In the sticker-shock world of Washington area real estate prices, it costs just $92,354 to build the basic, no-frills $196,900 four-bedroom Dartmouth model at the Hastings Hunt subdivision in western Fairfax County.

But then there's $59,220 for the finished lot, the sewer and water hookups, the county building fees, the sidewalk and the street in front of the house.

Don't forget an additional $5,907 for the real estate brokers who sell the house, $3,938 for advertising, $11,814 to account for Richmond American Homes' corporate overhead to build the house, assorted other expenses and finally $11,061 in profit for the firm, a 5.6 percent return.

But if a buyer thinks a house is not a home without a fireplace in the family room, that will add $4,800 to the price of the house. It will cost the buyer $5,000 or so for the brick front on the house, $2,700 for the island cooktop in the kitchen, $1,500 for a couple of skylights in the family room, $1,800 for bookshelves in the den and at least $3,200 to upgrade the basic carpet and padding throughout the house.

With a final price tag of between $210,000 and $220,000, after buyers have added a variety of the builder's options, the Dartmouth is representative in both price, size and the type of amenities in a vast number of new homes being built in the Washington area. Last year in Fairfax County, the average new detached house cost more than $220,000. These are the homes of the so-called move-up buyers, the family that likely is moving from a town house to its first detached home or from a smaller house.

The Dartmouth is Richmond American's most popular model and the firm last year sold about 200 of the two-story, traditionally designed homes at 15 locations throughout the Washington-Baltimore area, according to Richmond American President Thomas J. Pellerito.

"I think the move-up segment of the market is the dominant part," Pellerito said. "Interest rates are down; it's put the more expensive home within their means. It's in the price range they can afford and still get the move-up features they're looking for -- the fourth bedroom, the study, the master suite, the openness of the plan with a two-story foyer.

"We've put design and features in to attract a buyer who's looking for a little bit more," he said.

A little bit more, of course, does not come cheaply.

Pellerito said the Dartmouth buyers at Hastings Hunt in Herndon typically make $50,000 down payments -- usually accrued from equity in their previous homes -- and take on $150,000 mortgages with $1,500- to $1,600-a-month mortgage payments.

The expense of buying a Dartmouth house is something akin to buying groceries -- paying for a collection of relatively small items that quickly add up. The overall cost includes three broad categories of expenses: Richmond American's prorating of the overall subdivision development costs for building its 83 homes at Hastings Hunt, specific construction costs peculiar only to the Dartmouth because of its size or design, and business expenses incurred by the corporation that relate directly or indirectly to the marketing and sale of each house.

At the request of The Washington Post, Pellerito pulled out his accounting ledgers and defined item-by-item exactly what costs compose the final bill for a purchase that is for most buyers the single biggest purchase they will ever make.

He said Richmond American bought raw land in June 1986 for its portion of the Hastings Hunt project. Before a single shovelful of dirt had been turned, Pellerito said the firm had spent $28,000 for each of the 83 lots.

In theory, Dartmouth buyers are getting about one-third of an acre of land with their new homes because the development's zoning allows construction of about three houses per acre. But in actuality, the lots are only about 10,000 square feet in size, less than a quarter acre.

The reason is that the homes are built under a cluster zoning category that permits houses to be built on lots smaller than one-third of an acre with the remaining land devoted to common areas available for use by the entire community.

Pellerito said it costs an additional $31,220 for development of each lot, not counting any actual construction work on the house itself.

Included are expenses for such things as engineering design work ($500); street paving ($3,000); curb and gutter construction ($1,200); soil testing ($300); contingencies for unexpected costs ($2,600); taxes, title insurance and permits ($1,600); lot clearing ($1,000); and storm and sanitary sewer construction ($5,200).

"Then you've got sticks and bricks," Pellerito said. Actually, in the case of the standard Dartmouth model, bricks cost the buyer extra -- $3,800 to $5,500 for a brick facade in the front of the house.

The standard $196,900 model has aluminum siding on all four sides.

The $92,354 house itself includes four bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, a living room, dining room, den, kitchen and breakfast nook, family room, two-car garage and unfinished basement. The finished space totals 2,316 square feet.

Richmond American has identified 47 categories of expenses in building the Dartmouth, ranging from $40 for inspections and $47 for a mailbox to $9,459 for interest and overhead costs and $7,700 for carpentry.

In between are a host of other expenses: water and sewer fees and permits ($3,765); excavation work ($1,570); concrete foundation ($5,114); paneled walls ($3,938); windows ($3,003); roofing shingles ($1,408); gutters and downspouts ($351); plumbing ($5,465); drywall work ($5,656); paint ($2,358); appliances ($1,256); screens ($582); landscaping, with a half dozen bushes and two small trees, ($437); and final cleaning ($225).

Sales commissions add $5,907 to the cost of the home.

And there is more. Deferred marketing costs, such as for construction of model homes, adds $2,500 to the cost of the Dartmouth, while week-to-week advertising costs an additional $3,938 and Richmond American corporate overhead and administrative costs amount to $11,814.

Finally, the federal government gets its share of corporate income taxes, another $7,374.

Pellerito said what is left is a 5.6 percent profit of $11,061.

"This is one of our better jobs," he said.

"If you went to Prince William County {where the Dartmouth is sold for less because land is cheaper}, you'd find a lower {profit} number," he said.

"We're a subsidiary of MDC holdings Inc. This is one of the best {housing} markets, so we've got to help with our projects in Texas and Colorado.

"I would say 5 percent after-tax profit is about typical for the Washington area," Pellerito said. "Most builders nationally do not make that. It's closer to 3 or 4 percent."

Ray F. Smith Jr., president of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, said, "Generally, builders target a pretax profit of 10 percent {it is 9.36 percent on the Dartmouth}.

"It's a very thin margin allowing for surprises -- an interest rate increase, or running into bad soil, things you just can't predict. That's not a very large profit for the risk you're taking."

Pellerito concluded that even though the cost of building the Dartmouth and its related development expenses totals $151,354 and the base selling price is $196,900, "I think we're giving them very good value."

"We could not build this house for $150,000 if we did not incur all these other expenses," he said.

"If someone went out to subcontract {and a build a house on his own}, they'd find they'd pay substantially more."