We’ve been building custom luxury homes in Borne, Garden Ridge, and other communities in the Texas Hill Country for about 35 years. In all that time, we can’t recall a single time when a homeowner came to us and said, “Build me a home. I don’t care what it costs.” That’s just not the way it works. Homeowners want to know what their new home will cost—and they should. But is there such a thing as a standard cost for a luxury custom home?
At Boyer Custom Homes, we generally build homes that cost between $400,000 and $5 million. Admittedly, that’s a fairly wide range. Regardless of what someone spends, however, the cost is always a factor. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that account for that wide disparity in cost.
When you’re talking about building a home, the words “standard,” “custom,” and “luxury” are pretty much mutually exclusive. It’s virtually impossible to have standardized prices across the board when the things that affect the costs (land, design, size, materials, and labor) are so dramatically different. Some homeowners try to lock in on a “cost-per-square-foot” in order to get a better idea of what they can expect to spend. But once again, that figure depends on the materials, design, and labor that are involved in creating those “square feet.”
It begins with establishing a budget that’s realistic for you. How can you get a handle on what you should spend for a home? What can you really afford to spend without causing yourself undue stress? If what you can truly afford is toward the $400,000 range, you don’t want to have a builder or architect create plans for a $2 million home. Conversely, if what you want is a $3 million home (and you can afford that kind of expense), you don’t want to budget for a $500,000 home that may leave you disappointed.
Let’s examine a few of the major factors that have the most impact on your final cost. This is where you may have to make some decisions—and perhaps some compromises. I’m not suggesting that you sacrifice quality, but you may have to forego some things in order to stay within your budget.
- Property: The size and location of your lot have a huge impact on the price. Custom homes tend to be found on custom lots. Some individuals like lots of land around their home for the view or the privacy. More land costs more money. And more remote lots can also require more money to make them accessible or buildable. Just to give you an idea of how land prices can vary, here’s a look at a few properties in the Boerne area that have recently been listed by Zillow:06+- acres in desirable River Mountain Ranch on the Guadalupe (RMR) neighborhood. $150,000
3.9 acres with central water and sewer in beautiful Cordillera Ranch. One of the few lots with central water large enough for horses. Lot has been cleared by owner and is level, making for an easy build. $175,000
4.28 acres in Boerne historic district, beautiful, flat and cleared land with a few trees on Boerne Main. Prime location a few blocks from Boerne’s Town Square. $2,000,000Obviously, the size and location of the property you chose can make a huge difference in cost.
- Design: This may sound a bit obvious, but more complex designs cost more than simple designs. Square and rectangular shapes are easier to build than unusual shapes. And it’s not just building a different-shaped wall that costs more. Unusually shaped walls may require unusually shaped windows. That costs more. Of course, the size of the home you build matters as well. It simply takes more time (labor) and materials to build a 10,000 square foot home than it does to build a 4,000 square foot home.
- Materials: The materials you specify for your home can also make a significant difference in the price. Some homeowners in the area like to use local materials to capture the essence of their surroundings. Others enjoy the look and feel of recycled or repurposed woods. Still, others appreciate the beauty of exotic woods used throughout the house. You have to decide if your budget can handle those kinds of expenses. By the way, that can be a bit tricky, because sometimes what appears to be a small, incremental increase can have a big impact on your price. For instance, you might really like a particular kind of exotic hardwood flooring that costs $5 a square foot more than a conventional floor. That $5 doesn’t seem like much, but if you plan to cover 1,500 square feet of floor, you’re looking at an increase of $7,500! That’s just one example of how scope creep can blow your budget out of the water.
Those are just a few areas where customizing your home can dramatically impact the price you pay—and why it’s virtually impossible to talk about “standard” pricing when you’re building a custom home. That’s also why it’s so important to have a realistic budget and then bring both the designer/architect and the builder into the process as early as possible so that you end up with a realistic cost and budget based on what you want—rather than shooting for a “ballpark” estimate.
Is there such a thing as a standard cost for a luxury custom home? In my experience, I’d have to say, no. On the other hand, we’ve built a lot of custom luxury homes in the area and we can work with you to figure out what you want and give you an accurate estimate of what it will cost you to build a home to your unique specifications.
Adapted and updated from the original March 2016 blog post.
CTA: Custom Home Guide