Why we stopped playing the price per square foot game


stop“How much is that per square foot?”

I get this question all the time. I’ve addressed it before, but I think it’s important to put a different spin on the topic today. It’s a spin on price per square foot that the building industry would rather I didn’t share with you, actually: price per square foot is a game home builders use to reel you in.

In fact, I used to play it too—until I realized I was doing my customers a disservice. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost some deals by not playing that game, and I sincerely hope those people I lost got a great deal somewhere.

Here’s the problem with the price per square foot game. With a custom home, there’s no way to quote a price per square foot until I know every detail about the home. It’d be dishonest.

Think about it: the home you’re building on your land is your home, not your builder’s home. If your builder gives you a price per square foot before you’ve shared any of your wants, needs, and dreams, how can that home they’re selling you be what you want it to be?

I couldn’t begin to honestly give you a number until I know what you want—unless I’m just trying to reel you in with an artificially low number. We don’t buy our cars by the pound or our clothes by the thread. Why use a commodity price like price per square foot for something as dear to us as our forever home? Commodity pricing works for corn and potatoes—but for your home?

How do you avoid the price per square foot trap?

Seek out a builder who listens first, before giving you an unfounded price per square foot quote or shoving a ten-page list of included features in your face. Who cares what the builder thinks should go into your home? Shouldn’t that be your choice? Structural items aside, what goes into your house should ultimately be your decision.

Look for a builder who is committed to your needs and wants and to staying within your budget. Stock plans and generic lists of included features usually don’t cut it for families who want to make sure they’re maximizing their budget.

Ask about various financing options, and don’t forget everyone’s financial situation is going to look different. Can your prospective builder help you work through various options? What about helping with financing challenges? How willing does he or she seem to be to listen and help you come up with creative financing solutions?

There’s so much more that goes into the value of a house than the price per square foot. That’s why I stopped playing that game. My customers are much, much more than a commodity, and so are their homes.

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