Square foot costs

A very common question our customers have when planning an addition is the cost per square foot. The reality is that it depends on dozens of decisions made using the triangle model of budget-quality-quantity. The shape of the structure has an impact. In the March 2006 issue of The Journal of Light Construction, Dennis Dixon noted that a 100 square foot structure built 10×10 or 2×50 resulted in a 40 linear foot and 104 linear foot outline respectively. That is a 260% difference in materials and labor. While not a realistic comparison, it certainly points out issues of geometry and how it significantly contributes to the cost of construction. The other factor I call “soft costs”. Soft costs are what you are going to put on or into your project. A window with 6 over 6 panes in an architectural wood series vs. a vinyl window will create a difference of approximately $500 or 140% difference per window. How much interior and exterior molding, built-in cabinetry and other millwork will be part of the equation as well. So what is the current trend? More people are leaning to a higher quality home with amenities rather than more square footage that is plain vanilla.

Keeping weather in mind…

Compared to the last 3 years, we have had a mild winter. Since this has resulted in less ice dams or other problems, it can have us off guard for the next bout of bad weather. The May flowers are brought by Spring Showers; so we need to think about it now before it is too late. High volumes of rain are unusual and can catch us off guard. I know that almost every year we have one storm that produces between 5 & 10 inches of rain over a 24 hour period. Even worse, the damage of flooding basements is usually not covered by homeowners insurance. Most water issues are caused by improper or damaged gutter systems. Over the winter, freezing, thawing and snow can cause gutters to loosen or disassemble. Make sure that the gutters have not moved away from the house and that all the down spouts ate intact. On the ground, if you have direct connection to underground drains, make sure they are not dislodged. If there is no ground drainage system, make sure that the slope of the ground is away from the house and add extensions to the downspouts to move the run-off away from the foundation. After each big rain or wind storm, check again… it may save you a great deal of aggravation and expense.