Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The House Project

Well, it is beginning to look like site-built, not modular. Site-built is $79 per square foot--or about $158,000 for a 2000 square foot home. The equivalent modular home would be about $135,000--cheaper, but I suspect that the site-built home will look better at resale, simply because a modular home still doesn't look quite like a site-built home--although the better ones are close. The site development costs are about the same either way.

The current estimates that I am getting come to about $14,000 for the driveway--although about $8000 is for what they call "pit run," a type of large rock used as the road base on which the gravel goes. It turns out that the driveway will be going up a basalt spine that is probably superior to pit run for that purpose--I can't even get two inches down on this stuff before hitting what seems to be bedrock. It is likely that we will need either no pit run, or only a few hundred dollars worth for a couple of sections.

Excavations for the foundation come to about $3600. Concrete foundation, garage floor, patios, and a walkway around the house: about $10,000.

The well is being estimated at $10,000 (including water storage tank, pump, etc.), but this may turn out to be high, since I think we are going to get water at about 120 feet, not 200 feet.

The first septic tank estimate came in at $5,500, but the contractor thinks that he can use a different system and bring it down to $4,000.

Idaho Power is estimating $4,000 to run power to the house, and the trench to carry the power line is going to cost somewhere below $1,600 to excavate. (He is estimating 800 feet, but as I measure it, the distance from pole to house is closer to 600 feet.)

The house itself is still the biggest part of the cost. I had ambitions for something a bit more modern, but it turns out that hiring an architect would run about $10,000 to $15,000 to turn my drawings and ideas into blueprints. I am not so foolish as to think that a contractor should start from my design and start building.

Instead, we are talking the design of a nearby house that my wife rather likes (built by the same contractor), and expanding a couple of walls out to enlarge bedrooms two and three to a size where one makes sense as an office, and the other is big enough for my son--who may live there for a few minutes, a few months, or a couple of years--hard to say right now.

It still won't be a four bedroom house, but I am reluctant to get too large of a house payment on this. Right now I am employed, and probably next year as well. Two years from now, I would not be surprised to see my job being done in Shanghai, at higher net cost, and lower efficiency. It is therefore wise not to get too reliant on a software engineer's paycheck in an era where such jobs are largely disappearing from the United States.

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