Top Ten Challenges--No. 10--Know Your Costs, Understand Perceived Value
OK-you've decided you want to build. The first challenge I face in producing an insanely great place to live is establishing basic requirements, and putting a number to it. This first pass number is my instant feasibility test of size times unit pricing against resources available.
Agnes Bourne says:
"When creating your physical world, it is good to realize that this place is a reflection of you. Knowing what matters to you is important in the planning of these spaces...What matters most to you?"
If the first cut cost is more than your resources available, your choices are:
- increase the budget
- shrink the size by reducing program
- shrink the footprint by building up
- shrink or eliminate the basement, or
- leave space unfinished.
A major fallacy of modernism is that spaces are multi-use. Spaces may start as multi-use, but they end up as single-use spaces. Develop your program with a focus on single use spaces.
Stratify your program into <strong>good, better, and best</strong> level of finishes for each component. Scope creep during construction tends to drive everything toward the best level, this first cut is a good way to draw a line in the sand about how far you are willing to go. This post talked about how finishes and casework and cabinetry are the big variables in construction costs.
Iterate, iterate, iterate. Refine the spirit of your project. I will be posting additional insight on refining what you want in your physical world in future posts, so if this is where you are right now, stay tuned.
What is the right unit pricing number? Costs have been going up 2% a month for the last two and a half years, so right now that number is both moving, and scary. Your contractor should have a sense for what his recent jobs cost him, or drop me a line and I can give you my take on current costs vs. value.