New Construction

From starter home to design/build consultations, we have the background, the assembled team and the expertise to keep your project moving smoothly. We have a reputation among our subs (and our clients) of good communication, excellent scheduling and attention to detail.


Are you considering designing & building your dream home?

Generally speaking, it should cost the same as if you found a home on the open market, however you’ll be getting the exact floor plan, colors, porcelain tile, etc that you wanted….within reason (commonly found on homes in that price-point).

As builders, we are approached regularly with the question: “How much do you charge per square foot?” I would ask you, “Are you wanting to drive a Kia or a Cadillac?” The cost per foot quotes will vary from builder to builder, especially if you do not have a floor plan and engineering to put out for bid.

When you commit to a building site, design a home (or purchase a plan and engineering) and choose your finishes (specifications), you can start to have a very meaningful conversations with builders in your area. How much will it cost to get to this meaningful conversation? Realistically, a minimum of $5000…and many months.
Is $5000 and many months too much commitment at this stage in the game? Are you still looking for an answer to the cost per square foot question? You can see now that asking this is asking me to look at the way you are dressed and your car to guess at costs?

There are some builders who will throw any price at you, some will guess low to keep the conversation going; some will have a more accurate quote knowing what caliber of construction is expected in a certain area and by asking a few more questions. Some contractors are more honest than others. Even the best-intentioned individual can not anticipate just how many semi-custom touches you will want to include when it’s all said and done. So the Kia/Cadillac question pops up again.

Even after you get plans, engineering and specs together, why do builders’ prices vary so much?

Even among the reasonably-priced builders you will find quite a range of pricing. Why is that? The lower priced proposals may not have involved thoroughly reviewing the plan and specs and might not have factored in contingencies. They may have missed something. A lower figure might also indicate that they excluded something intentionally from their costs to make the costs seem more favorable: permits, service development charges, taxes, construction debris removal, well or water, septic or sewer, exterior flatwork, driveways, utilities, landscaping, etc. There is a larger builder in our area whose business plan and advertising excludes many things intentionally to attract customers to their “ultra low” cost per square foot. However when you add back in the permits, water, sewer, utilities, etc. back in, their prices are very comparable to our honest, upfront pricing.

How is your approach to your design/build decision impacting your costs?

  • Have you found the exact plan that you want? Do you have your heart set on one particular lot or piece of land? If that’s the case this will be more expensive.
  • Does the the plan/square footage you want match your needs or fit the building site topography well? Will the plan have street appeal?
  • Are you determining your decisions on a total monthly payment that you can afford or total cost you don’t want to exceed?

Choosing one of these approaches likely means that you will be paying a little (or a lot) more.

The best road to affordability is:

  1. Get a great deal on the land.
  2. Make the overall building smaller through efficient design and judicious choices. 
  3. Don’t overbuild the neighborhood.

If you let me know what your budget is, I can usually get you there by targeting your total costs/budget. The road to affordability requires patience in finding the right piece of land at the right price and flexibility on location.  Often, I will have clients create two lists:

  1. A list of needs – we won’t move forward with this unless we have these things.
  2. A list of wants – we will add these things if the price is reasonable.

» Contact Capital Builders and let us help get you on the path to your dream home! 


Skinny houses – Portland’s houses on a diet

Portland style skinny houses

When Portland was a young city, it embraced increased density by having the smaller than normal 25×100 lots.  Some original buyers even purchased an extra lot to have a little extra distance between their neighbors as a side yard.  In the years since, some of those were built on.

In 1979, Oregon became the very first state to begin urban and rural planning.  We Oregonians drew lines around our cities, called urban growth boundaries, to discourage California-like sprawl. We assigned each piece of land a zoning code for what it was being used for and what we wanted it to eventually become.

Lots before that time were easy to create.  If you had a lot and you wanted to divide it, it only took a signature on a deed and to pay a recording fee with a new legal description.  In one day, without a surveyor, an attorney or any other professional help, you could divide one lot into two.

Portland had enough land at that time to grow toward the East.  Portland also grew larger, by by annexing other smaller cities like Albina, St. Johns, and Linnton.  There were savings for citizens in having one water department, one sewer agency, and one fire department and police department.

As land became more scarce in the early 90’s, Portland-style shotgun homes or “skinny houses” were born to add density, take advantage of existing lots and to limit sprawl.  These skinny homes are part of the reason that we see Portland maintaining its svelte figure. They live large on the inside with minimal care on the outside, and are ideal for a busy modern lifestyle. Once inside, home owners see no difference between their homes and other homes on the block because all room sizes are standard. There are other advantages, too!  With smaller lots, the monthly payment is lower. The tax payment is lower. Being a new home, there is less time spent on home maintenance. And with a smaller yard, there is also less time spent on yard maintenance. This all translates to more time for the owner to enjoy the weekends!

The first skinny houses were not very pretty.  Because they looked a little odd, they only appealed to entry-level buyers.  As more and more of these houses have been built, there has been more and more controversy surrounding these homes.   After nearly 20 years of skinny home construction and a broader acceptance, there have been some sales in desirable neighborhoods of nearly $700,000.00!  There has even been a design competition to design aesthetically pleasing skinny houses. Amusing for the builders of these homes was the fact that the winning designs chosen by Portland City Council violated a great number of the planning codes currently in place. That didn’t stop the City Council from being approving them for immediate construction.  There are those that despise them; they are not for everyone. On the other hand, the market has spoken. There seems to be no end to those willing to buy them and for all these reasons, they are here to stay.

Skinny houses – Portland’s houses on a diet2019-04-17T18:18:54+00:00

Slopes and Cross Slopes

Slope in one direction is relatively easy to address, but a lot with cross-slope presents additional challenges. There are some pretty sizable extra expenses that come from extra excavation, extra framing to fur walls inside tall foundation, walls which act to retain dirt on the outside, wider window and door trim material, extra retaining walls to create some flat outdoor living space. Our biggest cross-slope project was a 22′ difference from right rear corner to left front corner. Most of this difference was dealt within the footprint/design of the house, but still required 12′ retaining walls. This lot’s cross-slope is not that severe at a mere 6′.

Slopes and Cross Slopes2018-04-30T17:16:30+00:00

Scappoose, Custom Prairie Shell

This custom shell we designed Prairie-style to fit the owners’ particular lot and needs.

The lot was one of the more difficult lots in the area with slope and cross slope, but the owners had gotten a great deal to offset the cost of the design. We started construction in late October, alternating our work with the owners’ work or sometimes working concurrently. We did foundation, framing, insulation, siding, windows, flatwork, drywall, decks, exterior doors, gutters and garage doors. The owners did their own excavation, plumbing, rain drains, damp proofing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, deck handrails and interior finishes.
Scappoose Custom Shell HomeCould this particular project have gone better? Undoubtedly! The owner was three days late in finishing his initial excavation. Unfortunately, that was the three day window foundation for the subcontractor…and he was booked out another 3 weeks out. This put us both behind and squarely into three weeks of snow followed by the wettest winter on recent record.

Did the owner take on a little too much? Well, yes and no. He got it done, but there were a few smaller problems and it definitely took longer to do than if we had one of our Angie’s List A-rated subs there. Where electrical rough-in and plumbing rough-in should have taken 4 days maximum for us, our client was there plugging away for a while after work and on weekends for weeks. Did he save money, without a doubt! Would he do it again? I will ask him!

Will I do it again? Yes, but I think that next time, I would try to consolidate all of the owner activities into one solid block of time to prevent alternating schedules. Don’t get me wrong! We managed, but there were a few items where he took far too long, throwing a wrench into my schedule and then I unintentionally did the same thing to him. Even though he was a very accomplished heavy-equipment operator on a tractor, there are many excavation items which are very important to the overall well-being of the home: the ground that the footings are sitting on need to be firm ( there were a few soft spots that needed to be addressed), the pad needs to be level (it needed a little help there, too), there is damp-proofing the basement foundation (a thick coating of asphalt emulsion is the code requirement, but it is always better to do more), installation of rain drains and drywells, proper back-filling, etc. Also, our framer took far too long in finishing due to weather and employee setbacks

The good news is that we finished our final items (siding and gutters) before he had the interior items complete, but the best news is that we have a new homeowner who is as happy with us as he is happy to be moved in.

Scappoose, Custom Prairie Shell2017-09-03T22:17:46+00:00

Raymond Street, Portland Home with Attached ADU

Capital Builders completed this house on Raymond Street in Portland in 2016. The house portion contains four bedrooms and two and a half baths with a separate apartment or attached ADU. The apartment is a studio apartment with it’s own bathroom, kitchen, closet and laundry. The apartment has utilities metered separately for easy management.

Raymond Street, Portland Home with Attached ADU2016-12-21T23:52:58+00:00

6207 and 6209 SW 21st Ave.

Sometimes, from a financial standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to remodel. The previous house was small, old, and located at the rear of the lot. Rather than throw good money after bad, the owner decided to start from scratch. We guided the owner through the land division, street improvement and new construction permitting processes.

As you can see, we are well on our way to having two new homes where one once stood. It is the first project of its type in this neighborhood in quite some time, but does fit the general character of the neighborhood. We have already been contacted by two neighbors to help them with their development and new construction.

6207 SW 21st Ave.

6209 SW 21st Ave.

6207 and 6209 SW 21st Ave.2017-09-03T22:17:47+00:00

Portland Urban Living

This type of house is unique to Portland where density to preserve farmland and nature outside the city is highly valued.  Yes, they look a bit odd, but they do grow on you!  Inside are three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a powder, a laundry room.  Outside is a fenced yard with enough room to play but not so much that you can’t get away for the weekend.

Portland Urban Living2017-09-03T22:17:47+00:00

The Multnomah Villager

Designed to “fit the neighborhood”, we borrowed architectural cues from traditional bungalows to adorn a modern, space-efficient, three bedroom, two and a half bath floor plan.  Maximizing usable space, minimizing cost by adapting to site constraints is our forte.  With a 40′ deep garage (four-car garage), this space can also be a traditional two-car garage with a large shop.  Additionally, it comes with a Media Room on the lower floor that is easily converted into a fourth bedroom for resale purposes.  The decks at the front and back create the perfect environment for private moments with the family and for watching the world go by on those long summer nights.   The lot and design were such a hit that another major custom home builder (who must have been fresh out of ideas) purchased the lot from us.


The Multnomah Villager2017-09-03T22:17:47+00:00

The Maplewood

The MaplewoodOld world style meets modern convenience.

The Maplewood has a Bungalow influence with all of the elegance and convenience of a modern home. With an open kitchen overlooking the great room, that’s ideal for entertaining, this unobstructed floor plan lives larger than its square footage. Another experienced custom home builder after walking through it estimated it to be 600 square feet (18%) larger than its actual size.


The Maplewood2017-09-03T22:17:47+00:00

The Pomona Cafe & Pomona Rouge

The Pomona Cafe and the Pomona Rouge in SW Portland are  four bedrooms, three and a half baths and 2600 square feet overall. Below the main house of 1921 square feet is a one bedroom, one bath apartment of 650 square foot ADU (auxilliary dwelling unit) to help a younger buyer with the mortgage or as an aging in place strategy for an older client. Increased density is one of Portland’s goals and this type of building helps increased density and holding our urban growth boundary in check. The most desirable ADUs are single level buildings on flat or gently sloping lots.



The Pomona Cafe & Pomona Rouge2017-09-03T22:17:47+00:00