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.


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".

I was impressed that Better homes & Gardens has a wonderful "Cost Estimator" feature for their plans.

They estimate a $246,966 total cost, based on Average Cost in the Midwest, for a "Contractor-built" home!

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

“The below 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 below 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.

It is also important to note that these are regional averages and costs within any region can vary significantly by location.

The only certain way to determine accurate costs is to purchase construction blueprints and have the plans estimated locally by various contractors and suppliers.

If you want a very rough estimate before you purchase plans you can send the front elevation and floor plan to your general contractor.” 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

Stories: 2
Total Living Area: 2663 sq.ft.
First Floor: 1332 sq.ft.
Second Floor: 1331 sq.ft.
Bedrooms: 4
Full Baths: 3
Half Baths: 1
Garage: 507 sq. ft. (Unfinished)
Basement: 1332 sq. ft. (Unfinished)

For Des Moines, Iowa I came up with $271,394 as the Total cost, and that included 2 fireplaces (one in the Master Bedroom), a full unfinished basement, and the garage. That comes out to $101.9 per sq. ft.

NOTE: Excluded, is the General Contractor's markup, equipment rental and only a $2,000 allowance for insurance and NO land cost is included.

The cost estimating software on my Getting Started page will run your costs much higher than you expect if you aren't careful. It's very discouraging at first. But if you read the Quality Classifications Breakdowns (that can be viewed in a new window for each classification) carefully, you will see that the higher numbered Classes are, in my estimation, not applicable to most Americans.

I almost always use numbers 5 or 6 all the way through, unless the house is on a slab, and then I use # 6 for the Foundation.

I have found it expedient to worry about building the basic structure as the plans show, as inexpensively as I can. Then if money allows, one can upgrade as desired.

You will never get to this position if the initial preliminary estimate discourages you from going forward and getting real, actual estimates and that is what you have to eventually do, BEFORE you can make an informed decision.

Getting "real time" accurate estimates is the # 1 job of a General Contractor!

Anyway, the house is beautiful, and I hope you succeed.

Carl Heldmann