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Old 07-28-2017, 08:26 AM
 
Location: Cortez, CO
32 posts, read 24,504 times
Reputation: 75

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My husband and I are looking to move to the Dolores/Mancos/Cortez area and we're considering buying land and building because so many of the houses available on land/locations that we like are way too big for us. Initial very loose research gave me the idea that it would be roughly $150 per square foot but someone in another thread mentioned that they were looking to build near Durango and costs were $400 per square foot! This is such a huge discrepancy that I'm wondering what it is about that area that's driving such expensive building costs.

We want a place that's simple and on the small side, 1200-1700 s.f. ranch house with a garage or storage shed for bikes with carport for cars will work, no expensive finishes necessary but we want something well built and energy efficient (straw bale? rammed earth?). I'm a structural engineer so I could be involved in the structural design but would hire a contractor, I know enough to know that I really don't want to be too heavily involved for my own sanity. Wondering if anyone here has experience building in the area recently.

Thanks!
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Old 07-28-2017, 09:43 AM
 
5,278 posts, read 2,721,404 times
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As elsewhere, cost depends on the nature of the land. Steeply sloped or flat, heavily vegetated or open, giant rocks to move or not, presence of things you must avoid, do you want buried or exposed power lines, proximity (or lack thereof) of utilities, drainage, septic requirements and leach field placement, type of soils, distance from access point to build site, difficulty of access for big equipment, need for revegetation (how much do you scrape off and how extensive are invasive weeds)...probably more that I am not thinking of.

That's just the site prep, not even the "buildings" part.

Even with simple, nonfancy materials and a simple house design, you could spend a lot just to prepare the site and put in the foundation and utility lines. The county does have mandatory electrical and septic standards and inspections, plus setback requirements from the ROW.

And, as always, it depends who you hire.

$150 psf is low! Not many builders and very busy schedules in this area. You might want to expand your house search to Pagosa Springs or another area with lots of retirees. Might be more ranch-style houses in the size you want there. Definitely cheaper to buy existing house than to build new. We did it once and will do it again, but you have to really, really want something unusual and be willing to pay more to get it. Don't forget that you might have to rent while the house is being built, and rents in this area are HIGH as well as scarce.

Last edited by pikabike; 07-28-2017 at 09:52 AM..
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Old 07-28-2017, 09:47 AM
 
Location: Cortez, CO
32 posts, read 24,504 times
Reputation: 75
Thanks. We are looking at flat, easily accessed, open farm land.
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Old 07-28-2017, 10:05 AM
 
Location: Cortez, CO
32 posts, read 24,504 times
Reputation: 75
And yes, who to hire is a big issue since I have no connections out there. Here in Boulder I have a friend with 40 years experience in construction and zillions of connections and he's had a terrible time trying to renovate his place (workers not showing up, ordering the wrong materials, accidentally flooding the place and having to re-install all the new flooring, etc.). I'm really not excited at the prospect of building but we're having a hard time finding something even close to what we want where we want it.
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Old 07-28-2017, 10:35 AM
 
5,278 posts, read 2,721,404 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hikenbike View Post
And yes, who to hire is a big issue since I have no connections out there. Here in Boulder I have a friend with 40 years experience in construction and zillions of connections and he's had a terrible time trying to renovate his place (workers not showing up, ordering the wrong materials, accidentally flooding the place and having to re-install all the new flooring, etc.). I'm really not excited at the prospect of building but we're having a hard time finding something even close to what we want where we want it.
Yeah, finding subs is not so easy here, either, apparently. They are in demand. The tough thing is when contractors are not in demand, some of them go away or find other work, so then whoever is left has less competition.

Where we built a house (not in CO), we did it when the housing bust still held sway. So scheduling the work wasn't hard for our GC, but one of the subs retired, leaving exactly ONE provider in the entire area; another sub had only one competitor, etc etc. I overheard a conversation in which another contractor said a guy he knew was charging at least TWICE normal cost to renovate a kitchen, because that guy had no other work so he gouged the client he had. We suspect the same thing happened with one or two of the subs for our build.
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Old 07-28-2017, 10:56 AM
 
3,653 posts, read 3,944,785 times
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I am no expert on this, but fwiw: https://durangoherald.com/articles/104915
This article had average construction COST in Durango at well under $250 per square foot, as of last year. Doesn't talk about sale price. Not totally clear if land is included or not.


Looking at some ads for already built homes (age varies but probably mostly 10-20 years old) near in neighborhoods like Edgmont there was lots of variation but a good number were at $250-300 per sq. ft. The outlying areas should be cheaper on average but you'll pay more for custom design, best materials, best work and Now.

For an idea of what around $150 / ft will buy on existing in requested outlying area:
This 11 year old in Cortez https://durangoherald.com/articles/104915 is listed about about $130 per square foot. https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1...13181719_zpid/
Dolores, 22 year old, $150 / ft.

Last edited by NW Crow; 07-28-2017 at 11:20 AM..
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Old 07-28-2017, 11:30 AM
 
Location: Cortez, CO
32 posts, read 24,504 times
Reputation: 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by pikabike View Post
Yeah, finding subs is not so easy here, either, apparently. They are in demand. The tough thing is when contractors are not in demand, some of them go away or find other work, so then whoever is left has less competition.
The structural engineering firm I worked for went under in 2009 thanks to the bank failures/housing collapse and I changed professions and never looked back. I'm sure I could easily find work in that field now but, meh, I've moved onto other things.
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Old 07-28-2017, 11:43 AM
 
Location: Cortez, CO
32 posts, read 24,504 times
Reputation: 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by NW Crow View Post
I am no expert on this, but fwiw: https://durangoherald.com/articles/104915
This article had average construction COST in Durango at well under $250 per square foot, as of last year. Doesn't talk about sale price. Not totally clear if land is included or not.


Looking at some ads for already built homes (age varies but probably mostly 10-20 years old) near in neighborhoods like Edgmont there was lots of variation but a good number were at $250-300 per sq. ft. The outlying areas should be cheaper on average but you'll pay more for custom design, best materials, best work and Now.

For an idea of what around $150 / ft will buy on existing in requested outlying area:
This 11 year old in Cortez https://durangoherald.com/articles/104915 is listed about about $130 per square foot. https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1...13181719_zpid/
Dolores, 22 year old, $150 / ft.

Thanks, that article is super helpful. I'm guessing the cost of land is not included. Buying something already built would be cheaper and much less hassle for sure. I heard an ER doc give a talk and he said one of the top 10 ways to land yourself in the ER is to try to build your dream house. Plus the hassle of having to rent somewhere with 2 dogs and move twice. I think even $200 per s.f. plus the cost of land is pushing our budget. Guess we need to be more patient.
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Old 07-28-2017, 11:44 AM
 
5,278 posts, read 2,721,404 times
Reputation: 9756
For a new build, a quote I got did NOT include the cost of buying the land. Which seems proper to me. And the cost was more than $215 psf for a simple build without fancy materials, on land that is neither flat and easy nor difficult.
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:46 PM
 
Location: Cortez, CO
32 posts, read 24,504 times
Reputation: 75
It also occurs to me that the cost per s.f. will be higher the smaller the house because those set costs like septic, electrical lines, water tap, permit fees, etc. will be the same no matter the size of the house yet spread over a smaller square footage. I have another friend who has built a few houses for himself who told me that it doesn't make much financial sense to build a house much less than 1700 s.f. So those psf fees quoted for bigger houses will likely be even larger for a smaller house.
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