Owning your own house sounds nice. Instead of buying a new home, why not build your own dream house? That makes sense, right? You aren’t alone. It’s increasingly common to build a house of your own than buying one already on the market. In fact, it can even be cheaper to go this route. Several factors affect the cost–location, city, size, materials, and more. The beauty in building your house is creating what you want and leaving out what you don’t need. The flexibility in building a house is attractive, but let’s look at the average cost to build a house per square foot.
The cost to build a house can fluctuate depending on the total square feet and ZIP code. Most of the cost of building a house undoubtedly go toward construction costs. The average cost of construction from start to finish is around $296,652. In fact, 61.1% of the sales cost for a home goes toward construction and 18.5% toward a finished lot. Building a home typically costs $100-200 per square foot with an average of $150 per square foot. So, if you want a large home of 2800 square feet, you are looking at a total cost of around $450,000 including construction, property, and sales.
Now, let’s look at a step-by-step of building your own house per square foot.
First, you want to find the appropriate property to build your home. Think about what size property you want and where you want it. Do you plan on having a large outdoor space such as an outdoor kitchen, backyard, porch, or pool? These are things to consider when buying the land.
Now, you want to find the perfect location. Start wide, what state are you planning to live in? The cost of land in each state varies along with the city and region. However, a good real estate agent can be helpful for finding the right spot. A knowledgeable agent is familiar with location-specific insight such as safe areas, popular neighborhoods, school districts, and surrounding environments. By using an agent, you can cut down the time spent trying to piece together this information. It may seem daunting at first, but time, research, and patience are crucial in the long run so that you find an area that satisfies all of your checkboxes. Plus, the right area keeps (and even builds) value over time.
The cost to build a home varies by region. According to the 2019 Census Bureau Survey of Median Price Per Square Foot, the average cost in the United States is $109.14 per square foot. The regional breakdown tells a different story. In the Northeast, the average cost is $150.22, in the Midwest, the average cost is $110.31, in the South, the average cost is $102.62, and in the West, the average cost is $141.49. Regional differences also affect construction costs and sometimes environment-related costs.
Construction costs account for most of the money spent on building a home. Close to 50% of those costs are spent on materials. Quality often goes above quantity (such as with space), but the cost breakdown per material varies. While brick and timber frames are longstanding materials, concrete is also a choice for maintaining proper insulation. Drywall is common among interior walls but is often less thick and supportive than other materials. On the other end of insulation, steel and metal beams are common support structures but usually need additional methods of insulation for comfort. Here’s a breakdown of cost depending on the material:
Concrete homes are known for saving the cost of heat and air conditioning in the long run, but the prices are often higher ranging from $1,000-10,000 total depending on the size of construction. Concrete gives a sleek, rustic finish to the exterior of the home while giving a sturdy balance on the interior part of the home. It gives a new home a modern feel that’s built to withstand weather and other environmental factors.
You might prefer to use drywall throughout the home. Though less sturdy, it is a popular choice for the interior walls. The average total cost of drywall runs around $10 per sheet. Drywall is typically found in new homes as older homes were more reliant on concrete, brick, and wood for support. It tends to run as a cheaper option for interior walls, but it is a common way to save money while satisfying the need for support.
Brick stands the test of time as a popular go-to for building a sturdy home. Typically, brick is seen as a material that withstands most weather, fire, and natural phenomena. The average cost to build a brick home falls between $10,000-75,000. You can guarantee a classic look and feel with a brick home. Brick is one of the most popular construction materials of choice. For ages, brick has been a material of choice for both exterior and interior support. It is rustic and versatile for design. Brick tends to be low-maintenance and economically friendly to use for a new home.
The cost to build a steel frame home runs at an average cost of $10-15 per square foot. Structural support of the home relies on steel or metal beams throughout. Though metals tend to react to temperatures differently than wood, brick, and concrete so proper insulation is something to consider. Metal and steel materials will give your home a modern look with chic exterior design. It is also regarded as a sturdy material that offers solid support in home design.
Timber-framed homes are a classic option for a new home. The cost is steeper than other types of housing with an average cost of $200-215 per square foot. Timber frame materials give your home a sturdy design that typically lasts a while. Timber frames give a robust feel to any new home. Usually, frames are exposed inside the home, which gives the interior a warm atmosphere. You can basically carry the comfort of a getaway home to any location you choose. It’s a common choice for those looking to go the wood home route.
So you decided on materials to build your home, what’s next? It’s time to plan out construction costs. Costs of construction are broken down by different aspects of the home and vary depending on these factors. The interior finish accounts of 25.4% of the total cost, framing at 17.4%, major system rough-ins at 14.7%, exterior finishes at 14.1%, foundations at 11.8%, and final steps at 6.8%. Site work is 6.2% of costs and other, miscellaneous costs account for 3.8%. The breakdown may vary by region, but according to the National Association of Home Builders, here’s the average cost to build a single-family house at an average of 2,594 square feet:
- Building Permit Fees: $5,086
- Impact Fees: $3,865
- Water and Sewer Fees Inspection: $4,319
- Architecture and Engineering: $4,335
- Other/Miscellaneous: $719
- Excavation, Foundation, Concrete, Retaining Walls, and Backfill: $33,511
- Other/Miscellaneous: $1,338
- Framing (includes roof): $40,612
- Trusses: $6,276
- Sheathing: $3,216
- General Metal and Steel: $954
- Other/Miscellaneous: $530
- Exterior Wall Finish: $19,319
- Roofing: $9,954
- Windows and Doors: $11,747
- Other/Miscellaneous: $671
- Plumbing (not including fixtures): $14,745
- Electrical (not including fixtures): $13,798
- HVAC: $14,111
- Other/Miscellaneous: $1,013
- Insulations: $5,184
- Drywall: $10,634
- Interior Trims, Doors, and Mirrors: $10,605
- Painting: $8,254
- Lighting: $3,437
- Cabinets and Countertops: $13,540
- Appliances: $4,710
- Flooring: $11,998
- Plumbing Fixtures: $4,108
- Fireplace: $1,867
- Other/Miscellaneous: $923
- Landscaping: $6,506
- Outdoor Structures (deck, patios, and porches): $3,547
- Driveway: $6,674
- Clean-Up: $2,988
- Other/Miscellaneous: $402
The total cost to build a new home depends on square foot and region above most other costs. Construction still accounts for the majority of costs, but materials, length of construction, and overall associated prices depend on the size of the property. Let’s look at a breakdown of some common choices in terms of size:
According to a 2019 survey of cost and construction from the National Association of Home Builders, the average cost of construction for a home is $114 per square foot or $296,652 total for construction.
On average, here’s the total cost depending on the size of your home:
- 1,000 square foot: $114,000
- 1,500 square foot: $171,000
- 2,000 square foot: $228,000
- 2,500 square foot: $285,000
- 3,000 square foot: $342,000
- 3,500 square foot: $399,000
- 4,000 square foot: $456,000
- 4,500 square foot: $513,000
- 5,000 square foot: $570,000
Building a new home is exciting. Planning ahead and knowing the costs up-front will help alleviate any surprises. These costs are based on the average cost to build a house per square foot, which largely depends on region and construction costs. Research the region of interest to get a better breakdown per area. With the appropriate steps, building a home by square foot will seem natural. Start learning more today.