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Demystifying Square Footage Pricing

Updated: Mar 18

Although it is, in most cases, the go-to metric for someone determining the value of a home, square foot pricing can be somewhat of a shifty concept that doesn’t always mean what you think it does if you are looking at it from a pure number standpoint. We will look at factors that go into pricing and how we come up with a square footage price, take some of the mystery out of it, and show how that is just one factor that can be used to determine a home’s actual value.

Price vs. Investment

When people think about square footage price, it can seem higher on a smaller square footage home than a bigger one. So when thinking about the investment, it’s wise to think about it from a total investment number, with square footage being one of the factors.


We are not a low-cost provider, and we have never wanted to be. We are a quality home builder building to code using the highest quality materials in a quality-controlled environment with strict quality assurance standards. Let’s elaborate, a stick-built home built on site will typically use sheetrock. Let’s say it’s about $15 per panel that will run you anywhere from $300 – $500 per 200 sqft room. We use tongue and groove lodgepole pine, western redwood cedar, or both for our finish. The costs associated with those woods can range up to 10 times the price of what it would be for drywall or sheetrock. Even with that significant disparity in the quality of materials used and their costs, we are still around the same price as a site-built – stick-built home.


Size is the biggest factor when looking at a price per square foot number. That is for several reasons, one being any other things you add like cabinetry or the type of HVAC, etc, will add costs to the overall home. The more that number will rise when you spread that over a square footage price, the less square footage you have. Imagine adding $5,000 worth of cabinetry to a 300 square foot home and adding that same amount to a 600 square foot home, and you can see how quickly that number can rise. Another factor is that on our smaller homes (sub 400), there will be an additional charge to the home because of labor costs, etc. This is right in line with what other homebuilders do, and it’s something that can increase your costs per square foot. It’s always wise to look at it as an overall investment and see if it is worth it from that angle.


When discussing pricing, something that might fly under the radar is the cabinetry you want in your home. No matter the amount or quality of the cabinets you put in, it will affect the price. At Ulrich, we have an in-house custom cabinet shop that allows us to fully customize the size and needs of your cabin and use high-quality pine and cedar to make those cabinets look good and stand the test of time. It is all solid wood construction with features such as slow close hinges, unlike the store-bought screw-in type you might be used to seeing. So when you talk about adding some of that cabinetry into, let’s say, a smaller footprint home, that will cause the price per square foot to rise quickly. There is nothing like gorgeous cabinetry to accent a kitchen or bathroom as well as the many uses they will provide, but it’s something important to know as you go into planning for your home.


The heating and cooling system of your home will also impact your home’s overall square footage price. You have several HVAC options as far as types of systems, and it boils down to what’s important to you and what your plans are long term. The most cost savings option would be to frame out and place window units in your cabin. Depending on the size of your home, you might need several units, which could take away from the aesthetics of your home. A step above that would be a thru-wall unit, like you may have seen in hotels. Depending on the size of your home, you will need several of these, and the noise plus the space they take up could take away from the comfort you are looking for in country cabin living. The best option we have found over the years for our homes is a mini-split system. These are very efficient for what they are and allow for multiple units so you can have zoned comfort in whatever room you are in. These do require more of an investment upfront but are something that most of our clients go with because of the long-term value they provide. They will not take up much space, are typically placed on the upper portion of a wall, and are very quiet when operating. Any of these systems will add to the overall cost of your home and increase that square footage price. Just weigh the pros and cons and see what will provide you with the most value long term.


Bathrooms are going to be a factor when you’re talking about price. It is important to consider how you will be using the home and letting that dictate how many bathrooms you may need. Size is the first thing to think about, and if you are getting less than 500 square feet, you could feasibly get away with one bathroom. If you’re getting a bigger space and anticipate doing a lot of entertaining or having friends and family over, you might opt for 2 or more and maybe a public half bathroom that is not in one of your rooms. All of these are possible, and we can work with you to determine the best setup in your situation. A bathroom can typically add $5,000-$10,000, which will factor into your overall price. 


All of these are factors into what can go into an overall price and a square footage price. While it’s not a perfect metric to determine the overall value, it will always be something to pay attention to. We believe in transparency about what goes into our pricing. We believe in providing homes to customers that they will be proud of for years to come. Hopefully, the knowledge you have gotten from this article can help you with your decisions in the future and help take out the guesswork and mystery of the square footage pricing. Ulrich is always here to help you no matter where you are in your journey. Give us a call today, and let us see how we can serve you!

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