What is Monster Cost-to-Build™?
Monster Cost-to-Build is a family of
new home construction cost estimating services provided
exclusively by MonsterHousePlans.com for the 21,000+ house
plans available in its online catalog. There are three types
of Cost-to-Build services offered that address specific
customer needs: 1) Monster Instant Cost-to-Build™; 2)
Monster ProAssist Cost-to-Build™; and 3) Monster OnDemand
Cost-to-Build™. Full descriptions of these three services
are available at
What is the difference between the
three Monster Cost-to-Build services?
Monster Instant Cost-to-Build allows
you to get a complete cost estimate of the house plan you
are interested in just a few clicks and in less than 5
minutes. Your cost estimate is available online where you
can interactively change the
quality levels of materials and
construction and see cost changes in real time. Instant
Cost-to-Build reports are available online in your account
for 90 days.
The Monster ProAssist Cost-to-Build service
lets you work one on one with our licensed custom home
builder who will call you and walk through all the design
and material options for the plan you are interested in to
provide you with a very detailed, comprehensive cost
The Monster OnDemand Cost-to-Build
service provides you and/or your builder the ability to
access our advanced online cost estimating application and
create unlimited, custom cost reports for the house plan of
interest. This self-service cost estimating tool allows you
to fine tune hundreds of design and material options and
produce detailed, comprehensive cost reports. The Monster
OnDemand Cost-to-Build service is available monthly subscription.
What makes Monster Cost-to-Build better
than other cost estimating services?
- Monster Cost-to-Build is powered by
Home-Cost.com, in our expert opinion, the
best construction cost estimating service.
- Home-Cost.com estimates are superior because of
their accuracy, ease of use and ability to
instantly determine cost impact of a design decision.
- Several features make our Home-Cost.com powered
services the best in the industry:
- The estimating
engine is fundamentally unique and protected by a United
States Patent. This patented technology allows “What-If?”
evaluations of different design choices, features or
materials. As you make a change you immediately see the cost
impact of that decision. This is not available with any
other residential cost estimating software.
- Use of a 5-digit zip code data base
providing over 40,000 unique locations for unsurpassed
regional accuracy. The database includes costs for labor and
materials, sales tax and climate considerations used in
sizing heating loads.
- Last, but not least, is a deep bench of
design and construction options. Over 4,000 options for your home design
are provided resulting
in virtually unlimited design possibilities.
Do I need complete blueprints to
develop an estimate?
No, complete house plans are not
required. Monster Cost-to-Build is unique in its ability to
accurately estimate a home’s cost from the plan images and
data provided on MonsterHousePlans.com.
Monster Cost-to-Build does not use
typical take-off estimating techniques. Even if you have no
particular design developed you can still estimate the
Cost-to-Build based on the design parameters and criteria
you establish for the home design.
How does Monster Cost-to-Build have
costs for my location?
Monster Cost-to-Build has a cost
database for the continental US, Alaska and Canada. Local
costs are determined by using a 5-digit zip code or postal
code which provides over 40,000 unique locations and
targeted regional accuracy. Costs for Hawaii are not in our
Does Monster Cost-to-Build include site
development costs for my project?
Yes, it includes costs for site work
such as site clearing, driveway, walkways, access road,
decks, patios, landscaping, irrigation, retaining walls,
utility extensions, well, septic and more.
Does Monster Cost-to-Build include
appliances needed for the project?
Yes, all appliances needed in your home
are available in Monster Cost-to-Build including options for
stoves, ovens, cook-tops, exhaust hoods, dishwashers,
refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, trash compactors, wine
coolers, washer and dryers, warming ovens and more.
Does Monster Cost-to-Build include
costs for sales tax?
Yes, sales tax is included and is
determined by your project zip code.
How does the money back guarantee work?
MonsterHousePlans.com provides a 90 day
100% money back guarantee that Monster Cost-to-Build’s
calculated construction value will be in a cost range
established by 3 licensed contractor bids. We require you
get contractor bids of the same house design, scope and
quality level of materials and contractor markup used in the
design you estimated with Monster Cost-to-Build. Please see
Why doesn’t my contractor’s quote match
If you give the exact same plans and
specs to 3 different builders you will get back 3 different
prices. That’s why we require multiple bids and guarantee
Monster Cost-to-Build’s calculated construction to be in a
cost range established by 3 licensed contractor bids.
If you have a budget problem, remember
that it is common for a client to have selected different
scope of work or material quality than what their builder
assumed in the quote. This is often the reason why a
contractor’s quote is not consistent with a client’s design
Evaluate your contractor’s bid detail
for adequacy of all allowances and the possibility of
different scope or assumptions inconsistent with the choices
you made in your Monster Cost-to-Build estimate.
Is my cost estimate data saved?
Monster Instant Cost-to-Build data is
saved during your subscription period. Once your Instant
Cost-to-Build subscription is canceled or expires then your
cost estimate data is no longer available.
Monster ProAssist Cost-to-Build and
OnDemand Cost-to-Build cost estimate data can be “archived” for a low monthly fee. Archived
accounts have all the project session data and all cost
estimate data saved for later restoration.
Can I reactivate cost estimate data
after my subscription expires?
Only the “Archive” feature available
with Monster Cost-to-Build ProAssist or OnDemand allows
deactivation of a project account and reactivation later.
If you have a Monster Instant
Cost-to-Build account, then your project data is unavailable
once your subscription expires. Monster Cost-to-Build
provides you the ability to print out your design and
material selections and cost report at any time during your
You cannot add more time before your
Does Monster House Plans retain my
credit card information?
No, MonsterHousePlans.com does not
retain any credit card information.
Is there online access to my Monster
Instant Cost-to-Build reports?
Yes, access to your personal Monster
Instant Cost-to-Build account is available at
MonsterHousePlans.com/YourAccount. Access allows you to
manage your account for these features:
- View and print Cost-to-Build reports generated using Monster Instant Cost-to-Build
- Interactively change the construction
quality level and immediately get an updated cost to build
- Upgrade your account to ProAssist
Cost-to-Build or OnDemand Cost-to-Build
How do I put one of my OnDemand
Cost-to-Build accounts on hold for a while?
By use of the “Archive Project”
function. To access this function click “Edit Info” in your
Control Panel for the project you wish to archive. That
launches the Project Information Panel for the project. In
your Project Information Panel you will see a tab called
“Cancel or Archive Project.” Click the “Archive Project”
radio button and confirm your selection.
Archiving your project will make your
account inactive but will retain all your data in both your
Monster Cost-to-Build account and Project Information Panel.
Archiving is recommended if you think you may want to come
back to it in the future.
Archiving a project is available as a
recurring billing of only $9.50 per month.
How do I reactivate a project account
that has been “Archived”?
Simply click the “Reactivate” link in
your Control Panel for the project you wish to reactivate
and complete the purchase of your monthly subscription.
Once you reactivate the project, your
account the project account status becomes “Active,” your
session will be restored from where you left off and monthly
billing will again resume.
Using Monster Cost-to-Build
Why doesn’t Monster Cost-to-Build use
“Cost per SF” for cost estimating?
“Cost per SF” for cost estimating is
fundamentally unreliable and can be an estimating trap since
it only applies the “Cost per Square Foot” against Finished
SF of the home.
“Cost per SF” estimates also do not
consider varying quality levels within an individual home
design and often omit costs for site work, excavation and
Construction cost however is determined
by the Constructed SF of a home and the quality level of
materials and finishes, not just Finished SF.
Although “Cost per SF” budgeting may
seem quick and easy, it is unfortunately also incorrect.
What’s the difference between
“Constructed” SF and “Finished” SF?
Finished SF only includes livable areas
such as bedrooms, kitchen, great rooms, etc.
Constructed Square Feet includes all
areas that are being constructed whether livable or not such
as an unfinished basement or crawl space, garage, bonus
rooms, enclosed porches, etc.
What is a construction “Assembly” as
used by Monster Cost-to-Build?
An “Assembly” is a grouping of
construction components against which a cost of the
components can be assigned.
For example, cost for a “sink assembly”
in Monster Cost-to-Build includes the sink, faucet, waste
and vent line, hot and cold water lines, labor and sales
A “window assembly” includes the window
unit, finished casing and trim, labor and sales tax.
An “exterior wall framing assembly” is
priced at a cost per square foot of wall area and includes
costs for the wall framing, insulation, sheathing and vapor
barrier, labor and sales tax.
Why does Monster Cost-to-Build use an
Assembly approach to estimating?
Unlike take-off estimation, “Assembly”
based estimating can be used at a conceptual level for early
stage costing or at a detailed design level for final
blueprint stage estimates.
Assemblies carry costs for their
components and the unit of measure that makes sense for that
assembly. For example, wall framing is measured in “wall
square feet” not board feet of lumber. As quantity of an
assembly goes up or down, costs for all the corresponding
components are always included and cannot be accidentally
forgotten or omitted as with take-off estimates.
Will Monster Cost-to-Build estimate a
renovation or addition?
No, Monster Cost-to-Build is only
designed to accurately estimate a freestanding single family
What limitations exist on home design
and type of home construction?
Monster Cost-to-Build will estimate
almost any style of single family detached home up to two
stories plus a lower level and garage, attached or detached.
It does not estimate swimming pools or other outdoor
structures other than a detached garage.
Over 4,000 options are available for
your home design resulting in virtually unlimited design and
material possibilities. For example, you can select from
over 15 countertop options including granite, quartz, tile,
concrete and more; over 30 flooring options including
carpet, cork, tile, stone, wood, vinyl, linoleum and more.
Exterior options include over 30 siding options such as
vinyl, aluminum, wood, cement fiber, log siding, stucco,
stone, imitation stone, etc. Roofing options including
asphalt, wood, tile, slate, metal, concrete, rubber, flat
and so on.
Green design construction options are
also available. Monster Cost-to-Build provides structural
system choices including ICF (Insulated Concrete Form), SIP
(Structural Insulated Panels) in addition to stick-built
wood framing or concrete block construction. You also have
the option of Timber Frame construction.
I received my Monster Cost-to-Build
report and I can’t afford the house! Now what?!
First of all don’t panic. Over 95% of
home projects are initially over budget. With Monster
Cost-to-Build however you now have the power to evaluate
your design decisions and vary the quality level and scope
of your home’s design to meet a realistic budget.
You are over budget for one or more
You may have selected expensive
construction materials or finishes. Go back and reconsider
all your construction material quality levels. Make sure you
have selected the most economical construction selections
and quality levels except where you absolutely needed the
If you still are over budget, your home
design may be too large and the scope of construction needs
to be reduced. Look at ways to reduce the home size and
amount of finished square feet and constructed square feet.
If you have gone back and reduced the
quality of materials in all acceptable areas and reduced the
home size and are still over budget, you may have had an
unrealistic budget in mind to start with. Monster
Cost-to-Build will allow you to model and simulate the costs
of various designs and materials of construction until you
are in budget. It is easier to fix a budget problem on paper
than while a home is being built.
One last option exists, although we do
not recommend it unless you have the experience and time, is
to be an Owner-Builder. This is where the Owner does not
hire a General Contractor but rather directly hires the
multiple subcontractors and manages their scheduling and
work. This can save between 10% to 20% of your home’s
construction cost if well managed, but you will add at least
that much to your costs if handled incompetently. If you
choose the route of an Owner / Builder, be careful and do
the research needed to fully understand your
Can Monster Cost-to-Build help if I'm
Yes it can. All projects have three
interrelated variables that must be balanced. They are
Quality, Cost and Size. You can pick any two and the third
is determined by your selections. For example if you know
your budget (cost) and you know how big your house is (size)
that will drive the quality levels of what you can afford.
Monster Cost-to-Build allows you to vary your home’s Quality
levels and Scope (or size) until your budget is in balance.
In an over-budget situation improper
Quality and/or Size decisions have created an out of balance
condition with Cost. The solution in an over-budget
circumstance is determining how to vary the Quality or Size
variables to meet a predetermined Cost.
The power of Monster Cost-to-Build is
that you will be able to model and change any of these
variables to see the impact on the other two, until you get
things in balance.
Monster Cost-to-Build process puts you
in control of modeling "what-if?" options to building
materials, design characteristics and home size, until you
are satisfied and within budget.
Using Monster Cost-to-Build Reporting
Are take-off lists of material and
labor broken down in the cost report?
Monster Cost-to-Build provides very
detailed cost reports but they are based on construction
“assemblies” and not organized in an obsolete quantity
Quantities used for measurement in
take-off estimating are often somewhat obscure such as
“board feet” of lumber or “cubic yards” of concrete.
Monster Cost-to-Build’s patented
estimating engine develops costs using construction
“assemblies.” Assemblies carry costs for their components
and the unit of measure that makes sense for that assembly.
For example, wall framing is measured in “wall square feet”
not board feet of lumber. As quantity of an assembly goes up
or down, costs for all the corresponding components are
always included and cannot be accidentally forgotten or
omitted as with take-off estimates.
Why does Monster Cost-to-Build use
construction “Assemblies” instead of take-off unit
Take-off quantity estimating can only
be done after a design is completed and is labor intensive
and prone to errors due to missed items and incorrect
quality level assumptions.
Take-off quantity estimating also
cannot provide instant cost feedback to a design change or
reflect a qualitative change.
With take-off estimating, any design
change made requires that the computer drawing be revised or
manually updated to reflect the change before take-off
quantities can again be recalculated.
Take-off unit quantity estimating
cannot answer questions like “What if the house was a little
bigger, or smaller? Or what if it had another bathroom or an
addition, or finished Bonus Space? How about granite or
These problems are all avoided by
Monster Cost-to-Build and the use of assembly based
Can I export or print my cost reports?
You may export the cost report to an
Excel table format (no formulas) with Monster ProAssist or
OnDemand Cost-to-Build. This feature is not available in
Monster Instant Cost-to-Build.
These FAQs were published with the
permission of Home-Cost.com. They may not be copied or reproduced in
any form without the prior written
consent of Home-Cost.com.