What’s Not Included- and why

Among the most frequent questions that I get asked is ” What other costs should I know about?”.  These are among the most common:

Property Surveys-

When one builds on a property , there is a need to understand the size of the property and the location of the building or improvement in relation to the envelope in which it sits.  Each municipality has different criteria about what’s required in the survey.

Topographical Surveys

This is measured by a surveyor and conveyed on a drawing called a survey. It is important to get a good survey because of the legal implications of building in the wrong location.

Expect to pay $1200- 4000 for good survey for a residential project in Westchester County NY.  Higher fees should be expected if the surveyor is measuring the topography -that indicates the slope of the land.

Application Fees

When you build almost anything ( a fence, a garage, a shopping mall) there is a process of getting approvals from the Municipality.  The submission of the application requires effort to process and review the paperwork from the municipality…. So there is application fee associated, which of course depends on the size and complexity of the project. Expect to pay application fees of approximately $100-500 for a residential project and $500-5000 for a commercial project.


Building Permit Fees

This fee is generally based on a percentage of construction cost. Figure between 0.5% and 2% of the construction cost.

Escrow fees

The municipality often hires consulting engineers and architects to review the drawings or attend municipal meetings. These consultants are in turn paid by the applicant via this escrow account.

Certificate of Occupancy Fee

After the construction project is complete, the property is a new version of itself- the certificate of occupancy reflects the new status of the building or land.

Owner Provided Items

Often times, construction contracts will provide for installing items that the contractor will not be providing. Such items like a chandelier can be purchased by the owner (hence avoiding the contractors markup) and will be given to the contractor for installation. Other items such as a trade (electrical work) can also be assigned to the owner-so the Owner’s brother Mike can get his friend into the mix (eye roll please).

Change Orders

Many conditions cannot be foreseen because they are concealed within wall, buried under ground. These issues may create extra work for the builder (like finding a pipe that needs to be relocated to make a new way for a new door) and that extra work is going to cost money.  The owner will pay for the extra work as a “change order”.  There can also be design change orders for additional services when new designs are employed.images

FFE  (Fixtures,Furniture, Equipment)

” Wow, Karen I didn’t realize the Family Room would be that much bigger- we’re going to need some more furniture”.

Tax Implications

Yes, your new property or building or house will be more valuable. There’s a good reason most building departments share their information with the tax department. So most likely the new version of the property will be re-assessed.images

Maintenance Costs

Most likely, your new property or building or house will also be bigger and require more effort and cost to maintain.

Utility Costs

This largely depends on the degree to which the designs are using greener practices, more efficient lighting and mechanical equipment, etc.

Municipal Board Fees

When the project comes before various boards, there are more applications and related fees.