Net Positive Studio Conducts a Cost Estimate on St. John Prototype

As the design of our home continued to progress into its final form, we had students create an accurate cost management plan. While the design is at the core of our work, we need to understand the implications of our design. For a time-sensitive project like ours, understanding how we built it and with what materials were the main focus. Hours of labor, material types, quantities, sizes, procurement, and total costs turn this hypothetical project into something tangible. Looking at prices helps us understand how each detail, material, and our approach to prefabrication compares to typical construction.


By using “unit-level cost estimating,” precise “takeoffs” of material quantities can be taken from the BIM model, and we can manage and keep track of the price of specific building elements and categories. Through this process, we could provide a precise construction cost for the studio’s scope of work (without labor), while also estimating costs for what a future build with a contractor might cost. Through rigorous cost estimation, we keep updated estimates on the design as well as use cost information to make decisions along the way, helping to maintain an inexpensive design.

The image shows the current estimates we have created. For our current project, the cost is split between both our Net Positive Studio and the Stafford County Economical Development group. This brings the total project cost for the 2019-2020 studio year to $91,800. The studio believes that future builds will be able to bring down the cost of the home further to approach our target cost of around $120,000.

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