Ashburn, VA

Average cost to Build a House ranges from
$120 – $180 /sq. ft.

The average cost for building a house is $130 per square foot for an average home. Hiring a home builder, you will likely spend between $120 – $180 /sq. ft. The price of building a house can vary greatly by region (and even by zip code). View our local home builders or get free estimates from pros near you.

How much does building a house cost?

Author: Sally Hanan
Millions of people ask HomeGuide for cost estimates every year. We track the estimates they get from local companies, then we share those prices with you.

Building a house these days depends enormously on the area you’re building in, the size of the home you have in mind, and the kinds of material you want to use. According to the National Association of Homebuilders’ 2017 construction cost survey, a typical single-family, “four square” design home costs $238,000 to build.

House Contractors

“Construction cost includes all the costs paid by a builder, including costs of materials, labor, and subcontractors.” If you were to buy the same house, it would cost $428,000 to cover the cost of the land, finished lot cost, financing, overhead expenses, marketing, sales commission, and builder profit.

Average Costs To Build a Home

Based on a typical single-family, “four square” design home

Pricing Factors Average Cost % of budget
Architect $30,000 - $50,000 10% - 17%
Designers $30,000 - $51,000 10% - 17%
Site/prep work $16,000 6.7%
Foundations $26,000 10.8%
Framing $41,000 17.3%
Exterior finishes $33,000 13.9%
Major systems $33,000 13.8%
Interior finishes $68,000 28.6%
Lot $17,000 7.0%
Total $294,000 - $335,000 100.0%

The estimate

The first step is to decide what your priorities are—what’s vital, then what’s important, then what would be enjoyable but isn’t super important. As Addition Building & Design in West Hollywood, CA, says, keep in mind the functions of each room and their closeness to other functional rooms. Would you like the work study far away from the living room or beside it? Would you like your mother in-law to share a wall with your bedroom when she visits?

Budget

Help-U-Build in Spring Branch, TX, offer a no cost, no obligation preliminary budget development to help buyers get a good estimate before any building begins. They also save the client an average $20,000–$150,000 by giving clients the option to manage the project themselves.

At this stage, you should have an initial idea of your floorplan, the square footage of the home, type of flooring desired, approximate length of the driveway, number of stories, and the type of sewage system required. Your location will dictate the amount you pay for labor, with New York and large cities in CA being the most expensive.

New construction vs. buying an existing home

On the plus side, you get exactly what you want when you build your own home, and an existing home might need some remodeling, appliance upgrades, or repairs you wouldn’t have to do in a new home.

On the downside, it could take up to a year to have your home built, and a lot of work goes into project managing it all if you’ve chosen to do that part yourself. It’s also usually more expensive to build a home than buy an existing one, unless you have the automatic savings gained when building in a new suburb/planned community and a lot of the preplanning has already been done.

Architect

$30–$50k | 10%–17% of total budget

If you are custom building, you’ll need to have an architect both turn your ideas into blueprints and to work with structural engineers and planning agencies. You won’t get accurate bids from contractors without them. Some companies, like MAG Builders in Littleton, CO, take care of everything—from architectural designs and site work to permits, inspections, and landscaping. The ability to get 3D renderings of both the interior and exterior of your future home can bring you to your final design decisions quickly. FYFE Designs in San Diego, CA, add that design and tech can change quickly, so it’s important to keep resale value in mind if choosing to follow trends. FYFE is also very knowledgeable about design technology, and uses software like AutoCAD, Revit, and Sketch-Up regularly.

Cost to Build a House

Designers

$30k–$51k | 10%–17% of total budget

Considering almost 30% of the cost goes into developing the interior of the home, having a designer take care of its look and comfort can save a lot in the long run. Similar to choosing architectural features, keep in mind that you might be looking at that burnt orange wall in the bathroom for the next ten years. By choosing all your design options up front, you can save up to 30% on them by taking advantage of the designer’s network and special deals. While it can be tempting to choose everything based on price alone, remember "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten" (Benjamin Franklin).

Designers like Monica of Interior’s Creation in Miami, FL, provide virtual renderings of the rooms in your future home so you can finalize all your choices before any item is ordered. Keep in mind that some specialty products can take up to three months to ship, so plan accordingly.

Construction costs

Your contractor will provide the labor, services, and materials for the project. S/he will also get all the work and utility permits and oversee the final cleanup. The following prices from NAHB were gathered by combining the answers of 44 builders around the US, based on a lot size of 11,000 sq. ft. and an average finished area of 2,770 sq. ft.

Site work $16k | 6.7% of total

  • Building permit fees $400–$4k
  • Impact fee $2k
  • Inspections $5k
  • Architecture/engineering $3.3k – The lot might need to be leveled and roads might have to be put in for access.

Foundations $26k | 10.8% of total

Excavation, foundation, concrete, retaining walls, backfill $25.4k

Framing $41k | 17.3% of total

  • Framing $35.7k – multi-story buildings tend to cost more.
  • Trusses $3.8k
  • Sheathing $800
  • Metal/steel $700

Exterior finishes $33k | 13.9% of total

  • Walls $15.4k
  • Roofing $7.7k
  • Windows and doors plus garage door $9.2k – One of the more expensive brands of window cost about $1k per window.

Major systems $33k | 13.8% of total

  • Plumbing $11k – $45–$65/hour
  • Electrical $10k – $65–$85/hour
  • HVAC $11.2k

Interior finishes $68k | 28.6% of total

  • Insulation $5.2k – It’s much more cost-efficient to have the right insulation added during construction. “Use the Home Energy Saver tool to determine where you need to insulate and the recommended R-values based on your climate, type of heating and cooling system, etc.” (energy.gov).
  • Drywall $10.5k – Many companies, like DPC Construction in Austin, TX, will have a flat rate per hour for handyman labor.
  • Interior trims, walls, mirrors $11k
  • Painting $7k
  • Lighting $3k
  • Cabinets and countertops $11.8k
  • Appliances $3.5k
  • Flooring $10.2k
  • Plumbing fixtures $3.2k
  • Fireplace $1.4k

Lot $17k | 7% of total

  • Landscaping $5.9k
  • Deck/patio/porch $3k – with a concrete slab being the cheapest
  • Driveway $4.4k – choose from concrete, asphalt, gravel, pavers, or brick. Gravel has the highest longevity at 100+ years, and asphalt has the lowest at 20 years.
  • Cleanup $2.6k – can include removing all dust and debris, washing all surfaces, cleaning out duct vents, disposing of any hazardous material, sanitizing kitchen or bathroom surfaces, and floor vacuuming, waxing, and buffing.

Cost to Build a House

Going green

Ultimately, building a green home is about reducing the consumption of energy, water, and nonrenewable materials and using renewable energy resources. It’s also placing value on the quality of indoor air and reducing the environmental impact of the building. Design/build companies like Skycastle Homes in Boulder, CO, keep conservation in mind from the very first feasibility study to the final landscaping, and Peter Glaser Construction in Washington, D.C., has a wealth of advice to give before the plans are made final as to how to maximize your home’s carbon footprint. You can also take advantage of a residential renewable energy tax credit of 30% of qualified expenditures on solar water heat, solar photovoltaics, geothermal heat pumps, wind (small), and fuel cells using renewable fuels. The rebate goes down to 26% if placed in service in 2020, and 22% in 2021.

  • Good insulation, sealed windows, and radiant barrier roofing stop the waste of energy resources. The US Environmental Protection Agency has a list of over 3,000 ENERGY STAR®-rated cool roofing materials to choose from based upon building type, roof type, and location.
  • Bathroom and kitchen fans channel hot air and humidity away from the home.
  • Consider rainwater collection and xeriscaping, along with installing WaterSense appliances, which are approx. 20% more efficient in their water usage than regular appliances.
  • Use as much natural light as possible by using big windows and skylights. Install infrared sensors to turn off lights in empty rooms.
  • Use alternative energy sources, such as solar panels and wind generation.

Before you build

Considering almost 30% of the cost goes into developing the interior of the home, having a designer take care of its look and comfort can save a lot in the long run. Similar to choosing architectural features, keep in mind that you might be looking at that burnt orange wall in the bathroom for the next ten years. By choosing all your design options up front, you can save up to 30% on them by taking advantage of the designer’s network and special deals. While it can be tempting to choose everything based on price alone, remember "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten" (Benjamin Franklin).

Designers like Monica of Interior’s Creation in Miami, FL, provide virtual renderings of the rooms in your future home so you can finalize all your choices before any item is ordered. Keep in mind that some specialty products can take up to three months to ship, so plan accordingly.

  1. Decide on your budget.
  2. Choose your architect and designer.
  3. Decide if you wish to have a design/build company take care of the project management.
  4. Finalize your plans.
  5. Choose your subcontractors.
  6. Know that if you already have planning permission, it will take at least six months to build your home, or even a year.
  7. Ensure all cleanup is included in the quote.

After you build

  1. Good contractors recommend that you do a walkthrough at least once a week. When you do your final walkthrough, make sure everything has been carried out according to your plans. Most contractors will give a 1–3-year warranty on their work.
  2. Make sure the contractor has done a complete cleanup, to include everything in the yard.
  3. Ask for any warranties that have come with products installed.

Choosing your contractor

  1. Check the local Better Business Bureau for complaints.
  2. Check the company name to make sure it’s registered as a business, with a DBA or LLC filing.
  3. Get at least three comprehensive bids from qualified contractors. The longer a contractor has been in business, the more likely you are to get the benefit of his or her network, like Woodbridge Homes in Chagrin Falls, OH, which has been in business since 1994; or Duke Homes in Bargersville, IN, which was established in 1986.
  4. Make sure the contractor you choose is insured/bonded and licensed. K Construction And Development in Hallandale Beach, FL, says “Make sure it is a certified general contractor with experience. Do not use a handyman who has someone to sign permits for him.”
  5. Ask possible contractors who will be onsite every day, how and how often they will communicate with you, how long the project will take, and how they will protect the property while building is going on.
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