Getting a rough sense of what kind of price tag you’re looking at before you delve too deeply into the design process is important – construction costs are a creative constraint. Outlined below is a way to think through what your dream home, barn, or timber frame might demand of your pocket book.
In very rough terms, the finished homes we build cost between $225-$250/square foot. To get a whole-house cost, you can go to any of the timber frame homes pages on our website, find the square feet (listed in the sidebar column on each house’s page) and multiply by $225-250.
Here are a few examples. You can click on the links below to see these two homes, and find the square footage numbers.
Central Vermont Hybrid Home
Total Square Feet: 2300
Price Range: $517,000 – $575,000
Vermont Craftsman Home
Total Square Feet: 1300
Price Range: $293,000 – $325,000
A note about price per square foot: PPSF is a fuzzy number. What actually counts as square footage of a finished project, and what to include in the price vary from builder to builder, which makes it tough to compare with other builders in anything but a rough, ballpark way. We count only the interior, livable space in the total square feet number. In a timber frame home, this is is the same as the frame dimensions. If your insulated walls are 12″ thick, that is not counted as additional square feet. Importantly, the first floor and second floor are both counted. See the sidebar at left for a list of what is and isn’t included in the price.
It’s trickier to give a general PPSF for barns. “Barn” can mean a simple, one story building on piers with a gravel floor, or a two story building with an insulated shop, upstairs apartment, and a full basement. The most typical barn we build is a two story barn on a slab foundation. These cost around $100/SF of footprint area, could range down to $80/SF if the client contributes significantly to on-site labor, and/or if the barn is on piers with a gravel floor, and up to $120K with significant finish elements, nice windows, etc.
*Note- for barns, we’re talking about a price per square foot of footprint area, not square feet of usable space. It’s relatively inexpensive to add a second story to a barn, because the cost of the excavation work, foundation, roofing, etc. are already accounted for. Adding a second story to a simple barn adds about $10/SF.
The two barns pictured below both have footprints of ~1,000SF, and both cost ~$100,000, including all excavation & sitework, roofing and finish. They are two story barns on slab foundations with metal roofs and board siding.
A useful metric for getting a rough sense of how much a frame will cost is the Price Per Cubic Foot of enclosed volume. You can expect that hiring us to build and raise a timber frame will cost between $2.75-3.25 per cubic foot, with larger open spaces (and therefore less joinery per cubic foot) pushing that number downward. This is the roughest metric of them all, but it’s accurate enough to be a useful, very rough guide.
For example, if you were to look for a range of prices for the frames below, (frames only- this is a price for a frame to be designed, cut and raised, but includes nothing else) they would be:
Intersecting Gable House Frame: 24,000 Cu. Ft, means the price would range from $66K-$78K
The Tiny Cabin: 1,500 Cu. Ft, price range of $4,125-$4,875
Two Story Frame For 28’x38′ Barn: 19,500 Cu. Ft, price range of $56K-$63K
The reason for the range in price is, in part, because of the PPCF metric’s inability to capture client preferences. Do you want forked trees in your frame? Does the timber have a rough finish or is it planed and oiled? The examples shown here are real TimberHomes projects, and the actual price of the two story barn frame was about 10K lower than the cubic volume measurement predicted- it’s a large, very simple, unfinished frame. The Intersecting Gable House frame was about 5K more than the metric predicted- it has 6 forked trees in it, needed to be designed to fit within an existing architectural design, and has complex hip & valley joinery. The small cabin was in the range listed.
How Can I Keep Costs Down?
If these numbers are discouraging to you, they are not meant to turn you away from talking to us, but to paint a realistic picture of what new construction costs. While there are some immutable costs to building new, there are also many ways to keep costs low. It’s possible to come in below the numbers described here, but it would take significant work on the part of the client, and many decisions would need to be budget driven. Here are some ways to keep your costs down:
- Build small
- Build simple (fewer dormers and fewer corners in your building = significantly less construction time)
- Do some work yourself (clients of ours in the past have run the gamut from doing trash runs for us to taking on all finish work once the building was dried in. Labor is about half the cost of construction).