Cost to Build a House – Forbes Advisor

Cost to Build a House – Forbes Advisor

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Cost to Build a House

The average cost to build a house is about $300,000, not including the cost of land. With housing trends ranging from upcycled shipping containers and self-sustaining homes to sophisticated smart houses with luxurious tubs, it’s no surprise that new builds range from $30,000 to several million. How much you’ll pay for your dream home depends on your taste, location and demand for labor and materials. Consider budgeting in a 15% contingency fund to cover unexpected costs or upgrades that crop up during construction.

Average Cost to Build a House*

*Costs per square foot

Building Cost Estimator

Labor and material costs make up the bulk of home building expenses, and these depend heavily on supply and demand in your area. Always compare quotes from local construction professionals.

Pre-Construction Costs

Off-Site Living Expenses

Dreaming of your new home is an exciting time. While planning your budget, it’s important to consider concurrent costs such as living expenses during the period of construction. Financing your new build means securing affordable housing until you can safely move in.

A new home construction can take anywhere from seven to 24 months to complete. The total timeline depends on the availability of materials and builders in your area as well as the accessibility of the site.

Plot Price

Purchasing the plot of land that you’ll build on is the first expense you’ll encounter. However, land value is not included in our $300,000 average because prices vary widely based on innumerable factors ranging from soil quality to the view from your new front porch. Check plot prices in your desired location.

Water and Sewage Inspection

After you’ve purchased land, you’ll need to inspect the property for water and sewage to ensure that the house can have the proper water supply and waste drainage systems. This is especially important for new builds and waterfront sites. This assessment typically costs about $4,500 but may be cheaper if there are existing lines.

Demolition and Deconstruction

If you’ve purchased a site with an unsalvageable or undesired house, add the cost of demolition to your budget. This can range from $6,000 to $20,000. To save and sell features of the old building, deconstruction can cost $24,000 or more.

House Plans or Architectural Fees

Then, you’ll need to either buy or create house plans. You can purchase pre-designed blueprints online for a minimum fee. If you’d like a truly custom home, budget to pay an architect or draftsperson to design your dream floor plan. Architect fees for residential projects may range from 8 to 12% of the construction cost.

Construction Management Fees

Your architect may recommend a construction management firm to oversee your project. It’s generally a good idea to hire an experienced project manager to help with:

  • Coordinating laborers
  • Organizing material deliveries
  • Managing workmanship quality
  • Completing necessary paperwork

Their fees can range from 5 to 15% of the total construction. Working with an experienced manager you can trust will save everyone involved a lot of time and headaches.

Building Permits and Local Fees

Once you have plans in hand, expect to pay building permits, impact fees and all state or municipal fees before construction can begin.

House Exterior Material Costs


When it’s finally time to break ground on your new home, the first expense is excavation. Costs can range from about $1,400 to $3,200 and it prepares the site for a sturdy foundation.


The foundation is one of the most important parts of your home and also a large portion of any construction budget. Expect to spend between $4,500 and $13,500 for a typical slab foundation.

A foundation with a basement ranges from $18,000 to $80,000. The high end of this range means more livable space and a finished basement.


Your new home begins to really take shape during the framing stage of construction. Framing is the highest material cost for most new home builds. High-quantity lumber framing averages $33,000 for a home in the U.S. This includes floors, walls and roof trusses. Metal stud framing systems start at about $20,000.


Most home builders install affordable asphalt shingles. Shingle roofing costs between $5,500 and $11,500. The total cost of your new roof depends mostly on which type of roof you choose.


Like roofing, high-quality weatherproof wrapping and exterior siding is an investment in the durability of your home. Siding costs an average of $12 per square foot. You can choose from several types of siding, such as affordable vinyl or high-end natural stone.


A paved driveway costs roughly $4,500 while a gravel driveway averages much less, at just around $1,500.


Taking your home from the construction zone to a beautiful finished product requires a landscaping budget. Expect to spend something like $2,000 to install sod grass and other plants.

You can spend as much or as little money as you want on the garden, but remember that the curb appeal of the home may matter down the line. Planting flowering or fruit trees now means you get to enjoy their fragrance and produce for years to come.

Home Interior Material Costs


The cost to install HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning system) ranges from about $7,000 to $12,500. That includes installing ductwork, central AC and a furnace. Costs vary depending on the climate you live in, the size of your new home and which type of HVAC system you choose.

You can add ambiance, warmth and maybe a higher resale value by installing a fireplace or woodstove. Adding a masonry fireplace starts at about $4,500.


The cost to plumb a house depends a lot on the type of plumbing material. Copper pipes are the most expensive at about $9,000 for a typical 1,500-square-foot home. Options like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) or cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) can cost half as much as copper.

For the best price on labor, compare quotes before you hire a plumber.


The cost to install electrical wiring in your new home averages around $8,000, or roughly $4 per square foot. The total price for this project depends on the wiring material, complexity of your floorplan, the number of outlets and switches and type of electrical panel.

It’s important to hire a qualified electrician to install new construction wiring. Your contractor will likely do this in two stages: a “rough-in” while the frame of the home is exposed and final finishes, once drywall is installed. Look for a specialist if you plan to install solar panels to power your home.


To keep your home comfortable and energy-efficient, having good insulation is important. Insulating a new home costs roughly $4,000 for materials and labor. You can choose from a few types of insulation, like batting, blown-in or spray foam.


Installing drywall costs about $2.25 per square foot, or an average of $25,000 for a whole home. Remember you’re calculating the square footage for all the walls and ceilings in your new house. Your home will really start taking shape once the walls are covered with drywall or plaster.

Doors and Windows

Most homeowners pay between $6,000 and $8,500 to install new doors and windows for a new construction project. How much you pay depends a lot on the style of door and types of windows you choose.

Interior doors average around $250 per door, including the unit and labor. Bi-fold doors cost less while pocket doors cost more. Exterior doors range from $400 to $3,500 depending on size and style.

Typical, double-hung, vinyl windows cost about $175 per window. Complex window structures, like bay windows or dormers, cost significantly more but add dimension and curb appeal to your home.

Compare Quotes From Top-rated Window Contractors

Free, No-commitment Estimates

Cabinets and Countertops

Builder-grade cabinets cost an average of $6,550, but many custom home projects include better quality or more than the average amount of cabinetry. For instance, adding matching built-ins, an island or custom cabinet and drawer storage solutions will cost more, but depend on local carpentry rates.

Countertops average $2,450. Laminate is among the most affordable. Stone like quartz, granite or marble can cost as much as $100 per square foot. Budget for your preferred type of backsplash as well.


Trimming a house costs about $1,500. Compare quotes from local finishing carpenters for the best price and workmanship quality. If improperly installed, baseboards and kickboards can impact the installation and life of your new flooring.


Flooring typically costs between $1,500 and $4,500, or roughly $6 to $10 per square foot. You can choose from many types of flooring depending on your budget and style. No matter what you buy, installing flooring will take your new build from the construction site to what feels like a nearly-finished home.


The cost to professionally paint your home costs about $5 per square foot depending on local labor. You can save on labor by DIYing this task. Before you get started, learn more about the different types of paint on the market, and be sure to use a face mask.

Compare Quotes From Top-rated Local Painters

Free, No-commitment Estimates


While shopping for fixtures keep about $5,000 of the budget for plumbing features, such as sinks, toilets, showers and tubs. For luxurious, spa tubs, allocate more. For reference, an all new bathroom costs about $10,000.

Lighting fixture costs throughout your home depend on the amount of natural light and the styles you choose. Expect to pay about $3,500 to light a 2,000-square-foot home.


One of the last projects in your home is appliance installation. Installing new kitchen appliances costs $3,750, not including high-end countertop appliances like an espresso machine. Smart home appliances will cost more. Washer and dryer sets average $1,400.

Once you have a working fridge and cooktop stove, your new build will start to feel like home.


Furnishing your home is a pivotal final step in home building that can’t be overlooked. While this depends on your style and the availability of the furniture you want, furnishing a 2,000-square-foot home can range from $20,000 to $80,000. Invest in durable, comfortable beds, couches and tables that will see everyday use.

New House Cost Per Square Foot

The average American family of three to four people can fit comfortably in a house of roughly 2,000 square feet. Builder-grade new house construction costs around $150 per square foot, while luxury or custom homes can cost as much or as little as financing allows.

Price to Build a House by State

The price to build a house depends most on its location. This affects the cost of labor, materials and delivery as well as the price of the plot. Compare bids from local builders for the best price and quality of work.

Below are the average costs to build a 2,000-square-foot house in each state. Remember that city versus rural costs differ significantly. These prices exclude the cost of the plot and land development as well as features such as garages, decks or basements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it cheaper to buy a house or build one?

Oftentimes, it is cheaper to buy a pre-built home that comes with both land and a house. Although, whether it’s cheaper to build or buy a house depends mostly on the housing market near you. If land and labor are in large supply, demand low, and if homes in your area need significant repair or upgrades, it may be cheaper to build.

What are the disadvantages of building a house?

Building a house is costly and strenuous, especially if you don’t have a large enough budget or decide not to hire a project manager. Some studies show that there’s even an increased likelihood of divorce during home construction projects.

One of the most important cost factors is finding contractors you can trust to communicate well, build the home of your dreams, get it done on time and stay within your budget.

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