Hard building costs
 
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Hard building costs

(@wattersk)
Posts: 30
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

Can anyone tell me where to find realistic costs for building out a place yourself? We have seen a few land parcels in beautiful locations that are of interest. Considering building a single-story, cinder-block based home, but have no idea what the availability and cost of materials is. Thanks in advance!

 
Posted : March 9, 2014 5:54 pm
(@speee1dy)
Posts: 8867
Illustrious Member
 

roughly about 250 + per sq ft. you are looking at 300,000 or more

 
Posted : March 9, 2014 7:56 pm
Exit Zero
(@exit-zero)
Posts: 2460
Famed Member
 

One of the biggest hurdles to building it yourself is the need for any heavy equiptment for earth change, with a permit, and then your cistern construction - which is more often poured rather than block construction.
After those 2 expenses a good home built house will require a very good set of plans and periodic inspections for rebar integrity, plumbing and electric conduit placement and various code conformity.
You cannot locate a bathroom directly above a cistern - a common mistake I have seen made in plans drawn off island but DPNR will quickly point that out when you submit the drawings for approval but it usually requires an extensive design change.
The roof and wall connection is extremely important here and should be overbuilt above code.
Driveway and retaining walls can really add a lot to the cost and are site driven expenses that are often unplanned for and not included in the Sq. Ft. calculations.
Bringing a well thought out 40' container [or 2] from the states is a common cost saving plan.
Building a small apt. on the foundation aside of the cistern to live in while the upper floor is being built is very economical if it is zoned.
There are a few building blogs that are worth reading and may give you a perspective unavailable elsewhere.
I have seen the $250 sq.ft. number estimated for years, depends on the island chosen and the level of finish - it is not unrealstic but considering the time frame involved, many unexpected costs, fixtures and appliances, delays for truly unimaginable reasons and construction financing difficulties it could easliy cost double that.
Without a doubt you will be a real island resident with a vast knowledge of island reality and quirks the day the house is finally a home.
Adding in the cost of living accomodations for the duration of the project are another consideration.

 
Posted : March 9, 2014 8:42 pm
(@mtdoramike)
Posts: 955
Prominent Member
 

One of the biggest hurdles to building it yourself is the need for any heavy equiptment for earth change, with a permit, and then your cistern construction - which is more often poured rather than block construction.
After those 2 expenses a good home built house will require a very good set of plans and periodic inspections for rebar integrity, plumbing and electric conduit placement and various code conformity.
You cannot locate a bathroom directly above a cistern - a common mistake I have seen made in plans drawn off island but DPNR will quickly point that out when you submit the drawings for approval but it usually requires an extensive design change.
The roof and wall connection is extremely important here and should be overbuilt above code.
Driveway and retaining walls can really add a lot to the cost and are site driven expenses that are often unplanned for and not included in the Sq. Ft. calculations.
Bringing a well thought out 40' container [or 2] from the states is a common cost saving plan.
Building a small apt. on the foundation aside of the cistern to live in while the upper floor is being built is very economical if it is zoned.
There are a few building blogs that are worth reading and may give you a perspective unavailable elsewhere.
I have seen the $250 sq.ft. number estimated for years, depends on the island chosen and the level of finish - it is not unrealstic but considering the time frame involved, many unexpected costs, fixtures and appliances, delays for truly unimaginable reasons and construction financing difficulties it could easliy cost double that.
Without a doubt you will be a real island resident with a vast knowledge of island reality and quirks the day the house is finally a home.
Adding in the cost of living accomodations for the duration of the project are another consideration.

Very well stated. I have also heard of $250.00-$275.00 a square foot. But again this is subjective to fit and finish. But if you are handy and willing to put in the time I think you could cut that cost almost in half if you are willing to do most of the finish work yourself and minimize the change orders as well as not going overboard with materials.

 
Posted : March 10, 2014 12:06 pm
(@afriend)
Posts: 525
Honorable Member
 

Another way to look at the numbers: Figure around $175/sq. ft. to $250/sq. ft. to build your foundation, cistern, the "4" walls with openings for windows & doors and the framing for the roof. Add to that another $75 /sq. ft. to $100/sq. ft. for "builder's standard" finishing materials or upwards of another $200+/sq.. ft. (or even lots more - think the sky's the limit) for "designer" finishes.

Remember, every project is different so these figures are only guidelines - have a contingency for site preparation and then budget more money for for landscaping.

Here's another "rule of thumb" I tell people who are contemplating building in the Caribbean - before you begin, do as much "first hand" research (asking for building cost estimates on an internet forum is only as starting place) as you can then calculate your best pre-construction estimate. Take that figure and add 50%, if that revised number doesn't scare you away proceed with the project.

Based on my personal experience and that of a score of friends who also built homes in the Caribbean I can tell you there is a 100% percent chance that you will be behind schedule and over-budget within the first week of construction and your project will take twice as long to complete as you expected.

Good luck building your home - it will be a "labor of love".

 
Posted : March 10, 2014 12:30 pm
(@Ericw)
Posts: 277
Reputable Member
 

Exit Zero and Afriend said it really well, and take his advice. It really does depend on which island. I've known people that have "built it themselves" and they did save over using a builder, but not much, due to not having the proper connections, not planning or estimating costs correctly, or based on time taking much longer.

For a poured concrete home I would budget for at least $500 a sqft of finished space (based on STJ pricing) - and this is just construction costs (no landscaping, no cost of land, extras, etc). You can +/- off that based on your finishes.

We are currently begining to start construction on our home on STJ. You can check out my blog at www.seasthedaystj.com I have some cost info on there, and I'm sure I will have more once our building gets going.

Good luck!

 
Posted : March 10, 2014 2:06 pm
(@Ericw)
Posts: 277
Reputable Member
 

I forgot to add a "rule of thumb" for easy cost estimating is figure $350k per bedroom (again STJ pricing).

 
Posted : March 10, 2014 2:51 pm
(@IslandHops)
Posts: 929
Prominent Member
 

There are very different costs between the different islands. STJ is going to be astronomic in comparison to STX.

Why not discuss your proposed project with GC's/builders in the location you are considering and ask them for rough pricing - then take that figure and deduct what you think you can save doing it yourself?

I've seen the big sq-ft costs tossed about, but know some folks who are DIY types building simple homes that come in well under that. Also builders that work on government projects have to come in at half the numbers above - so it can be done. Drive around and find folks who are working on homes on a weekend and you'll find people to talk to that are not just posting hypothetical numbers but doing it themselves. Most I know are happy to share information with fellow home-builders. Some of these numbers just scare folks off which is silly. Plus in our current economy you may find builders willing to take on a project at less than quoted in the past just to keep their folks working.

 
Posted : March 10, 2014 3:17 pm
(@JohnnyU)
Posts: 465
Reputable Member
 

Do you have to use a licensed Electrician & Plumber or can you DIY?

 
Posted : March 10, 2014 3:32 pm
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
 

I would imagine that permits are needed and one must used licensed professionals.

 
Posted : March 10, 2014 3:51 pm
(@vicanuck)
Posts: 2934
Famed Member
 

You can use whomever you want as long as someone with a license signs off on it and the inspector approves of the work.

There are many trades people here who work independently but under other contractors licenses.

 
Posted : March 10, 2014 6:26 pm
(@speee1dy)
Posts: 8867
Illustrious Member
 

might be cheaper to buy a house

 
Posted : March 10, 2014 7:59 pm
(@JohnnyU)
Posts: 465
Reputable Member
 

Thanks VICanuck

 
Posted : March 11, 2014 12:59 am
(@wattersk)
Posts: 30
Eminent Member
Topic starter
 

Great info - thank you! I should have said STX and that we built our 5,500 sq ft house in VA ourselves, using block and stone from our land.

 
Posted : March 12, 2014 12:11 am
(@mtdoramike)
Posts: 955
Prominent Member
 

If you build a house on the island, I hope you don't fall into the same trap that most others do, which is over building. People from the states come to the islands and decide to build a sprawling 5500 square foot house and then realize later that they way over built. Large house in the islands are a nightmare to sell, especially with anything more than three bedrooms. People realize that they spend most of their time outside unlike in the states where you can spend months in doors due to the weather. Storage can be an issue, but most on the islands do not become hoarders due to the lack of storage, you learn to do without. Look at the locals and how they built their houses. There is such a thing as over building even in paradise.

 
Posted : March 12, 2014 1:15 pm
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