Cost of a basement foundation with egress window

An architect in our network is considering adding a 400 square foot basement below a new 400 square foot addition.
It’s odd that basements are such a rare thing around here.  Basements are standard for the rest of the country.
To excavate a 20’x20′ space, it will cost $25,000.  This includes the excavation and to haul off 150 yards of soil.
Exporting soil has a fee of $700 a load.  A load in a dump truck is 7-8 yards.
20’x20′ x 8′ deep is 120 yards of soil. That is 17 loads an $15,000 in fees to the transfer station/dump
4 days labor plus machinery is $1,200/day = $5,000 for labor and machinery
Shoring is additional.
The foundation footings will be about $8,000
The foundation walls will be poured concrete for another $8000
With a contractor doing this it would be $40,000.
That’s 400 square feet for $40,000.
You can finish this space for a very reasonable cost too.
This is such a good value. Around here, real estate is valued at $900+ per square foot and construction costs are usually $300-$500+ per square foot.  There is a lot of value in a basement.
It’s tempting to have fun with this idea now…
  • Add radiant floor heat.
  • You could get a bedroom or two into a 400 square foot footprint and rent it out
  • Add a basement bar
  • Add a playroom for the kids
  • An office
  • Media room
  • Music room
This is making me wonder why we don’t do basements all the time!

Cost to build a large custom home (5,000 square foot 5 bed six bath)

This article is part of a series of posts on real project costs.  New Avenue is the leading national design/build system.  Homeowners and contractors enter bids  in our system and send and receive payments for completed work.  Any changes are submitted by the contractor and approved by the owner before the budget changes.  This keeps your project budget transparent, fair and under control.   It’s like PayPal for remodeling and building.  We get a unique ability to collect the complete project costs.  We share these costs to help inform owners, architects and contractors. 

If an owner does not have a team in place, we have a network of proven architects and contractors who are committed to creating homes that make owners healthier, wealthier and happier. 

A custom home is often a once in a lifetime project.  A dream home that is custom designed, permitting and built within two hours of a major city is an entirely different project from a tract home or existing home.

This following budget is for a 5,000 square foot custom home.   This was architect designed and custom built.  The construction costs include every detail needed for the contractor to complete the home. Your project will certainly be different however costs for a home of this quality are comparable outside of any major metro area.

 

Here is a list of the almost 100 line items used to track the progress and pay for work as it is completed.

General Conditions Allowance

Mobilization $ 1,500.00

Sanitary Facilities $ 1,500.00

Dumpsters $ 6,500.00

Progress Cleaning $ 1,000.00

Final Cleaning $ 1,500.00

Project Supervison $ 25,000.00

Shop Drawings & Samples & Mock-Ups $ 4,000.00

Silt Fencing & Erosion Control $ 1,800.00

Sub- total $ 42,800.00

Site Work

Demolition $ 19,500.00

Excavation $ 18,000.00

Backfill & Drainage $ 17,000.00

Rough Grading $ 14,000.00

Rain Gardens $ 9,500.00

Utility Trenching $ 12,000.00 *

Road Cleaning $ 2,500.00

Driveway $ 18,680.00

Tree Clearing $ 1,000.00

Excavate for Retaining Walls and Propane Tank $ 5,000.00

sub-total $ 117,180.00

Concrete and Masonry

Concrete Foundation and Slab $ 55,200.00

Foundation Waterproofing $ 2,100.00

Boulder Wall and trench drain $ 25,000.00

Stone Veneer on Foundation $ 30,800.00

Chimney veneer $ 5,500.00

Front Entry Step $ 2,800.00

Polished Concrete Floor $ 5,000.00

Division 3- sub-total $ 126,400.00

Division 4- Metals

Structural Steel $ 2,500.00

Gutters $ 2,000.00

sub-total $ 4,500.00

Wood and Plastics

Framing Materials $ 55,000.00

Exterior Materials $ 30,000.00

Interior Materials $ 16,500.00

Framing Labor $ 80,000.00

Exterior Labor $ 45,000.00

Interior Labor $ 82,000.00

General Labor $ 8,000.00

Porch /Deck/Railings(allowance) $ 31,500.00

Outdoor Shower $ 3,500.00

sub-total $ 351,500.00

Windows/Doors

Anderson Windows and Exterior Doors $ 43,000.00

Garage Door- (allowance) $ 3,000.00 A

Interior Doors $ 6,500.00

sub-total $ 52,500.00

Thermal and Moisture

Insulation $ 28,000.00

Roof $ 23,600.00

Roof top Snow Melt $ 2,500.00

sub-total $ 54,100.00

Division 8- Finishes

Drywall $ 21,200.00

Exterior Painting $ 20,500.00

Interior Painting $ 28,000.00

Kitchen Counter(allowance) $ 8,500.00

Flooring- Wood $ 29,900.00 A $6.50 per sf for material

Tile Material (allowance) $ 11,000.00

Tile – Install, waterproof, setting(allowance) $ 18,500.00

sub -total $ 137,600.00

Millwork

Kitchen Cabinet (allowance) $ 35,000.00

Bath Cabinets and Counters (allowance) $ 15,000.00

Master Walk-in Closet (allowance) $ 3,000.00

Closets and Shelving (allowance) $ 5,000.00

Bunk Beds and other Cabinets (allowance) $ 7,500.00

Fireplace Surrounds and Related (allowance) $ 3,500.00

Medicine Cabinets (allowance) $ 1,200.00

Stairs $ 19,500.00

Workbench $ 1,500.00

Balcony Rail $ 2,300.00

sub total $ 93,500.00

Specialties

Door, Bath and Cabinet Hardware (allowance) $ 16,750.00

Plumbing Fixtures, Shower Glass and Mirrors(allowance)$ 25,000.00

sub-total $ 41,750.00

Equipment

Appliances(allowance) $ 35,000.00

Generator – 22kw $ 8,500.00

Zero Clearance Fireplace Unit (allowance) $ 8,000.00

Appliance Install $ 3,500.00

sub-total $ 55,000.00

Mechanical

HVAC $ 55,000.00

Plumbing $ 29,000.00

Propane Tank $ 4,300.00

Gas Piping $ 1,200.00

HRV/ERV $ 4,000.00

sub-total $ 93,500.00

Electrical

Electrical Service $ 5,900.00

Electrical Rough in $ 52,800.00

Electrical Fixtures (allowance) $ 20,000.00

Alarm Install (allowance) $ 2,000.00

TV, Data (allowance) $ 25,000.00

sub-total $ 105,700.00

Landscaping

Stone Paths $ 2,530.00

Soil/Seed (allowance) $ 12,000.00

Irrigation(allowance) $ 5,000.00

Stone Dock(allowance) $ 15,000.00

Shore Protection (allowance) $ 35,000.00

Stone Patio $ 5,750.00

Landscape Misc(allowance) $ 10,000.00

sub-total $ 85,280.00

Sub-total $ 1,361,310.00

GC Fee- $ 204,196.50

Total $ 1,565,506.50

No matter what you are considering, the New Avenue platform is the easiest way to get organized, get bids, hire a team and manage your project.

You can download the full budget in the New Avenue system format here: Country House Budget

Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

$1,000 for a custom home plan? This is a ripoff that will cost you.

One of our architects recently emailed this to me:

“I lost a commission on a NEW BUILD to a guy who charged a grand!!! Now I made most of my fee back, fixing it, but you wouldn’t believe how often that is the case.”

The key here is that the owner in this story still paid “most” of the original architect’s proposed fee. For the same cost the owner had to endure a painful experience of starting with a defective plan, then figuring out how to fix it during construction.

Every architect has this story.  Very few owners understand it.

The lesson is that a great designer or architect will create a better design, your project will be a much more enjoyable experience, and the time that the architect spends working on your project creates efficiencies that save you money.  Basically, you can’t avoid the work so you might as well hire a professional who knows what he or she is doing!

Eight years ago, I founded New Avenue and at the time I was guilty of misunderstanding the design process.  I had no idea what an architect really did. I fell for the prefab myth that scale and efficiency would save you money. It turns out shipping costs and cranes eliminate any cost benefits of prefab building. Worse than the lack of savings is that you get stuck with the existing design. That is never as good as a truly custom design for the specific site where you are building.

The key is finding a good architect who follows a good process and stays involved start to finish.

Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

 

 

How to permit and permit costs of an accessory dwelling vs. an accessory structure in Albany, CA

The Albany Planning Department has a very strict interpretation of an
“accessory building” (that is not a dwelling with a kitchen) and what triggers requiring a permit. Based on a conversation in February 2017, if a storage building (accessory structure) that is less than 120 square feet in size has power or electricity, then Albany requires a permit.

Similarly, if the accessory structure is intended for any use other than storage, Albany requires a permit. A workshop accessory building would require a permit based on the proposed use. This interpretation is unique to Albany.

Re: parking
Parking requirements have been waived as of January 2017.

Re: planning and permit costs:
Because the technician was not forthcoming with what fees would apply, we made some assumptions so that we will have a reasonable amount in the budget to account for potential fees. Our project falls somewhere between an Albany defined “accessory building” and an ADU. We exist in a grey zone which their fee structure does not account for. We think once we have a master plan for development of the back yard, we should sit down with the actual planner to review the project, and the likely phasing of the
project.

At that time we should get a clearer idea of the planning fees.

Again, the building permit fee we estimated was based on a $200,000
construction budget all submitted as a single project. That’s a number we
pulled out of thin air at the counter just to get the technician to commit
to an amount for a building permit.

As we revisit the proposal, do you have drawings of the existing house and
site that might have been prepared for your recent remodel?

Sign up to see example budgets, example floor plans, or to use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Cost of a Garage Conversion to an Apartment or Accessory Dwelling Near San Francisco

This garage conversion is just over 25% completed at the time of this article.
The owner of this home is a young recent Berkeley graduate who bought a home near a local BART station.  He can commute to downtown San Francisco in about 30 minutes (when there aren’t BART delays… a big “if”)

Michael plans to rent the home out.  Other clients with projects like this have collected $2,000+ per month and paid off the entire project in 5 years.

This is a tricky project as it is built on the property line. This is allowed when converting an existing space.  The structure that is there will technically remain in order to meet permit requirement however the wood is all rotten and useless so it is just an added challenge that complicates construction and makes building a big more expensive.

The full budget is saved as a pdf file that you can view or download here: Garage Conversion Budget

Photos of the plans follow:

Site Plan - Garage Conversion Elevations - Garage Conversion Floorplan - Garage Conversion

 

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What Architects Say When Construction Bids Come In

We received the following email from an architect as bids were coming in for one of his projects:

Architect Reaction to Construction Bids

This happens all too often.

There are two ways to counter this surprise:

  1. Study the cost of a nearby project that is of a similar size and scope.
  2. Invite a contractor to provide an estimate and “value engineering” beginning at schematic design. This is before you do the engineering or apply for permits.

To get the costs of a completed project you can’t ask an architect or contractor. They design and build and they do so separately. So they have no way of knowing what the other one is charging.

You can ask us at New Avenue – We are the system that manages payments for the entire project.  It’s free to do so:)

You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Permit costs and time to build a duplex, triplex or accessory dwelling

We get calls every week with people asking about adding another home to a single family home to create a duplex, or converting a garage behind a duplex to make a triplex, or just adding a small accessory dwelling.

Effectively, these are all the same from a design and building perspective.

The permit process varies quite dramatically and can take 6-12 months no matter which path you choose.

The one big cost impact is a duplex or triplex will incur new utility hook up fees of $15,000+. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of a 6 month permit process or a 12 month permit process.

This is very specific for Berkeley however most cities are very similar.

Here is a summary:

1) You own a single family home and want an accessory dwelling
– If you keep the design under the height limits and are willing to sign a deed restriction promising to owner-occupy one of the two units for eternity, then you can skip the planning permits with a “by right” planning approval. Then you get your buiding permit which is 5+ months.
– If you want a design that is over the height limit of 14′ then you can apply for an AUP planning permit which costs about $4,000 and takes 5+ months. Then you get your building permit, which is another 5+ months.

2) You own a single family home and want a duplex.
– If you are zoned for two units, then the city may allow this. The architect has to check at the planning desk.
– Planning will require a Use Permit that has neighbor review and takes about six months for the planning permits. Building permits will follow

3) You own a duplex and want to add a third unit:
– – Same as above. You might want to just make it a big addition to the duplex and keep it as two units or you might want to permit the 3rd unit. Again this requires the architect to visit the city.

In either case, the cost is about $6,000 for the Use Permit
Utility hookups come into play, so that is an additional ??? (I’d say $15,000 or more)
Building permits are the same as they are based on building costs.

Also check out the permit calculator: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/PermitFeeEstimator.aspx

Designing and Building an Accessory Dwelling in Los Angeles

A potential client recently called us to discuss their goal of adding an accessory dwelling to their home in Los Angeles.

This owner had verified that his R-1 zoned residence is allowed to add an accessory dwelling.  He had read about the new state law that went into effect on January 1, 2017.  This law gave him, and everyone else in California the right to build an accessory dwelling, backyard cottage, or in-law unit.

We went to City Planning last week and confirmed he is allowed to convert the garage.
He now needs someone to look at his property because he wants to answer the following questions.  We’ve answered what we know below.  Some questions require a site visit by an architect:
Q: What can I do with my garage?
A: Legally, you should be able to convert it to living space.
Q: Should I take out the existing garage?
A: We would have an architect and possibly a contractor review the current garage and recommend whether to keep it or replace it.
Q: How do I maximize my property?
A: We would have an architect meet on site and discuss some design ideas.
Q: The garage is right in the middle of the yard.  If I put a new unit in there then my primary house is about 730 square feet. How big can I build?
A: The city noted that up to the same size as the main home is allowed because his home is smaller. The city confirmed that a 725 square foot accessory dwelling would be ok.
Q: Can I add new meters as the new home will be rented?
A:The city confirmed that his garage can be converted to a living area and he’ll be able to apply for a new address, separate gas meter and separate utilities.  We advise that we almost always T off the main home utilities. This typically allows you to avoid the utility installation fees which can be $10,000 or more.  Then you can but a private meter (they’re on Amazon) and have an electrician or plumber install it.  With this meter you can bill your tenants for their use.
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Cost of an Addition in South San Francisco That Includes an Accessory Dwelling

We recently completed a 2 bedroom, one bath, kitchen and living room in 537 square foot addition.  This is for a 1,572 square foot home in South San Francisco.  Affectionately called “Grandma’s House”, this accessory dwelling is for the mother of the owners.

Below you can see the floor plans, site plans, and the budget for the entire project.

 

Project Attributes

Coverage of Lot

Addition in South San Francisco

Floor Plan

 

This budget is right before the final invoice. The “Budget” amount is the total cost of all design, engineering, and construction. You can see that the soft costs were approximately $35,000 before the project broke ground. The soft costs are mostly architecture time that we bill hourly. Budget for 537 Square Foot Addition in South San Francisco

You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started

Have any questions? We are available to discuss your goals & ideas. There’s no fee or commitment. To request a time for a call, just click here and tell us when to call you.

Cost of a basement remodel and a new guest house with roofdeck

The cost of a major basement remodel and guest house is listed in the attached budget below.

This project includes an 899 square foot two story guest house and the remodel of over 1,000 square feet of unfinished basement space into two new apartments.

You can open the link below to see all of the detailed line items in this project. We list the cost of each line item in the project budget.

Oakland Budget

This is the ground floor of the new guest house / accessory dwelling:

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 2.52.14 PM

This is the upper floor of the accessory dwelling including the bridge to the main home and the roof deck:

Accessory Dwelling Second Floor

This is the floor plan of the basement remodel:

Basement Remodel