It costs less to remodel or build here Balto. region prices generally lower than U.S. averages

Study by architects' group

Cheaper labor seen as primary reason for smaller expense

November 24, 1996|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

It is cheaper to build or remodel a house in the Baltimore region than in much of the nation, the American Institute of Architects says in releasing results of a new, quarterly construction survey.

A 3,200-square-foot Colonial with one full bath, a half bath, a two-car garage and a masonry fireplace costs an average of $170,400 to build here, compared with $182,800 nationally, the institute said.

A luxury version of the same style house -- with three full baths, one half bath, a cedar shake roof, a three-car garage, two fireplaces and extraordinary workmanship -- comes to $267,500 in Baltimore, compared with $287,000 on average nationally.

The survey of 16 cities and metropolitan areas with high concentrations of new home construction, released this month, does not include Baltimore, but its researchers provided figures for the area based on local labor and materials costs and construction methods.

Compared with the District of Columbia, it typically costs several thousand dollars less in the Baltimore metropolitan area to build Colonial, ranch and Cape Cod-style homes, the survey shows.

"Historically, this area has been a little cheaper to build in," said David Gleason, an architect with Baltimore-based David Gleason Associates and a member of the Residential Design Group of the Baltimore chapter of the AIA.

Costs of materials tend to be standard because a limited number of large national distributors ship their products throughout the United States.

"The real cost is in the cost of the labor itself," Gleason said. "If you're living in a metro area that's fairly affluent, such as Washington, D.C., rates for labor would be higher than they would be here. Prices for labor, because of the economy, seem to be lower here."

The AIA and the Kingston, Mass.-based R. S. Means Co., a publisher of construction-cost information, plan to produce the survey every three months. It covers costs of labor and materials, but not land.

"It gives you something to look at when you start planning a budget," though higher-quality materials can boost costs dramatically, Gleason said.

Results from the initial survey, for the months of July, August and September, show location playing a major role in residential costs, which are significantly higher in Northern cities. It costs on average $165,400 to build a 2,400-square-foot, custom ranch home in Dallas, compared with $191,000 in Washington and $187,300 in Baltimore.

New York, San Francisco and Minneapolis have higher-than-average costs. Atlanta, Dallas and Washington are below average.

Of 16 cities surveyed, Minneapolis has the highest new-home costs, while Atlanta has the lowest. A 2,800-square-foot, custom Cape Cod averages $248,800 in Minneapolis and $167,700 in Atlanta. The custom Cape Cod here would cost about $201,600.

Construction methods, which differ from region to region, also drive costs, said Tom Akins, a researcher for R. S. Means.

For instance, homes in the North usually have basements, which Southern homes typically lack, he said. Homes in the North often come without central air conditioning. Exterior building materials such as brick, wood and stucco also vary in price.

North-vs.-South cost comparisons apply to upper-end homes as well. A 3,200-square-foot luxury Colonial in Minneapolis costs $330,100, but $226,600 in Atlanta and $267,500 in Baltimore.

The association defines a custom home as having two full baths, a half bath, a masonry fireplace and a two-car garage, while a luxury home has three full baths and a half bath, two masonry fireplaces and a three-car garage.

Like new-home costs, remodeling costs vary by location. The cost of adding a 10- by 16-foot deck on concrete footings averages $4,172 in Boston, $3,755 in Detroit and $3,240 in Baltimore.

A Baltimore homeowner could remodel a standard, L-shaped kitchen with hardwood cabinets, laminate counter tops, appliances and vinyl tile flooring for $6,576 -- about $500 below the national average. Changing a room to an office with a hardwood base cabinet and bookcase, a laminate counter top, a double pedestal wood desk and electrical outlets costs $5,477 in New York, $4,397 in Los Angeles and $3,726 in Baltimore.

Cost comparison of new construction

Type of ... ... Square feet... ... Quality ... ... National ... ...Balto.

home... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. area

Rancher ... ... 2,400 ... ... .... average ... ... $153,700 .. $143,200

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. custom ... .... 201,000 .... 187,300

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. luxury ... .... 269,200 .... 250,900

Cape Cod ... .. 2,800 ... ... .... average ... ... 165,900 .... 154,600

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. custom ... .... 216,300 .... 201,600

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. luxury ... .... 266,300 .... 248,200

Colonial ... .. 3,200 ... ... .... average ... ... 182,800 .... 170,400

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. custom ... ... 236,600 .... 220,500

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. luxury ... ... 287,000 .... 267,500

SOURCES: American Institute of Architects; R. S. Means Co.

Costs of home remodeling

Project ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. National ... ... ... . Baltimore

type ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... . average ... ... ... ... ... area

Deck 10' x 16' ... ... ... ... ... ... $3,477 ... ... ... ... .. $3,241

Room 12' x 16' ... ... ... ... ... ... 12,756 ... ... ... ... .. 11,889

Double garage ... ... ... ... ... .... 12,259 ... ... ... ... .. 11,425

Standard full bath ... ... ... ... ... 5,416 ... ... ... ... .... 5,048

Deluxe master bath ... ... ... ... ... 9,969 ... ... ... ... .... 9,291

Standard 'L' kitchen ... ... .... .... 7,056 ... ... ... ... .... 6,576

Deluxe peninsula kitchen ... ... ... . 25,839 ... ... ... ... .. 24,082

Home office ... ... ... ... ... ... .. 3,998 ... ... ... ... .... 3,726

Basement finishing ... ... ... ... ... 7,894 ... ... ... ... .... 7,357

SOURCES: American Institute of Architects; R. S. Means Co.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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