We here at RHA find ourselves in a bit of a pickle these days. Residential custom construction costs have gone up 10% to 15% per year for the last three or four years. Compounded, that's an increase of around 50% over construction costs in 2000! In the late nineties, we could comfortably tell prospective clients they should budget $150/SF for their building projects. Now, we recommend people allow $225/SF for the same (high) level of quality and features. And our projects tend to be toward the modest end of custom construction.
When I explain all this to a prospective client, the reaction is (understandably) often dismay and disbelief. They've spoken with their friends who built a project similar to the one they have in mind a couple years ago, and have often already adjusted their budget expectation upward. And here I am asking them to add another 50%!
At that point I often advise people to consider other options, such as selling their current house and purchasing another house more suitable as it is, without renovation. Or scaling back the size of the house, or eliminating program, or adjusting the level of materials and finishes.
But we want it all, don't we? I know I do. I want a warm, healthy, satisfying, beautiful home for my family that has the least possible impact on our local and global ecosystems. I want it to support all of the wonderful life we live as well as all the interests and hobbies we all have, with adequate room for organized storage of the things we've accumulated and have deemed too precious to part with. And I don't want it to be beyond my financial reach. I don't need it to be ostentatious or glitzy. I want it to fit the context of its site. I want it to embody all the precepts and as many of the techniques as possible of my own manifesto.
That is, I think I want pretty much what my clients want.
So I'd like to explore this idea: The (More) Affordable Green Home.