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.
This is awesome!! So glad to see you created this blog. I plan to be a regular reader!! Good luck to you and Deb!!
Thank you, it’s very gratifying to hear. If you are angling for a visit, it worked? P.S. The bad grammar in the posts are mine!
Aloha from Hawaii. I came across your blog when searching for building costs in the Keys. We bought a bay front lot in Key Largo in 1991 with the idea of building our dream/retirement house in Key Largo….dock, boat, the entire Margaritaville (Conch Republic) idea. Since then we have moved to Hawaii( from Northern Calif). During our initial planning for Florida, we had plans drawn up, did the vegetation and perk test stuff….started the ball rolling on building the house. Jump ahead 25 yrs and now we decided that we don’t need the Keys if we have a tropical place on Hawaii, so our lot is for sale. If it doesn’t sell, we may revisit building on it, thus the interest in your blog. I look forward to following your journey. Good luck as I’m familiar with a lot of the issues you’re dealing with having started that process many years ago….pre ROGO.
Thank you for the well wishes. I hope to post more soon.
Costs – we found a kitchen pantry eliminated need (and costs) for some kitchen cabinetry which is traditionally a high cost item. Ours is floor to ceiling (top is for long term storage of things that should have trashed years ago) – all walls have adjustable particle board shelving with resin finish for easy cleaning (cheap stuff). adjustable metal hardware screwed into studs. Has a cheap light fixture with three adjustable lamps that go on when door is opened, two bulbs is plenty.
it’s on the sunny side of house so walls are 8 inches and well insulated, stays cool.
It also allows for more natural window light in kitchen which are far cheaper than cabinets.
We are in exactly the same boat as you but at a much earlier stage. We are just beginning to look for a lot to purchase. We already have a 2 bedroom house on Plantation Key Colony but would like to move to a place with a view of the ocean.
Your blog has already been helpful to me b/c I had no idea of the average cost to build in the Keys. Thank you Marty for taking the time to create this blog.