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My Mother in Law is having a new house built in rural NE FL. The contractor seems pretty high in his estimate---my husband says it's costing over 100.00 per square foot and that he thinks it's more along the line of a 75.00 per squre foot house. Meaning that it's one story, sort of typical ranch like home--masonite siding, very simple roof, no frills at all. However, she got 2 other estimates that were in the ball park though, however one man later told me he really over bid because he really didn't want the job. My MIL "designed" the house herself and while it's not really pretty, it's just a basic house. He told me he didn't want his name attached to such an odd looking house in that neighborhood (which is more upsacle, full brick homes). So, how to figure what is a fair price? While husband says it's a 100.00 per sf home, contractor is giving her bottom line allowances for carpet and kitchen stuff. Like nothing for any appliacnees, no landscaping, 6400.00 for a full kitchen 2.5 baths and that includes coutnertops. Only 10.00 per square yard for carpet. It just seems sort of on the cheap side for a 250,000 house that he is quoting her. And she has already bought and paid for the lot separately. Any advice on how to figure if it's a fair price or not?
 
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Not enough Information

Unregistered said:
My Mother in Law is having a new house built in rural NE FL. The contractor seems pretty high in his estimate---my husband says it's costing over 100.00 per square foot and that he thinks it's more along the line of a 75.00 per squre foot house. Meaning that it's one story, sort of typical ranch like home--masonite siding, very simple roof, no frills at all. However, she got 2 other estimates that were in the ball park though, however one man later told me he really over bid because he really didn't want the job. My MIL "designed" the house herself and while it's not really pretty, it's just a basic house. He told me he didn't want his name attached to such an odd looking house in that neighborhood (which is more upsacle, full brick homes). So, how to figure what is a fair price? While husband says it's a 100.00 per sf home, contractor is giving her bottom line allowances for carpet and kitchen stuff. Like nothing for any appliacnees, no landscaping, 6400.00 for a full kitchen 2.5 baths and that includes coutnertops. Only 10.00 per square yard for carpet. It just seems sort of on the cheap side for a 250,000 house that he is quoting her. And she has already bought and paid for the lot separately. Any advice on how to figure if it's a fair price or not?
There is really no way of knowing what the costs should be from the description you give.
I find it hard to believe at $100.00 per sq foot a contractor can pay for materials, wages and overhead. Thats a scary thought !!! If it is truly possible, More Power To You.
I suggest you logon at www.building-cost.net/ and use the build calculator.
The information for the project you need to estimate the cost on should be available to you from your Mother in-law.
I advise everyone to do their Due Diligence and research the facts.
 

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Get another bid. What is a fair price?

If all the bids are $3000.00 a square foot, then a bid for $400.00 a square foot is fair and your bid for $100.00 a square foot is a bargain, right?

If all the bids are $10.00 a square foot, then a bid for $50.00 a square foot is pretty high and your bid of $100.00 a square foot is astronomical, right?

Get another estimate.
 

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I did the builder cost calculator but have a couple of questions---

Is hardiboard consider "composition siding"?

In the plumbing section, it asks for number of "fixtures" and whether the supply lines are plastic or copper. Is a tub/shower combo one fixture, the sink another and the toilet another?

I was unclear about the soffit and fascia questions--she is getting a vinyl soffit. Not sure what category that put her in.

She did get other estimates but I found it hard to compare them. One just included a total square footage of "concrete" but didn't specify how long of a drive or sidewalk that would get her. One just said "as drawn" but her plans didn't have a drive way drawn. One gave generous allowances for flooring and lighting and one almost nothing. Some were just vague compared to the most recent contract with is about 20 pages long. Some insisted she pay a Builder's Risk Insurance (no dollar amount specified) and others didn't mention it.

One other thing I'd like to get educated on is this--my spouse insists that the general contractors red making at least 15% profit on every house they complete. Is that about right? I thought overhead, advertising, insurance and all would make their percent of profit less than that but he swears they still get 15% after all that.

Thanks for the information so far and by the way, that cost calculator was great.
 
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Your Questions

Meri said:
I did the builder cost calculator but have a couple of questions---

Is hardiboard consider "composition siding"?

In the plumbing section, it asks for number of "fixtures" and whether the supply lines are plastic or copper. Is a tub/shower combo one fixture, the sink another and the toilet another?

I was unclear about the soffit and fascia questions--she is getting a vinyl soffit. Not sure what category that put her in.

She did get other estimates but I found it hard to compare them. One just included a total square footage of "concrete" but didn't specify how long of a drive or sidewalk that would get her. One just said "as drawn" but her plans didn't have a drive way drawn. One gave generous allowances for flooring and lighting and one almost nothing. Some were just vague compared to the most recent contract with is about 20 pages long. Some insisted she pay a Builder's Risk Insurance (no dollar amount specified) and others didn't mention it.

One other thing I'd like to get educated on is this--my spouse insists that the general contractors red making at least 15% profit on every house they complete. Is that about right? I thought overhead, advertising, insurance and all would make their percent of profit less than that but he swears they still get 15% after all that.

Thanks for the information so far and by the way, that cost calculator was great.
In response to your questions:

First of all "NO"
Hardiboard" is Not Siding, to my knowledge it is used as the pre-tile material.
The fixtures refers to faucets and whatnot, yes toilets showers included.
Your spouse is correct in hisbelief on profit percentage. I find 15% is minimum
when it could be as high as 30%. It would be rare if you could find a General willing to work for time and materials.
As far as the driveway goes, I dont really know what to tell you ...

Let me say this :

When a house is "Designed" by us or another professional, it is a complete buildable, permitable and estimateable set of plans with a specific callout on
all materials and fixtures. From faucets and flooring to lights and siding including roofing and plumbing as well as how many electrical outlets and exactly what style and brand of windows will be used.
Knowing these specifics makes the job of estimating overall cost more detailed. As a prospective homeowner, you generally will not have a clue as to the timeframe required to build or install any of these items.Therefore no reasonable idea of labor costs.
Some things must be left to the professionals.
Do what you gotta do, I hope this helps...
 

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In our are, houses are running $100-$175/sq. ft. and custom homes are even higher. Could be the "as drawn" part is covering the builder for any unforseen problems that aren't seen on paper. We all know ANYTHING can look good on paper!
I am in the wrong business if all home builders are getting 15%-30% profit. I would love a year or two at 15% profit LOL!! Unfortunately, labor prices here are not "supportive" for a contractor to charge the needed rates/mark-ups to make 15%. I am even considered in the "higher end" of labor rates. Like others have said, maybe get another quote or two. Cheaper isn't always better and neither is necessarily being the highest. Find a good middle of the road estimate and builder that all will feel confident in and comfortable with the finished product. Good luck!
 

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Thanks for the clarification. I know my Mother in law wanted to choose her own light fixtures and faucets and applicances so some of that she didn't want specified in the contract. Do most home owners have all that stuff picked out before construction even begins? She is just getting started picking out some of that but hasn't signed a contract yet.

Wow, I didn't realize contractors made that much. Is there any average of how many hours of work he will actually do on a house? Most contractors I know of are not on the jobs very much at all. At least in her development--the contractors come by some but are not out there every day. I am just curious now--I will work a whole year and then some to make what he will make on just her house!
 
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Hey Doc !!!

HVAC Doc said:
In our are, houses are running $100-$175/sq. ft. and custom homes are even higher. Could be the "as drawn" part is covering the builder for any unforseen problems that aren't seen on paper. We all know ANYTHING can look good on paper!
I am in the wrong business if all home builders are getting 15%-30% profit. I would love a year or two at 15% profit LOL!! Unfortunately, labor prices here are not "supportive" for a contractor to charge the needed rates/mark-ups to make 15%. I am even considered in the "higher end" of labor rates. Like others have said, maybe get another quote or two. Cheaper isn't always better and neither is necessarily being the highest. Find a good middle of the road estimate and builder that all will feel confident in and comfortable with the finished product. Good luck!
Hey Doc,
In our area most working contractors are getting that kind of margin.
Of course we are in California though !!!
If you guys reall want to know, I think you all are in the wrong part of the country, California is the place you should want to be... lol come on down and move to Beverly, Hills that is... swimming pools and movie stars...lol
But really build prices here are closer to 150 a sq and up.
You are correct in your advice, signs of a true professional.
Thank You, Thank You Very Much !!!
 
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Good Point !!!

Mike Finley said:
Contractors who can't work up a readable and understandable bid are as bad as customers who are scared to ask a simple question such as can you explain this or give me more details.

Here Here !!! Good Point Mr. Finely !!! Well said.
Just because someone has the money to get a job done or someone somehow got licensed does not neccesarily mean they are qualified to do either !!
 
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Good Point !!!

Mike Finley said:
Contractors who can't work up a readable and understandable bid are as bad as customers who are scared to ask a simple question such as can you explain this or give me more details.

Here Here !!! Good Point Mr. Finly !!! Well said.
Just because someone has the money to get a job done or someone somehow got licensed does not neccesarily mean they are qualified to do either !!
 
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Good Point !!!

Mike Finley said:
Contractors who can't work up a readable and understandable bid are as bad as customers who are scared to ask a simple question such as can you explain this or give me more details.

Here Here !!! Good Point Mr. Finley !!! Well said.
Just because someone has the money to get a job done or someone somehow got licensed does not neccesarily mean they are qualified to do either !!
 
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sooo Sorry

Unregistered said:
Here Here !!! Good Point Mr. Finley !!! Well said.
Just because someone has the money to get a job done or someone somehow got licensed does not neccesarily mean they are qualified to do either !!
I was trying to correct the spellingin Your Name Mr. Finley
 

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well here in this great state of california it is very common to have building cost over 125 a sq ft. custom houses are over 200 all day long.

like i think most people have said it is what the market is for the area some parts of FL that is not too far off to have 100 a sq.

I work now primarly in commercial and i am suprised at how little detail is give in residential blue prints as well as if your mother in law designed it how complete are the plans. it would be hard to give a detailed quote without fixtures (bath & Light) , flooring, cabinets, concrete etc etc. you can give just an approx for stuff, and a lot of contractors will low ball those unknown cost so when they get the contract they can write heavy change orders when you do specify what finishes your mother in law picks.
 

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My mother in law went to a licensed architect to have the plans drawn up but the layout of the house and rooms was her idea. So the plans are okay to get the permit and all from but they are pretty basic. My husband and I are also building a house but he is acting as the general contractor. We only went to a draftsman to get our plans but had to go to an outside engineer for stamping. But our plans are far more detailed than her's were and she paid about 3x as much as we did. I expected more and better from the architect. It's all much more time consuming than I expected--even though part of the hold up is spouse is very meticulous. Sometimes good but sometimes to the extreme. Okay--often times to the extreme.

By the way, I put her house info into the calculator and then put our house into it as I am more sure of what our house costs. Ours came out right about what we have budgeted so I thought it was fairly accurate. But her house came out at 172,000 while the estimates are more in the range of 240,000. I wonder if it's because she is almost 80 and the fellows know she doesn't know any better. I come behind her to double check things but she insists on doing much of it herself.

I don't get why this one man has given her an estimate of almost 250,000 and yet a 60.00 allowance for a kitchen sink. In that price range of house, I look at that and think--something isn't right. It just makes me suspicious about the rest of the estimate.
 

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Meri - stop smacking your head against the wall. Get another estimate, and have a conversation with the contractor. You can ponder and play "whatz this?" from now till the end of time and never become sure about what is going on. Stop the brain damage and get another contractor, keep getting them until you understand exactly what you are paying for. Nobody here is going to be able to tell you want you want to hear. The variables are too great and there is no way for somebody here to look into the details.

I don't write a check for $2.00 unless I know what I am paying for. I certainly would not be willing to write one for $200,000 without knowing exactly what I was paying for. Like I said if the contractor is not able to clearly explain what is going on, the buck stops with the customer, either make him explain or find a new contractor.
 

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Out Of Control

Mike Finley said:
Meri - stop smacking your head against the wall. Get another estimate, and have a conversation with the contractor. You can ponder and play "whatz this?" from now till the end of time and never become sure about what is going on. Stop the brain damage and get another contractor, keep getting them until you understand exactly what you are paying for. Nobody here is going to be able to tell you want you want to hear. The variables are too great and there is no way for somebody here to look into the details.

I don't write a check for $2.00 unless I know what I am paying for. I certainly would not be willing to write one for $200,000 without knowing exactly what I was paying for. Like I said if the contractor is not able to clearly explain what is going on, the buck stops with the customer, either make him explain or find a new contractor.
That is Very Good Advice Mike.
The matters being discussed here take many people years to become proficient at and as usual there are those that think for some reason "Just anybody can do it and it cant be that difficult to figure out !!!"
Oye Oye Oye !!!
 

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First of all 'compile' a complete list of all the 'specifications' you want this house to have. It is time well spent. Then get your estimates based on your 'specifics', not theirs. Now you'll have every contractor bidding on the same job. If you don't do this your job will be left to 'interpretation', and you'll lose out every time.
 
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