Cost to Build a House Per Square Foot

Easily Calculate the Cost to Build Per Square Foot

If you are thinking about building a home, you probably have tons of questions. While building a home can be complicated, it is a great way to get the exact house you want in the location you want to live.

We thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the various costs associated with building your own home, we are covering everything from the average cost of materials to how much you can expect to spend on the land.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about building your own home.

How much does it cost to build per square foot?

While it will vary by your location, the nationwide average cost to build a home ranges between $100 and $200 per square foot according to data from Home Advisor. If you are building a custom luxury home, costs can easily range up to $500 per square foot.

When it comes to the total cost to build a home, the national average came in at $285,817 with the majority of home builders spending between $123,111 and $450,507 according to Home Advisor.

However, the total cost of building a home will vary dramatically depending on the size, quality of finishes as well as the cost of the property you will be building on. Building a home in the heart of San Francisco or Chicago will almost always cost more than building one in the Iowa countryside.

Data from Home Advisor shows that labor is the biggest cost when building a house, making up 40 percent of the budget with permits, design fees and materials making up the balance of the cost.

It should be noted that building material prices have shot up dramatically in 2021 due to supply chain issues. In many parts of the country prices are up 5 to 10 percent which can have a major impact on building costs. In addition, delivery times are often much longer than they have been in the past so plan accordingly.

House construction costs by house size

The size of the house you are building will obviously impact your budget. Larger houses will typically cost more than a smaller home. In 202, the most common house size came in between 2000 and 2500 square feet. Here are some ballpark figures from Home Advisor that are based on the size of the house:

Square Feet Minimum Price Max Price Average Cost Average Cost Per Square Foot
800 $80,000 $160,000 $120,000 $150
900 $90,000 $180,000 $135,000 $150
1,000 $100,000 $200,000 $150,000 $150
1,200 $120,000 $240,000 $180,000 $150
1,500 $150,000 $300,000 $225,000 $150
1,600 $160,000 $320,000 $240,000 $150
1,800 $180,000 $360,000 $270,000 $150
2,000 $200,000 $400,000 $300,000 $150
2,500 $250,000 $500,000 $375,000 $150
2,700 $270,000 $540,000 $405,000 $150
3,000 $300,000 $600,000 $450,000 $150
4,000 $400,000 $800,000 $600,000 $150
5,000 $500,000 $1,000,000 $750,000 $150

Breakdown of homebuilding cost

The total cost of building a new home incorporates a variety of expenses. Everything from clearing the land to the interior finishes must be considered. Here is a quick breakdown of those costs according to Home Advisor data:

  • Land & Site Work: This involves clearing your property as well as any other site work that must be done before building. The average cost ranges from $5,000 to $38,000 and typically makes up 3% - 8% of your total costs.
  • Foundation: Pouring a foundation can be a major expense when building a new home. Costs can range from $16,600 - $72,000 on average and usually makes up 10% - 15% of your building cost.           
  • Framing: Framing out the house is when the real excitement begins, you can now see the shape of your home. Framing can run between $16,600 - $95,000 on average and will usually eat up 10% - 20% of your budget.
  • Exterior Work: Siding, roofing and other exterior materials can quickly add up. According to Home Advisor, most home builders spend between $20,000 - $95,000 for exterior work. This represents 15% - 20% of the total cost.
  • Major Systems: This expense covers items such as heating and cooling systems as well water heaters and other mechanical. Expect to spend between $17,000 - $72,000, making up 10% - 15% of your costs.
  • Interior Finishes: Putting up drywall, dropping in floors and other interior finishes can cost between $42,000 - $167,000 or roughly 25% - 35% of the total cost.

House Plans

A house build cannot really get started until you have a house design and blueprints. There are a wide variety of home plans online that you can purchase or use as a starting point for your own design. These plans can cost between $2,000 and $8,000 according to Home Advisor. If you are hiring an architect to design your home, those costs can go up dramatically.

Once you have settled on a design you need to have your builder write up a "cost to build" estimate which should give you an idea of what it will cost to build your home. You can then make additions or subtractions to the design depending on how it fits into your budget.

Here are a few costs that can come into play when designing a home. Here is a breakdown of the average cost for some services you may need to use when building a home according to Home Advisor:

  • Architects: $125-$250 per hour
  • Engineers: $100-$200 per hour
  • Draftsperson: $50-$130 per hour
  • General Contractor: 10%-20% of total project cost
  • Interior Designer: $50-$200 per hour
  • Landscape architect: $70-$150 per hour

Buying the land for your home

One of the first steps in building a new home is purchasing a lot. According to Home Advisor data, on average, lots can cost between $3,000 and $150,000 but in certain areas, the lot can cost much more.

The cost for the lot can also be impacted by whether the lot is finished or unfinished. A finished lot simply means that utility lines, water, cable and sewer lines have been run to the lot. An unfinished lot is just the land, no utilities have been run to the lot. In most cases, unfinished lots are more common in a rural setting while most neighborhood developments would come with a finished lot. If you end up with an unfinished lot, the costs to connect it to utilities can be pricey. Here is a quick breakdown of the average costs associated with bringing utilities onto a lot:

  • Connecting to city sewers: $1,300-$5,000
  • Connecting to the city electric: $1,000-$30,000
  • Connect to city water lines: $1,000-$5,000

It should be noted that these costs can vary dramatically depending on the location of your lot and the location of the nearest utilities lines.

Clearing your lot

Once a lot has been purchased, you may need to prep the land for development. This can include costs such as cutting down trees, cleaning up brush as well as digging a basement if necessary. If you are purchasing a lot in a development, most of this work should already be done. Preparing a lot for building a home can run between $1,500 to $5,000 but those costs can go up dramatically in many locations, particularly where access to the property is difficult or limited.

In the event you need to demo an existing home on the lot, expect to spend between $3,000 and $25,000. Costs will vary depending on the size of the house as well as the location of the property. If you have to do any asbestos or mold mitigation, the costs can go up dramatically.

Building Permits

In order to legally build a home or other structure, you will need to pull building permits from your local authority. While permit costs can vary depending on the size of the home as well as your location, expect to spend up to $2,000 or more depending on the size of the project on permitting expenses.

Material costs are a major expense

While it will vary depending on the size of your project as well as the quality of the finishes, the building materials involved in your home will often eat up 50% of your budget. Once you have hired a contractor, they should be able to give you an estimate of the cost based on your home design and finish choices.

Here are a few of the expenses you can expect as well as the average cost for each according to Home Advisor:

  • Lumber: Costs can range from $25,000 up to $65,000 or more. Lumber prices have gone up dramatically in 2021 due to supply chain issues.
  • Concrete: Used in the foundation, driveway and other sections of your home, costs can run between $1,000 - $10,000.
  • Drywall: Costs can vary dramatically depending on the size of the home.       
  • Flooring: Basic flooring can run between $1 - $5 per square foot, expect to spend more if you are installing luxury flooring.
  • Siding: Costs can vary dramatically depending on the materials used, expect to spend at least $2 - $15 per square foot
  • Insulation: Costs can vary dramatically depending on the type of insulation you are using but in general expect to pay between $0.10 - $1 per square foot
  • Roofing: Roofing a home can easily surpass $10,000 depending on the size of the home and materials being used

Labor costs are also a major expense

Labor costs are a major factor in the cost to build a home and can easily suck up 30% to 60% of your total cost according to Home Advisor. Labor costs will vary depending on the size of the project, materials used and the complexity of the build. Here are a few of the labor costs and the average spend on each according to Home Advisor data:

  • Construction Manager: $3,150-$50,000
  • Framer rates: $7-$16 per square foot
  • Electrician rates: $50-$100 per hour
  • Plumber rates: $45-$200 per hour
  • Roofing costs: $5,000-$10,000, on average


The foundation involves excavating, building forms for the concrete as well as pouring and back filing. Costs can vary dramatically depending on the size and other factors but the average cost for a foundation runs between $4,000 and $25,000.

Adding a basement pushes up your cost

If you are building a home with a basement, expect your costs to be headed up. You can add in another $10 to $100 a square foot which means the basement could add an additional $10,000 to $30,000 to the total cost of the build. If the basement will be finished, expect the costs to go even higher.


Framing costs will be directly impacted by the size of your home. Framing generally involves framing out the walls, subfloor installation, window, and door installation as well as any trusses that need to be installed. Average costs run between $20,000 and $50,000 depending on the size of the home.

 Major Systems

Once the framing is in place, it’s time to install all of the major systems such as plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems. Obviously, the size of the home will impact the cost of these systems, as an example, with a large house you may need two furnaces and water heaters which can quickly raise your costs.

Here are some of the average costs you can expect to purchase and install the major systems in your new home:

  • Rough-in plumbing: $7,000-$15,000
  • Electrical wiring: $20,000-$30,000
  • HVAC average: $1,500-$13,000
  • Solar panels and system installation: $18,000-$35,000

Exterior Costs

Finishing the exterior of the house includes putting up the exterior walls, roofing as well as the windows, doors, or other exterior features. Here is a quick overview of the expenses you may encounter when finishing the exterior according to Home Advisor:

  • Roofing installation: $5,600-$11,500 – roof costs can vary dramatically depending on the size of the home and roofing materials used
  • Windows: $3,000-$9,30
  • Exterior painting: $1,800-$4,400

Interior Home Finishes

Finishing the interior can be one of the most expensive projects when building a home. You can easily spend between $50,000 to $175,000 according to Home Advisor but that number can climb significantly for large luxury homes.

Here is a quick breakdown of average interior finish costs:

  • Cabinet install: $2,000 - $30,000
  • Countertop installation: $2,000 - $4,000
  • Door installation cost: $5,000 - $20,000
  • Drywall installation: $5,000 - $30,000
  • Flooring install: $10,000 - $35,000
  • Interior painting: $4,000 - $11,000
  • Appliances: $3,000 - $15,000
  • Lighting fixtures: $2,000 - $12,000
  • Fireplace: $1,000 - $10,000

Questions About Building a House

Is it cheaper to build or buy a house?

In most cases, it is cheaper to buy and existing home than build a new one. According to Home Advisor, it typically costs about $150,000 more to build a new home than purchasing an existing home.

However, building a home allows you to design and build the exact home you want in the location you have chosen.

How much is the cost of building different types of houses?

The cost to build a house can vary depending on the type of home you are building. While a large custom house will send your budget skyrocketing, a small, modular or prefabricated home can be quite affordable.

Here are a few different types of homes as well as the average cost to build them per Home Advisor:

Modular or Prefabricated homes: These homes are manufactured offsite and then shipped to you where your contractor will assemble the pieces into your home. This is a very economical way to build a home. These homes often cost between $180,000-$360,000 according to Home Advisor.

Timber frame house: These homes often have large, exposed timber beams. Expect to pay between $200-$250 per square foot for this type of house.

Concrete houses: Concrete can be pricey as well as requiring skilled labor. Expect to pay between $204,000-$416,000 to build a concrete home.

Wood log cabin: A wood log cabin looks great and can be built pretty cheaply. Plan on spending between $125-$300 per square foot.

Ranch style home: Even though they don’t have a second story, a ranch home costs roughly the same as a standard house, costing $100 to $200 per square foot on average. Large ranch homes can end up costing more due to the large foundation required.

Duplex or row houses: Building a row house or duplex will often cost as much as a standard home, if not more. Expect to spend between $100-$400 per square foot, depending on your location.

Victorian home: These homes often cost more to build due to ornate finishes and customization. These homes can easily cost $250,000-$550,000 to build.

Bungalow or Cottage House: These houses tend to be more expensive to build but they may be due to the fact that they are often located in beach towns. These houses typically cost between $200,000-$600,000 or about $250 per square foot.

Shipping containers and tiny homes: These smallish homes are cheap and easy to build in most cases. Costs can vary from a very affordable $8,000 up to $150,000 or more depending on the size.  

A-frame homes: These homes are pretty simple to build and are on the low end of the cost scale with an average price of $100-$200 per square foot.

How much does it cost to build a house in each state?

The state you decide to build a home in will impact your costs. Materials and labor costs will be higher in some markets compared to others. Here are the average price ranges for several different states according to Home Advisor:

State Minimum Maximum Average Price For a Home
Alabama    $ 200,000.00  $ 380,000.00 $ 290,000.00
Arizona    $ 200,000.00  $ 625,000.00 $ 412,500.00
California    $ 200,600.00  $ 600,000.00 $ 400,300.00
Colorado    $ 300,000.00  $ 500,000.00 $ 400,000.00
Connecticut    $ 300,000.00  $ 800,000.00 $ 550,000.00
Florida  $ 240,000.00  $ 350,000.00 $ 295,000.00
Georgia    $ 100,000.00  $ 400,000.00 $ 250,000.00
Illinois  $ 200,000.00  $ 750,000.00 $ 475,000.00
Maryland    $ 200,000.00  $ 380,000.00 $ 290,000.00
Michigan    $ 225,000.00  $ 265,000.00 $ 245,000.00
Mississippi    $ 180,000.00  $ 300,000.00 $ 240,000.00
Missouri    $ 310,000.00  $ 485,000.00 $ 397,500.00
New York    $ 250,000.00  $ 950,000.00 $ 600,000.00
Ohio  $ 290,000.00  $ 345,000.00 $ 317,500.00
Oregon    $ 175,000.00  $ 400,000.00 $ 287,500.00
Pennsylvania    $ 345,000.00  $ 450,000.00 $ 397,500.00
South Carolina  $ 300,000.00  $ 400,000.00 $ 350,000.00
Tennessee    $ 185,000.00  $ 380,000.00 $ 282,500.00
Texas  $ 235,000.00  $ 660,000.00 $ 447,500.00
Virginia    $ 200,000.00  $ 560,000.00 $ 380,000.00
Washington    $ 200,000.00  $ 450,000.00 $ 325,000.00
Wisconsin    $ 220,000.00  $ 400,000.00 $ 310,000.00