Build Your Own House

Cost to Build a Home in Iowa

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Home in Iowa

Hi Carl, We are narrowing down our house plans and I was wondering if you would have time to run the cost to build calculator, when you have time, to compare notes. I think I’m coming in a little high. Thanks, G.W.

Hi, G.W.,

I see that this attractive new home is from Better Homes & Gardens.

“Hints of Greek Revivalism blend beautifully with Early American style for a handsome home with world-wide appeal.

The entry is gracefully lit by a second-story arched window and leads guests into a bayed living room. The kitchen has a central island and easily serves the breakfast nook and dining area”.*

Better homes & Gardens has an “Estimated Cost to Build This Home” feature for their plans.

They estimate a $260,628 total cost, based on Average Cost in the Midwest for a “Contractor-built” home.

Here are the Better Homes & Gardens Notes on their Cost Estimate:

The costs are calculated by using the latest available data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and exclude the cost of the improved lot. The costs are for Contractor-Built houses. Owner-Built homes could reduce costs by 10%-20% or even more if using your own labor. However, it is critical to realize that these are average costs that can be significantly affected by choices of materials, local requirements and site specific issues. The only certain way to determine costs is to purchase construction blueprints and have the plans estimated locally by various contractors and suppliers. (Does that sound familiar?)

Better Homes & Gardens Plan Number: BHG-AEA-5970


“The great room is ready to host any occasion, with a corner fireplace and built-in entertainment center.”

Main Level

Upper Level

Total Living Area: 2663 sq.ft.

First Floor: 1332 sq.ft.

Second Floor: 1331 sq.ft.

Garage: 507 sq. ft. (Unfinished)

Basement: 1332 sq. ft. (Unfinished)

Fireplaces: 2

Central Heat/AC

Deck: 140 sq. ft.

For Des Moines, Iowa I came up with $371,540 as the approximate total cost, and that included 2 fireplaces (one in the Master Bedroom), a full unfinished basement, and a 3 car garage. Based on a total living area of 2663 sq. ft. that comes out to $140 per sq. ft.

NOTE: Included is the General Contractor’s markup of $42,417. Land and possible related fees (if any) are NOT included. Read more on fees on my Checklist for buying land on How to Buy Land and Build a House.

The cost estimating software found on my Getting Started page may run your costs much higher than you expect if you aren’t careful. It can be discouraging at first. But if you read the Quality Classifications Breakdowns carefully, you may find you can use a lower quality class for some categories.

I used Quality Class 4, Good Standard throughout.

Important Notice: Use the free estimating software to update this 2017 estimate to see if the cost has changed. You can also experiment with different building quality inputs that affect the cost to build.

Carl Heldmann