What is the Average Cost to Build a House?

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These days, very little is certain. But there’s one thing we can be sure of… the ever-increasing cost of buying a house. As prices continue to skyrocket, the thought of owning our own home can seem like a pipe-dream. But is there an alternative? We’ve all heard of people building their own house from scratch, but is it an economical alternative to buying a pre-owned house, or could it end up eating up even more of your precious income? If you’ve ever wondered about the financial benefits (or otherwise) of building your own home, here’s what you need to know about the average cost to build a house.

Cost of a House Plan

The first cost you need to consider if you’re contemplating building your own house is the house plan. According to colbertondemand.com, house plans cost between $3,000 to $15,000. The cost will ultimately depend on the designer you hire (which could be an architect, a drafter, or a building designer), the scope of the project, and the type of drawings you want.

Cost of Land Purchase

The next cost to consider is the cost of purchasing a land lot. Prices can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, size, and facilities, with homeadvisor.com estimating the average cost to be anything between $3000 to $150,000. If you’re buying a finished lot in a housing development, you can expect to pay between $50,000 to $100,000. If you’re buying an unfinished lot (which might be the case if it’s in a rural area), you might be able to pick something up for as little as $3000. However, in these cases, you’ll need to consider the additional costs of connecting the lot to utility, sewer, or cable lines. To connect to the city sewer, expect to pay between $1,300 – $5,000. Connecting to the city electric grid can cost anything between $1000 and $3000, depending on how far the lot is from the nearest lines. Connecting to city water lines can run between $1000 and $5000. If the lot hasn’t been cleared and excavated in preparation for building work, you can expect to pay another $1,500 to $5000. This will include costs for soil testing, land excavation, and a land surveyor. If the lot was purchased without an existing building permit, factor in between $1200 and $2000 to obtain one.

Cost of Building Materials

How much of the overall cost of a project will be taken up by building materials will come down to what kind of materials you chose to use. For example, the cost of sliding could be anything between $2 to $15 per square foot depending on whether you opt for a cheaper option like vinyl or a more expensive stone. Your designer should be able to give you a good estimate depending on your preference, but as an average, you can expect the materials to make up around half of the overall cost of the build.

Cost of Labor

Labor costs vary significantly depending on the size and complexity of the house and the labor you use. As a general guide, you can expect to blow between 30% and 50% of your overall budget on labor such as framers (typical cost: $7-$16 per square foot), construction managers ($3,150-$50,000), electricians ($50-$100 per hour), plumbers ($45-$200 per hour), and roofers ($5,000-$10,000).

Cost of Foundation

According to homeguide.com, the average cost to pour a concrete foundation for a 2,776 square feet house is $26,750. This includes excavation, foundation, concrete, walls, and backfill. If retaining walls or any complex landscaping or excavation is needed, you can expect to see anything between $5,000 and $20,000 added onto the final bill. If you add a basement to the house, the foundation costs can easily double.

Cost to Frame a House

Size, roofing, and room location will impact the cost to frame a house, but as a general guide, you can expect to pay around $13 per square foot for a single-story house and $22 per square foot for a two-story house. For an average 2,776 square foot home, the total cost is likely to be in the region of $42,850.

Cost of Exterior Finishes

The next cost to consider is the final exterior finishes such as sliding, windows, doors, roof, and wall installation. The average is around $35,000, of which you can expect to pay between $5600 – $11,500 for the roofing, $1800 – $4400 for the exterior painting, and $3000 – $9300 for the windows.

Cost of Major Systems

Even after the house has been built, additional costs can still be expected for installing major systems like plumbing, electrical & HVAC. The type of system you elect to use will affect the final cost significantly; as a general guide, your can expect to pay between $7,000-$15,000 for plumbing, $20,000-$30,000 for electrical wiring, and $1,500-$13,000 for HVAC. If you decide to install solar panels, expect to pay another $18000 to $2500 for the equipment and installation.

Cost of Interior Finishes

It’s easy to think that the majority of costs involved in building a house from scratch will involve the exterior. In fact, interior finishing is one of the most expensive elements. Obviously, a lot will depend on your choice of materials, but as an indication of how much you can expect to pay to make your house comfortable, fireplaces will cost anything between $1000 and $10000 per unit, lighting can vary between $2000 and $12000, kitchen cabinets will cost between $2000- $3000 to buy and install (with countertops adding another $2000 – $4000 to the cost), flooring will vary between $10,000 and $20,000, appliances will eat up between $3000 and $15000, and interior painting can cost anything between $4000 and $10000.

Summing Up

As we’ve seen, multiple elements go into determining the cost of building a house, with personal preference, location, size, and various other factors all informing the final cost. As a median, however, you can expect to part with around $125,000 to build a small house of up to 1000 square feet; $200,000 on a house between 1000 and 2000 square feet; $300,000 on a 3,000 square feet construction; and $500,000 on a 5000 square feet home.

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