Lowcountry Modern

Three Things Determine The Cost Of Your New Home

So, you've done a ton of daydreaming about what your new home will look like, how the rooms should feel, what kind of tile you want in the bathroom, even that perfect light fixture in the power room.

You've carefully put together a design brief that describes your every wish. You've stood on the site envisioning where the house should sit, how you'll approach it, what those views will be.

And you should. It makes my job more enjoyable and helpful to you.

But, inevitably all that daydreaming, researching, clipping, and pinteresting has to confront that one question that every project must face.


I wish I could parade out a formula for you that would definitively answer that perennial question. Believe me, if I could, you wouldn't be reading this post.

It will cost what it costs is the best answer you're going to get. That's because there are so many variables involved in building your new home.

Fortunately, these variables, their multitude of combinations and permutations, can be summed up in the context of three, just THREE; Size, Complexity, and Quality.


This is simply the amount you plan to build, typically expressed by the area measured in square feet. Easy enough, right?

Hold on. There are two other aspects to consider when thinking about the size of your new home.

One is volume. Are all the rooms the same height? Do you want a double-height space in your foyer or great room? Are any of the rooms vaulted, or are they all flat?

Second, all spaces are not necessarily designed and finished to the same level. Some rooms will cost more than others.


Where to we see complexity enter a project. There's several places where this can happen; the roof line, the layout of interior spaces, finish details, coordination of structural and mechanical systems, etc.

Pretty much anything that goes into a house can be either more or less complex. A successful design prioritizes the degree of complexity across all aspects of your home.

Now, I'm not saying complexity is a negative thing. Far from it. Complexity adds interest and delight when it's applied appropriately.

Architecture is the art of knowing where to best spend your money. And, in the case of complexity, it just costs more.


The level of quality is the final variable that impacts the cost of your project. Certain materials, finishes, fixtures, accessories, and workmanship simply cost more.

Again, understanding architecture as the art of knowing where to best spend your money applies equally to quality as it does to complexity.

But, quality is a little different from the variables of complexity and size. It can be more subjective.

Selecting a less costly option, a tile for example, could be based more on the fact that you simply prefer its color and shape over the more expensive option.


So, how do these variables influence the design of your new home? Have a look at the diagram below.


Size, Complexity, and Quality are the three  interdependent variables that determine how accommodating, interesting, and durable your new home will be.

In the overlap of quality and size, you’ll end up dying of boredom in a finely appointed house before you get to see it all.

Where size overlaps with complexity, your giant ostentatious house will come crashing down as a result of the cheap construction, hopefully before you go mad from too much complexity.

Designing and building your house where complexity and quality overlap will basically get you a tiny house with a serious diva complex, and no one will want to visit you. Ever.

Now, of course you're not going to allocate your budget to just two of the three variables. Say you want your home to have the maximum square footage you can possible have. Well quality of materials and the complexity of the design will need to be scaled back.

Likewise, if you value a high level of craftsmanship, fine finishes, and interesting details, you should aim for the minimum about of area you need.

The goal in working with your architect is to find that spot where you have the right amount of each to your liking. That's where your home is.

So, what's your priority in a home? Size? Complexity? Quality?

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