Arlington Designer Homes is committed to green building for the health benefits, energy savings, and reduced environmental footprint it provides for our buyers and our community. With constantly changing regulations, technologies and products, buidling a new green home from the ground up isn't always easy - but it's always interesting!

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September 24, 2010

Saving Money by Going Green

I received a question the other day that I get quite a bit.
How much does it cost per square foot to build a house?
The real answer is, “It depends.”  There are companies out there (mostly large national or regional companies) that advertise set prices of $80 per square foot. It sounds like a great deal, but what the ads don’t usually tell you is that this price doesn’t include permits, site work, sewer and water connections, landscaping, experienced construction supervision, etc. – the list goes on. Anyone can give you a $80 s/f price when you pull things like site supervision out of the equation.
There are people out there who can do it cheaper than a smaller custom builder can, but can they do it better? I believe the answer is no. When you start to sacrifice supervision, or hire less-experienced or untrained crews to cut costs, you get an inferior product. 
(To determine how much it’s really going to cost to build your home, you have to first ask yourself what you want to have in your house. Every decision that a customer makes has a direct result on the final “per square foot” price. If you choose to upgrade your kitchen countertops or flooring, the total house costs will go up.  Another factor that should be calculated into prices is the overall operating cost of the house. Square footage is like a pyramid. The bigger your house, the more overall costs you will have to pay. You have to buy the land, you have to pay for the materials and labor for a bigger home, you have to pay taxes and maintenance, then you have to heat, cool and clean your house. )
There is another way to reduce the costs of building your home that doesn’t require you to sacrifice quality. If you build smarter, you can save a lot of money over the long run. At Arlington Designer Homes, we don’t think bigger is better – we think smarter is better.  
Spray-in foam insulation costs a bit more upfront, but more
than pays off for itself with reducing heating/cooling costs
and will actually save you money over the long term.
If you are able to recycle your construction materials (see previous blog entry), you will save money on disposal costs. If you install a better insulation package, you will save money on future energy costs. If you spend the money now on a more efficient hot water heater, you can pay it off with reduced operating costs in just one year, and for the next 20 years have more money in your wallet. All of these green improvements translate into a house that can be significantly more cost effective to run. Think about cutting your house’s operating costs in half and saving the other half over the next 20 years. If you haven't, maybe you should.

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