3 Ways Architects Influence the cost of your Texas Hill Country Custom Home

When meeting to discuss a custom home project, we inevitably get asked the following question: “How much do you charge per square foot to build a house?”  

The answer is straightforward. “Let’s talk to your Architect and discuss your property.”

Custom home construction costs are specific to your unique home design and the site conditions of your home’s proposed location. 

Other factors that impact the price per square foot include infrastructure considerations such as equipment access, staging, utilities, road work, drainage, and variable costs of raw materials like lumber and steel.  

We create accurate construction budget estimates for our clients with the help of detailed plans that include the above factors.  We find that proactive communication with Architects allows for clarity around budgeting and value engineering.

“We use previously built homes to create a conceptual budget range for a new project.   As the design is developed, we can tighten up the scope. There are so many variables in the building design and the site conditions that extensive drawings are necessary to determine the cost accurately.”

Rick Burleson

The following will review some of the factors Architects  integrate into estimating the conceptual budget range of your custom home.


Reviewing previous projects to estimate a new home build

During the preliminary design phase, Architects may review similar construction projects designed by their firm to provide a rough estimate for your home’s cost per square foot. This assessment can create some clarity, but keep in mind that your house is unique and that previous projects can only give you an idea of the cost of your custom home. 

Residential Architect Dale Dibello from Dibello Architects will often calculate an approximate comparative cost from recently constructed homes with similar layouts, style, square footage, and material.

“Cost data is helpful to the homeowner throughout the development of the design and construction drawings, especially before beginning the design to determine the probable size of the house based on the client’s wants and needs and in the schematic design phase when the architect calculates the square footage of the floor plans they will create.” 

Be wary of any builder that communicates an upfront price per square foot without design plans.  Until we speak with the Architect and visit the site, we don’t have the necessary information to provide a viable estimate for a project.

Quality of Design

Choices affect the cost

The design is a significant factor in the price of your home.  Many selections affect the cost of your custom home, from materials to design details such as flooring types and windows.

Architects help you prioritize materials and products to help guide where you would like to invest your money.  They  instruct you on the value of choosing specific materials, and the importance of certain details that affect energy efficiency in the home, and much more.

Natural lighting, also known as daylighting, is a technique that efficiently brings natural light into your home using exterior glazing (windows, skylights, etc.), thereby reducing artificial lighting requirements and saving energy. Natural lighting has been proven to increase health and comfort levels.

Green Home Technology Center


When building a custom home, making decisions that will personalize your design affects the cost.

Architects help you choose what will be the best fit for your lifestyle, and they are a vital part of simplifying a complicated and time- consuming process for the homeowner. Their design experience and knowledge can help you select materials based on cost, appearance, durability, sustainability, and performance.

They help reduce the risk of costly mistakes and explain the pros and cons of your options. Architects have an idea of the range of construction costs, but the cost of building a custom home can change rapidly based on several factors, such as the price of lumber, steel, and other construction materials.

“Materials and detailing have a tremendous impact on cost and the aesthetic character of the home.  The use of unique detailing and expensive materials will be costly even if the structure is simple. The important thing is to align these aesthetic factors with the values of the customer.” 

– Rick Burleson, Burleson Design Group


Architecturally designed homes are loaded with details that enhance function and enjoyment for the homeowner.

The design endeavor entails many decisions, such as the orientation of walls and windows to maximize natural light within a space and deliver well on the design intent.

Houses with a more complex design may have more dramatic rooflines, unique angles, and artful wall and ceiling details that will increase your home’s value.

An example of this is trusses. Designing a home with decorative trusses typically adds cost to construction.  If you decide to add this decorative style to your custom home, consider that certain designs  influence cost.

Choosing the right spot to build your custom home

Topography and views are where it all begins when choosing the right spot to place your home. 

Some factors an Architect will take into account when helping you choose location and orientation of your home include drainage, clearing, and placement of septic and well (as needed).

Other important features that can affect your home’s placement on your property are solar exposure, predominant weather patterns, road access, and of course, the views!  Decisions regarding such things as energy efficiency and rainwater collection can also affect your home’s orientation. The site is a critical piece to the overall form and function of your home’s design.

“The best way for an architect to help clients establish a construction budget is to use cost data from an experienced high-end custom builder.”  

– Dale Dibello, Dibello Architects.

Your house is the start of something unique and special, and the best way to make your vision a reality is for the architect, homeowner, and builder to form a cohesive team, each member playing separate but integrated roles.

Craftsmanship Beyond Reproach

At Burnette Builders, we value our clients and their confidence in us to build high-quality architecturally designed homes. For over 25 years, we’ve been honing our craft and aptitude toward the way that we achieve building the highest quality custom homes.  We understand the uniqueness of the land development, architectural and interior design, and all the complexities involved to build structurally sound homes in the hill country.

Please speak to one of our professionals today about how we can help build your dream home. You can call us at (512)847-9040 or Contact Us for more information about Getting Started on building your custom home.

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