Micropolis Houses® and Building Costs

The Micropolis House Song - Jonathan Mann
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Well, we know you want an easy answer (we all do!) and you want that answer to be “cheap”.


A Micropolis House® will be less expensive to build than a comparable larger house and will definitely be MUCH cheaper to maintain throughout its life because it is SMALLER and has a well insulated exterior.  Smaller houses use fewer resources and are generally cheaper to build overall, as well as being greener since you are using less material.   This means you can put money where it counts (such as better windows or a special finish or touch somewhere that is important to you.) Smaller also means lower electricity bills and lower maintaince costs ("lifecycle costs").


But the truth is, much of how much your house will cost depends on YOU.


     You are the one who will be picking the finishes (granite, anyone?)


     You will pick the plumbing (how about a $75 faucet from Home Depot instead of the $2,000 Euro-faucet?)


TIP:  Don’t be distracted by shiny objects (i.e. plumbing fixtures)!

Put your money elsewhere (see the bottom of this list…)


Good News!

I can help advise you, but only if you are willing to listen!   (Not all clients want to listen...)


Now I have a question for YOU:

What part of the country do you live in?


Even in NC, where the Micropolis Houses® were born, costs vary in a crazy way from county to county.  Here in Chapel Hill, it can cost $200 on up to $275 per heated square foot (PSF) for a Micropolis House® (and this is dirt cheap compared to Los Angeles or New York and many other places.)  One county away, you can probably build one for $150 PSF.  And it costs less as you get further from the urban areas.


Some driving factors:

  • Do you have a good contractor to work with?

  • Do you plan on doing some of the work yourself.

  • Are you willing to buy off the shelf products for the infill, such as IKEA cabinets?


These kinds of things will affect how much your Micropolis House® will cost to build.


Where I advise you to put your money:

  • I start with a really good insulated envelope.  This is arch-speak for the outside shell of your building — what keeps you safe and comfortable inside and helps keep your energy bills lower.

  • For me, the windows are one of the most important parts of your project.  It’s all about the light, but you don’t want extra heat gain during the summer or heat loss in the winter.  Great quality windows in the right location make all the difference.  Let me help you choose these.

  • Please, please do NOT leave off the outside spaces - porches, terraces, balconies and courtyards.  These are critical to the design of the Micropolis Houses®, as they add living spaces that are not heated or cooled but that contribute tremendously to your quality of life and the enjoyment of your home.

Arielle C. Schechter, AIA  / T 919-933-1400 / F 919-933-0102 / E acsarchitect@icloud.com © 2013 by Arielle C. Schechter

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