Cost to Build a House by Square Foot
A house can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 per square foot to build, with the higher end of this range accounting for large cities like San Francisco or New York City. The size and type of house you choose will also affect what you’ll pay. The average cost to build a house is $150 per square foot. Labor accounts for about 40% of the cost, while materials account for the other 60%.
Keep in mind that the prices listed here are accurate as of the publish date, but pandemic-related construction supply shortages continue to cause price fluctuations.
Cost to Build a New House by Size (Number of Rooms)
Square footage can be hard to envision if you're not used to measuring spaces and mapping out homes. Here's one way to picture it: The average home in the U.S. today is 2,220 square feet and has two to three bedrooms. The amount you'll pay per square foot will also vary depending on the layout and the number of floors. It is less expensive, for example, to build up than build out since adding a second level requires fewer materials than laying more foundation-level flooring.
Here are the new construction home costs based on the number of bedrooms at the average price of $150 per square foot.
|Two||$90,000 – $150,000|
|Three||$150,000 – $360,000|
|Four||$285,000 – $420,000|
Cost Breakdown to Build a New Home
So, where does all this money go? If you break the big-picture items into major categories—material costs, labor costs, or the cost to prep the land, for example—each line item makes a bit more sense. Taking a better look at individual costs may also help you zero in on the price ranges in your area.
Lot prices will have a large say in your new home cost, but you can find pieces of land between $3,000 and all the way up to $150,000. Highly sought-out areas and lots without prior hookups to utilities will both increase your total costs.
“The location of the house makes a huge difference in the price,” says Bob Tschudi, Angi Expert Review Board member and general contractor in Raleigh, NC. “We were recently looking at small parcels for a tiny home and the same exact square footage ranged from $25,000 to $150,000. So you have to look at the overall value of the final product.”
House Plans and Design Fees
Once you secure the land, you can choose from either stock or custom home design plans. Pre-designed layouts come in plenty of options tailored to your needs, and they don’t require an architect to draw up your design from scratch. You can even take a stock design and make some customizations to suit your personal style and preferences. You'll pay between $500 and $5,000 for stock plans.
You can also tailor your home to your exact vision by hiring a local architect, but the plans will cost between $2,000 and $20,000. An architect may also charge based on the size of the project. Expect to pay between as low as 5% of the total home cost for new construction plans.
Permits and Inspection Fees
Construction building permits cost between $150 and $2,000, but this can run higher depending on your area's local laws and the size of your home. You may also need permits for garages, utility hookups, patios, or land grading. Additionally, you will need to hire an inspector before moving into your home, similar to when buying an existing property. Expect to pay an average of $340 for an inspection for new construction.
Labor will account for the remaining 40% of the cost of your project, covering everything from the architect to the plumber. Hiring a general contractor is often the first step to planning and executing your home construction, and this hire will account for between 10% and 20% of the full project cost.
Alternatively, you can also choose to hire a construction manager, who will oversee the project and budget but will leave more of the decision-making to you. These professionals charge between 5% and 15% of the total cost.
“Whether you choose to hire a general contractor, a construction manager, or manage the work yourself, be sure to have the proper insurance coverage,” says Tschudi. “At the minimum, make sure that the entity managing the construction has builder’s risk insurance, general liability insurance and, for every employee, workers’ compensation insurance.”
The rest of the team will fall into place with the guidance of either of the managers above. Here are some of the major players in building a house and their standard rates:
Structural engineer: $100–$200 an hour
Architect: As little as 5% of the project cost
Draftspeople: $50–$130 an hour
House framer: $7–$16 per square foot
The cost of the land aside, excavating, surveying, and grading the site will launch your project before you can lay the foundation. Excavation and grading will cost between $1,500 and $5,600 on average, while land surveyor costs for a new construction range from $100 to $600.
The cost of your foundation will come down to where you live, the state of your property, and—depending on both of these factors—the type of foundation best for your home. Basement foundations, for example, cost between $10 and $25 per square foot, whereas traditional pier-and-beam and concrete slab foundations cost from $4 to $12 per square foot.
Unless you’re well-versed in construction, you’ll probably want to lean on a structural engineer to help you determine the correct foundation for your home construction project.
Watching the framing of your home take shape is an exciting time. The framing is the outer support beams that structure your home, determining its layout and number of floors. This part of the project costs between $20,000 and $50,000 for materials and labor.
The most common type of house framing is platform framing using lumber, but more durable options like steel framing will cost up to 20% more. Again, a structural engineer or contractor will make—or help you make—the call about which type of house framing is right for you.
Exterior finishes, from the siding to the shingles on your roof, will account for $25,000 to $60,000 of your overall home building costs. You and your team will have a lot of decisions to make depending on the exterior style you’re going for and the best options for your local climate, among other factors.
You’ll have your pick of home siding materials, from classic vinyl to rustic stone veneer. New siding costs anywhere from $2 to $50 per square foot for materials and $45 to $75 an hour for labor. If you opt for natural stone or brick, you will also need to hire a local mason, who will charge between $34 and $40 per square foot for labor and materials.
Here are the most common types of siding and what to expect to pay for materials alone.
Aluminum siding: $3–$18 per square foot
Cedar wood siding: $1.50–$5.50 per square foot
Plywood siding: $2–$3 per square foot
Other wood sidings: $2–$35 per square foot
Vinyl siding: $2–$12 per square foot
Fiber cement siding: $4–$15 per square foot
Stone veneer siding: $11–$18 per square foot
Brick and brick veneer siding: $3–$10 per square foot
Carefully consider your siding options with a local pro based on your budget and your roofing needs. For instance, fiber cement siding is great for those who want the look of wood with plenty of durability, while aluminum siding is a long-lasting option that will keep your home insulated.
Roofing materials and labor will account for about 15% of the cost of all your exterior finishes. The price of a new roof can range up to $44,000, but assume you'll need to budget an average cost of $9,000 for a one-family home between labor and materials.
The type of roofing, the pitch of your roof, and the style of your home will also affect the final price. Where you live and the availability of materials at the time will also come into play here. Roofing costs for single-story homes are often less expensive due to their smaller surface area and lower pitch. You'll also pay extra for skylights, chimneys, dormers, and multi-hipped roofs, if any apply to you.
As expected, the cost of shingles and other roofing materials will play the largest role in your bottom line and determine your home's aesthetic.
|Material||Price for a 2,200-Square-Foot Home|
|Asphalt||$8,700 – $22,000|
|Tile||$24,400 – $35,000|
|Wood shake||$20,000 – $40,000|
|Metal||$20,000 – $50,000|
|Stone||$32,000 – $40,000|
Again, consult with a pro about what type of roofing fits into your budget and aesthetic best. Asphalt shingles are usually the most popular option, but metal roofs are quickly growing in popularity.
Windows and Exterior Doors
Exterior doors cost between $525 and $1,700, while each window will cost you $180 to $410 a pop. During the framing process, your construction team will already make way for doors and windows, so these prices account for the doors and windows and related hardware.
You can show off your style with your door and window choices, but unique options will affect the price. Custom doors that feature ornate windows, hardware, or high-end materials can cost up to $10,000 for materials alone. The popular sliding glass door that opens onto a porch or patio will cost between $500 and $4,500.
And as for windows, you have your pick of framing and glass pane styles. The shape and style of your window are also key. Standard single-hung windows cost an average of $250, while a large bay window in the middle of the living room will set you back up to $1,800.
Moving on to the interior work of your home is an exciting phase. This stage is the moment to determine the flooring, the paint colors, and all appliances and home systems that make your house a home. Assume you'll pay between $50,000 and $175,000 for all interior finishes.
The higher end of the cost range accounts for more complex and sought-after materials. These include everything from insulation with higher R-values to beautiful marble countertops. Nearly every category, however, offers options for all budget preferences.
Floor, wall, and ceiling insulation will keep your home toasty in the winter and cool in the summer. It will also play a role in moisture control, air quality, and how much sound you hear from the street outside. You'll pay between $1,000 and $2,500 for the cost of insulation, including labor and materials for the house. The range accounts for all of the types of insulation materials, each of which comes with unique R-values, or the measure of heat transfer.
Some common insulation materials include:
Spray foam: $1.50–$4.90 per square foot
Fiberglass: $0.3 –$1.50 per square foot
Cellulose: $0.60–$2.30 per square foot
Batt-and-roll: $0.30–$1.50 per square foot
Mineral wool: $1.40–$4.00 per square foot
Rigid foam board: $0.25–$2.00 per square foot
On top of materials, you’ll add $40 to $80 an hour for labor. And on the plus side, you'll spend less on labor to add insulation to a new home compared to ripping out and replacing it in an old one.
Drywall is what turns four simple walls into a proper room. You'll pay between $1.50 and $3 per square foot or between $60 and $90 a sheet for the cost of drywall installation. The price includes all the labor, measuring, cutting, and finishing required to secure the drywall in place.
Adding a coat of primer and paint may seem like a far-off venture at the beginning of your home project, but the time will come to add color and coziness to each room. You'll pay an average of $2 to $6 per square foot or $4,400 to $13,200 for a 2,200-square-foot home to have a pro paint your home’s interior.
If you choose to paint each room yourself, you'll spend between $100 and $500 per room on paint and supplies.
Interior Doors and Trim
Interior doors cost a bit less than exterior ones, both due to their simpler materials and installation. A door can cost as low as $150 and up to $2,400 for luxury materials or complex trim. Speaking of which, add between $2 and $3 per linear foot for the trim that lines each door frame.
“If you can make it work in your budget, go with solid wood doors,” says Tschudi. “We recently did a remodel where we installed 8-foot solid interior doors and they really made the final product look and feel very high-end.”
Consider a few standard types and styles of interior doors to determine your bottom line. These costs are for materials alone.
|Type of Door||Average Materials Cost|
|Hollow-core door||$30 – $400|
|Solid-core door||$70 – $250|
|Solid wood door||$240 – $590|
|Aluminum door||$300 – $2,000|
|Bifold door||$140 – $360|
|Pocket door||$100 – $2,500|
|French door||$250 – $500|
|Sliding bypass door||$250 – $500|
|Barn door||$100 – $300|
|Saloon door||$100 – $300|
After framing the floors on your home, contractors will add subflooring as well as a floor covering. Some materials—such as tiles, carpet, or vinyl flooring—also require an underlayment material to create a smooth working surface.
Working up from the joists, you should account for $4.50 to $10 per square foot of plywood subflooring, $0.50 to $5.40 per square foot for the underlayment, and an average of $2 to $22 per square foot for the cost of the flooring materials you’ll actually see. Assume you'll pay between $3,500 and $18,700 for a 500-square-foot room, or $15,400 to $82,300 for a 2,200-square-foot house when working from the ground up.
The costs of some flooring materials alone include:
Tile: $6–$20 per square foot
Hardwood: $6–$22+ per square foot
Stone: $6–$20 per square foot
Engineered wood: $4–$16 per square foot
Carpet: $3–$11 per square foot
Laminate: $3–$10 per square foot
Vinyl and linoleum: $3–$7 per square foot
Cabinets and Countertops
Expect to spend a little extra time on the kitchen, bathroom, and any other auxiliary room that features countertops and cabinetry.
You'll pay between $100 and $1,200 per linear foot for the price of cabinets, highly dependent on whether you choose stock or custom designs (the latter will increase your price). The cost of countertops, on the other hand, ranges anywhere from $8 to $190 per square foot.
The material of your countertops, no matter their location in the house, will make a big dent in your budget and affect each room's overall style. Choosing the best countertop material for your home is a prime opportunity to stretch your design muscles. Lower costs significantly by opting for laminate countertops that are not only stain-resistant and durable, but also mimic the look of higher-priced materials.
On the other hand, countertops may be the moment when you choose to splurge a bit. Natural marble not only shows off its one-of-a-kind patterns, but it also stays so cool that it's ideal for home bakers throwing together their best pastries. And then you have stainless steel and granite, both cleanable with just soap and water and have the ability to alter the aesthetic of a room.
|Material||Price per Square Foot|
|Laminate||$8 – $27|
|Wood||$18 – $38|
|Corian||$20 – $75|
|Marble||$15 – $190|
|Granite slab||$15 – $140|
|Stainless steel||$60 – $100|
|Slate||$50 – $200|
|Porcelain||$55 – $120|
|Zinc||$120 – $200|
|Copper||$100 – $300|
There's nothing that sets the tone of a room quite like well-installed lighting. Take the simple route with overhead ceiling-mounted lights, or line the edge of a room with recessed lighting. Overall, installing a light fixture will cost an average of $150 to $930, vastly dependent on the type of lighting you pick. You should budget between $2,000 and $12,000 for lighting throughout the house.
Here are some common permanent lighting options to install in new home construction:
Ceiling-mounted lights: $90–$230
Pendant lights: $95–$250
Recessed lighting: $125–$230
Track lighting: $200–$450
Wall-mounted lights: $190–$450
Installing Home Systems
Woven within the ceiling, walls, and floorboards, contractors install all the systems that keep your home connected to local utilities. In total, you'll pay between $30,000 and $75,000 to install all major home systems.
A full heating and cooling system that manages both an AC and a furnace will cost an average of $7,500. Separately, the cost of central air will cost between $2,250 and $5,500, while a furnace costs from $3,250 to $6,000 on average.
Wiring a whole house will cost an average of $10,000 between the cost of materials and labor when you hire a local electrician. Now, keep in mind that most plots of land already have access to the local grid. However, if you need to connect the property to electrical service for the first time, the cost to connect your new home to the grid will run anywhere from $4,500 to $20,000.
Rough-in plumbing is a term you'll often come across in the home building process. It refers to the pipes and fixtures added to new construction for the first time. In other words, these are the pipes in the walls, ceiling, and floorboards that connect directly to your home's water supply. The term does not refer to all the faucets, showerheads, appliances, and fixtures that come later.
Rough-in plumbing for a whole house will cost between $7,500 and $15,000. Similar to the electrical hookups above, connect your new home to the local sewer system for an average cost of $3,300.
After the rough-in plumbing, you'll need to account for all the fixtures you use directly on a daily basis. Common plumbing-related fixtures and costs include:
Kitchen or bathroom sink: $220–$630
Water heater: $840–$1,700
Additional Factors Affecting the Cost of Building a House
There are some expenses that can greatly affect your total cost to build a house, but may not even directly relate to the construction. The choices you make in each of these categories or the details required by local laws can sway your final home build cost. It's important to have these factors in mind when determining your bottom line.
Off-Site Living Expenses
Don't forget that you and your family will need somewhere to live as your home is being built. Whether you've yet to move from your old place or are renting a smaller apartment nearby, you'll spend between $8,600 and $11,900 for about seven months—the average time it takes to build a home.
Moving and storage companies often work hand in hand to help with more involved moves and projects such as these. Let's say you've loaded up your moving truck, headed across the country to your mid-construction home, and need to store furniture and boxes for several months. The average cost of a storage unit is $240 a month, but you'll find small locker storage boxes for as little as $40 a month.
Also, consider choosing a local moving company that offers storage services as well. Many movers will work storage into their base rate and even include a month of storage free.
Since all major wiring, plumbing, and HVAC vent work went in during the middle of the construction phase—now it's time to choose the appliances themselves. Budget between $3,000 and $15,000 for all new appliances and their installation costs. Here are some of the must-have appliances to keep on your list.
Even if you plan to bring in your antique dining table and your favorite bar cart, you'll likely want to start fresh with most major furniture items. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to furnish a new home is $16,000, or anywhere from $3,500 to $95,000.
If you're truly starting from scratch, breaking up your budget by room can be helpful, as some are clearly more furniture-focused than others. Here are some common price ranges depending on whether you choose high-end brands or opt for more cost-friendly options.
Living room furniture: $1,500–$31,000
Dining room furniture: $1,000–$16,000
Primary bedroom furniture: $1,000–$15,000
Additional bedroom furniture: $1,000–$15,000
Large design undertakings like these also benefit from the help of hiring an interior designer. Interior designers cost between $50 and $100 an hour or will offer flat rates for big projects.
Additional Outdoor Structures
The outside of your home deserves just as much love as the inside, so don't forget about your lawn and outdoor living space.
The average homeowner pays $7,900 for the price to install a deck. Decks add character and usable living space to your home for a cup of tea or a backyard chat with the neighbors. More specifically, you'll pay between $30 and $60 per square foot for deck materials and labor.
Similar deck add-ons include staircases for $15 to $25 per square foot, retractable awnings for an average of $300, or outdoor lighting fixtures for between $8 and $30 a pop.
Take your deck dreams a bit further by installing a sunroom instead. A fully enclosed sunroom will cost between $20,800 and $72,600.
Keep your outdoor living life a little more down to earth (literally) by opting for a patio instead. Patios cost between $1,900 and $5,600 on average, or between $10 and $50 per square foot, depending on the material you choose.
Much like flooring materials indoors, the world of patio materials and pavers is nearly limitless. Natural stone offers a one-of-a-kind, rustic look, while manufactured permeable pavers can manage how water flows through the patio. You can also opt for simple concrete or gravel as budget-conscious options. Here are some common pavers and patio materials and their price ranges.
Gravel: $1–$4 per square foot
Concrete: $3–$8 per square foot
Brick pavers: $8–$25 per square foot
Natural stone: $3–$35 per square foot
Permeable pavers: $10–$30 per square foot
Interlocking pavers: $8–$25 per square foot
Porcelain pavers: $3–$35 per square foot
Similar to your patio, you have your pick of pavers, concrete, and asphalt for your driveway as well. Paving your driveway costs between $2,500 to $6,600, depending on the type of driveway you install. Keep in mind that a new driveway will cost a little less than ripping up and replacing an old one, so you will save some money compared to estimates based on existing homes.
Assuming that the average driveway size is 16 by 30 feet, here are some square footage costs by driveway material.
|Driveway Material||Average Cost per Square Foot|
|Gravel||$4 – $15|
|Asphalt||$7 – $13|
|Pavers||$10 – $50|
|Concrete||$8 – $18|
|Gravel||$1.25 – $1.80|
|Tar-and-Chip||$5 – $10|
|Rubber||$10 – $25|
In addition to the basic driveway materials, add about $1.50 per square foot to seal your driveway and protect it from future damage.
On average, you’ll pay around $50 per square foot for the cost of adding a garage to your home. However, you can trim your costs down to around $29 per square foot for a basic, attached garage. More ornate, detached, garages will run you up to $120 per square foot.
You can expect to pay a range of $10,500 to $27,000 for a one-car garage, and between $15,000 and $40,000 for a two-car garage.
If you're making the coveted leap to install an in-ground pool in your backyard, the cost of pool installation ranges from $39,000 to $70,000 or $90 to $160 per square foot. The cost breakdown for installing a pool includes the following factors:
Site clearing: $3,000–$5,600 per acre
Lighting: $200 a light
Pool heater: $1,800–$4,000
Major landscaping remodels can cost up to $40 per square foot, whereas simpler fixes to a lawn already in decent shape will cost between just $4 and $10 per square foot. The major difference depends on the state of your land as construction winds to a close.
Is there already turf in place? How's the drainage and slope of your lawn? A landscaper does far more than plant flowers, trees, and bushes—though those tasks are important. They also ensure your outdoor living space is welcoming and sustainable. Bringing them into your home construction project is a wise move.
|Sod installation||$1,000 – $3,000|
|Plant a tree||$100 – $2,000|
|Topsoil||$12 – $55 per cubic yard|
|Mulch||$0.20 – $0.60 per square foot|
|Border plants||$2 – $50 per plant|
|Land leveling||$1,000 – $3,200|
|Fence installation||$1,700 – $4,400|
While many home builders will include the basic cleanup in their fee, including hauling leftover materials, you may still end up with some leftover dust and wood chips prior to moving in. The cost to clean up a construction site costs between $250 and $1,250 for a 2,500-square-foot home or between $0.10 and $0.50 per square foot.
Wind, rain, snow, hail, and major storms can wreak havoc on the best-laid home building plan. Inclement weather can affect the cost of your home build in several ways. On a basic level, delays caused by bad weather might mean that you miss deals on materials or contractors. The more you shift your building timeline for any reason, the more you risk spending on fluctuating costs.
In a worst-case scenario, bad weather can even damage your home mid-construction. The average cost of storm damage on a home ranges from $2,700 to $19,600. Thankfully, builders' risk insurance plans will cover many types of weather-related damage during the construction process—though not before or after. Always make sure you clarify whether you or your contractor are responsible for purchasing this additional insurance, as it varies by team.
Cost to Build a House Yourself vs. Hiring a Pro
The DIY reality of building a home yourself from start to finish heavily depends on the extent of your project, and doing too much yourself is one of the most common home building mistakes. While you can cut down on up to 40% of your project costs by leaving out labor, not all parts of the home building process are doable without significant experience and even a license. Your home must be able to pass inspection to show it meets local safety and zoning codes. It can also be extremely dangerous to attempt some heavy construction work without experience.
All this being said, the cost of building a home yourself will mean something different for everyone. Hire a construction manager over a general contractor, for example, if you want to work directly with each designer and specialist hired. You can also take on smaller-yet-significant parts of the process, such as learning how to install floor tiles, paint the interior, or install appliances like the dishwasher.
Project Pitfalls to Avoid
Unless you’ve been through this homebuilding rodeo before, the process can be daunting (and even if you have, each build will look a little bit different). Hiring a general contractor is one of the most important things you can do to avoid the top mistakes when building a home. You can also avoid some issues by keeping these pitfalls in mind.
Don’t Move Too Quickly
Just like buying a home, building one is a long-term commitment. Take your time when choosing the right location, general contractor, and building team. When hiring a general contractor to build your home, be sure to clarify the project's timeline, the potential for price changes, and their experience with similar projects in the past. Speak with at least three general contractors that are highly recommended by your community.
Don’t Go DIY Crazy
Even if you've been drawing up plans and picking out countertop materials for years, it's important to know when to call in the pros. Keep in mind that even if you hire a general contractor, you will still absolutely have a say in how things are done. In fact, a great team leader will help guide your ideas toward the most budget-friendly and stylish options available.
Don’t Be Too Hands-Off
Sitting back and ignoring the homebuilding process can be just as damaging as trying to steer every detail. Keep a consistent communication schedule with your general contractor, and always read and re-read contracts before signing. A balance between control and trust will help you avoid surprises during the process.
Don’t Underestimate Time and Money
Be sure to keep flexibility in both your budget and timeline. Delays will inevitably happen, whether it's from weather or a global supply change crisis. Make sure you have wiggle room to spend a bit more when surprise fees or dream installations come across your desk.
How to Pay for Building a House
There are two primary routes you can take when obtaining a loan to buy land and build a house: a construction-only loan or a construction-to-permanent loan. In both cases, you will apply for a loan that acts more like a line of credit at first than a traditional mortgage. Banks will agree to deposit set amounts of money in your account as you move through each phase of the land-buying and home building process. Here's how the two loans differ.
In this case, a bank approves a maximum loan amount to build a house and deposits the set sums as you move from stage to stage. During construction, you only pay interest on the loan but are required to pay the full balance—or secure a mortgage—as soon as it's completed.
A bit more user-friendly for the average homeowner, a construction-to-permanent loan—also known as an all-in-one loan—transitions the construction loan to a mortgage automatically. You will still only pay interest while the home is being built, but you will transition to mortgage payments once your bank approves the final construction. While these loans are more convenient, they often come with higher fees, interest rates, and down payment requirements.
How to Save on the Costs of Building a House
So, how do you keep homebuilding costs under control as you launch into this large endeavor? While there are plenty of small tips to save cash in each category, there are some overhauling ways to avoid overpaying for the process.
Choose a plot of land attached to utilities and the local sewer system. Setting up utilities will cost between $6,200 and $34,600.
Work with a general contractor familiar with your area and style of home to unlock local knowledge about permits, materials, and trusted contractors.
Set your budget in stone before meeting with your contractor, but keep a buffer for necessary changes and delays.
When looking to save money but increase square footage, consider building up instead of out to lower costs. An additional floor requires fewer materials than a larger ground floor with a wider foundation.
DIY any appropriate tasks like painting, caulking, driveway sealing, and basic landscaping.
Opt for stock plans over custom plans. Not only will your general contractor be familiar with the cost of materials, but you will cut out the cost of an architect.