Ask Andy – Cabin Costs

by Andy Sheldon

in Ask Andy

I got this question yesterday, and I thought it might open a discussion about construction costs in various areas of the country, building cheaply, etc.

Where do you get the idea that a 600-700 sq. ft. building complete will run $100,000. I am hoping to get a cabin built , including the pluming and electrical and ground for $20,000… John.

My answer to John, and anyone else interested in construction costs would be to first go to www.Building-Cost.net.  I just did that for John’s 700sf cabin.

If you want to follow along and go through the same exercise, the inputs I used are below.  (when you get to Building-Cost.net click on “Start Calculator”):

  • Screen 1: 4 corners
  • Screen 2: 700sf
  • Screen 3: All Class 3 – Standard Quality
  • Screen 4: No input, all 0’s
  • Screen 5: Housing tract=No, Outside Metro Area=Yes
  • Screen 6: Forced air heating only
  • Screen 7: No input… no fireplace
  • Screen 8: Your State (I selected NJ)
  • Screen 9: Your Zip Area (Mine is 085)

Screen 10 is the full report, and I have included the totals below:

Cabin Cost  700sf Class 3So here we are… in my area of NJ a 700sf Standard Quality cabin, contractor built, with no fireplace or porch is $141,715.  Dividing that by the 700sf we get $202.45 per square foot.

I can tell you that from my private client experience in the Princeton NJ area, that is about right.  And for custom higher end projects, it is definitely more.

I began to wonder how close we could get to the $20,000 that John is targeting.  So next I changed the quality class to the Minimum Quality of Class 6. (Change Screen 3 to all Class 6).  The results are below.
Cabin Cost 700sf Class 6
This was very surprising to me at first, until I recalled that you can double the cost of a small project simply by choosing more expensive materials.  So here we have the same cabin with minimum quality selections for $68,958 or $98.51/sf.

Now I realize that the Princeton NJ area is going to be more expensive than many other areas of the country. I did not look at how much of a difference that would make, (it might make a bunch!).

But I think it is clear that John might need to do some of the building himself to reach that $20,000 at the $700sf size.

I would suggest that if you are curious about the construction cost of your cabin, that you run through a few options with Building-Cost.net and compare it to what your local area range of square foot costs are.

Personally, I have found that Building-Cost.net is pretty close in Princeton, NJ area as well as Washington DC and the surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia.  I had the same experience in the Adirondacks and upper State NY.

I would love to hear from you as to what you think.

As always, your comments are very valuable not only to me but to the others who drop by.

Best,

Andy