How much do timber homes cost per square foot?
This question is similar to asking “How much does a new car cost?” The answer is, “It depends.” Many variables influence this cost, and a rough estimate is generally only possible after you have selected a basic floor plan, frame design, type of wood and degree of finish. While the cost is variable, it is possible to estimate that the cost of a timber-framed structure is comparable to a well-built custom home with extensive cathedral ceilings and open space with similar finishes.
Some builders provide a cost per square footage range, but it is important to understand what affects this range in order to compare the cost of different projects. Square footage can be calculated to include the heated space only or it can include non-heated spaces such as a porch or garage.
It would be inaccurate to compare a cost per square footage estimate for heated space only with another estimate that includes both heated and non-heated spaces. Beyond the timber frame, many of your design choices will affect the finished square footage cost. If you like stucco and slate roofs, you will be in a higher price range than if you decide on asphalt shingles. Hybrids — making the choice to do part of the project as a timber frame and part as stick building — can sometimes make a project more affordable.
In hybrid projects, you can timber frame the public areas and build the wings with structural insulating panels. Fundamentally, there are three variables involved in the building process: size, quality, and budget. You can set two of these, and the third variable will be decided for you automatically. Rather than sacrificing quality for a large home if your budget is tight, consider challenging your designer to design high quality, comfortable, smaller spaces. After all, any project — at any size — can have heavy timber designed into it.