Neon question mark written in the dark

What Are the Best Construction Questions?

The Ones That Are Actually Asked

Last week I shared the list of questions asked by a group of Scouts. This week I’ll begin to answer them.


As I pointed out last week, due to the number of questions I’m going to divide them into different topics to keep the posts from getting too long. This week I’ll start by answering some basic construction questions. Keep in mind that asking and answering questions is communication and communication is a two-way process. This means that before I can answer questions fully and accurately, I need some questions answered.


How much does building a new house cost?


This is the most common first question. It only makes sense; cost is a critical part of deciding whether to build. It’s also one of the most difficult to answer, especially when asked without any specifics.


Here are some of the questions that need answered to determine a price:

  • Where will it be located? – location effects things like utilities, sewer, lot preparation, zoning, permitting, etc.
  • How big? – more square feet costs more.
  • How many levels? – stacked is typically less expensive per square foot.
  • Type of foundation? – slab, crawl space or basement.
  • How high are the ceilings? – higher is more expensive.
  • What style of roof? – more complicated costs more.
  • How many windows? – more windows cost more.
  • Quality of materials and finishes? – there’s a wide variation in quality which translates into a wide variety of price, i.e. cabinets, countertops, flooring, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc.

This is some of the things that need to be determined before getting an accurate price.


As a vague answer to a vague question, in the middle part of the US where we do construction, you can figure an average home to cost $110.00 to $150.00 per square foot of living space.


How long does it take to build a new house?


The answer to this question will be directly connected to the answers of the last question. Size, design, level of finish, etc. will all effect the length of time to build a new house. An average 2000 square foot home will take 6 – 9 months.


How much wood does a new house take?


Once again, the answer is going to depend on specifics of the house. Let’s just answer the question using the average 2000 square foot house that we have been using. Let’s assume that it’s going to have wood floor joists, sub-floor, wall studs, wall boxing, ceiling joists, rafters, roof sheathing, siding, windows, doors, cabinets, etc. All these things combined will be around 40 pounds per square foot. That means the wood used in a 2000 square foot house will weigh around 80,000 pounds, or 40 tons.


How much steel goes into a house?


There are some cases where houses are framed using steel, but typically that’s not very common. There are some steel things commonly used, like nails, screws, joist hangers, reinforcing steel in concrete, etc. Sometimes steel beams and posts are used for supporting heavier loads and wider spans. In a typical wood framed house, it takes around 10 pounds of steel reinforcing, fasteners and misc. per square foot to build. This means that our 2000 square foot wood framed home would have around 20,000 pounds or 10 tons.


Next week we’ll answer questions about the construction process. If you have any construction questions you would like answered, asked them in the comments below.

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