We separate the building process into 3 sections:

  1. Financing- Receive Pre-approval from lender
  2. Land and Site Development- Find lot/land if not already owned. 
  3. House- Collaborate with us to build your dream home


Because we offer our consultation services free of charge, we like to know that our clients are pre-approved, or have adequate resources to take on a project. It is also no fun to plan and dream about a new custom home only to find out you are not able to qualify – we have learned this the hard way with clients.

Items important in the finance process:

  • Determine maximum project cost based on financial qualifications and comfort with estimated final monthly payments.
  • The recommended loan type is a “Construction to Permanent” Loan. Note that some banks call this a “One Time Close” Construction Loan.
  • Construction loans typically require 5-20% equity. Usually the higher the equity the better the rate.

Equity can be:

  • Cash
  • Owned land/lot: equity is determined by appraised value less the balance of any existing loans. If a home is being replaced (like a manufactured home) equity is determined by the estimated value of the final completed project less the balance of any existing loans.

Land and Site Development:

Land/Lots: If land is not already owned, look for a realtor in your area to start the search and see what price range is reasonable.

Site Development budgets vary greatly based on the location (city/county) and individual characteristics of the land. For early (pre-land) budgeting purposes, clients should include $30,000 minimum for site development:

  • City or County Site Development Fees: 
    • Counties range from $3000 - $7000 based on services used (public water/sewer).
    • Cities range $9000 to $20000 (metro areas like Portland are higher).
  • Lot Slope: steeper building sites have additional costs (foundation, excavation, testing, etc.)
  • Excavation/Utilities. On a typical city lot this runs about $6000. Budgets are adjusted based on the following:
    • Length of road/driveway to proposed building site
    • Length of utility trenches
    • Water source – public system or private well-Wells can vary from $4000 to $15,000
    • Sewer/Septic – public system or private septic system-Based on the type of soil, septic systems can vary from $6000 to $25,000


The house budget is “backed in to” based on what is known about the land.

An example of an early budget looks like this:

  • $550,000 Maximum project budget
  • ($125,000) Less lot/land budget
  • ($30,000) Less typical site development budget
  • $395,000 Equals budget for house (foundation up)

Our cost per square foot varies greatly from plan to plan.

  • We do component-based pricing. We count everything – shelves, cabinets, doors, windows, gutters etc.
  • We have 117 different counts that we takeoff from all plans to determine pricing.
  • Most significant cost drivers:
    • Shape: a square 2-story house is the lowest cost structure. Typically the more “corners” on a plan the higher the costs and the better “street appeal” it will have.
    • Roof pitch: a standard pitch (6/12) roof build with manufactured trusses if the most cost efficient roof. Higher pitched roofs affect framing budgets, siding budgets, and roof budgets.
    • Roof complexity: this relates to shape – every corner or nook on a plan adds roof complexity and additional costs which are offset by the increased street appeal.
    • Windows: windows affect engineering, framing, siding, drywall, and trim. A high number of windows decreases the strength of the exterior wall assemblies against earthquakes so we have to take additional seismic bracing measures in order to maintain structural integrity.
  • Because we are a custom home builder, we bid out each house individually. We can either draw your plan using our state of the art design system, or we can give an estimate based on bid-ready plans from another source.
    • We provide an in-house design program that will provide you with engineer ready plans at an extremely affordable price. If you choose to build with EquityQuest Homes, 50% for your design fee will be credited in your building price.
    • If you already have a set of bid-ready plans from another source, we will do an estimate free of charge (pre-qualification for construction loan is required).