Do you envision a brand new home for yourself and your loved ones? The market looks ripe for borrowers who have the funds.
But maybe you’re wondering, “How much does it cost to build a house?” Many factors will come into play to determine your bottom-line price.
You’ll need to consider where your home will be located, regional pricing differences, and home type. Also, the cost of building materials and labor will influence the price.
This guide will take a closer look at these critical factors to help you assess the cost before you start building your lovely home.
The Average Cost to Build a House
On average, you can expect to spend between $160,000-$480,000 to build a house. Many people spend around $300,000. The average home costs $100-$200 per square foot.
If you are constructing a 3,000 square-foot home it will cost $300,000-$600,000 to build. However, if you want to build a custom or luxury home expect to pay more—as much as $200-$500 per square foot.
So if you are designing a 3,000 square-foot luxury or custom home it will cost $600,000-$1,500,000 to build.
A custom home comes in nearly any shape or size you can imagine. It is a level above the suburban home that only offers a touch of semi-custom options.
When you build a custom home, you are given the opportunity to create a home that meets your specific functional and personal taste preferences. Given the vast array of options, it is easy to understand why it costs more money and time to construct.
A custom home requires the services of a residential architect—an expense that will make up 5%-15% of your total building costs. It is important to do your homework before hiring an architect.
Custom homes will require the use of an architect to go over the plans of your home such as you see pictured here.
Ask about the homes he or she has designed. Get the addresses. Go look at them. Take notes on the quality and curb appeal.
Whether you decide to go custom or not, there are other expenses to consider. Getting surveys, driveway paving, and soil testing can bump up prices quickly. A soil test by a geotechnical engineer will cost $800-$1,800 and a land survey can set you back $400-$700.
You will find that labor makes up nearly half forty (40%) percent of the build cost. The design fees, permits, and materials will make up the rest.
Ultimately, your home’s price will be based on its size, the quality of materials, and its location. Cities with a high cost of living, such as New York or California, command higher prices—as much as $400 per square foot or more.
But, let’s not forget about the inside of the home. Completing the interior is one of the biggest expenses. Expect to dish out about one-third of your budget on appliances, cabinets, flooring, and other high-quality touches.
It is common to find that people spend between $50,000-$175,000 on interior finishing. But that price can go much higher. Being comfortable in your new home comes at a price.
Your home’s interior will cost a pretty penny. The nicer the material, the pricier the cost. If you want a house that looks as lovely as the one you see pictured here, be prepared not to skimp on the price.
Appliances can range from $3,000-$15,000. Flooring installation prices are between $10,000-$35,000. Installing cabinets carries fees that start as low as $2,000 and go as high as $30,000. You’ll also spend thousands on installing doors, drywall, and lighting.
Moreover, your housing costs will also be determined in large part due to the type of home you construct.
Cost to Build a House According to Structure Type
Different types of houses come with different price tags. A house could cost you $50-$400 per square foot. Bear in mind that a standalone or detached home is not in the same league as a duplex or townhome.
The price of a duplex can’t be applied to the price of a brick house. It would be like comparing apples to oranges. This section will detail the prices of single-family, standalone homes.
Most new homes are not made entirely of brick due to new code requirements regarding insulation. But you can still have it added as siding. In which case, you can expect to spend $10,000-$75,000 for the siding.
Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) can be used to construct a house at the cost of about $5-$8 per square foot more than what you would spend on a stick-framed home. So you will come out of your pocket more upfront, but you will also save money in the long run.
If a concrete home interests you, be prepared to spend a bit more money. But you can expect to see it back when you start saving on heating and cooling costs.
How much money are we talking about here? You can save roughly 20%-30% on your home’s cooling and heating costs over the life of your new home.
If you decide to add a basement to your design plan, you will save money by using concrete for the basement part of the design instead of ICFs. However, it is worth noting that the floors built above the basement using ICFs will cost you more money due to added engineering requirements.
Metal or Steel Frame House
Steel framed homes employ I-beams and cold-rolled thin steel studs in its design. This is what gives the house structural support.
The downside to using metal in construction is that it transfers heat and cold more readily than timber. Therefore, your builder will have to exercise good judgment in selecting the appropriate insulation material.
The cost of a steel-framed home ranges from $10-$15 per square foot, which is a bit more than wood framing costs.
Contemporary style homes have a sleek look replete with large sections of glass. You will find that the price ranges vary significantly—from $750,000-$15,000,000.
It’s typical for such costly homes to have the finest finishes. The size typically is bigger than an average home. It may be around 3,000-6,000 square feet.
Timber frame house
Timber frame homes are constructed using a unique structural method. As a result, the home has a classic vibe and lasts a long time.
This type of home is more expensive than most other homes. You can expect to spend $200-$250 per square foot.
A home that is made from timber may cost more but it will stand the test of time. Plus, it looks very organic.
A prefabricated home is manufactured offsite. It is later assembled on location. Expect to spend between $180,000-$360,000 for this type of home.
It will not be loaded with the fancy bells and whistles of a custom home, but it will not cost as much either. People who have purchased pre-built homes found it cost 10%-15% less than site-built alternatives.
There are two types of prefabricated homes. There is modular and panel building. Here is a breakdown of both.
Modular building. This type of prefabricated home is created in sections. Then it is later assembled on the site. You won’t have the option of getting a garage or porch.
Panel building. This kind of prefabricated home is constructed by fastening premade walls to the floor. Panels are more cost-effective. It’s less expensive to move panels than modules.
Some builders will install fixtures such as toilets and sinks before putting up the walls. As a result, costs are lowered while construction time is sped up.
House with a Basement
If you want to construct a house with a basement, you will need to tack on an extra $10-$100 per square foot. The final cost could run you $10,000-$30,000—not including finishing.
Cost to Build a House According to Labor Expenses
Labor costs will vary based on the size and complexity of your house. Whether your contractor is skilled at getting labor for a reasonable price will also affect costs.
Make sure you get a good contractor. Avoid settling for the cheapest one as it may cost you money down the road.
A contractor’s fees will make up 5%-15% of the total cost of your building project. So you could spend anywhere from $4,000-$43,000 on a construction manager. Then there are the other professionals you will need to hire.
Prepare to pay an electrician $50-$100 per hour, a plumber $50-$200 per hour, and an architect or structural engineer $100-$250 per hour.
Make sure to set aside money in your budget to cover expenses for professionals such as the electrician in the above picture.
A roofer can charge as much as $5,000-$10,000 and a concrete contractor $4,000-$13,000 for the project. If you decide to get fancy and pay an interior designer to create an aesthetically pleasing view expect to pay $50-$200 per hour.
Cost to Build a House According to Design Expenses
Creating the design of the house will cost a few thousand. Your house plans will cost about $2,000-$8,000. Go online to search for house plan companies. There is no shortage.
Use the search filters to help you narrow down the thousands of options into a few top favorites. Check each design thoroughly and pick a plan. Your plan purchase comes with a bid set.
Give it to your builder. Once received, he’ll be able to provide you with a cost-to-build estimate.
Cost to Build a House According to Exterior Expenses
Brace yourself to spend $40,000-$60,000 on exterior finishing costs. This includes the outside walls, windows, roof, and doors. Windows will set you back $3,000-$9,000.
Be prepared to shell out $2,000-$4,000 for exterior painting costs. What about the foundation and frame?
The process of laying the foundation includes pouring and backfilling, form setting, and excavating. The cost ranges anywhere from $4,000-$25,000.
If you need to complete a basement the price can quickly double. Additional work that can drive up the price may include retaining walls and added landscaping to prevent flooding.
Decide if you want to build on your existing foundation or lay a new one. You’ll save more money sticking with your current one, assuming that your foundation is in good shape.
What can you expect to pay if you are rebuilding a home on your existing foundation? It will cost you $100-$150 per square foot.
The state of the existing concrete will determine what the price will be. You can look forward to a savings of anywhere from $5,000-$25,000 off your home’s total build price.
Before you start building, check to make sure that your foundation does not need any repairs. If it does, you will have to fork over about $2,000-$7,000.
The frame of your home will determine the location and size of your rooms. Framing includes general metalwork and trusses along with the overall home’s frame.
Typically, framers take care of your home’s sheathing and subfloor installation. They also install your doors and windows. The cost of framing is around $20,000-$50,000.
Cost to Build a House According to Major Systems
Your major system costs include HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. The cost of these installations will be impacted by the type and size of your systems. You can plan on the installation of major systems costing $30,000-$75,000.
The breakdown of those expenses is an HVAC that costs $1,500-$13,000, electrical wiring that runs $20,000-$30,000, and plumbing that’s around $1,500-$20,000.
You also have the option to go with solar power to heat and cool your home instead of the traditional HVAC system. You’ll have to install solar panels.
Installing solar panels is a great idea if you have the funds to do it. You will save money in the long run on your electric bill. Plus, it’s eco-friendly.
An energy-efficient solar system can save you money in the long run. The price you pay upfront will depend on your system’s wiring and size.
Let’s not forget about the cost of labor to connect that power to all your outlets, fixtures, and appliances in your new home.
Speaking of connecting things, you’ll need to factor in the cost of $1,300-$5,000 to connect to city sewers. It will cost you another $1,000-$30,000 to connect to your city’s electric grid.
The fees will be determined by how near your house is to the closest lines. You will also have to pay to connect to city water lines.
This will run you $1,000-$5,000. If you need both sewer and water, expect to pay only one fee for sewer and water.
Cost to Build a Home on Your Land
You may like the notion of purchasing your own lot. Doing so will cost anywhere from $3,000-$150,000. The size of your lot will determine the price you end up paying.
Other deciding factors include your lot’s location as well as whether the utilities have to be brought in or if they are already at the site. If you are looking to purchase a lot in a housing development, expect to spend around $50,000-$100,000.
With that said, the amount can go much higher depending on your area. For instance, if you get an undeveloped lot in a rural area you could pay as little as $3,000.
Don’t forget that you’ll need to foot the bill for clearing the land to prepare for construction. Hiring a pro to clear and excavate it could run you $1,500-$5,000. On the bright side, you will find that in most developments the land you want has already been prepared for construction.
Building a house is no simple matter. It’s a complicated and expensive endeavor. Yet, if you are organized, willing to ask a lot of questions, and work hard it’s doable. Be prepared to take it one step at a time.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.