This question is very closely connected to my last blog where I discussed all of the many tasks that you should be sure to include in the cost of your timber frame and panel package price. The frame and panels of course are only a part of the overall cost and as the main structure of the building they can be a significant portion of that cost. In order to evaluate your design options you have to determine how much it is going to cost.
This is the biggest challenge when first considering building a new home or any project for that matter, but especially in residential construction. When a client comes to us looking for our input on design choices and pricing we break the process down into 3 stages:
1. Charrette - First we meet with you to review your needs, look at any sketches you may have come up with and your list of things you would really like to see in the home. This is sometimes referred to as a "charrette".
2. Design Review - We prepare hand drawn sketches of your plan and a 3D timber model and then review them with you to be sure that we have interpreted your needs accurately.
3. Bid Specifications - We spend several hours with you working through the worksheets in our Owner's Manual to help you develop your "bid specifications", which are basically your choices of materials such as floor finishes, siding material, heat source, quality of cabinets and fixtures, and hundreds of other details. There are different specification packages (specs) developed for each discipline, such as Earthwork, Concrete, Rough Carpentry, Windows & Doors, Plumbing, Electrical and so on. At the completion of this phase you will have a package of specs and drawings to submit to each of your favored subcontractors in order to get some rough bids on their costs.
Next blog I'll include an example of this process and review some of the bids. Then applying those numbers to the plans we can establish a dollar per square foot figure. Although this is a rather rough estimate, it is actually quite good for this early in the process. Most importantly it gives us the chance to gauge your design and material choices to your budget and make critical decisions early.