, can help you stay on budget --to name just a few things.  Feel free to contact us if you need help with your project.  We are here to help you realize the home you deserve.

Copyright ©2009 - All rights reserved.

Posted via web from ShantyWorld

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