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What's It Going to Cost? by Gordon F. Tully In my class on custom house design at Harvard's Graduate School of deliberately omitted in cheaper construction. Design, much of the discussion centers on how to spend money wisely when building or rebuilding a house. Here are some of the questions most often asked. Why Do Building Costs Vary So Much? Very similar houses can range in price from $50 a square foot to over $200 a square foot. What is an owner buying at $200 which is not included at $50? There are of course a number of unproductive ways to spend money, such as waste, the cost of inexperience, excessive profit, graft, and theft. Leaving these aside, the useful things money can