An important question when starting a project is “What is this going to cost?”
Until a project is defined, this can be a difficult question to answer. Costs vary dramatically depending on the site conditions, the design, the location, potential efficiencies with repetition, and the systems chosen. For example, doing 10 townhouse units in Colorado might cost $160/sf, but a custom home in the hills of San Francisco might be $500/sf.
Knowing the goal is to have the costs align with your project budget, we have found the best way to do this is to use general budget numbers below, discuss your budget, and have preliminary pricing completed at the end of schematic design. If the preliminary pricing aligns with the project budget, we move to the next phase (design development for custom projects, or construction documents for preconfigured designs). If it does not align, then we make adjustments to the design. It is best to do this as early in the process as possible, so engineering and developed documents are created only after there is confidence that the projected costs fit the budget.
We use time-efficient and cost effective methods to provide many economical benefits for you. Our design process and construction techniques work together seamlessly to create a competitively-priced, high-end, sustainable home. Thoughtful, beautiful design, environmentally-friendly materials, efficient building systems and competitive pricing are elements that make your Michelle Kaufmann designed home unique.
While the modular costs fluctuate a bit depending on the actual square footage (prices do go down a bit per square foot as the house gets bigger), they are far more predictable than the site costs (grading, foundations, decks, septic, driveways, button-up, etc.). This is why we try to put as much in the factory scope as possible – to eliminate as much of the less predictable (generally more expensive) site labor. This also tends to speed the construction process as well.
That said, the factory costs have been running between roughly $175/sf (for a recent 2500 sf house) to roughly $200/sf (for a recent 1,344 sf house). On top of this, we have shipping and setting costs associated with the modules which have been running around $8000/module or roughly $10-15/sf. If a crane is needed to set the modules, that would cost another $8000/day or so.
The remainder of the costs associated with the project are what we to as site costs- site prep costs (clearing, tree removal, excavation, running utilities to the house site, foundations, drainage, etc.); “button-up” costs (patching mateline drywall, flashing between modules, hooking up the house to utilities and connecting across modules, mechanical system fire-up, etc.); and site improvements (decks, patios, final grading, driveways, etc.). The site costs (in the Bay Area) can range from around $60/sf (i.e. a flat-ish site with good soil, simple foundations and minimal site improvements) to over $250/sf (i.e. a site with bad soil or on a hillside requiring a more elaborate foundation system, soil recompaction or massive excavation… or a site that is completely undeveloped and requires a long driveway, etc.).
So, you can see that while we have a good hold on the house costs for the majority of the project, the specific site will have a tremendous impact on the overall costs (like with any house). But after going through an “apple to apple” factory-built vs. site-built pricing exercise recently for a home in the Bay Area, we found that not only will building modularly save about half of the construction time, it will be cheaper than building traditionally (completely on site).