Breaking Down Square Footage Costs

Dear expert: I don’t understand how square footage costs in construction can vary so greatly. Can you explain why this is?

A. This topic creates a lot of confusion. The square footage (SF) cost of any home is based on three things: the complexity of the design, the cost of the materials, and the subcontractors’ expertise and craftsmanship. In an effort to be perceived as less expensive, some builders will change the SF cost of the home by adjusting how that number is figured. Traditionally, SF costs are based on only the finished areas, and as the non-finished areas (garages, decks, storage rooms, etc.) become more complex, that SF cost goes up. That number can look smaller when a builder includes the nonfinished areas into the total SF right off the bat, but this is really just a numbers game. My best advice is to interview builders who are respected for their work, integrity, and service and believe in an “open book” policy for the best quality and value—within your budget. This is the ultimate goal.

Expert note: “There’s truth in that old adage ‘You get what you pay for.’ Don’t let the numbers fool you.”

—David Erotas
President, Erotas Building Corporation