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Home Personal Finance
Laura Grace Tarpley, CEPF
- The cost to build a house, per square foot
- Breaking down the expenses of building a house
- Building a house based on your budget
- Frequently asked questions about building a house
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- According to HomeAdvisor, you could spend $50 to $400 per square foot when building a house.
- Framing is probably the most expensive part, and you'll pay more as you add stories and rooms.
- Building a home is usually more expensive than buying one, but not always.
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Building a home has a ton of potential perks. You can live in a house with the layout and design you want, and you don't have to shop for a place or duke it out in a bidding war.
Building a home comes with costs you wouldn't have to think about when buying a home, though. Building is often more expensive than buying, and while you may decide it's worth the cost, it's good to be prepared. Here's what you can expect to spend:
According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of building a new home is $50 to $400 per square foot.
|Square feet||Average cost|
|800||$80,000 - $160,000|
|900||$90,000 - $180,000|
|1,000||$100,000 - $200,000|
|1,200||$120,000 - $240,000|
|1,500||$150,000 - $300,000|
|1,800||$180,000 - $360,000|
|2,000||$200,000 - $400,000|
|2,500||$250,000 - $500,000|
|2,700||$270,000 - $540,000|
|3,000||$300,000 - $600,000|
|4,000||$400,000 - $800,000|
|5,000||$500,000 - $1 million|
Numbers provided by HomeAdvisor.
However, if you want to build a luxury or customized house, you can expect costs to jump up to $500 or more per square foot. That means an 800-square-foot home could cost $400,000 or more, and a 5,000-square-foot home would cost around $2.5 million.
Breaking down the expenses of building a house
Alright, you've seen the numbers. Now let's look at what you'll spend on individual aspects of building your home.
|-Construction manager||$2,780 - $60,402|
|-Roofer||$45 - $75 per hour|
|-Concrete contractor||$45 per hour|
|-Soil test||$708 - $2,008|
|-Landscape architect||$955 - $4,281|
|-Land excavator||$120 - $150 per hour|
|-Land surveyor||$375 - $745|
|-Electrician||$50 - $100 per hour|
|-Structural engineer||$100 - $200 per hour|
|-Plumber||$45 - $200 per hour|
|-Framer||$7 - $16 per sq. foot|
|-Drywaller||$1 - $3 per sq. foot|
|Framing||$20,000 - $50,000|
|Major systems installation|
|-Rough-in plumbing||$7,000 - $15,000|
|-Electrical wiring||$20,000 - $30,000|
|-HVAC||$1,500 - $13,000|
|-Slab||$7,000 - $20,000|
|-Basement||$24,000 - $44,500|
|-Roofing installation||$5,700 - $12,000|
|-Windows||$3,000 - $9,600|
|-Exterior painting||$1,800 - $4,400|
|-Cabinets||$2,000 - $30,000|
|-Countertops||$2,000 - $4,350|
|-Doors||$5,000 - $20,000|
|-Flooring||$10,000 - $35,000|
|-Interior painting||$4,000 - $11,000|
|-Appliances||$3,000 - $15,000|
|-Lighting fixtures||$2,000 - $12,000|
|-Fireplace||$1,000 - $10,000|
|-Architect||$125 - $250 per hour|
|-Engineer||$100 - $200 per hour|
|-Draftsperson||$50 - $130 per hour|
|-Interior designer||$50 - $200 per hour|
|-General contractor||10% - 20% of total project costs|
Numbers provided by HomeAdvisor.
You'll notice some of these expenses vary drastically. That's because costs can depend on factors such as where you live and which materials you're using for your home.
You may also spend money on clearing land to build your home on a plot, repairing an existing foundation, or structuring your home so it's built on stilts.
Building a house based on your budget
Remember, the actual cost of building a home will be based on several factors, including where you live and whether you're hiring a production builder or customized builder. You'll also save money if you build the home yourself rather than hire someone, but you'll need a license and a special type of construction loan.
Can you build a house for $100,000?
You may be able to afford to build a home for $100,000 if your house is 1,000 square feet or smaller. You should be able to fit two bedrooms and one bathroom in a 1,000-square-foot home.
Can you build a house for $200,000?
It's possible to build a home that's 2,000-square-feet or smaller for $200,000. You could probably build three or four bedrooms and two bathrooms in this space.
Can you build a house for $300,000?
You might be able to build a 3,000-square-foot home for as little as $300,000, but that's leaning toward the conservative side. In a 3,000-square-foot house, you can fit four or five bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Frequently asked questions about building a house
Is it cheaper to buy or build a house?
It's usually cheaper to buy a house than to build one. There are some exceptions — for example, you can probably build a tiny house for less than what you'd spend buying one.
Costs depend on several factors. For example, you could spend less building a relatively small, modest home in a low-cost area than building a larger, luxury home in Los Angeles or New York.
What is the most expensive part of building a house?
Framing will likely be the most costly part of building your home. It will depend on which materials you use, the square footage of your home, and how many stories and rooms there are. According to HomeAdvisor, framing can cost up to $50,000.
Do I need a special type of loan for building a house?
If you can't afford to build a home entirely in cash, you'll need a construction loan. You'll probably need a 20% down payment for this loan.
You can choose a construction-only loan, or a construction-to-permanent loan that rolls your construction loan into a regular mortgage once the building process is complete. If you plan to build the home yourself rather than hire a contractor, you'll need an owner-builder construction loan.
Building a house can be expensive, but that doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't take that leap. Just be sure you're comfortable with the costs before you start the process.
Personal Finance Reviews Editor
Laura Grace Tarpley (she/her) is a personal finance reviews editor at Insider. She edits articles about mortgage rates, refinance rates, lenders, bank accounts, wealth building, and borrowing and savings tips for Personal Finance Insider. She was a writer and editor for Insider's "The Road to Home" series, which won a Silver award from the National Associate of Real Estate Editors. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). She has written about personal finance for over six years. Before joining the Insider team, she was a freelance finance writer for companies like SoFi and The Penny Hoarder, as well as an editor at FluentU. You can reach Laura Grace at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about how Personal Finance Insider chooses, rates, and covers financial products and services »
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