Here’s some important information about pricing.
Building a home entails a variety of costs. Here’s an overview, answers to common questions, and details on what is and isn’t included in Plant cost estimates.
Here’s a reality about building a home, with us or anyone: Final, fixed cost can’t be determined until you’ve gone through the entire design process, including picking finishes, fixtures, appliances, and other details, and then completing engineering on that final design. Then and only then is it possible to create an accurate cost estimate—for the home.
Site costs for things like grading, constructing a foundation, and building out utilities will vary greatly based on the condition of your lot, the composition of your soil, specific code requirements for your property, as well as an almost infinite number of site-based variables like whether your lot is located on a steep hillside or in a high fire zone. To hone in on your site costs, you’ll need to do a soils test to find out what’s there, and then a structural engineer will need to do a specific plan for your site based on your soils report and your local code requirements. This process applies regardless of whether you’re working with Plant, another prefabricator, or a traditional, site-based builder.
Costs that are specific to working with Plant include transportation and installation (craning), which are affected by your distance from our factory and your specific site conditions. We address this upfront by conducting a detailed feasibility analysis. We analyze your zoning, transportation options, and installation requirements, and give you a rough estimate for all costs based on similar, past projects. We then refine this estimate as you work through your design, translating assumptions into real costs, which become fixed once your project enters production. For more information on the entire process, visit our Homebuyers page.
All costs listed on our website should be considered estimates only and subject to change at any time. Details on why, below.
LivingHome Pricing Estimates
Each of our LivingHomes lists a cost for the house modules, as well as a rough estimate of total project cost:
This is an estimated cost for the modules and other prefabricated components of your home that we build for you, wrapped and ready for pick up at our factory. This includes your choice of our high-quality, base-level finishes, fixtures, and appliances, including flooring, tile, kitchen cabinets and countertops, plumbing fixtures, kitchen and laundry appliances, exterior siding, and best-in-class smart home technology. Optional upgrades are additional, and any changes to floor area or construction detailing, as well as any changes to meet local code requirements will impact the module cost. We provide you with a full and transparent estimate once all project details have been specified. The module cost generally covers the work Plant does for you (outside of any design work, when applicable). It does NOT include costs for tasks completed by other parties; see “Other Costs & Vendors,” below.
Estimated Total Cost
This is a rough estimate for all the hard costs—the module costs listed above, as well as site prep, construction of the foundation, transportation (delivery), installation, and post-installation site work to complete the home. Estimations are based on a flat lot with good soils, located 100 miles from Plant’s Rialto, CA factory. It does not include any estimates for landscaping or soft costs—costs for design, engineering, and local permitting (see “Other Costs & Vendors,” below). To get a more specific estimate for your particular site, request a quote.
Module costs and estimated total costs are only estimates, and subject to change without notice.
Here’s why: transportation, labor, and especially material costs (wood, steel, windows, appliances, etc.) fluctuate with the economy and our materials suppliers don’t (yet!) offer real-time pricing that we can integrate into our estimating system. We do the next best thing, which is to obtain the most current pricing from our suppliers each time we create a project estimate. So if you’re serious about building a LivingHome, simply request a quote—we’ll happily work up a detailed estimate, including project-specific costs like transportation from our factory to your particular lot.
Custom Project Estimates
We don’t provide estimates for custom work on our website, because custom projects are, well, custom! Recent custom projects we’ve completed have ranged from a 400-square-foot accessory dwelling unit to multi-unit dorm. Costs have ranged from $150 - 350+ per square foot for modules, and $250 - 600+ per square foot for the total project.
If you have plans for a custom project, we will happily work up an estimate using your architect’s design and specifications for finishes, fixtures, and other details. Or, if you haven’t yet created a design and would like to hire us to create your design, we can discuss your project and give you an estimate based on that.
Other Costs & Vendors
Here are other costs involved in building a home, with Plant or anyone:
Design & Engineering
If you want a custom home, you’ll need to hire an architect/designer to do this work. To build with Plant, you can work with any architect you choose, including the Plant Design Studio and Plant Design Partners. Whoever you hire as your architect/designer will be responsible for all the documents that are required to get your project engineered, submitted for necessary permits (see below), and for the construction drawings that are used by the factory and your site general contractor (see below) to build your project. Fees for custom design work typically range from 10-20% of your total construction budget, depending on who you hire.
Your local municipality—and specifically, the Planning & Building department—charges fees to review and approve your project. Their approval is necessary before you can begin any work, and fees vary widely from one municipality to another. You will be responsible for paying these fees. The state of California also charges fees to review and approve the house modules, but we manage that process and thus include the fees in our module cost.
General Contractor & Other Site Costs
You’ll need to hire a general contractor (GC) to do your site work. If you need help finding a GC, we’ve worked with a number of good GCs throughout California and are happy to make a referral. Your GC will be responsible for all site work. Grading, excavation, foundation, utilities, driveway, and any finish work after installation are the major costs, though every project is different and some of these expenses may not apply to your project. You’ll want to hire the GC as soon as possible after you get started with us, so we can coordinate closely on the scope.
Transportation & Installation
You’ll need to hire someone to transport your house modules from Plant to your site, and then install the modules on your foundation. Some GCs do this and can manage the entire process, but some don’t. If you need help finding service providers, we can make referrals to groups we’ve worked with in the past. The cost to deliver your home to your site will vary significantly based on the size of your home (bigger house = more modules), the size and weight of the modules, and the location of your lot in relation to our factory. For most recent jobs, transportation costs ranged from $10-15 per truck, per mile from our factory, plus pick-up costs assessed by the transport company (typically about $1,500). The size of the crane that will be needed to install your home will depend on the size and weight of the modules, the distance from where the crane is placed to where the modules are set, and the accessibility of your lot. Most homes require at least a 140-ton crane and some projects require up to a 300-ton crane. A one-day crane rental can range from $10,000 - 35,000 depending on the size and type of crane required. Again, we give you a rough estimation of these costs in our initial feasibility analysis.
After your home is installed on its foundation, you’ll need landscaping. This work is typically done by a landscape designer, and again, if you need help finding someone we can make referrals.
This may seem like a lot to digest, but we work with you to give you rough estimates for these fees based on past projects. And as we work together to refine your project, we get you increasingly specific numbers. If we’re only doing your construction, your architect will clarify your permit fees, site costs, etc.
Prefab vs Site-Built Costs
The term “prefabrication” simply refers to construction that occurs off-site. Prefab has some additional costs that site-built doesn’t, like transportation and installation, but the savings achieved by the drastically reduced labor hours, materials, and energy use generally far outweigh these additional costs. The exceptions are locations with extremely inexpensive labor, as well as locations very far from the Plant factory, in which case the savings are diminished. However, in construction markets where costs are high, prefabrication comes in well below site-built, and Plant’s precise engineering and manufacturing processes allow us to provide a complete, accurate estimate before your project goes into production. This is much more difficult for site-based construction, which is why there tend to be many change orders once work has begun. Non-client-initiated change orders are very rare at Plant.
Plant Cost Savings
The exact savings of building with Plant can’t be determined until a project estimate has been created (see above). But in areas with higher construction costs, total budgets for Plant projects can be 10-25% lower than site-based jobs. If you’re curious how much you could save with Plant, let’s find out by working up an estimate!
LivingHomes Design Fees
People sometimes ask why there are still design fees when they select one of our ready-made designs. The fees are far less than for custom projects, and cover the design work we must do to create plans for your specific site, to meet your specific municipality’s code. We take care of the state requirements as a part of the module cost, but since every local municipality has its own zoning requirements and building codes, our design team has to research these requirements and create a site plan based on your lot with your chosen LivingHome. Once this has been created, our team must then submit it to your local building department and manage any requirements they send back.
LivingHomes also offer dozens of customization options for you to choose from, including finishes, fixtures, and appliances. Though we make this process as easy (and fun!) as possible, most folks want a little guidance to make sure their new home looks absolutely perfect.