Build Your Own House

Cost to Build a Small House

Summary: A small house costs more per square foot to build.

Hi Carl,

We were told we could build a 800 sq ft second home on our property and were wondering

how much it would cost and what it includes…the total package.

We would use subcontractors like you mentioned, but are wondering about things like septic, electrical, plumbing, etc. and what you get when building a small house.

This would be for our children and grandson…or else they will leave the state. Thanks, Lawnie

Hi Lawnie, I hope that you were told you could build a second residence, also called an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, on your property by the “right” people.

The right people would be the building inspection department, building permit department, zoning department, and any other governing bodies for your locale.

As for the house, the small size would cost more per sq. ft. just as home additions do. I have mentioned this on several articles on room additions. (See Cost of Home Additions)

But, if you hire good subcontractors the quality and thoroughness of their work should be no different than if building a larger house.

COOL House Plan ID: chp-26434

Number of Bathrooms: 2.0

Width of House: 30 feet Depth of House: 36 feet

Central Heat & AC


2 Porches under the main roof line

Total Living Area: 800 sq. ft.

Foundation Types available for this plan: Slab or Crawlspace

COOL House Plan ID: chp-26434

I don’t know where you are located so I randomly picked Bowling Green, KY to calculate a rough estimate.

Using the Cost to Build Calculator found on my Getting Started page this attractive and functional 800 sq ft house came in at an approximate cost of $72,888 or $91 per sq ft.

This includes a General Contractor markup of $8,321 in case you decide to go that route.

If I increase the square footage by 25% to 1,000 sq ft, the approximate total cost increases by $12,097 to $84,985, or $ 84 per sq ft, only an 8% in crease in cost per sq ft.

This includes a General Contractor markup of $9,702.

NOTE: I chose the least expensive “Quality Class” throughout for this initial approximate estimate.

Keep in mind this just a rough 2018 estimate of the cost to build. The cost of all local fees, impact fees, etc. are not included.

When you get your actual subcontractor bids and material estimates or a Total Fixed Price Contract with a General Contractor, as well as the cost of local government fees, you will have a more accurate total cost.

I think that what you are planning on doing for your children and grandchildren is wonderful.

Good luck, Carl Heldmann