I would love to build a house without budget considerations. But reality is a cruel mistress (the only one I will ever get!) We could not afford a waterfront lot and certainly not a very large house. There is an elasticity between amenities and cost. More goodies, the higher the total cost. We have basic requirements; walls, roof, floors, indoor plumbing, etc, the City of Marathon has requirements; structural loads, roof wind resistance, minimum elevation for the house, permit fees, etc, and we have wants.

Our design and construction goal was about $600,000. In rough numbers, about $300 per square foot. It sounds high, but in a hurricane and flood prone area, accessible by only one road, the basic costs are higher. Luxuries are higher still. Paradise does not come cheap.

Our original idea for about 3,000 s.f. house included; 2 master suites and an office, large great room, kitchen, balconies, bar, BBQ area, stairs, elevator, etc. At an estimated $300/s.f. that would mean an estimated cost of $900,000. That would be way over our budget.

What to do? For a start, the amount of square footage could shrink. We could lower the quality of materials and fixtures. How much? We don’t know yet. We decided to reign in our plans by decreasing the footprint of the building and keeping to our absolute requirements.

We decided to have a partially completed set of plans created. For items not specified we can set allowances. Allowances are costs associated with specific work such as cost per square foot for flooring. This will allow us to contact contractors and see what the preliminary costs for construction would be. There is no doubt that costs can go up as items are specified, materials costs go up, and I assume the labor costs have risen due to the hurricane.

Other costs; permits, utility connection fees, inspection fees, temporary fencing and toilet, higher property taxes, etc have not been factored in.

If we can come in at our target price we will proceed with the smaller plan. If we are overestimating costs, which I doubt, we can increase the size of the house, install higher quality materials and fixtures or, install future wants (elevator) sooner.

As it will take a few weeks to get preliminary plans, and bids out and back, I will continue blogging about different materials and construction techniques appropriate to the Florida Keys.