Monster Cost-to-Build FAQs

Q: What is Monster Cost-to-Build™?

Monster House Plans Monster Cost-to-Build is a new home construction cost estimating service provided exclusively by for the 24,000+ house plans available in its online catalog. 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.

Q: What makes Monster Cost-to-Build better than other cost estimating services?

Monster House Plans

  • Monster Cost-to-Build is powered by, in our expert opinion, the best construction cost estimating service.
  • 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 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.

Q: Do I need complete blueprints to develop an estimate?

Monster House Plans 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

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.

Q: How does Monster Cost-to-Build have costs for my location?

Monster House Plans 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 database.

Q: Does Monster Cost-to-Build include site development costs for my project?

Monster House Plans 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.

Q: Does Monster Cost-to-Build include appliances needed for the project?

Monster House Plans 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.

Q: Does Monster Cost-to-Build include costs for sales tax?

Monster House Plans Yes, sales tax is included and is determined by your project zip code.

Q: How does the money back guarantee work?

Monster House Plans 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 our Terms of Use for more information.

Q: Why doesn't my contractor's quote match Monster Cost-to-Build?

Monster House Plans 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 selections. 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.

Q: Is my cost estimate data saved?

Monster House Plans 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.
If you have a Monster Instant Cost-to-Build account, then your project data is unavailable once your subscription expires.
You cannot add more time before your subscription expires.

Q: Does Monster House Plans retain my credit card information?

Monster House Plans No, does not retain any credit card information.

Q: Is there online access to my Monster Instant Cost-to-Build reports?

Monster House Plans Yes, access to your personal Monster Instant Cost-to-Build account is available at 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 report.

Q: Why doesn't Monster Cost-to-Build use "Cost per SF" for cost estimating?

Monster House Plans "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 appliances.

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.

Q: What's the difference between "Constructed" SF and "Finished" SF?

Monster House Plans 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.

Q: What is a construction "Assembly" as used by Monster Cost-to-Build?

Monster House Plans 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 tax.

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.

Q: Why does Monster Cost-to-Build use an Assembly approach to estimating?

Monster House Plans 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.

Q: Will Monster Cost-to-Build estimate a renovation or addition?

Monster House Plans No, Monster Cost-to-Build is only designed to accurately estimate a freestanding single family residence.

Q: I received my Monster Cost-to-Build report and I can't afford the house! Now what?!

Monster House Plans 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 reasons including:
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 increased quality.

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 responsibilities.

Q: Can Monster Cost-to-Build help if I'm already over-budget?

Monster House Plans 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.

Q: Are take-off lists of material and labor broken down in the cost report?

Monster House Plans Monster Cost-to-Build provides very detailed cost reports but they are based on construction "assemblies" and not organized in an obsolete quantity take-off format.

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.

Q: Why does Monster Cost-to-Build use construction "Assemblies" instead of take-off unit quantities?

Monster House Plans 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 quartz counters?" These problems are all avoided by Monster Cost-to-Build and the use of assembly based estimating.

Q: Can I export or print my cost reports?

Monster House Plans This feature is not available in Monster Instant Cost-to-Build.

These FAQs were published with the permission of They may not be copied or reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of