Build Your Own House

Home Construction Costs

Summary: Construction Costs for any new home can vary greatly depending on home size, design, quality, and other factors that affect construction cost.


Is it true that the general rule of thumb is that the average cost to build a new home is about $100 to $110 per square foot in addition to the cost of the land? Laurie

Hi Laurie,

Pricing a house by the square foot is like pricing a car by the pound. A Ford and a Mercedes probably weigh about same, but they sure don’t cost the same to build.

Using the cost per square foot as a rule of thumb to estimate the cost of a new home is dangerous for professional general contractors, home builders, owner builders, and people planning a new custom home as well as for new home buyers.

The term cost per square foot or average cost per square foot for a new house needs to be used wisely.

The total cost per square foot for any new home can fluctuate drastically depending on the size of the home, the design of the home, the quality of building materials, and other construction related costs.

Size: The bigger the house, the more it costs overall, but the cost per square can drop dramatically, as the cost of items such as kitchens is spread out over more square footage.

Design: The pitch of the roof, the type of roof, the style of the roof, the weight of the shingles, the design of the foundation, the number of windows, the style (and even the brand) of windows, and so on, affect the cost per square foot tremendously.

Quality: The same home plan can vary greatly by the cost of labor and the quality of building materials chosen.

Foundations: A building site may incur extra foundation costs due to soil quality, degree of slope, accessibility, drainage problems, and/or other expensive unknowns.

Utilities, permits, and fees: The cost of building permits, impact fees, plan review, etc., and utilities such as water, sewer, electrical, etc. can vary enough by locale to add $10 per square foot (or more) to the average house.

Shopping: The cost per square foot of a new home can even vary tremendously based on how well a person shops for prices from subcontractors and building material suppliers. Those who love and are good at shopping get the lowest cost per square foot!

Determining the cost of building a particular house is the number one job of any General Contractor. Nothing else even comes close.

The advent of construction estimating software has made preliminary cost estimating much easier, but only provides a rough approximate cost estimate of home construction costs.

Accurate cost estimating requires much more time and energy.

Review the many different costs to build the different houses on “Cost to Build a House by State” and you’ll see more clearly that the “rule of thumb” is that there is no real “rule of thumb”.

Good luck, Carl Heldmann