Oops, I deleted earlier answer by mistake, am re-posting.
I specialize in W. Ashley, & was one of the agents who sold some of the first lots in Middleborough Estates; so I am very familiar with that area. Were you thinking of buying an already built spec home in Middleborough, or new construction elsewhere in W. Ashley? If you build on your lot, it really depends on what your definition of a nice home would be as to cost of building. But, even if that simply means granite countertops, hardwood floors, crown molding, etc. - what most people would think of as a "nice home" on the interior- there are still a lot of other things to consider. Do you plan to hire a builder as your general contractor, or do you plan to sub out the work & supervise the construction yourself. (I do not recommend doing it yourself unless you have experience doing this.) Other major price variables include: do you want a 1 or 2 story house; what sort of architecture/roof lines will it have; do you plan to incorporate any "green" technology into the home; what exterior building materials do you plan to use; will you have drive under parking or an attached or detached garage; what has to be done to prepare the lot for the building process, etc. So, it is hard to give you a short answer. Average cost is a relative thing.
I do know that spec homes in Middleborough have varied widely in list price, depending on what the builder paid for the lot. And for some, market conditions have played havoc with their prices (and profits). But the spec homes for sale right now are priced from $142/sf to $215/sf (the one at $215/sf is above the median price), with the true average being about $163/sf .Those that have sold this year have averaged about $150/sf.
But, please allow me to emphasize that none of this info may be an accurate yard stick for measuring the price of your custom home; because:
1. Spec homes include the builderâ€™s lot costs into the list price of the home, & youâ€™ve purchased your own lot.
2. What you want in a home may be very different than what a builder decided to offer in a spec home.
The best way to know the price of what you want is to talk to a good builder, & have them give you a price. I assure they will be happy to do so. Things like lot prep, permits, etc. are usually included in the price most custom builders will give you.
As for whether to build or buy - there are some great prices now on W. Ashley homes that have already been built. If they suit your needs, & you can take advantage of those prices it could be a smart move. But, if they donâ€™t suit your long term needs - could you approach one of these bargains as an investment? Buying a bargain now AND hanging on to your lot in Middleborough could be ideal. Middleborough is in the only golf course community within the "closer-in", very convenient area of W. Ashley, & if you have a golf course lot, it will be a wonderful spot for a long term home. Having said that, I must also add that my advice to keep the lot is based not only on the reasons I just gave, but also the fact that I think you will have a hard time selling your lot in Middleborough right now - unless you put a bargain basement price on it. This is based on current market & economic conditions, not due to the long term value of the lot. Depending on whether or not you are a first generation purchaser of the lot, you would need to consider if the sales price this market might bring would work for you, if it did sell. If you can afford to hold on to the lot AND buy a house already built, when the market improves you may very well be able to sell that house for a profit, & the value of your lot will probably have appreciated under the same market conditions. So, between those 2 possible advantages, you could be in a situation to have substantial equity in both investments. Of course, there are no guarantees on profits in real estate, but history tells us the market has heretofore always bounced back.
If you can't afford to keep the lot & buy a separate house this year, & if your Middleborough lot is where you want to live long term (that is THE big â€œifâ€ in this situation), then building might be the best thing. There are builders out there who need work, so you may be able to have a custom home built just the way you want it, & at a lower profit margin for the builder than was the norm a few years ago. I know several good builders who are familiar with the Development Standards and Cov. & Restrictions for Middleborough. Having a builder familiar with the developmentâ€™s rules can make a huge difference in your stress level during the building process.
Hopefully this long answer has not put you to sleep yet :-), but there are no simple answers these days to what is the best thing to do. I hope I have helped, & if I can help with any more info, please feel free to ask. Best wishes for a very prosperous & happy 2009!