The question: We’ve been looking for the right house for a long time and just can’t find something that satisfies everyone in the family. Now we are thinking of building. The prospect seems daunting, though. How do we keep costs under control? How long should we expect the whole thing to take?
It’s important for us builders to hear how daunting this seems to you. That’s why good up-front communication and planning are so important.
It helps to see the project as a team effort, with a builder, an architect, and a site engineer each shedding light on what needs to happen for the house to be built effectively. Allow six months for the planning. A thorough process of design and permitting with the team will save time and money in the long run.
Maybe I’m biased, but I think the first member of your team should be the builder with a big-picture perspective on design, lot specifications, and logistics. Talk with a few. Ask about their experience building on the Outer Cape and familiarity with zoning, conservation, codes, and permitting. Does the builder hear your expectations about time and budget?
You expect the team to be open and transparent about the costs of a job. It’s equally important for you to do the same when discussing the budget. Do it early on.
Building a home on our island is expensive — there are no two ways about it. Expect to pay $350 to $500 per square foot for new construction. Then, design and permitting typically runs 5 to 8 percent of that. But with good planning, a custom home can be built without costly change orders.
Construction should take six months to a year, depending on design and location. One more thing, especially if you’re away: ask your builder in advance how to keep tabs as walls rise, windows go in, and the space takes shape. You need to stay in touch to keep that good communication through to the end.
This week’s Dovetail Joint question is answered by Tim Klink, who founded Coastal Custom Builders in 2000. It is a full-service design-build firm in Eastham. Keep sending your questions and we’ll find more good answers.