NEW YORK - Architectural and engineering costs add 30% to the total ski home budget, says a study by Chris Pollack, president of Pollack+Partners, Inc. His ultra-high-net worth design/build cooperative analyzed costs to build a luxury winter estate in seven North American ski destinations.

The study identified seven winter vacation destinations and compared the cost to build a custom estate on a per square foot basis. According to the Pollack study: Aspen, CO tops the list at $1,235 per square foot; Whistler, BC, came in on the low end at $715 psf.

City, State

Construction (psf)

Project Cost (psf)

Aspen, CO



Big Sky, MT



Telluride, CO



Jackson Hole, WY



Vail, CO



Park City, UT



Whistler, BC



"Our analysis accounts for overall project cost, which many clients discount or do not acknowledge when establishing or discussing their budget," says Pollack. On average, architectural, engineering and specialty consultant fees are 30% of the budget, Pollack found.

Well-heeled clients don't minds spending more for high end cabinetry and interior fixtures, Pollack found. 

"The top segment of the market tends to be less susceptible to fluctuations in the real estate market and the overall economy," he says. "Clients desire first class design and amenities and are willing to pay a premium."

The expenses of delivering materials and manpower to remote locations of winter destinations dramatically increase normal construction costs, says Pollack, as well as resort construction and design guidelines.

"These guidelines can demand additions ranging from a certain percentage of the exterior to be of native materials to requiring specific environmentally sustainable means and methods," says architect Peter Bohlin of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. His firm, credited with designing the Apple stores, is a partner of Pollack's on a modern family ski compound at the exclusive Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, MT.

While high end clients continue to use unique construction methods and design materials, trends show most are choosing to build homes with slightly less square footage since the market correction of 2008.

"Other custom features our clients request include: exotic imported stone and wood, handcrafted cabinetry, antique flooring and technological integration, all of which require significantly more labor, hardware and materials, which increase project costs," Pollack says.

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