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Old 01-15-2015, 08:51 PM
 
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I realize this is a bit of a loaded question but can someone give me an idea of what it would cost to build a 2400 - 2600 sf home in the western suburbs (elmhurst, western springs, hinsdale, downers grove, etc.)? Please exclude the land cost as well as any associated demo costs of existing structure and assume mid level finishes (granite counters rather than quartz, GE appliances rather than sub zero, etc.). I have talked informally with a few builders but they are all over the map. I am guessing that they don't want to talk specifics until I have the lot. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 01-16-2015, 07:56 AM
 
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You might get a good idea by doing a property search for new-construction homes that match your needs. Then look at the real estate records to see what they purchased the old home for, and figure $30,000-$50,000 for demolition (just an estimate--could be way off).

For instance, 538 Turner in Glen Ellyn is currently listed at $865,000. The builder acquired the old house on the property (which was in bad shape) for $250,000 in 2012. Conservatively, the builder is charging a delta of $565,000 for the new home over the cost of the lot and demolition, which includes his profits. This example is probably more high-end than what you are considering, but it's an example that I'm aware of near where I live.

https://www.redfin.com/IL/Glen-Ellyn.../home/14200854
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Old 01-16-2015, 08:22 AM
 
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Thanks for the response. I was told $10-$15k for demo and this was pretty consistent amongst the builders I talked to. Of course, factors like size of structure, presence of asbestos, etc. could swing this cost but I feel pretty comfortable with budgeting $15k for this component. I'm just having a hard time getting a good feel for the actual construction cost of the house. One builder said he could do it for $400k but this number was low compared to others so I don't know how legitimate it is. I have looked at new or newer homes and tried calculating cost in the way you have described but I'm not sure if the builder is adding some fluff to the profit margin when they already own the land as well as realtor costs need to be factored into such a calculation.

Has anyone had personal experience building in this area?
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Old 01-16-2015, 08:29 AM
 
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Default Even 2600 sq ft is probably too small to build new...

Quote:
Originally Posted by My Kind Of Town View Post
I realize this is a bit of a loaded question but can someone give me an idea of what it would cost to build a 2400 - 2600 sf home in the western suburbs (elmhurst, western springs, hinsdale, downers grove, etc.)? Please exclude the land cost as well as any associated demo costs of existing structure and assume mid level finishes (granite counters rather than quartz, GE appliances rather than sub zero, etc.). I have talked informally with a few builders but they are all over the map. I am guessing that they don't want to talk specifics until I have the lot. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
First off builders try to work with buyers that are both realistic and reasonable. I know there are home plans online that seem pretty decent with less than 3000 sq ft but when you factor what existing homes are selling for in the desirable towns you've listed it is not really prudent to build a home that is undersized and potentially not finished particularly well...

If you could find a builder that was honest about what kind of trade-offs are likely at each price point from under $250 to $300 to $350 to $400+ / sq ft you'd quickly see that the "savings" of having a lower quality home just does not make sense. A very basic foot print that can be quickly framed will be the first trade-off, in the desirable towns people tend to look favorably on the homes that have some detail in the design -- a nice porch, intersting entryway, complicated roof line do not add sq ft but do eliminate anything under $300/ sq ft.

Still on the exterior choosing inexpensive roofing, brand X windows, a builder grade entry door, generic garage door, rolled asphalt driveway, no hardscaping and similar penny pinching options will keep under $350 / sq ft.

Interiors are where you start to really see costs spiral -- builder grade flooring choices are often pretty cheap looking, not to mentions issues of durability and maintenance, low end lighting is another area that is often a really poor choice as it can so hard to address down the road, similarly baths that have more in common with Motel 6 than any spa are of course going to meet code but down the road they will not hold value.

Kitchens sell houses and builders don't really make any money off appliances (they typically send buyers to Abt and say ' $X is in the budget, spend more it is going mean something else gets cut'...) but they do know that a home in a desirable town with a kitchen that looks that like a tract home won't be prudent. If you don't want to spend on nice cabinetry, be prepared to take a major hit when you try to sell...


Thing too is even you do get some bargain builder lined up what are they going to do that will imcrease costs in the long run? Insulation that barely meets code? A furnace that might as well be burning dollar bills? Ducts laid out so you can never finish the basement or worse, that leak so much none of the rooms are the same temperature winter or summer? Even things like plumbing that is not done with care with cause grief every time you flush a toilet, take a shower or wash dishes.

If you can track down a buildable lot why wouldn't you build what is inline with existing new construction -- aim for about 3000-3800 sq ft of total space. Have an extra deep basement and as much ceiling height as possible on every level including the attic. Aim for 5 bedrooms, with the master having a five + piece spa bath, the guest room also having attached bath with at least a shower, as well as another bath for the other three bedrooms to share. Trick out the kitchen, don't skimp on flooring or lighting, have nicely detailed interior trim / doors, wire the place for whole house hi-fi, nice useful surround sound on the main floor family room so sports viewing and other TV watching helps you get your money's worth instead of some "home theatre" tucked away where it never gets used, a nice sized room that you can use as home office, big mud room for kids gear & doggie items, choose a good sized foyer with a usable coat closet, a front door that feels like it'll last a century and wrap it all with higher end brick or natural cedar siding and a premium roof on top. Try to stay under $400/ sq ft but do not "go cheap" becuase it won't be worth the hassle...

I have several social friends that did OK building new homes and then when the bubble burst they were left holding on to stuff that was underwater. I also know some good builders that survived -- they did so not by cutting corners and going cheap but by focusing on clients that understand that a good value means staying inline with the market.

Under about $800k you should see much better value in an existing home. There are also a tiny handful of spec homes that the builder might be willing to part with at nearly no profit if their carrying costs are eating them alive, but really the builders that won't give you a straight answer probably learned the hard way that shoppers asking up front about smaller homes and minimum spend are not good for their long term business ...
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Old 01-16-2015, 09:24 AM
 
836 posts, read 639,243 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
First off builders try to work with buyers that are both realistic and reasonable. I know there are home plans online that seem pretty decent with less than 3000 sq ft but when you factor what existing homes are selling for in the desirable towns you've listed it is not really prudent to build a home that is undersized and potentially not not finished particularly well...

If you could find a builder that was honest about what kind of trade-offs are likely at each price point from under $250 to $300 to $350 to $400+ / sq ft you'd quickly see that the "savings" of having lower quality home just does not make sense. A very basic foot print that can be quickly framed will be the first trade-off, in the desirable towns people tend to look favorably on the homes that have some detail in the design -- a nice porch, intersting entryway, complicated roof line do not add sq ft but do eliminate anything under $300/ sq ft.

Still on the exterior choosing inexpensive roofing, brand X windows, a builder grade entry door, generic garage door, rolled asphalt driveway, no hardscaping and similar penny pinching options will keep under $350 / sq ft.

Interiors are where you start to really see costs spiral -- builder grade flooring choices are often pretty cheap looking, not to mentions issues of durability and maintenance, low end lighting is another area that is often a really poor choice as it can so hard to address down the road, similarly baths that have more in common with Motel 6 than any spa are of course going to meet code but down the road they will not hold value.

Kitchens sell houses and builders don't really make any money off appliances (they typically send buyers to Abt and say ' $X is in the budget, spend more it is going mean something else gets cut'...) but they do know that a home in a desirable town with a kitchen that looks that like a tract home won't be prudent. If you don't want to spend on nice cabinetry, be prepared to take a major hit when you try to sell...


Thing too is even you do get some bargain builder lined up what are they going to do that will imcrease costs in the long run? Insulation that barely meets code? A furnace that might as well be burning dollar bills? Ducts laid out so you can never finish the basement or worse, that leak so much none of the rooms are the same temperature winter or summer? Even things like plumbing that is not done with care with cause grief every time you flush a toilet, take a shower or wash dishes.

If you can track down a buildable lot why wouldn't you build what is inline with existing new construction -- aim for about 3000-3800 sq ft of total space. Have an extra deep basement and as much ceiling height as possible on every level including the attic. Aim for 5 bedrooms, with the master having a five + piece spa bath, the guest room also having attached bath with at least a shower, as well as another bath for the other three bedrooms to share. Trick out the kitchen, don't skimp on flooring or lighting, have nicely detailed interior trim / doors, wire the place for whole house hi-fi, nice useful surround sound on the main floor family room so sports viewing and other TV watching helps you get your money's worth instead of some "home theatre" tucked away where it never used, a nice sized room that you can use as home office, big mud room for kids gear & doggie items, choose a good sized foyer with a usable coat closet, a front door that feels like it'll last a century and wrap it all with higher end brick or natural cedar siding and a premium roof on top. Try and stay under $400/ sq ft but do not "go cheap" becuase it won't be worth the hassle...

I have several social friends that did OK building new homes and then when the bubble burst they were left holding on to stuff that was underwater. I also know some good builders that survived -- they did so not by cutting corners and going cheap but by focusing on clients that understand that a good value means staying inline with the market.
Simply put, it's not in my budget to exceed $225/SF. Also, in terms of size, I really don't need anything larger than 4 bedrooms and 2600 SF. Anything more than that would be wasted space for us. I understand wanting to build at a level of new homes in the area but don't understand why this would be an absolute necessity. I think there is a strong market in these areas for new/newer homes of this size for less than $800k. I think we should be able to build a new home for the same price of resales of similar size and finishes, with the difference being that they would be our desired finishes and to our desired layout (rather than a home that is close to meeting our needs but would require updates to fully meet our tastes). While I am concerned about resale, it is not the too concern because we are viewing this as our "forever" home (I.e. More than 20 years).
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Old 01-16-2015, 10:53 AM
 
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So your total budget is about $585,000 for a new home (2,600 sf x $225)? You can definitely find this in Downers Grove. I think the other towns on your list will be a challenge.

You might also think about Wheaton or the parts of Winfield or Warrenville that feed in to Wheaton Schools. Or perhaps even the southern part of Glen Ellyn.
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:08 AM
 
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You will are unlikely to find a competent builder that would agree to an "all in" price that was under $250/ sq ft in the towns you are considering.

If you are capable of taking on more of the liability yourself and acting as your own GC, taking out your own permits, arranging for the required inspections and allowing sub-contractors to show up when it is most convenient for them and similar hassles it is conceivable that you could come in pretty close to $225/sq ft when it is all totalled up, but you would probably need to have 100% of the cash on hand as there are no lenders that would agree to this.

There are some homes being build that are below 3000 sq ft but these tend to be on either on the less desirable lots that previously would not have appealed to tear-down buyers or the really small lots in the priciest part of towns. When you see the asking price for the lots in the most desirable area it becomes clear that the seller is in no hurry to strike a deal...

I myself do not have a particularly large home (it is under 3000 sq ft) but as we have remodeled over the years we have increasingly gone with more "upscale" materials because I know what buyers are looking for. While I understand the intention of a "forever" home the reality is that skimping in such a case is not just a "for the next owner" proposition but something that will not serve you well from an operational standpoint. As I said above the best builders typically line the best subcontractors and often pay them a little bit more for a more thoughtfully assembled home -- the better subcontractors use slightly more costly materials in places where nobody might even see them but really do add long term value. It starts right with the excavation -- better subcontractors lay down a bit more gravel and that makes it easier to deal with any water that later will be channeled to a sump pump. The concrete guys that use the newer exterior water proofing membranes that cost a little more don't do so to put more money in their pocket but to further ensure a dry basement that enhances their reputation. The framers that insist on using a little higher grade of construction like 2x6 and exterior grade plywood for sheathing instead of 2x4 & OSB similarly are not charging more just for the sake of price but because those materials will result in better insulated, more weather-tight exterior shell. Roofers that specify a more extensive layer of ice and water shield are doing so because over the long haul (which ought to be the goal of a "forever home buyer") that means less chance of leaks.

I can say the same thing about plumbers that specify higher cost pipe, valves and fixtures. Electricians that spec out a panel that is roomier and higher capacity, higher grades of wire, conduit, outlets and switches, not to mention can lights, exterior fixtures and safety devices. Heck even things like drywall compound and pre-formed corner bead that may seem trivial but ultimately is more resistant to cracking and popping all contribute to a home that will remain troublefree for a longer time.

Honestly I have seen LOTS of folks go with "low bidders" and then spend much more time and money trying to find SOMEBODY that will help them "make things right" and the harsh reality is that the worse the work upfront the fewer high quality contractors will be even willing to get involved as they know that once they get involved with a "low budget" situation the high costs of doing things correctly along with the penny pinching ways of the buyer that originally hired a less than competent builders is a recipe for conflict...

I would also caution that even for things that are somewhat easy to deal with down the road, like a cheap GE stove vs a high qualty unit from BlueStar or other quality firm the fact that you only went with a 30" unit will effect the whole kitchen layout. Similarly the value of a fully cased in SubZero fridge that really is built for the "forever" buyer is orders of magnitude beyond what one would find in a GE that might be going into a rental. Seemingly trivial expenditure like a top of the line InSinkerator disposer with an counter mounted air switch is going to be long lasting, more convenient and safer than some low end builder special on cheap toggle.


If you are really concerned about "fully meeting your tastes" vs "wasted space" you should understand the degree to which higher end homes built by an experience high quality builder are a better value proposition than some featureless box thrown up in some cornfield by a tract builder.


I can recommend a range of custom builders that I know have done great work, and strive to meet the needs of their clients while being as upfront about costs as possible. Some of them also do work to renovate / update / expand existing homes. As the prices of existing homes in desirable towns has increased the smarter builders understand they can help clients achieve a long term value with a well executed, thoughtfully designed plan. The cost/sq ft on pretty much ANY renovation will be higher than new construction as older homes typically need a wider range of "systems" upgraded but for the right home in a nice community this is still an excellent option even moreso for the "forever home" as opposed to a flipper will.

My goal is not discourage you or "upsell" you in any way, just trying to help you understand what forces are driving the market. Subs that work in nice areas tend to demand a little better pay rate. Builders can work cheaper farther west and farther south -- they can get more subs from places like Northwest Indiana and downstate areas where it is cheaper for the tradespeople to live. Some of the guys that work for nicer builders in the Fox Valley town like Geneva or St. Charles might literally be coming from a farm and can work cheaper...
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lookout Kid View Post
So your total budget is about $585,000 for a new home (2,600 sf x $225)? You can definitely find this in Downers Grove. I think the other towns on your list will be a challenge.

You might also think about Wheaton or the parts of Winfield or Warrenville that feed in to Wheaton Schools. Or perhaps even the southern part of Glen Ellyn.
Closer to a budget of ~$700k, which includes land cost and demo. Honestly, even in Downers I don't see new homes in the desirable part of town (which for me is essentially areas in town within 1/2 mile of Main Street. I'm figuring $250k for land (which I know is near impossible in Hinsdale and WS but doable in Downers, Wheaton, Elmhurst), $15k for demo, which leaves ~$435k for construction (roughly $175/SF). I'm looking for practicality and functionality over excess such as built in wine cellars, chefs kitchen, etc. maybe I undersold in my previous post, but I would think you should be able to get a decent build and finishes for just under $200/SF but maybe I'm way off. Otherwise typical new homes in these areas would all be selling for more than $1 million for 3,000 SF, which they're not. I guess that's why I'm here...
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:21 AM
 
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Joe Keim is building beautiful new houses in Wheaton for the mid 700 thousands, lot included.
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Old 01-16-2015, 11:27 AM
 
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There are additional reasons, not really related to just the outlays for labor and materials for construction, that make it all but impossible to find builders willing to sell a new home for under $800K in a nicer town.

Land value is a huge part of the equation. It factors in to just what existing homes sell for, and what new homes will cost, but also what is sensibly for LENDERS to allow for a budget on new home construction.

I doubt you can find a nicely sized, quiet buildable lot withing a half mile of DG Main St (btw, homes near Fairview Ave Station are pretty much equally costly, and the increased lot size close to Belmont Ave Station makes the equation very similar...) for under about $250K. Using "standard" land to build values that means lenders would be aiming for a home that would appraise out at over $750K should the borrower default and the lender have to sell the asset. That means that lenders will want to see blueprints that compare favorably to the homes that have sold for $750K -- basically nobody "wins" if the proposal to build a "stripped down home"...

Wine cellars are might rare, it is fun thing to tuck in the basement of already large home.

Big kitchens with nice appliances are something else -- basically a necessity. I don't care if you exist exclusively on hamburger help or "trixies tofu terror" the assumption is anyone with a need for a family sized home in a nicer area is gonna be spending quite a lot of time in the kitchen!
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