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Old 07-25-2009, 09:12 AM   #1
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Cost to build house "shell"


I'm trying to determine a rough estimate on what it would cost to build. I would do the majority of the finish work myself, but would want the "shell" (foundation, walls, sheathing, rough electric and plumbing) done by the pros. Any ideas as to how much I would save? I've read up to 50% or more, but didn't know if that was true.

We would want to go very modern in the look of the home. Nothing too large. 2000 sq ft with 3 beds and 2 baths, and an unfinished basement.

Ideas?

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Old 07-25-2009, 09:25 AM   #2
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Cost to build house "shell"


The only way to get accurate costs is to put it out to bid. There are a lot of variables that go into figuring the cost to construct a structure. I highly recommend you hire a GC or architect to assist you in managing the project. I doubt you will save anywhere near 50% doing only the finish work. Most likely unless you have considerable experience any cost savings will be negated by a longer time to complete the build and by having to learn on the fly how to be a GC.

If you are going to attempt this make sure you you read up on all the processes (whether you intend to physically do them or not) and on the management side of construction. You can find several resources online, the library, and most home centers.

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Old 07-25-2009, 09:32 AM   #3
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Cost to build house "shell"


anything you can DIY will save you $$$, fer sure. but you're in the same spot i was/am and it's a good one! to save BIG $$$ on windows, (since you can frame any size you want to) call around to builder's supplies businesses and ask if they have mis-measured windows 'out back' that they might like to get rid of. i've gotten almost all my windows this way at a fraction of the original cost. monday i go to get the last 2 windows, 2 matching NEW 52"x45" double hung, low-e, nailing fins and built-in J-channel for $75.00 each. my 6'x6' picture windows were $100.00 each. i also get my roofing shingles the same way. you'd be surprised how much you can save if you simply get on the phone and ask the right people the right questions. my last roofing job, i paid 2 bucks a bundle for new, though 'discontinued', shingles. the manager was happy to get them out of his shed, and still had 20 or so bundles when i left. (probably still there too) my new vinyl siding i paid $40.00 a square for. go to auctions! BIG savings on supplies to be found there! with the help of the friendly folks here, there's a lot of the things you want 'pros' to do you can DIY for more savings.

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Old 07-25-2009, 12:44 PM   #4
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Cost to build house "shell"


DM,
I did not mean to imply you can not save money by DIYing the construction of your house. You are not going to save 50% or more by doing only finish work. Planning, permits, excavation, concrete, backfill, final grade, seed or sod, septic, and well drilling are substantial costs to building a structure. Then when you add in framing, electric, and plumbing you are well over 50% of the build. Then if you figure your acting as GC means you take full resposibility for warranty work (most states require builders must warranty the house for 1 year). Your supplying materials so good luck getting subs to comeback to repair, say, that water line that busted. You supplied it it's your problem now. Most homeowners that build their own do so with a construction loan. Any savings in labor can quickly be lost to the high interest loan if the job is delayed. You should not encourage people to go blindly into building anything until the have educated themselves fully and even then it may not be the best idea.

Example:

I have a friend who is a very experienced contractor. Decided to build his own house and GC it himself. The house should have taken 6 months to construct. Ended up taking 2 years. Reason: He was emotionally attatched and needed everything to be perfect. He also had to work while building it and was not able to stay on top of everything as a result. The house went way overbudget (construction loan). Though he had successfully completed many homes for other people he could not do so on his own home. As I said he is very experienced and a proffesional. I'm not saying it can't be done (I've seen it succesfully done also) but you need to be educated as to the ins and outs. It doesn't hurt to have someone else who can handle things on your behalf when you can't be there either.
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Old 07-25-2009, 12:50 PM   #5
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Cost to build house "shell"


no problem here, we just were both answering at the same time. when i finally finished, yours popped up above mine.
my comments were in no way related to your answer. (which wasn't there yet...lol)

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Old 07-25-2009, 10:04 PM   #6
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Cost to build house "shell"


This thread and the differing opinions in it clearly illustrate the reason that "how much $$$" threads are strongly discouraged here at DIY chatroom.

Good advice by ARI001 in my professional opinion.
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:51 AM   #7
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Cost to build house "shell"


I didn't mean to imply that I wanted a number. I had just heard a savings of 50% by acting as GC. It seemed high, but since I have no experience acting as a GC while I build a house, I figured it might be possible.
I also know that with the amount of land and style of house we want, there is no way we could afford 350k-400k that it would cost to have someone else do the work. If we could cut 100k it makes it a possibility.
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:38 AM   #8
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Cost to build house "shell"


my engineer/architect charged $1,600 to draw up the plans for my home and put his stamp on them.
ALL of my NEW windows together cost half that much. ($845.00 COUNTING the 2 i paid full price for)
My point was simply the more you do yourself that you CAN do yourself will save money.
My total savings building this home myself has been around 80%, so yes, it can be done.
But not all people can give up a business and devote their full focus on building a home.
some things you cannot get bargains on, permits, plans, inspections, etc. but of course, all are necessary.

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Old 07-26-2009, 10:47 AM   #9
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Cost to build house "shell"


Yes, you can DIY, but there isn't any way anyone can give you an estimate
Like DM I also purchased windows & then designed my layout around them
I have done all my own design work - 3 different computer programs
I took tghe plans to a local lumber company & they sized the beams & then sent them out for an engineer stamp
I am finding out that I am lucky in that other areas do not have this ability
I had the foundation dug & poured
All the rest I have done - rought framing - roof going on
I started Oct 4th, lousy rainy Spring has slowed me down

I'm the opposite, I'd rather do the framing & leave finish work up to someone else
I did get estimates for a GC/framers to frame the shell
Without a roof the labor was going to be around $45k
They also wanted another $3k for plans to be drawn up - despite that I had plans. They wanted definitive plans - architect

I am lucky in that I am a stay at home Dad right now
Otherwise this would be taking much longer

Get some local estimates with & without the finish work you want to do
That is the only way to get a feel for what you will save in your area

Last edited by Scuba_Dave; 07-26-2009 at 02:13 PM. Reason: sp
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Old 07-26-2009, 01:50 PM   #10
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Cost to build house "shell"


Some very good points made already, especially ARI.

I wouldn't reccomend anyone DIY'ing a new home build with the main objective of saving large amounts of money.
If your objective was pride, total control, love of learning & accomplishment, etc.., you'll find yourself far more successful.

New construction is VERY efficient & competitive. Saving 100K by DIY'ing the remainder of work (not on your list) seems like an aggressive plan, especially if you'll only be GC'ing.

Generally in my area, GC's charge between 6-15% on new homes, with many quality carpenter/GC's in the 8% range.

The easiest way to cut the costs of a new home out is very simply, cut the bank/mortgage out of the equation. Obviously, this is easier said than done.
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Old 07-26-2009, 06:37 PM   #11
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Cost to build house "shell"


IMHO you could save about 50% if you did EVERYTHING yourself. That would include digging yourself(with a rented hi-hoe) and doing your own form work. It's all do able, it's just a matter of time and lack of help in most cases. (That seems to be the case if you do anything by yourself though.) I know people around here hire mennonites for $9 an hour to build barns and do roofs and other reno work. It makes not doing the work yourself alot more affordable and they know what their doing. They'll get it done just as fast as the contractors too.
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Old 07-26-2009, 06:55 PM   #12
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Cost to build house "shell"


It would be interesting to see an actual number from someone who's done it, and how the whole project went.

Personally this is something I would love to do, if I had the time. The issue is time, really. But say I had millions of dollars and did not need to work, I would probably take on such a project. I'd get some contractors to show me some of the stuff, I'd pay them for their time and help, then I'd do the rest myself. Great learning opportunity. It would take LONG though, like probably a year, if more, to get a house done. I recently bought a house and it's been over a month and it's not even ready for me to move in yet. I've got lot of help too.

Stuff like foundation, outside walls and roof I'd probably leave to the experts, but lot of the inside stuff is probably rather easy if you have the time. Heck, one could probably even make a living off that. You sell the house after and make quite a nice profit.
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Old 07-26-2009, 07:13 PM   #13
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Cost to build house "shell"


Well I have saved (so far) about $48k in labor costs on one project
So far materials have cost me around $30k including all windows, foundation & the roof materials
I need the garage floor poured & a new driveway
Then finish out the new Great room
Insulation & electric I will do - not that much $$
Trim work & outside siding I will do

Sheetrock I may do, but will check & see cost of my doing the sheetrock VS hiring that out w/mudding

50% doing everything yourself depends upon the materials you buy
I ended up with some excellent deals on windows & a set of 5' Anderson doors (fixed) brand new for free

If I had million$$ I'd hire people
I've done enough !!

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