Comparing Costs from Multiple Companies

When research begins for a custom wood home project, typically clients will interview companies and inquire about pricing. For some, they already have their plans in hand with a copyright release and will procure bids from several companies to be sure their home is competitive and fairly priced. For the other majority, they do not yet have a floor plan in hand and are looking for a ballpark estimate to see if it’s feasible to move forward with their project. While we encourage everyone to do their due diligence as building a home is one of the largest and most important investments you’ll make, it’s important to keep the following things in mind while doing your research so you can make a decision that is truly right for you and your home project.

1.) There are many spaces that can be included (or not included) in the cost per square foot pricing that is given to you.

You may think that you are comparing “apples to apples” amongst manufacturers and/or builders, but more often than not, you’re likely comparing “apples to oranges” and you have to dig deeper into the information you are provided with in order to truly make a fair and accurate comparison. For example, Company A may present you with a lower “cost per square foot” than Company B; meaning that the total price of the home will also be less. But is it really? The problem with this is that overall square footage can be calculated in different ways by different companies. Did each company include the entire home, or just the finished portion of the home into the overall square footage price? Was the basement included? Did each company include outdoor living space? Did they include the screened porch? How about the deck or patio? Was the garage included? Obviously, these options are not free and costs that need to be accounted for. You can’t just assume the lowest cost per square foot is truly the lowest… dig deeper to see what’s being included (and what’s not) to be sure you are making a true comparison.

2.) What finishes are included in each company’s price?

During the planning and design phase, our team will take the time to learn about your specific wants, needs and visions for your home to get a feel for the type of finishes you want in your home and provide you with an accurate overall price that reflects the type of finishes and amenities YOU want, not the finishes we think you should have in order to make your price lower and more attractive.

Over the years, we’ve seen people immediately choose whichever company comes in the lowest. This can often be a big mistake and in most cases, the final home ends up coming in as much as or more than what was originally quoted to them by the company or companies they did not select.

Here’s what happens…many companies base their prices on “standard” or “starter” finishes and materials to get the price as low as possible in order to win your business. Once they have the project signed and production/construction begins, they then provide the client with “change orders” (price increases) for all the upgrades the client actually wanted and thought was included. For example, you may want 10” logs, but 8” logs are what's actually being included. Or, you may want real hardwood flooring throughout, but they are including a laminate wood to get the price down. You may want Quartz countertops, but they are only using Quartz in the kitchen and Formica everywhere else. Other things are a little less obvious like the type or quality of windows, doors, hardware, fascia, insulation, roof shingles, trim, etc. Company A may be using reputable, dependable, high quality subcontractors who will stand by their work and show up when you need them, while Company B is not. Company A may be including higher end appliances, while Company B is not. Company A may be including driveway, porch and patio concrete, while Company B is not. Company A may be including services such as Architectural Design and Interior Design throughout the process, while Company B is not… and the list goes on.

There are so many ways for a manufacturer or builder to cut corners and take short cuts to make the overall price look better to the client. We’ve heard too many horror stories where the client ends up paying even more than any of the original bids. Aside from that, if the quality isn’t there and short cuts are taken, you will eventually have to live with those issues and possibly pay more to have them fixed. It’s so important to choose a company who is bidding the house to your specifications and to the level of quality and finishes that you want so there are no surprises or major price increases during construction. There are so many finish options that make up a home, and each one should be selected and priced to your standards. Remember, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

At Wisconsin Log Homes, we refuse to ever put anyone in this type of financial position. We take the time to learn about your wants and needs for the home, and provide you with a quote that is honest and real to meet the specifications you are requesting. We will never low ball a quote just to get the job. We pride ourselves in earning your trust right from the start and throughout the journey.

3.) Why is the cost per square foot of my 2,000 square foot home the same or more as the cost per square foot of a 5,000 square foot home?

There are some costs that will always be relevant regardless of the size of the home - including zoning, permits, utilities, inspections, driveway and so forth. The footprint of the 2,000 square foot home is obviously going to be smaller; however it still has the same amenities (such as appliances, plumbing fixtures, windows, doors, lighting, etc). If you choose the same finishes for both homes, your overall price will be lower for the 2,000 square foot home; however the price per square foot will typically be around the same and sometimes even more. You also have to consider the design and architectural complexity of the home. If the smaller home has a walkout basement and complex angles, it’s likely going to be more expensive per square foot than a simple, square two-story with no walk-out basement.

Click here to learn more about the factors that affect the overall price of the home.

4.) How do I go about getting a ballpark estimate from Wisconsin Log Homes?

Call one of our National Home Consultants at 1-800-678-9107 to discuss your project ideas, visions and plans. We’ve designed, supplied and built so many homes in all different locations that we can get you an accurate ballpark estimate for what you’re looking for. Once you're ready, if you are comfortable with this ballpark estimate and with our company, we would then start the design phase of your home. Throughout the design phase, we will discuss your wants, needs and finish requests, and will make sure we have a thorough understanding of what you want in your home. Then, once the floor plan is fairly set and finalized, we can provide you with an accurate price proposal and make any adjustments as needed. Knowing your budget from the start will really help us provide you with a design that keeps you safely within what you want to invest. We are able to better do our job and service our clients when they are open and honest about their budget right from the start.  We look forward to learning about your project plans and visions!