Building a home is hard work. The weather is usually hot, the materials heavy, and the deadlines (usually) strict. There is red tape, contractors and roadblocks to work through. Worst of all: If you get hungry, you can’t just dip your hand into a trough of mixed concrete and eat it. It’s just not done!
Which is why, for 2017, we’re strongly considering investing in the construction of ACTUAL gingerbread houses. Not only would they be edible for contractors and homeowners alike, the materials are renewable, though you’ll need to do a bit of reinforcement work every time it rains. And, uh, we still haven’t quite figured out indoor plumbing.
Of course, as we would with any prudent business investment, we had to take a look at cost. It turns out that translating home-building materials to insane amounts of baking materials is an inexact science, to say the least. What follows is our best estimation of what it would take to make a life-sized, unfurnished gingerbread house using average amounts of building materials (found via Google) translated into the approximate equivalents of icing, candy canes, gumdrops and gingerbread (pre-made… it’ll be a cold day in Hell’s Kitchen before we make that much gingerbread from scratch. Can you imagine the amount of butter?).
So, with no further ado, here are our calculations:
The average home (without basement) uses about 35 yards of concrete, which way about 4,000 pounds apiece. That’s 140,000 pounds of concrete, which makes us feel very badly indeed for the Wicked Witch of the East.
Concrete equivalent: Icing
Now, ninth grade science tells us that there’s no way 140,000 of icing is, density wise, equal to 140,000 of concrete. But we’ve forgotten ninth grade science so we’ll pretend it is.
At foodservicedirect.com we can get 30 lbs. of spreadable vanilla icing for $52.55. We’re gonna need 4,667 of those, which will set us back $245,233. And now we know icing, per unit, is way more expensive than concrete.
At that price, there better darn well be a basement.
Total concrete costs: $245,233.
For framing purposes, there is about 30,000 board feet of lumber, plywood and other wood necessities in the average two-story home (again unscientifically researched via Google). Using this semi-confusing lumber calculator, LINK: http://www.woodweb.com/cgi-bin/calculators/calc.pl that comes out to around 132,500 pounds of lumber.
Lumber equivalent: Gingerbread
Gingerbread is our stand-in for lumber here. As mentioned, we’re going with pre-mixed, not from scratch, because that’s cray.
Over at Amazon, a 16 oz. (1 lb.) box of Betty Crocker gingerbread mix goes for $2.27. We’re gonna need $132,500 of those.
Total gingerbread expense: $300,775
Light fixtures and other accoutrements
It’s difficult to say just how much decoration our builder will want to do (the budget is already clearly blown), but some sort of details will need to be included. The ever-wise internet says there is, on average, 45-light bulbs in a home (we’ll average 3 bulbs per fixture, so make it 15), and that normal light fixtures weigh up to 50 pounds. So, we’ll need 750 pounds of fixtures, internal and external.
Fixture equivalent: Gumdrops
We’ll use gumdrops for these colorful accents. We can get a 5 lb. bag of gumdrops at Sam’s Club for $15.98. We need 150 of those suckers.
Total gumdrop expense: $2,397. Finally some savings!
This is a bit of a stretch, but any good home needs a picket fence in the front yard. The average home has about 200 linear feet of fencing. So let’s say we want a 30-inch fence.
Fencing equivalent: Candy canes
We’ll use candy canes here. We’ll want to put our posts probably a foot apart (for a total of 200 posts). We can buy Spangler-brand candy canes (7.5 inches apiece), in bulk for $16.65 for a bucket of 60. If we need four candy canes per post to reach our 30-inch height, we’re going to need 800 of those suckers, or 14 buckets of those bad boys.
Total candy cane cost: $233.10 (our next fence will be made of candy canes)
Finally, paint. You can argue that the tawny color of gingerbread is adequate exterior décor. But we’re having too much fun to stop buying sugary substances now. The average home uses between 1,500 and 3,000 square feet of paint on its exterior. We’ll say 3,000… this is a nicer neighborhood, obviously… which means we’ll need 7.5 gallons of paint (a gallon can cover 400 sq. feet).
Paint equivalent: Chocolate syrup
Not sure what could be better than a bunch of gingerbread doused in chocolate syrup… right? Ignoring the fact that water and chocolate syrup do NOT have equal weight, a gallon (of water) weighs about 8.35 pounds. So, we’re going to need 63 gallons of chocolate syrup to paint the outside of our home. Amazon will sell us an 8 lb. can of Hershey’s syrup – which, we might add, sounds amazing – for $27.99. The math comes out pretty nice here, as each can is right at a gallon. 63 of these beauties later…
Total chocolate syrup cost: $1,763.37
Totaling things up – and before expenses for tax, shipping, labor, wet wipes and diabetes strips – the wholesale cost of an average, life-size gingerbread house is:
This represents a savings in some markets and a bum deal in others, depending on the costs of labor and land. Who knows? Maybe Zuckerburg will start a gingerbread-building craze in Palo Alto. You never know.
Happy holidays from Zbuyer! If you need us we’ll be investing in sugar cane companies.