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What does it cost to build a house these days....in New England....?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by webbie, Feb 23, 2008.

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  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Say if I have a lot down near the ocean in RI.

    And want to put a 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath nice vacation "beach house".....nothing really fancy, but nice.

    Needs to have septic and a well. Utilities are on the street. No fancy driveway, and lot is flat and sandy.

    Given the current economy and costs....and figuring a GC to somewhat oversee it since it a distance away.

    How much would a person have to spend on such a place - say 1600 sq. ft or so, no basement?

    Any takers?

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  2. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Quarter million.
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Ah, I like even numbers! Well, actually sort of odd.....

    The septic would be ISDS, so that is 20K and the well is 5K.

    Is that all included in the 250? And are all the usual surprises, permits, etc. figured in? I know when I did remodeling, we figured the cost, doubled it and then added 10% (and I still never made much money at it). Everything always seems to cost more and take longer than planned.

    How about prefab houses? Are they a good option for something like this where it does not have to be custom?
  4. PSYCHO

    PSYCHO New Member

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    Hmmm, my building experience cries more than a quarter million. Hot area, don't forget that. That and supplies are at an all time high, not to mention labor, etc. Prefab would be cheaper, but at a lesser quality home. An exact location would help the math in my book, that and a time frame.
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Would be in relative center of island, so not a "hot" area, not much rock, no hills, etc......like approx here.

    No real time frame....in other words, no hurry.

    Would a pre-fab smaller house really be of less quality?
  6. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    My sister has a pre-fab house in Fairhaven that's about 5 yrs. old.. It looks very well built to me and much less aggravation of dealing with contractors and better cost control. You can specify how fancy you want them built.. I wouldn't hesitate considering one..

    Ray
  7. PSYCHO

    PSYCHO New Member

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    I'll look into the area and time frame, which is good news....... The prefab thing, in all my experience, 20 years so far, I'm yet to see a prefab that didn't need special attention. Now, no offense to any prefab owners out there, honestly. They are a cheaper alternative to stick built, but come with 'special attention.' PM me if you need further info, I just don't want to pi$$ anybody off who might be a happy prefab owner. Hope this helps......
  8. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Craig et Boss: look carefully at pre-manufactured homes. Manufactured homes have advantages in quality, time, materials, design, apples-to-apples cost, and the work done on a sort of assembly line. We built our own because we were on site, had done it before, knew how to hire and fire subs, had the time to do our own GC and work, and wanted to choose the systems lke fixtures and Toto toilets.
    There are good and bad pre-manufactured ( BTW-no one calls them "pre-fabs" anymore ), like stick built and contractors.
    You get to choose: to get on site references, choose the design, get the complete cost without cost suprises or labor or weather problems. There is a wide range of pre-manufactured homes from the infamous "double wides" to luxury homes like Acorn Structures out of Concord, Mass. Check them out--especially ideal for a second home.
    Glad you have the bucks for Newport. How does a nice Italian boy like you.............................
  9. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Lets clear up the confusion.

    Manufactured homes are mobile homes built to HUD specs.

    Modular homes are built to local building codes. Modular homes WERE built like stick built, and trucked to lot to be set by cranes. The manufactured home builders (Oakwood and Clayton, et al) started building modular homes, but they still had steel underneath.

    The old modular home builders changed the names of their homes to "Systems Built" to differentiate themselves from the Clayton and Oakwood modular offerings.

    I have "built" 12 North American Housing "Systems Built" homes.

    I have "built" 3 Excel "Systems Built" homes.

    I have stick built 5 homes in 3 different states.

    Conclusion:

    Systems Built homes WERE cheaper to build 3 years ago, but no longer. (Crane fee, transportation and set crew).

    Systems Built homes can be finished quickly.

    Systems Built homes can have serious defects if not set properly. They can arrive wracked, and often do. The mating lines seldom are perfect. Your set crew can really "F" things up, or make a bad situation tolerable.

    System Built homes generate alot of waste.

    I can stick build a well designed home for much less money, better quality and less waste than a Systems built in todays market.

    Craig, if you want me to manage your project up there, drop me a line.
  10. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Wrong on most points Sandor. Pre-Manufactured homes, at least in the Northeast, are not "mobile". They are engineered and designed as To Code structures, pre-built, usually panelized in a plant. The parts are then assembled on site. There's no "racking" or defects, or the parts would not be used.
    Thousands of high end pre-manufactured homes have been built over code specs here in New England and over North America. Makers such as Acorn Structures and Deck House, as two examples have been building for over 30 years starting in the New England climate. These high end homes have appreciated in value much more than similar on-site/stick built houses. Look them up in your Virginia real estate. These engineered structures used energy efficient panels long before it became code or popular.
    No wheels or chassis on these structures like "mobile homes" or "trailers". Not the same animal.
  11. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    I fully agree with you on all the above.. I went through all the headaches when we built this house 20 yrs. ago... Never again!

    Ray
  12. KeithO

    KeithO Minister of Fire

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    You need to consider one of the homes built from factory prepared structural insulated panels (SIP's). Something on the order of $34k for 1700sq ft for the shell of the home. Shell goes up in just a few days. No bridging through 2x4's in the walls every 16", thus the highest R value in the market. OSB on both sides, making it easy to finish inside and outside (no looking for studs). If you go with a slab, the cost is even lower and you can put in radiant heating. Chases for electrical etc are put in by the factory.

    If cost and speed are the issue, while maintaining quality, this is the way I would go. Reality is that I will be moving to Colorado and will be looking to utilize rock that is already on site so my home will not be a "quick build". One has different kinds of winters out there in the rockies too...

    http://www.valubuild.com/index.htm
  13. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Craig... How about a Buckminster Fuller special? There are lots of great kits out there!!!

    -Kevin
  14. Hestia

    Hestia New Member

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    Before you spend more time on how much it would cost to build, I would look into if you can get insurance on a coastal home at all in your Rhode Island location (if your property is near the water) and if you can, how much it would cost you. People on the Cape are having a difficult time renewing insurance, as many companies just do not want to take on the risk at all.

    Insurance on the coast has gone WAY up - we live in a town on the water, though we are four miles in. Our insurance has doubled in the past couple of years. The following is a link to a very short article on this issue:

    http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080213/BIZ/802130351

    I don't know how to create a "hot link" in this program, but you can cut and paste.

    I poked around a bit more, and the following article is sobering.
    http://greeneconomics.blogspot.com/2007/10/home-insurance-and-climate-change.html

    This all came to mind when I read your post because of a discussion I had with my brother in law yesterday when he helped to unload our stove. He wants to buy a home near where he is living now, (in Nahant - sort of a peninsula North of Boston) however getting insurance is an issue. The required extra flood insurance alone would cost an additional $2,500 a year, not even having checked into if he would be able to obtain home owners insurance at all.

    Don't want to be a wet blanket with all these hot stoves around here, but I would look into it before I got too far into researching building costs.

    Hestia
  15. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Wow, glad this thread is now capturing all the information out there! I think everyone is "right" in that as with everything else, "it depends". The area where I am considering building is more in the center of the island that newport is on (Aquineck Island?), like in Portsmouth or Middletown. There are only a very few lots available, as most of the island is built out or now conservation land (which is GREAT). Lots which are inland are not too bad - in fact, one I am looking at is $160,000 - cheap for this kind of stuff.

    As to how the italian boy can afford it....well, Hearth.com (maybe)....and prices have come down from 10-25% for some stuff here in the last year. So I am nibbling and if I buy or build something my guess is that I would not lose money in the long run (intend to keep house 8-10 years or longer). Also paid off my regular house since I actually lived in the same place for 25 years! (imagine that). Being as I refinanced into the 15 year mortgage that was not too hard!

    So, no mortgage at home means more "disposable" or at least investment income!

    As to flood insurance, I don't imagine that is a problem on this island which consists of rocky hills and bluffs far above the water, and no rivers which can bear down on it. There have been very few major storms other than the big one (1938?). I have not looked too far into flood insurance, but my guess is that it is not the same as the cape and florida, etc. since this stuff is usually based on experience.

    So, onward to look at a couple existing houses...and also the lot.
  16. smangold

    smangold Member

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    Hi, its the wind and the water from the hurricanes that have tripled my freinds insurance on the Ct. coast the last few years. I'm a Ct. contractor and did some sub contracting (gazebos )in Newport for the navy. Things are expensive down there. Also new const. has strict wind code coming online or in force already. 250K seems a little low to me. I guess finding the right contractor in that area would be half the battle.
  17. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Maybe an existing house would be better if const. costs are high. I expect it will be tough to find good contractors, because really good ones are probably working on Nicholas Cages house (he just bought in middletown for 16 million), and on all those newport millionaires home. Also saw a comment somewhere about how some contractors in New England are so used to high wages from the recent boom that they would rather not work at all than work for more reasonable wages.

    I saw some fixer uppers that aren't too bad.....
  18. drewmo

    drewmo Feeling the Heat

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    I lived off and on for 8 years in Portsmouth as a young lad - my dad was stationed at the Navy base in Newport. I wouldn't hesitate buying on Aquidneck Island. In fact, I wish I had the money to buy my parents place when they sold it nearly 20 years ago. I recall Hurricane Gloria knocking down some trees, er, firewood, for us back in '83, I think it was. We lost 9 trees in total. Wind sounds like your only consideration when constructing. You'd be far enough off the water. The beaches in Middletown are great, First & Second Beach. The water is much warmer than what you'll find on the Cape. It was good to see all the open fields on the island from the Google Earth perspective. By the looks of it, the owners of our old house in Portsmouth have constructed a second house on the existing property - they probably realized the value of the land if there's not much constructable land available in the area. Good luck with whatever you do.
  19. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Small world......as martha says about the navy, how the heck did they end up with all the good land?

    Well, that's easy. Ships float, and the coast needs to be defended! 2nd Beach is the secret here, cleaner than first....first gets a lot of that red algae.

    For us, it's probably a matter of being the closest real beach and ocean to where we live. Reality is that if we (or anyone) has to fly to their vacation or second house, they won't go there as much. Add that to the fact that we already live in the boonies - so when we travel, we like more urban venues! The RI coast has lots of nature, but good restaurants, history, shopping, etc. so you have something to do at night or on a rainy day.

    Thanks for your perspective! I guessed that not much damage was here because of the old trees, frame houses, etc. - if storms were very damaging those would have a tough time surviving. Still, they might rip me off on the flood stuff because they tend to spread the risk....so I may end up paying for someone on the cape....I'll have to ask a realtor about that.
  20. MANIAC

    MANIAC New Member

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    Web, we are quite a ways from you in Maine, but we have somewhere in the 200k range tied up in our log cabin. With a "to be finished" basement we'll have just over 1700 sq.ft. We had a GC run the job since we live 150 miles away and were very happy with the outcome.

    I would say the two biggest unknows would be the well and sitework. As far as the well once the drill hits the ground you keep throwing money at it until you hit water. Thankfully we hit after 230 feet and have a very good volume well for ~6k. As far as sitework/septic in a beach type area you should be concerned with local wetlands/conservation issues. In areas like these the requirements can end up being quite costly.

    Just my .02.

    Eric
  21. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    The wife has a brother and sister who live there. If you can see the water $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
  22. downeast

    downeast Guest

    Not only can we see the ocean, we own it....1300 feet of shore on Penobscot Bay.
    What a country. :coolsmile:

    And Please, don't come Downeast : the winters are deadly from October through April, the black flies in June suck blood, the summer is 1 day in July...maybe 2, there are are no bars with 90" HDTV, most women have moustaches, to diddle at a mall you have to drive for hours down south, and the men loose their teeth at 30. Horrible place. Just horrible. Please, stay where you are. Please.
    Remember---Portland, Maine is 3 (count 'em, "three" ) hours south of us....on unimproved dirt paths that are unplowed in winter.
  23. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't worry, DE.....we actually like people....and civilization. Puffins are something I want to see once.
  24. jklingel

    jklingel Feeling the Heat

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    I'm just a home-builder-tinkerer, not a pro carpenter. However, I know crappola from good work, and have looked at several Nelson Homes going up around Frb. From what I have seen, they are quality work. 2x6s are nice, walls look rectangular instead of hap-hazard parallelograms, the OSB aligns with wall plates, sections match up nicely, window ROs look good, cripples fit securely, etc. Personally, I see no reason why a factory can not build a freaking wall as well as any experienced carpenters, and certainly better than some I've seen. When I build another house (and I've been heavily involved in several now) I will seriously consider a Nelson-type home. The walls come assembled and several individuals can, apparently, stand them up and get the roof on in a matter of several days (10?). The owner/GC can then do the hard work; plumbing, wiring, etc. If you have time for any of that, give it a thought. At least you can get a roof over head in reasonable time. The price quote we got was real hard to argue w/, too, and they will customize their standard floor plans.
  25. downeast

    downeast Guest

    What are you smoking Craig ?? Puffins are ONLY found on Machias Seal Island ~20 miles offshore on the way to Nova Scotia, or perhaps if you're Canadian, IN Nova Scotia. If you're good, and will pay for the diesel, I'll bring you out on the trawler. Bring foul weather gear, Scopolomine, long underwear, sea boots, PJ's, and Martha. It will be an overnight.You are penciled in for 1 July, 2008.
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