“Cost per square foot” is a term that became popular with production builders. Production homes are designed to be cookie cutter boxes and can be built very cheaply with very few choices and nearly everything outside baseline “basics” an “upgrade.”
Would you ask for the price per square foot for a car? That’s how little it can apply to a truly custom home, as a comparison tool, without knowing just what each of those square feet contain. Here’s how to take a test drive:
NC custom home cost per square foot: Home style
The type of home you choose can make a big difference. A one story home has more foundation and roof, so it typically costs more per square foot to build than a two story home.
Architectural styles can impact your cost considerably. Contemporary homes can be more expensive to build than Colonial homes.
NC custom home cost per square foot: Floor plan layout
An “average cost per square foot” may not the best indicator of value. Even plans with similar layouts can have differences that impact the build cost. For example:
Cost per square foot for a custom home depends on the floor plan, selections chosen, and location.
Get started, here:
- How big are the kitchens – how much cabinetry and countertops? What kind of appliances and lighting?
- How many bathrooms? How extensive is the tile work?
- How big is the garage?
- How many and how big are the windows and doors? A wall of windows or sun room can make a big difference.
- How much square footage is on the main floor, versus upstairs?
- How high/complex is the roof line?
- Does the home have a lot of cut outs or is it designed more cost effectively?
- How much outdoor living space is included in the footprint? How big are the porches and screen porches? Is there an outdoor kitchen or see-through fireplace?
NC custom home cost per square foot: Building materials and selections
Here’s what else you need to know, as you compare costs:
Look closely at what the builder includes in writing. Are floors “resilient material” or hardwood? What kind of hardwood is it? How many rooms start with carpet? Is there a microwave? Is the owner’s suite shower tile, or plastic? Does it have a fireplace? What kind of lights and faucets are included? Does the home come with a radiant barrier or sealed crawl space (that can save you a lot over the years and make your home more efficient and comfortable). Different materials, features, and finishes can make a huge difference in the price for your home. Everything you want to change will add to the price you pay (either now or later.)
Look for what the builder has in writing as to what comes “standard.” What builders offer can differ extensively as to what is “basic”. We can help you find a cost-effective floor plan. And we will help you compare advantages.
NC custom home cost per square foot: Location and building lot site work
The site work required for your lot can also make a big difference. Ask the builder what it costs to build a home on your lot. Find out if the builder requires you to sign upb efore they will do an assessment of site costs.
- Is a sewer available or do you need a septic system? Is it conventional or engineered?
- Do you have over 2 or 3 acres? If so, a well may be required.
- How long is the driveway? What will it be made with?
- What is the topography? Do you need a tall crawl or basement?
- What are the setbacks?
- Is it in a neighborhood with an HOA? What are the community covenants?
TBH builds homes from cottages to estates, with a cost per square foot that is appropriate for custom homes that come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and architectural styles.
You have a lot of choices for flooring in North Carolina new homes, from hardwood to tile and carpet, as well as custom options.
Travars Built Homes offer the highest quality features, finishes, materials and craftsmanship, including real oak hardwood flooring in every home. See what else comes, standard, here.
All types of flooring will see some wear and tear over time. But which types of hardwood flooring stand up best to daily traffic from people and pets? Here are 10 tips for choosing hardwood flooring in NC new homes:
Hardwood flooring tip #1: Soft woods cost more — and provide less protection
If you want to avoid flooring that dents easiest, avoid American Cherry, American Walnut, and Pine. Better versions of these hardwoods for a harder surface? Brazilian Cherry and Walnut.
Hardwood flooring tip #2: Consider a Harder Hardwood
Hickory, Brazilian Cherry and other hardwoods rank high on the Janka scale. They come with a premium price, but are much harder than the 3/8 “hardwood” flooring most builders use. Travars Built Homes uses ¾ solid oak hardwood – a much higher quality wood with more resistance to wear and tear than most new homes start with.
Hardwood flooring tip #3: Strong grains can hide more scratches
Red oak has a stronger grain than white oak. Red oak, 1290 on the hardness scale, hides scratches better than Brazilian Cherry, which is 2350 on the Janka scale.
Hardwood flooring tip #4: Hand Scraped and Distressed Hardwoods provide modern rustic character that makes wear look appealing
The more wear you put on these hardwoods, the more realistic they look. Knots and other character traits also give “real hardwoods” a natural look that feels comfortable and welcoming.
Hardwood flooring tip #5: Mask imperfections with a Matte Finish
Ask your builder to use a matte finish on your site finished hardwood floors. Glossy finishes will be more reflective – and imperfections more glaring.
Hardwood flooring tip #6: Light stains hide scratches best
Another great characteristic of oak hardwood flooring is that it’s already a naturally light wood. The stain shade you choose can make a difference in how much scratches show, with lighter hues hiding more scarring than dark colors. lighter hue on the stain you choose And if you’ve chosen oak, a naturally light wood, even if the finish is scratched off the scratch is more likely to blend with the rest of the floor.
Hardwood flooring tip #7: Solid Hardwoods have long lasting qualities
Site finished solid hardwood flooring can be refinished. So if you feel like freshening up your woods in a few years, either because you’d like it to look new or want to change the color, you can simply sand it and restain it, at a much lower cost than replacing the entire floor like you’d need to do with an inexpensive laminate.
Hardwood flooring tip #8: The bamboo effect
Bamboo can be beautiful, but it’s not always the best choice for a floor that will have a lot of people and pet traffic. Stained bamboo can scratch very easily. Although it is technically stronger than oak, dents show up more easily. Strand bamboo costs more than carmelized bamboo, but can hold up better.
Hardwood flooring tip #9: Furniture Felt Pads can prevent heavy scraping
Using felt pads under furniture (even with wheels) can protect your floors. Scattered rugs can also protect areas with heavy traffic, such as doorways, hallways, kitchen aisles and gathering places.
Hardwood flooring tip #10: Leave your shoes at the door
Still love soft woods best? Create a space where shoes go as people enter your home, to avoid scarring caused by pebbles, dirt and high heels. Custom built-in shelving, drop zones or even just a corner on the floor reserved for shoes can help your floors stay cleaner and less worn.
Barn doors are big in North Carolina new homes. See the best places to add a barn door – with the flexibility to fit every architectural style, from modern farmhouse to contemporary.
Love a floor plan, and want to add a barn door? Ask the team at Travars Built Homes what it takes to build your new home with a barn door for your kitchen, office, owner’s suite, sitting room, keeping room, pantry, bathroom, laundry, or closet during our custom home build process.
Stained wood sliding barn door
This barn door has a rural feel to it, with the 2×4 “X” across the door taking it one step further to a branded look.
Antique white wood barn doors
Don’t take the term “barn door” literally. It’s a free ranging door style that can take on a different feel depending on the materials it’s crafted with – like the glass barn doors you see here, framed in white – with contemporary appeal.
Opaque glass barn doors
Barn doors take twice the amount of wall space as swinging doors. However, they can add functionality to an area where a swinging door is not feasible. That’s why they have become so popular in bathrooms, like this:
Double sliding barn doors
Barn doors are typically attached to the wall on metal girders like this, which are purposely big and dramatic to call further attention to them as a focal point:
Double barn doors are a great fit for larger spaces. They can be held open most of the time, like a frame around an entry place that can be closed off when desired.
Glass panel sliding barn doors
Sliding barn doors can lend importance to libraries like this, off the great room. The glass panels reflect the wall of windows in the room. White trim denotes elegance. Subtle metal rods and hinges meld into the home décor with classic appeal. Nothing rural about these barn doors!
French door style barn doors
Barn doors serve a decorative purpose in rooms like this. On the outside, they slide across the doorway. On the inside, they look like traditional French doors with an open view from an office, dining room, keeping room, sitting room or any other room that can be set apart by sliding doors.
Brushed nickel hardware for barn doors
Barn doors are often preferable to pocket doors in NC new homes – talk with the builder team at Travars Built Homes about why. Here, they add charm as well as functionality to the mud room.
Give everyone the space they need. Combine living arrangements where it makes the most sense for your new multi-gen home (with a dual master, mother in law, or extended family layout). What do you need to know, when you look at plans and look for a multi-gen new home builder?
Travars Built Homes builds new, custom multi-gen homes in NC. Ask us for house plan options that fit your needs – click here.
As you consider space for long-stay extended family members, caretakers or guests, here are the top myths about building a multi-generational new home in North Carolina:
North Carolina multi-gen new home myth #1
I can attach a separate apartment to my home that is private, as long as it is part of the initial home structure. FALSE.
Any portion of your home that is separated by a wall, as opposed to having an access from one part of the home to the other, can be considered a duplex and would likely not be approved as a single family home in NC.
Be careful to choose a floor plan that includes any multi gen, mother in law, or dual master elements as an integral portion of the home. Although there can be privacy, there must be access into the home. Although it can have a private entrance from the exterior, it must also have an entrance on the interior. Additional regulations may apply.
Even floor plans that have a little apartment attached will need to have approval from all applicable entities before it can be built. This is especially true when you want to add a little apartment on the other side of the garage, for example, as it will have it’s own systems and is self-contained, which means it can be considered a separate residence.
North Carolina multi-gen new home myth #2
I can build a guest cottage on my lot if I have a big yard. FALSE.
Your ability to build a structure on your lot – whether it is a cottage, outbuilding or gazebo, needs to have approval from the building department, architectural review board (if you live in a community with an HOA) and other factors such as water and septic or sewer systems.
Even if your lot is in a countryside location, you will need to familiarize yourself with county or town regulations applicable to your land. You’ll need a building permit before you get started.
Most custom home community covenants do NOT allow a guest house on the same lot.
If the lot has a septic system, it will typically be rated for 3-4 bedrooms. So even if a separate structure is allowed, you will need to divide the amount of bedrooms per dwelling to use that system – and you may be required to have a separate system, which will need to be approved.
Some custom home communities allow a second structure such as a garage or an art studio. It may be possible to have a small cottage, which may require attachment with a breezeway. See the community covenants for their rules. All structures will need to be approved the the archiectural committee as specified in the covenants.
It may be possible for a guest house to be considered a separate home, as opposed to a single dwelling on the lot, depending on the regulations for that location. This would also need to be approved by the building department as well as the architectural review board in the community.
North Carolina multi-gen new home myth #3
As long as I have an entrance from one part of the home to the other, I can have two full kitchens, great rooms, and pretty much duplicate my home as though it is a duplex as long as it is accessible from both sides via a doorway. FALSE. GET APPROVALS AND PERMITS – THIS IS NOT THE INTENT OF A SINGLE FAMILY HOME.
Be careful about trying to combine two families into one structure, with what amounts to two separate homes if zoning is for single family homes. This can be rejected by building department regulations, zoning, and community covenants.
Multi gen plans can be customized and there are many possibilities. However, a single family home is not the same thing as a duplex, which requires different zoning and other requirements.
The best approach to having a multigen home accepted by regulators is to choose a layout that is designed for a single family with a long term guest or caretaker. For example, a kitchenette could be more appropriate for a mother in law, care taker, or guest suite than a home with two full kitchens and living areas. As with all homes, your floor plan must adhere to the approval process, and follow all the rules.
North Carolina multi-gen new home myth #4
A full apartment in the basement is always acceptable in single family zoning. FALSE.
Nothing is “always acceptable” – your custom home builder will help guide your choices in adherence to rules and regulations. As with any addition to the home that is designed to accommodate multi-gen situations, a full apartment in the basement must be approved as applicable by the county, town and any other entities that have say in the process, including the community HOA (where applicable).
Although multi gen accommodations within the home are accepted more widely than a stand alone cottage or a separate apartment on the other side of the garage with it’s own systems, acceptability depends on local regulations and requirements.
More often, you will find new multi-gen homes with two master bedrooms or a master suite and guest suite on the first floor:
North Carolina multi-gen new home myth #5
A multi gen home must share the same laundry room FALSE.
You can typically have as many laundry rooms as you would like in your home. You can also have as many bathrooms as you like. The only rooms limited by septic system regulations are the amount of bedrooms – as the indicator of how many people live there full time.
In fact, it’s becoming common to have two or even three laundry rooms, for added convenience inside non multi-gen new homes. Some custom homes have a laundry room on each floor. Some have laundry setups in the master suite closet or extended guest suite.
Whether you are seeking to create a mother in law suite, multi-gen, dual master, or small apartment in the new home you want to build, the most important thing to keep in mind is how to divide gathering areas and personal space.
We will help you with that! Contact Travars Built Homes to get started.
What you build into your home office can be a game changer. Here are 5 home office designs from North Carolina custom homes built by Travars Built Homes.
#1 Home Office Design: Professional Office with everything built in
Take care of business with a home office designed for everything that needs to get done: Built ins. Interactive spaces. Windows and lighting. Oak hardwood flooring.
#2 Home Office Design: Sunny side out
Don’t want to feel locked down while you work? Add walls of windows to your home office, to let the sunshine in and allow you to see everything happening outside! Building a custom home means you can add as many windows as you want, depending on the plan and the builder.
#3 Home Office Design: Private bathroom
Build an en-suite home office with your own private bathroom attached, for the ultimate personal space as you work. This office also has a massive walk in closet for storing business supplies and files.
#4 Home Office Design: Library
Wall to wall built in bookcases with furniture cabinetry like this can enable your home office to organize books, manuals, and other necessities so you can find everything at a glance. A ceiling fan enables you to further control your environment.
#5 Home Office Design: Window Treatments
There are a huge variety of window treatments that can be applied to your home office, like what you see here. This can provide an open feeling that makes your office space feel more spacious and inviting.
Side Load Garage Benefit #1
A side load garage can give your home a lot of benefits, including great curbside appeal. Placing the garage on the side will make way for windows on the front face of your home. A side load garage can also increase the perceived size of the home (instead of a big garage door that emphasizes vehicles).
Side Load Garage Benefit #2
A side load garage can have a sweeping driveway into the side of the home instead of going straight in, which can give it a look of grandeur.
A side load garage can be used in conjunction with a front facing carriage garage. A dual garage layout will separate vehicles from storage or shop space, and keep the rest of your home looking proportional.
Travars Built Homes can also add a third garage bay to nearly any floor plan, including carriage garages.
A side load garage can be positioned so that there is a courtyard in front of the home, providing more space for play or parking.
Hands-on process to building a custom home
When you work with TBH, we create your home together – the way you want it:
- Modifying your floor plan to expand, turn, tweak, or change things you’d like to do differently
- Creating secret passageways, secret pantries or other hideaways
- Including aging in place, accessible, or special needs features
- Creating special spaces – bigger pantries, more storage, more outdoor living areas… let’s talk about how to create the elements that matter most
Contact TBH to learn more:
Are you asking the right questions when you talk with custom builders about costs for your North Carolina new home?
Here are 7 smart questions to ask custom home builders about their services, processes, and prices – before you sign a contract.
Questions to Ask a Home Builder: What’s included in your services?
Travars Built Homes is a design/build custom home builder. We cover everything from permits to site assessment, plan modification, construction and completion of your home. We offer the highest quality standard features, finishes, materials and craftsmanship in the local market for affordable custom homes. Read more about our services and standards, here.
Questions to Ask a Home Builder: Can you help me find a floor plan that can fit my budget?
Yes, we will make suggestions for floor plans based on the budget you give us. When we go over plans together, we’ll offer suggestions for layouts and livability of the home, and tell you why certain types of architectural designs take more to build than others, even when layouts may appear to be similar. (Having the same number of square feet does not equate to the same build costs – specialty treatments and detail work in an architectural design that you might not even notice can make a huge impact on your build costs, even when layouts appear to be similar.) We can suggest modifications or alternate plans that can be more cost effective.
Questions to Ask a Home Builder: Can you modify my floor plan?
Do I need to pay an architect or is the price of modifications included with your home price? Travars Built Homes can make a wide variety of changes to your plan, at no extra charge. We can re-arrange the kitchen, include an in-law or multigenerational suite, add a basement, or convert a two story room into a bonus room upstairs. Ask us about your floor plan – we’ll show you all the possibilities.
Questions to Ask a Home Builder: What kind of details can I expect to see in a custom home quote?
Your Travars Built spec package will include about 15 pages of details about the materials, processes, services, and energy efficiencies in your home. Keep in mind that you can only compare what is given to you in writing – that’s what will be in your contract.
Questions to Ask a Home Builder: How much interaction will you have with me when my new home is being built?
Our build process at Travars Built Homes is outlined in your personal online portal, where you can stay in-touch and informed about what’s happening with the build of your new home. You will also have the opportunity to meet with your builder on site at all key points during the build.
Questions to Ask a Home Builder: Is my site work (such as grading, clearing, driveway, septic, well) included in your pricing?
When you choose Travars Built Homes, your site work is allowance based. We allocate dollar amounts for your clearing, grading, footings, etc. The allowances are based on footprint size, topography of the lot, how much vegetation and trees there are, and other factors we consider based on years of experience building new custom homes in North Carolina. And we go over everything with you – just ask us for pricing.
Questions to Ask a Home Builder: How long does it take to you to build a home?
A typical timeline to build a custom home by Travars Built Homes is about 6-9 months, once the project is underway. Get more details about our timelines to build, here.
Remember to ask each builder the same set of questions, and request pricing on the same (or very similar) floor plans so there’s no confusion about what’s offered. Want to learn more about the process to build a new custom home in North Carolina? Contact us!
Topography, soil, regulations – here’s how your lot requirements and footprint can impact your new home build cost
The spot where your home can be built on your lot is dependent on a variety of factors in North Carolina. Here are terms and factors you need to know about aspects that can impact your homesite – and build cost.
Homesite: The spot on your lot where your home will be built
The final decision about the location for your homesite is determined by more than what you can see at first glance, such as the direction it will face or what’s outside the windows. As a turnkey builder in NC, some of the most common factors we will discuss with you regarding your footprint are topography, soil and regulations. Here’s why that’s so important:
Footprint: The shape and size of amount of space your home takes up on the ground
If you look at what the imprint of your home will be on the dirt where it is built, what does that shape look like? That’s your “footprint”. Whether your home is a square box, stretches out horizontally or vertically, has a courtyard, or has lots of “cutouts” that turn and curve in a variety of directions, everywhere it touches affects your build costs. The more simplistic, the less it usually costs to build a home with that footprint. The more complex, the more it can take to get everything done, starting with the topography and soil.
Topography: The amount of slope in your lot
Take a look at the Topo Map (short for topographical map) below. This is an example of what topography looks like, on a Geographic Information System (GIS). Although each county in NC has its own GIS system and representation, the lines you see here are indicative of how much slope this area has. The closer the lines are together, the more slope there is. The slope of your lot can help determine if your home will require a basement, crawl space, tall crawl, or slab on grade. In North Carolina, a crawl space foundation is the most common, unless the home is accessible in which case a slab on grade is used most often built. We will talk with you about how the topography affects your lot and homesite, specifically, at your lot assessment.
Soil: Support for your septic system as well as your home
Soil quality and consistency vary across North Carolina. Here are two of the most important reasons why soil plays a major factor in the build of your new home:
The homesite where your home will be placed needs to have appropriate compaction and bearing capacity. Probe Tests as well as taking into consideration aspects such as slope, exposed rock, size of trees, potential wet lands, and other factors in which soil plays a part.
A Percolation Test (abbreviated as a “Perc Test”) is required on most lots of over 1/2 acre to determine the water absorption rate of soil, which will indicate the type of septic system that is required. Your builder will interpret the results that a soil scientist or the county provide, and tell you next steps and build costs. A conventional system will usually have the least cost. A pump may be required, which would add to costs. An engineered system for a drip system or pre-treat drip system are the most expensive and take the most time to get approved. We will walk you through how this works as part of our initial overview of your build processes and steps.
Regulations: Local requirements and community covenants
Every new home must have build permits before it can be built. TBH will handle those for you, along with everything else necessary for the build of your home on your lot. Here’s how local requirements and covenants come into play as you choose where you want to build your new home:
Most new homes are built in communities, regulated by a Home Owners Association (HOA): Each neighborhood has its own set of rules and restrictions, detailed in Community Covenants. You will want to read Covenants thoroughly before purchasing a lot. Experts can also help you understand potential building restrictions within a neighborhood. Architectural Review Boards (ARBs) review details about a new home, such as exterior paint colors and materials such as brick or stone. Your new home will need to be approved by these committees if you want to build in their neighborhood.
Even new homes that are built in the countryside are subject to local requirements, typically set down by the county. This can include things like how much clearing you can do, what the setback requirements are from the street, and other mandates specific to that location.
Contact Travars Built Homes for a lot walk and assessment or any other building questions for your North Carolina new home.
We can start your custom home build process directly after your purchase agreement is signed, with site work scheduled as soon as building permits are in hand.
Here are the first steps we take together before the shovel hits the ground:
- Modifications you want to make to your floor plan
- Documented details about features, finishes, materials and pricing
- Lot walk for site assessment with home’s footprint
- Loan closed for home construction (and lot, if not already owned)
- Review of architectural and engineered blueprints
- HOA architectural review, if applicable
- Improvement Permits, if applicable
- Build Permits
- Preliminary survey and home location plat map