Semi-Custom Home Pricing and Design/Feasibility Fees

Get a rough idea of costs to build a new home in Southern Maine

Pricing to build a semi-custom or full custom home can vary widely from town to town, house to house, and "lot to lot" in Southern Maine due to a number of issues. There are a lot of factors that go into the finished "price per square foot" for a custom home and we get asked all the time "what is the cost per square foot to build this home"....and our answer is always "it all depends on the client, what you want, and where you are building."

Think of pricing a home similar to what drives the price for a car. Ford has some really nice looking cars with some great warranties, hybrid models, and overall solid performing cars, but they will not even come close to the price of a luxury brand like BMW or Mercedes for most of the comparably sized and equipped models. And most of the time it depends on what options you select for that car that really drives the price beyond the base price.

A Built By Adams home includes more of the things that most people care about than our competitors so you need to be comparing Apples to Apples when looking at pricing from various builders. It really all depends on what you want and you will hear us say that a lot. But we won't skimp on the high performance components of the houses we build for our clients and will recommend that we look at cutting size or specs before we cut performance, indoor air quality, and overall durability from a Built By Adams home.

Rough Ballpark "Semi-Custom" to "Full Custom" Home Pricing in Maine

Below you will find some rough ballpark pricing for a good quality "Semi-Custom" built home in Southern Maine along with "Full Custom". Semi-Custom to us simply means that you are able to build your home mostly from our standard specifications without too much modification from the typical way we build. This doesn't mean you have to stick to our specs, this just gives you a rough guideline for planning purposes.

"Full Custom" homes would fall under our "Atypical" design and would most likely include an architect designed plans with lots of detail, high end kitchens and baths, possibly complex roof lines, and may require an interior designer for the interior build out and specifications. If you have lots of ideas for how your home should be built and intricate design details that you must have incorporated in your home, this type of project is going to fall into the "Full Custom" home category and requires a lot more planning and increased build cost (aka "Cost per sq ft").

In Southern Maine, we would strongly suggest that you start your planning at a minimum of $130 sq ft for either a base ranch or basic colonial and these prices would NOT include a garage.

Land is NOT included in this rough ballpark pricing provided below.
Included is Everything from Site to Finish: Excavation, foundation, driveway, water/sewer or septic/well, all materials, frame, roof, siding, electrical, plumbing, heating, flooring, kitchen/bath, paint).

1 Floor Homes (Ranches)
$130 to $200 Price Per Square Foot

  • "Move-Up" Ranch (angles, dormers, porches, mid-grade finishes) with Garage : $190 sq ft to $250 sq. ft.
  • Large "Executive" Ranch with Garage: $220 sq. ft. to $250+ sq. ft.
  • Atypical Design or Full Custom: $250+ sq. ft.

2 Floor Homes (Colonials)
Starting at $200 Price Per Square Foot

  • Move Up Colonial with Garage: $180 sq. ft. to $220 sq. ft.
  • Large Executive Colonial with Garage:  $210 sq. ft. to $260 sq. ft.
  • A-typical Design or Full Custom w/Architect: $250+ sq. ft.

2 Floor Cape Style with Attached or Drive Under Garage
Starting at $200 Per Square Foot

When examining these rough square foot numbers, only include the finished square footage of the house plan you are considering, and do NOT include the garage storage level in your square foot calculations. Also, keep in mind that having finished living space over a garage would maximize your cost per square foot to build, and while it would increase overall costs, it would reduce the cost per sq ft to build.

As an example,
 if we take the colonial below, roughly a 1,729 sq ft colonial with attached 24' x 24' garage with unfinished bonus room above. This home will cost between $350,000 $400,000 to build in Southern Maine. The higher side of this number would most likely include a finished room over the garage which would expand the square footage and some additional outdoor spaces like a deck or front porch. 

Keep in mind that all the above rough square foot numbers include items like excavation, full foundation, underground power, sewer/water connections, better insulation with cellulose, air sealing, solid core doors, ventilation, good quality flooring and kitchen allowances, good quality interior finish with window/door trim, 30+ year architectural roofs, full basements with rigid insulation, and Zip roof and wall sheathing.

You can most likely find builders out there advertising packages that appear to be less cost per square foot, but 9 times out of 10 the packages do not include nearly enough money for kitchen/bath allowances, low flooring allowances, no sewer/water allowances, no window/door trim, and they will cut corners with less expensive roofing material, fiberglass insulation, and cheap sheathing to get their costs way way down.

You can control the price of your home and the cost per square foot by choosing house designs that are square boxes vs house design that have lots of angles, bump outs, and complex roof structures. And if you build "up" (2 stories) vs. building "out" (sprawling one floor home) you can likely reduce your cost per square foot and get more square footage for your money.

Also, you can further reduce your cost per square foot by choosing a house design that incorporates living space over your garage. Maximizing a garage and the incredible living space that can be gained from the room above it can give you a home with lots of square footage and a very reasonable cost per square foot. Same can be said for a basement but only if the basement becomes a key part of your plan for living space.

Another thing you want to consider when it comes to the cost to build a new home is that the construction industry is currently experiencing one of the greatest skilled labor shortages in the history of the industry. At least for the foreseeable future, this will drive labor costs upwards in Maine and make it increasingly more difficult to get new homes built. There is only so much skilled labor to go around and as the demand continues to increase, so will the cost to build new homes.

Expect longer delays which lead to longer building cycles and the average cost per square foot to continue to rise each and every month until a new generation of skilled construction labor is trained.

Built By Adams Home Pricing and Process

At Built By Adams, we do not "bid" on custom homes or provide free estimates. If you aren't sold on the fact that we can help you build a great home and provide tremendous value throughout the home building process, then we probably should not work together.

We can help you through the entire planning and design process with our BBA Design and Project Feasibility Package.  We do offer two preliminary meetings, one via phone/email, and one in person meeting, at no charge to see if we are the right fit to work together. From there, we would discuss a Design/Build Retainer to either get your design started OR to do a complete estimate (if you already have a house plan).

Our Design/Build Retainer starts at only $1,000.

Preliminary Phone Consultation OR (1) Hour In Office Design Project Consultation - No Charge

Additional Project Discussions, Feasibility Study, Planning, Design - $100 /per hour

BBA Design and Project Feasibility Package - $1.50 - $4.00 per sq foot of living space and a minimum of $1,000 per project regardless of size.

This package includes (3) design meetings, full working set of house plans, complete estimate to build your home, meeting with the town code enforcement, and we will get you ready for permit and ready to build your home with a detailed estimate, specs, and contract to build your home on your lot. This process typically takes anywhere from 6-8 weeks to complete and will have you ready for a building permit.

As an example, a fairly simple "box colonial" at 2,000 square feet with an attached 2 car garage would cost about $3,000 - $5,000 total for the complete Design and Feasibility Package or about $1.50 to 2.50 per square feet.

To break it down even further, here are the typical costs associated with this planning process for the home example above:

  • $1,500 to $5,000 for the drafting and design of your home with 3D rendering and interior/exterior views.
  • $1,000 to $3,000 for the complete estimate and material takeoff (depending on complexity and "re-bids" requested)
  • $1,000 to $2,000 for contracts, specs, financing assistance, and the permit package (for typical homes)
  • $5,000 to $15,000 for highly custom specs, interior design, full lighting/electrical/plumbing plans (for highly custom homes, not needed if you build a semi-custom home and/or can build from our standard set of pre-drawn plans and specs which will save you thousands!)

Q: Why Don't You Do Free Estimates? I Know Another Local Builder Who Does.

We do offer an initial 1 Hour Project Consultation which will include a rough ballpark price for your project based on current projects we are building. This rough ballpark is our best guess as to what your home might cost built on your lot, but we cannot go to contract with this alone.

If we were selling just a window replacement service or we were to replace your roof, providing a free estimate would take very little time and could be done relatively easily and accurately. When building a custom home there are literally thousands of decisions that need to be determined prior to even being able to get to an accurate cost to build and "contract to build" as well as the permit to build. This all takes an extraordinary amount of time and a lot of knowledge from many different people to get to that stage.

In our opinion, no reputable builder who has been in this business for any length of time, would offer to provide a free estimate on a home they have never built before. To get to a firm contract price to build your home, with a high level of certainty that you can build it for a set amount of money, you need design work, truss design or roof design, floor load calculations, material and selection guidance, kitchen and bath design, energy efficiency planning, budgeting assistance, financing assistance, house sighting consulting, septic design assistance or utility connection assistance, permit planning, and excavation planning.

As you can see there is a lot of work and careful planning that goes into building a great home. I would be very very cautious of a builder who is offering to do all of this for free because they either don't understand the process and probably just winging it OR is desperate for work. If you can get a reputable and experienced builder who offers the kind of workmanship and structural warranty that we do to do all of this design/planning for free, I would say to try it and see.

Q: Can I Just Purchase a Home Plan Online and Have You Do The Estimate/Feasibility?

We do NOT recommend that you purchase an online home plan without checking with us prior to your purchase. 99% of these online home plans do not meet local building codes and will have to be redrawn by a local draftsman or architect. There are several New England based online home plan providers that we recommend if you would like to purchase a plan directly and require no design changes.

Q: What If I Already Have a Home Design?

If you have already purchased a plan and/or had a home plan designed by a local architect or draftsman, we would only require the estimate and feasibility portion of our package to be paid.

Request a Free 1 Hour Project Consultation Today

If you are ready to take that next step and get a rough idea of what your home may cost to build, Request a Free Project Consultation Today.