Building Cost + How It Impacts Design (An Architect’s Guide) | Architecture Short Course (Part 3)

Next up in the short course: the cost of architecture
and its role as a creative boundary for the work. By necessity, this discussion will be
an oversimplification – a conceptual approach – because architecture is unique, complicated
and specific. Now, I’ll show you how I use a basic framework to inform the design process
for our case-study project. Up until this point I’ve only mentioned
developing a project budget once, this was right before we began the schematic design
phase. I mentioned how we directly linked the budget for our project – in our case a
residence – to the overall square footage of the home. Now, I want to spend some time
on this because although it’s not discussed in our training as architects in school, it’s
part of the reality of making architecture in the real world and it’s one of the most
basic and obvious concerns for both architects and clients. 
Now, when we talk about the cost of architecture we typically break it out into one of two
categories: there are soft costs and hard costs. Soft costs are the indirect costs of
construction: things like design fees, consultant fees for services like structural or civil
engineers, lighting designers, energy auditors and landscape architects. There’s also permitting
fees, insurance, financing costs, special certifications like LEED and often times legal
fees. Now, hard costs are essentially everything
else related to the real cost of construction, the bricks and mortar that make up the physical
building. The full cost of a project includes both hard and soft costs as well as any land
acquisition costs. Soft costs can be defined by soliciting proposals from the agents involved.
Architects will have a standard fee schedule: either a fixed fee calculated as a percentage
of the cost of construction, an hourly fee model or some hybrid, some mix between both
– hourly in the beginning perhaps and then fixed once the scope is determined. Typical
full-service design fees will range between five and twenty percent of the construction
cost. As a general guideline, smaller projects will fall on the higher end of the percentage
range and larger projects on the lower end. Hard costs will account for the majority of
a building’s cost and the ones the design – the architecture – will have a considerable
impact on. Now, before I even begin a design, I evaluate the client’s hard cost budget
to determine whether it’s reasonable given their desired scope of work. Now, naturally
in the beginning of a project we know very little about the building so it’s not possible
to do a detailed material take-off of the building components; we don’t even know
what they are yet. Instead, we start by developing a detailed accounting of the spaces. This
is sort of a wish list, what architects call the program. From this list we begin assigning
room sizes for each space. Knowing the overall size of the building will
help us make sure the size needs correlates with the client’s target budget. But we
have to get a little more granular than that if we want a useful budget figure to work
with. To do that, we assign a multiple or factor to each space in the program. As you’d
expect a living room with tall ceilings will cost more than one without tall ceilings;
there’s more finishes, more labor, potentially more engineering and structural costs. And
likewise, a deck or a covered porch area won’t be as costly to construct as finished interior
space with few or no walls, no insulation no heat. By factoring the square footage of
program spaces that are different than typical, conditioned interior space with an eight-foot
tall flat ceiling, we can more accurately develop an estimated budget for us to use
as a decision-making tool. As an example, let’s take a living room
that’s twenty feet by twenty feet or four-hundred square feet. Our baseline space is a flat,
eight-foot tall ceiling. Spaces like these receive a factor of exactly one. So, the factored
square footage and the actual square footage are equal. Now, this is the case for most
of the spaces in our case-study residential project. Let’s say one of our proposals
included a vaulted ceiling in the living room. For this square footage, we’ll apply a factor
of one point five which effectively increases the factored square footage total for this
space. For the living room example, rather than four-hundred square feet, the vaulted
ceiling would total six hundred square feet in our programming worksheet. We get that
by taking four hundred and multiplying it by a factor of one point five. 
The spaces that I factor in the programming worksheet are as follows: first, garages,
decks and terraces are all factored at point five, screened porches or covered porches
are factored at point-seven-five, and then there’s any spaces with ceilings higher
than the standard eight-feet are all factored at one point-five.
Now, you’re probably wondering, why don’t we factor every space differently. After all
hallway space and kitchen space they, they aren’t truly equal in terms of cost to construct
but under this model they’re treated as such. And while it’s true kitchen space
might be five-hundred dollars per square foot and the hallway space perhaps one hundred
dollars per square foot there’s a whole lot less kitchen space than there is hallway
space. It doesn’t make sense to do this kind of detailed tweaking because it presumes
a level of precision that this kind of early estimate inherently lacks. In general, with
this method these inconsistencies will average out assuming you take care to apply the factors
I mentioned. Now, why does all this matter? Well, this
is the key, remember the budget estimate early on is linked directly to square footage. Once
I total all the square footage for the project I multiply that total by a cost to construct
per square foot. Now, this number is always a range and this is for two reasons: first
because before you even have a design; a range is a realistic means of portraying the variability
of the potential costs involved. Second, because no two contractors will look at the design,
the drawings and the specifications the same way, even when given the exact same information. 
Equally, building techniques vary from contractor to contractor as do subcontracts and labor
rates. Now, imagine for a moment that the client hires the most meticulous local contractor
to build their home. If you assumed and designed the size of the home around the three hundred
dollars per square foot benchmark, sizing it to meet their budget during schematic design
phase – if the chosen contractor is used to constructing things at six hundred dollars
per square foot the building is now one hundred percent over the client’s budget. It’s
important to have these discussions early on to correlate quality expectations.
Now, if we assume that the average local custom building cost here is between three and four-hundred
dollars per square foot and then apply it to the factored building square footage we’ll
have an estimated budget range to work with.  Now hopefully you can fully appreciate the
value of our factoring exercise. With this model, the cost to construct the living space
with an eight-foot ceiling would be one hundred and twenty thousand dollars at three hundred
dollars per square foot and to construct the vaulted space the cost would increase by sixty-thousand
dollars. Now, will the space actually cost sixty-thousand dollars more to construct?
Perhaps not, but it’s definitely going to cost more and it’s not unreasonable to assume
quite a bit more. Really this is meant to provide a starting point to work from and
can be fine-tuned based on your own project experience. As you build more or collaborate
with other builders who might have a deeper backlog of cost estimates, you can dial-in
these spreadsheet factors. No matter how accurate you think an estimated
cost projection is, there will always be some things you leave out. Some things you missed.
Materials or systems not accounted for, price increases, labor shortages, unforeseen subsurface
conditions. I recently had a project where the shingle costs were increased by twenty
percent due to a new tariff placed on imported wood products from Canada. Literally overnight,
material acquisition costs for the shell package increased by twenty percent. To cover these
unforeseeable circumstances, always add a contingency to your estimates. A contingency
is like a slush fund, a percentage of the overall budget reserved unknowns. It starts
out in the early phases of design as a rather high fifteen percent; there’s more at this
point that we don’t know than we do know. Then we reduce it as we define more and more
aspects of the structure from ten percent down to five percent. The more we know about
the building, the more accurate our estimates can be and the less need we have for contingency.
As the building progresses in construction we can begin to release some of the contingency
fund back to the owner’s control – hopefully unspent.
All this information helps both the architect and the client to guide scope decisions. Before
the design concept is established and before you start drawing lines, use the total budget
to determine the overall building size the client’s budget will support. Doing this
ensures the client isn’t surprised by the reality of construction costs – that sticker
shock – and equally that the architect isn’t spending their fee designing something that
the client ultimately can’t afford. In the early stages of design, it’s nothing more
than a best guess and it’s good practice to involve a contractor as a partner sooner
rather than later to help evaluate costs. For larger projects this process will likely
involve a cost estimating consultant and it’s much more involved. But,the concept is very
similar. So how does all this relate to design? Well,
cost is an important creative boundary. Without cost limitations, anything is possible. When
you begin to constrain the projects in various ways, new design opportunities will present
themselves. Look for economies of scale, use humble, inexpensive materials, simplify design
moves, do more with less, design spaces that can serve multiple functions, question just
how much space you actually need to accomplish a certain task. When you realize that every
square foot costs between three and four-hundred dollars it holds you accountable for each
one in a much less abstract way. It’s why I regard building your own dwelling, at least
for an architect, as an essential part of professional education. It forces you to experience
the real cost and financial stakes involved in building.
Perhaps most importantly, every added square foot is another one you’ll have to heat,
cool, light, maintain, and clean for many years to come.  Buildings use an incredible
amount of energy and here in the USA our homes are substantially larger than our European
counterparts.  Be ruthless about what you really need and what you can live without.
Be responsible, by consuming fewer resources your self-less act gives to generations that
follow us. Once we bring in a builder and begin defining
more of the building details, the square footage estimate can be jettisoned and replaced by
the builder’s estimate which will be refined at the major waypoints to ensure we’re proceeding
according to the budget. During the early design phases to be serious about controlling
costs will most often require reducing square footage. This will be the easiest and best
opportunity you have to do so. When the foundation has been poured and hammers are flying the
amount of impact you can have on building cost is severely limited. Don’t think you
can save money by simply changing materials at this stage, the bulk of your costs are
tied up in square footage. This is the power law of the economics related to architectural
design. As we translate our sketch plans into working
floor plans, invariably the size changes. Returning to our project, our client chose
two of the schematic plan schemes to hybridize and I developed a few plan options for each.
To make things more realistic, I translated the sketches into CAD line work which always
has a sobering effect. Sketches are forgiving, they’re easy to fake. But laying things
out in CAD is different, you’re working with real sizes and alignments and wall thicknesses. 
Having roughed it out I massaged a few functional, if not rather primitive, floor plan options
for the client to review. Now, as part of this process, things got larger. I spread
it out on the site a little bit, bedrooms increased in size, hallways lengthened. And,
when I revisited the square footage take-off, the footprint – and consequently the building
cost – had increased significantly. So, again I retooled, and revised, made things smaller,
pushing and pulling to align the two. In the end, there was an overall expansion of the
programmed square footage. But, I’m happy to say that this was a client driven decision,
spaces were increased to accommodate certain wishes and desires and this too is the benefit
of the programming and budget exercise. It allows the client to be in control of where
and how they spend their project dollars. It’s fine with me if they want to spend
more or less, I’m here to provide the information which allows them to make the most informed
decision possible. Having a baseline tied to a budget keeps the
two in check. It’s always a good idea to revisit the square footage and cost estimates
at different points in the design process in the same back-and-forth manner as we do
with the other aspects of our design. Next up in the short course: materials. How
I chose them, how they support the design concept and an inside look at one of my favorite
waypoints in the design process. Until then, please hit the thumbs up below if you’ve
found something useful here, it helps me grow the channel and please subscribe if you haven’t
already. Cheers!


  • Gianfranco Galagar

    Thank you so much for your generosity of sharing such great and informative videos! I'm learning a lot and your video on the portfolio review is helping me immensely at the moment. 😀

  • James Mason

    Awesome video again Eric! I feel like this should be taught as part of the architecture course and find it very useful learning about the reality of what an Architect has to do. Thank you

  • fabroc8

    As always fantastic, great video!
    I was wondering if for future video projects you could talk about architectural thesis development, or thesis you found interesting while you were studying. I find your videos very informative even if we are in different countries.

  • David Cordero

    I really wish you had more subscribers, your dedication and work on the channel is quite good, few architecture channels discuss the topics as you

  • Bola Lasisi-Agiri

    Such an essential piece of knowledge for young architects in the making. Great Video!!!

  • Jeff Goldenberg

    Very informative and thought-provoking. You stated a $300-$400 per sq ft cost. Surely that 's a regional cost and not applicable to the entire country (or is it? [gasp!]). Look forward to more videos.

  • Undercover Architect

    Such a fantastic run through. Love the idea of using 'factored' rates rather than changing the square foot cost per space. Great strategy Eric – thank you for sharing in such detail. For those watching in locations that use metric measurements, there's roughly 10 SF / 1 square metre. So multiply Eric's amounts by 10 (so $300/SQ becomes $3000/m2). And divide areas by 10 (so 400 SQ becomes 40m2).

  • Min Min

    Thank you so much sir! All of your videos are very informative and they do help me a lot. I do appreciate your dedication on this channel.

  • Kaspár Janssen

    Thank you for your time and view it's very much appreciated even though you should have much more subscribers. Good luck and thank you again for your effort.

  • Don Williams

    Why don't you thread your iMac power cord through the big hole in the stand?

  • RB. L

    300$/SF is pretty high, i guess it is for the high quality materials used. Normally its like 150$ 160$ per sf

  • Marcus Browne

    Aloha Eric,

    Just watched the video after a referral suggestion on the Undercover Architect website (who are doing great informative relevant valuable work as well) about budget setting. Very informative, highly valuable, necessary information for any architect and client starting out on a project together.

    Many thanks to you and The Under Cover Architect.

    Cheers with Aloha,

    Marcus ॐ and Maxximus 🐾

  • Uriel Padron

    Hi architect, tell us about your project (pond house ) it's amazing

  • M O

    What's included in $300-400/sqft? Is it the typical cost for high standard designer homes?

  • Mark Watson

    Just a quick question. When assigning your factors, are you not including the costs of appliances to this? I noticed that you have the kitchen factored at 1, and the living factored at 1.5. This might be just because I design and build in Texas, but our kitchens are the most expensive rooms in the structure.

  • Varuna PUNCHOO

    excellent discussion on costs. unfortunately at the early stages of a construction project, we often tend to be over optimistic… your video brings us back to the harsh reality of how budget will be the first limitation on creative design

  • paul dow

    is this all really a matter of labor costs.
    in addition i would like to ask if you might have thought when in designing or if a client has asked you to consider in a design the notion of what elements will be assessed at increased value ( or decreased ) for taxing authority purposes.
    that is to say , to consider that a half rather than a full bath might lower costs as well as decrease owners yearly tax burden in the future, and so forth ! this sort of thing would create a what's to worth in the long haul for immediate costs- yearly costs- and end value.

  • Mukasa Ibra

    thanks ERIC I LOVE what you do
    this is what i always wanted
    some one like you
    let me tell all my Ugandan architectural pals about you

  • Joseph York

    Fantastic videos and great info!

  • Robert Safe

    Thanks for this lesson! Process for delivering max value for the client with minimum resource.

  • Jejo Jose

    A tad overwhelming for students,…? Is it okay if I feel that way. ?

  • Misty

    Hey 30×40 Design Workshop!

    Do these factors (0,5 – 1,5 ) also apply to the European Market?

  • Somewhere In-AZ

    I'm not an architect, but I need plans for a house I want to build. I've been watching all your videos so I can know how this is done. I'm so grateful for this knowledge. Sitting down with a professional and my crazy first sketches was fun. She asked me so many questions! I had photos of the site, which slopes, the views I wanted preserved, the things I want blocked. She was impressed. I saw how excited she was with my ideas and that's when I knew I was hiring the right person. The first guy I talked to didn't like that I wanted to preserve as much of the topography as possible. He wanted to bulldoze it flat to force the site to fit the structure. Saguaros don't grow overnight, they are hundreds of years old. 🌵

  • hernandez kiyoko

    Thanks from Japan

  • sigsauer1993

    In the future would you talk about making templates in pc programmes or making some general prepparing or presets to increase speed in workflow ? Thank you for your videos

  • Jorge Morales

    Do you have any tutorial on how to design foundation plans or any video where you talk about it? I'd like to know how architects manage this topic

  • Ashoor Nasser

    They say that if you make quality stuff , no matter what current situation it is that people are going through, everyone will come for it. Because it was so damn good. And so is this video.
    I wish I came across this while I was studying.
    Thanks as always Eric.

  • Souvik Chakraborty

    You r really great. Every time i see your videos it gives me new inspiration.

  • Augusto Tenório

    Do you accept vacation time trainees? I'm in love with your explanation and even more with the design used (with orange color)

  • nicola stocco

    You are a true inspiration, thank you for your job. I hope to start my own firm one day and to become a good, passionate Architect like you. Thank you

  • nikhil sonthalia

    i really appreciate the efforts you put in for the vedio which has really helped me with my design process. I am currently in my 2nd year and i wanted more information on contour site and how to start our design process in this case. It will be really helpful.


    You are the best man…

  • Mike Roe

    Having lived in older houses and watched their repairs, I've noticed how frequently the utilities and pipes were placed poorly, limiting remodel options or preventing repairs from going smoothly. Add to that the invention and addition of new utilities like television cable, and these homes could become a mess of exposed cables that the original builders never anticipated a need for. My college dormitory, for instance, was such a rats nest of ethernet cables and new plumbing that every hallway felt like a basement.

    I'd be interested to know if a video exists that explains a modern best-practices for something like home utility layout, and whether or not enhancing old homes with things like natural gas, cable, internet, and so forth has prompted designers to begin intentionally leaving space available for easy installation of new services as they're available/invented so that the building can more easily become modernized. For example, not making it nearly impossible to convert from electric to gas water heating.

  • a.j

    I feel the need of watching ALL of your videos! Thanks so much!

  • Romy Van Handley

    Great video. Thanks! 🙂

  • Chad Gould

    Great topic thank you! the important thing with any program goal to budget goal method is first to do it and second that it help to establish an appropriate amount of design slush needed to find the design. Its liberating to realize that it will be all wrong, as long as when you squint at it that it is generally right. I am curious if clients are getting the factors?… I wonder if it would be easier for them to keep the square footage pinned and apply factors to the cost side?

    One thing to also account for is the amount of perimeter envisioned. Stretching out and spreading the plan across a site and into multiple volumes will have an impact on the amount of foundations and area of insulated exterior walls etc. I recently blew past the budget goals on a project while hitting the SF targets and when I analyzed it there was something like 30% more foundation and perimeter wall than a the more compact design the builder typically executed. I have since started to apply a compactness factor to early budgeting worksheets to try and cover this when the project seems like it wants to sprawl. great job!

  • floodland99

    $300 per square foot? Ouch. There must be a cheaper way besides using cordwood. Interesting video series…thanks.

  • Jamie Carter

    you are so kind to share your hard earned education with us 🙂 thank you! i'm a daughter of a lifetime homebuilder 🙂 i'm about to build my dream home, long house dog trot, i'm so excited! thank you for being the voice of my father in this process 🙂

  • Ifound Grace

    u know Eric, when i see ur videos I see honestly ,a good person seriously nobody i mean nobody do this nowadays. they all blunt about their achievement and then they show u the screensaver…..and say if u wanna no more go to this link then is $$$$$$$ i mean i don't even know y u do this but believe me a lot are great-full for ur generosity and i wish u all the best in ur thoughts and may God bless u and ur family with health joy and sense of accomplishment; three things tht money fame or power can't get if u don't have it by blessing.

  • Blake Patterson

    Wow $200 per square foot to get a house built?? Well looks like I won't be getting one built this lifetime. Are those numbers accurate for Mississippi contractors?

  • Don Fillenworth

    Very interesting and informative. I’m hooked on your channel! I’ve been in construction all my life and this is fascinating. Thanks for your efforts!

  • Wayward Woodworker

    Not sure how I missed this one Eric. Great insights. I wish more home buyers would watch this! Ha (dreams of a child). Thanks as always for your efforts and consideration with your videos. This sort of thing is priceless and invaluable.

  • Robert Berube

    Sir, that was an awesome tutorial. Although I am not an Architect I will use some of the things I learned from you in this video. Thank you so much! Cheers

  • Gray Gardner

    What is the Circulation/Walls line item for? Great video BTW

  • Fadhil Ditya

    why do you share all of this?

  • kummer45

    This man has a deep comprehension of informed design decision making. The mathematics of budget translated into design are not discussed thoroughly in architecture schools. His video gives a good idea how to "CONSTRUCT" an excel sheet on modular design. The budget characterization of soft costs and hard costs provides a true sense of reality on the redaction of a liftoff. He manage to translate the plausible to the possible.

    The best strategy shown there was that each square foot needs to be heated, cooled down, maintained, illuminated and cleaned for many years. The author gives a strategy of percents describing energy consumption per space. This IS the basics of performance based design.

    His 'thesis' is based on a well known principle of parametric architecture done on the basis of budget percentages and distributions. His witty explanations of size estimation for a building with the totality of the budget provides less room for uncertainty. The dialogue between client and architect becomes accurate without misguidance or false heroics.

    I watched four times this video. This hits the nail.

  • Tehcarp

    Whoa whoa whoa. Are the centre flutes on scale rulers designed for bulldog clips?

    I mean, it’s not that important whether it was intended but seeing you do that was a real shift in perspective. I love rulers.

  • Tehcarp

    I’ll jealous that architects can get a real number for their clients budget.

    I’m a finisher (plaster, paint, wallpaper, etc) here in bc and I would do better work and faster work if I knew what people were budgeting for each space.

  • Shane Nanton

    I really appreciate your lessons. A friend and I are just about to start our own company and your words are very helpful. Thank you.

  • MrsLilLady86


  • Ada Palaci

    Excelent! I really don´t understand why they don´t teach this real world information in our Universities. Thank you for your autenticity and generosity.

  • Luqman Hafidh

    You such honest on how to use resources carefully.

  • Luqman Hafidh

    Please make a video for us on how to design a bathroom with atleast affordable material

  • Marco Delgado JR

    $300-$400 regional cost! Question-does this include land grading?
    How much does the cost change for hillside building?

  • Jeffstar ZW

    from 12:13 to 12:25 is the most impressive statement of this video!
    Attention all Architects and Students, take heed!
    I am a QS with over a decades' worth of experience internationally, square footage is directly related to construction costs, not materials alone.

  • Arivaldo De Oliveira

    what a legend. Thank you, Eric

  • Kim Pham

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I have learn so much by watching your you tube videos.

  • Kathy H

    Awesome info! So very helpful. Thank you!

  • Megan Vogel

    Hot damn! This is exactly what I needed. Great great video.

  • SP Chaurasiya

    I wish I could give millions of like and bring in billions of subscribers to this channel.
    Your videos are incredibly useful for a student of engineering and architect. Please make a video to bridge between a student life and a fresh engineer when he gets into a job. Please mention dos and don'ts. I have seen many of your videos and your CAD drawings in that videos too, especially in the video in which you talk about templates of CAD drawings, but the annotation I found difficult to understand. Would you mind explaining about that bubble annotation in any of your upcoming video or if you have already made it, can you please link me there?

  • Juanco_"C.E.O."

    300/sqft to build. Where are you located, California?

  • Stef Vanbilsen

    So thanks for this very useful tips!!!

  • Créons Let There Be

    You are good at explaining the business and profession of architecture without providing us with unnecessary information. keep up the good work.

  • MassDynamic

    7:09 so wouldn't it help with cost estimation if the client brought on board his/her chosen contractor when consulting with the architect?

  • Dion Water

    thank you David, I am looking to build a 3-4 story industrial brick warehouse/firehouse/loft style home derived from the "Crowsnest Pass Lake" power station. I've been looking for the perfect design for my home and fell in love with this design. I love how rustic these building designs look. I also want to disguise it as a castle or add castle like elements to the design. I am looking for a good architect who can come to me and help me draw out the design.

  • MadWorldUSA

    Your 1.5 is way off for vault. Vault is cheap.

  • RMP _2003

    Hello I'm a Yung student in France but I don't speak the language that well but my dream is to be an architect if there is any way I can contact you and ask questions regarding architecture please let me know I really enjoyed learning with you on hope u would like to help me.

  • Luke Tisdale

    Your video is the most comprehensive approach to figuring out build cost, the model is solid. However, your numbers are extremely high. I COULD find a builder that would gladly take $400/sqft but on the Super Premium side of things, I don't find anyone charging over $175/sqft.

    I know prices change with location and the model is workable with any amount, so no quarrel there.

    I'm not complaining or trying to say you are incorrect, I just can't believe anyone would ever get gouged that bad on price per sqft.

    Thank you for the video, it has been very helpful in determining a baseline cost in the building process.

    P.S. if you ever get a quote of $400/sqft to build a house, please reach out! I'll build it for $390! LOL


  • Hosam Alhassan

    you're amazing
    I'm sharing your beautiful lessons to many Architects

  • Nars A

    Thank you for the fascinating and incredibly valuable information communicated in such a concise and articulate package. Man, this is so useful!

  • Jefferson Guzman

    120k for that ouch it’s better just buying a house!!

  • Erin Dougherty

    Your comment about involving a contractor early on in the design process is right on point. Thank you for reminding people about the importance of involving a builder during design to help evaluate costs. I can't tell you how many times we've had potential clients bring us plans and they are shocked when we complete the cost estimating. They either have to make concessions to get the project built or scrap it completely. What a waste of time and money! Involve a builder from the start. Cost estimating is time consuming, and while we charge for this service, if a client understands the value of having a builder involved during design they will save time and money in the long run. We are the ones estimating projects every day and we have our fingers on the pulse of labor and material costs which are constantly fluctuating. Keep up the great work, Eric! May I add a link to this video on our blog? I think it is full of very useful information our potential clients could really use. P.S. Love the advice about being ruthless when evaluating what space you really need. We are currently remodeling a house half the size we are in right now with the intention of downsizing and the process is forcing me to really think creatively about the function of each space.

  • 30X40 Design Workshop

    Here's an example of where one of our projects went OVER budget: Over budget. An Architect's Advice

  • Jose Rosa Collazo

    I love this guy better than BIG

  • Ryan Sedig

    Quality information

  • NWA CAD Services

    This is super useful. Thanks for sharing! How do you determine your fees? Estimating is one of the toughest things for me. Do you feel that $300-400 is an accurate "safe" value to use or could it be lower in the south?

  • Thor Hamm

    I like your videos. Thank you.

  • delusion gaming

    So how the building's cost confirmed?

  • Allagadan Design

    using English system is so confusing. All architect's and constructors in the world could have use one single system such as the metric system, these could make communications faster and more efficient. Metric is more precise and specific.

  • Jonathan Patterson

    This video was superb. I’m not an architect but I am thinking about having a house built and want to start scratching the surface around what the process is like. This helped a ton!

  • Natalia's Ideas

    New subscriber 🤗

  • Jared Capp

    I wish all clients, builders and architects could watch this video. Great content, great presentation. I'm an alternative builder in the Black Hills of SD, I specialize in natural building with reclaimed materials, Strawbale, shipping container, tree houses etc. The budget is always the hardest part of my job. Thanks for putting this info out there. Cheers

  • Teegan Heinricks

    Thanks, 30×40 Design, I have been searching around for "how to's" when it comes to budgeting a project and this video was finally a really clear method of starting out a rough budget. Do you have any suggestions for additional sources on this topic? Thanks again!

  • Nelson Mendes

    Well done. Very informative. Thank you for your time.

  • David Norris

    Excellent video!

  • Rush Simonson

    Love your videos. Very professional and well thought out. Would love to build a $300-400 per foot home but my wife sold my Apple and Google stock about 10 years too early. For the rest of us, could you talk about "Cheap" building? $50-$125 per /ft. is where many people can afford. Will not buy a mansion or the finest appliances and finishes, but barndominiums, SIP, modular and owner builder can drive some big savings and make home ownership a reality. Love a pros thoughts.

  • robert cretu

    Blah blah, all overpriced

  • tigerianwinter

    I see on the budget you have 2939sf twice, but I'm not sure where that number is coming from?

  • Sean Uptown

    I finally subscribed, good work

  • TheHarleyhillbilly

    Lord $400 Sq. Ft. I had $38 Sq. Ft. In my first house but I built it in 1993 lol.

  • Eric McDowell

    $300 / sf, … what part of the country does that come from? That seems very high.

  • palo verde

    i'm not sure what a contractors price per sq ft rate includes. since i'm multiplying the contractors price per sq ft with my projects factor size, dose that mean a labor rate is included in the hard cost program cost estimation? i know it includes bulk building material, just wondering about labor.

  • Amaury Reyes

    Hi Eric. You have no idea how useful this material is! thank you so much! I have a question regarding this video. Where did you get those factors from?

  • Just Me

    While the information is great, let's get real…and by that I mean the video should have spoke to the "average" or "middle America" person. Seriously, when you're talking about $300 or $600 a sq foot, those numbers are for very well to do people. Nowhere close to getting real for 9 out of 10 people and their budget.

  • David Holloway


  • Loathomar

    Generally good advice, but the cost per sqft for just building seems insane. The average cost per sqft of a home in the US is currently ~$150 per square foot, which included the land, plans and everything. There is a given that you likely are only working on higher then average homes, but at $300-$600 per square foot, it makes many mansions in Calabasa look cheap. Looking on Zillow, a $2.3M mansion is ~5,000 square feet which is ~$450 per square foot. It is extremely high end, so $450 per square foot could seem reasonable, but that is not the construction cost, it is everything. The land cost is likely close to $1M…

  • Builders Plus Custom Homes and Remodels

    Hey wanted to let you know i redid my custom CRM I did and I included factorials in a budget form when entering "areas". Thank you so much for this video!

  • Richard Sprow

    I’m a retired architect with 40+ years experience and the basic idea here is an essential step in any design project. You can adjust the factors and base SF prices to fit your situation. There are published guides you can get in a library (RS Means, for example) with cost factors for different building types. The SF costs reflect not only regional factors but types of materials and level of detail. For example, in another 30×40 video Eric discusses details he likes to avoid using typical residential baseboard and door and window trim, which are much more expensive to build because they eliminate a worker’s margin for error and require much more precise work. Those little architectural touches can have a big cost impact.
    This budget method should be taught in architectural school, which has always focussed too much on only design.

  • Steven Lewis

    Was expecting more info instead of glamored high architectural cost

  • Planet Homes

    Very educational video.
    How would you estimate for other finished areas? like for finished walk-out daylight or flat basements?.
    Thanks in advance for your time.


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