Building in Windcliff – Some Cost Rules of Thumb

A couple years ago, my wife and I took the leap, bought a lot and built our dream home in Windcliff.

If you are contemplating doing the same, here are some numbers to start your analysis with.

The prices below are irrespective of (do NOT include) the cost of the lot. You can make your own analysis of that cost based on which lot you plan to purchase – the current list is posted at http://windcliff.com/real-estate/

First – need a ballpark? Try these popular “rules of thumb” for what it costs to build a home in Estes Park these days:

Cost to build Ground-level basement (walkout) – $110/sf
Cost to build Main floor (kitchen/bath/living/bedrooms) – $260/sf
Cost to build an upper floor (Bedrooms and Baths) – $160/sf
Cost to build decks – $50/sf
Cost to build garage – $110/sf

Total up the amount of each type of space and you’ll have a pretty good first swag at what it will cost to build “all-in” (permits, , engineering, design, build, landscaping, electrical, plumbing, complete finish-out, etc. all sorta get figured into that – just NOT the price of the lot as I mentioned above). That of course does NOT include the price of decor and furnishings either.

When we built, we were VERY conservative with some finish-out materials. First of all, we had a relatively simple, clean design to work with thanks to our architect who was worth EVERY PENNY. We used modestly priced exterior sidings, used industrial/construction materials instead of exotic hardwood finish details, eliminated almost all expensive steel sub-structures, used lower-priced engineered wood flooring, used painted concrete instead of expensive flooring downstairs, used formica countertops instead of granite (saved us nearly $7,000 from the builder’s original budget!), used melamine cabinets instead of exotic hardwood, and modest appliances all contributed to a slightly lower build-out than most home builders would probably shoot for these days. But the results don’t look low-cost: AscentEstesPark.com

Now, to be fair we also splurged a little: the fireplace, the amount of decking, the size of the garage, the standing seam roof w/gutters, the flatwork, additional insulation options, higher capacity HVAC boiler, relatively expensive tile work in the bathrooms, high-design plumbing fixtures, and some late change orders.

All-in-all, the rules of thumb above turned out to be very accurate.

I would advise those building in Estes in the near future to consider the following (more) accurate budget expenses, however:

  • Appliances – $8,000 minimum – I just can’t see how you can equip a house with reasonable quality appliances for $6,000 any more
  • Fireplaces – they’re expensive. Ours was “only” $5,000! Most in the showroom were FAR more expensive. Budget accordingly.
  • Garage Doors – $130 per linear foot – So if a single 16’ door, budget $2,000. If three 8’ doors, budget $3,120. Yes, ours were insulated and had window panels w/electric openers. Don’t most?
  • Landscaping – not included in budget – really needs to be. We have yet to pay for any so I’m not sure what to recommend budgeting in this regard (?) – probably at least $10,000 to start.
  • Permits – I’m not sure how the budget was built for permits ($4,146), but the total for permits and additional tap fees (the prepaid taps are ONLY for 24 “fixture units” – that’s not “fixtures”!) which ended up exceeding $17,000! Ouch!
  • Surveys & Copies – same story. Budget was only $1,500. But the total of my invoices to Van Horn exceeded $3,300 by the time the project was complete. Adjust accordingly in the future.
  • Structural Engineer – Budget $5,000 minimum. Yes, our house design had some unique challenges, but Larimer is demanding. Budget accordingly.
  • Trash, Toilet & Final cleaning – Budget was only $1,300 but actual costs exceeded $4,000.

Also be sure to budget $35,000-$55,000 for window coverings, decor and furnishings to finish the project.

Will these estimates be 100% accurate for all projects?  No.  Not at all.  Again, these are rules of thumb.  But they tend to give you a pretty good IDEA of what you’re getting into.

Builders are currently quoting between $220-$260/sf depending on complexity/expense of design and material selections.   Compare this estimate with the one using the “Rules of Thumb” above.  They should both provide a pretty reasonable ESTIMATE.

Our last piece of advice to anyone considering building in Windcliff:   JUST DO IT!