Build Your Own House

Estimate Building Costs - Berkeley California

Summary: Estimate building costs for a New Home in Northern California. How Much Does it Cost to Build a House in Berkeley California

Hello Carl, I'm wondering why it is so expensive to build in the East Bay Area.

Your rough estimate is $125 per square foot, yet I see $300 - 400/sq ft on many blogs about actual cost of building here.

Is it just the cost of land, or are there other sources of this incredible "mark-up"?

I'm looking to build on a level lot in the East Bay, concrete slab foundation, no hillside heroics. Should I really count on $300 per sq ft? David

Hi David,

It does cost more to build in this area, as well as any coastal area, and that is due to more expensive (and bureaucratic) permitting, impact fees, and contractor and subcontractor labor. Contractors and subcontractors charge more because it costs more for them to live in these areas.

But it should not cost $300-$400 per sq ft for an owner/builder to build an average house, or even an above average house.

It shouldn't cost that much using a local home builder or general contractor either.

Maybe the blogs you were reading did have the land cost figured in. Maybe they actually paid a General Contractor that much. Who knows?

Using the Cost to Build Calculator found on my Getting Started page, and using 10 corners, Quality Class 6 (slab foundation) and Quality Class 4 for the rest of the house, the approximate cost to build this 2398 sq. ft. house from in East Bay (Metro area of Berkeley, CA, 94701) is approximately $431,655, including a General Contractor markup of $46,755.

This works out to be $180 per sq. ft. Subtracting the General Contractor's markup of $46,755 = $384,889, or $161 per sq. ft.

By the way, has an instant zip code based "Cost to Build this Home Calculator" that shows the average cost to build this house in that zip code to be $323,730 or, $135 per sq. ft.

Here’s a modern stucco design house from

These cost to build estimates are approximate, based on averages for the area.

Important Notice:

Cost estimates change with time. YOU can update this 2016 estimate to see if it has, as well as experimenting with different building quality inputs that affect the cost to build.

Keep in mind that these estimates are approximate and are just a guide. Until you actually start getting your own bids and estimates and entering them into your own spreadsheet (see my spreadsheet page for FREE spreadsheets), they will remain approximate.

Carl Heldmann