How much does it cost to build a house?

Updated March 23, 2017

If you're like most people, chances are your house will be the biggest purchase you'll ever make. Although this thought may seem quite scary, it usually does not prevent people from pursuing the dream of home ownership. Most likely, you have an idea of what you want your home to be like, so your search for a home begins with those requirements in mind. After all, if it's your biggest investment, it should be perfect--or as close to it as you can get. Unfortunately, many people look at home after home in neighbourhood after neighbourhood without success. That's when these selective buyers may want to consider building their own home.


The cost of building a custom home depends on size, quality, materials, features and location. Depending on your budget (the amount of credit your lender has determined you can afford), you may need to adjust your home's plans according to these factors. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median cost for building a home in the United States is £117,845. Of course, this price can change substantially depending on the size and location of the house, and how well the housing market is doing in general.


Before you begin building your home, you must first have a place to build it. Unless your home is being built in a new subdivision, this means you will have to purchase land. You'll first need to decide where you would like to live and then determine the right amount of property. Once you've figured that out, you can start looking for a builder. Also, keep in mind that building on a flat lot will cost a lot less than building a rocky, hilly or heavily forested area.


Although there are many companies that specialise in custom-built homes, they usually offer only a selected number of styles and floor plans. So if your dream home doesn't really match what these companies offer, you will probably have to contact a local builder.

Time Frame

Make sure you know when you will be starting construction on your home. Because of inflation, the cost of building a home can increase as much as 6 per cent per year. As a result, if you're not planning on building it for a year or more, you'll need to factor inflation into your budget.

Helpful Tips

To make sure your builder doesn't overcharge you, you should find a home that is similar to the style and size of the home you want built in order to determine the cost per square foot. To do this, you must find the home's price as well as the price of the land (this information can be found in the property's tax records, which are available to the public). Once you have this information, you simply deduct the land's price from the home's price and divide that amount by the home's square footage--this will give you the cost per square foot. Also, when you're looking at homes to compare, make sure you select one that was built recently (within the past six months).


Although size/square footage plays an important part in determining the price of your house, seemingly small details such as number of windows, type of bathroom faucets, etc., can have a huge impact on the total cost of your home. In addition, most builders charge more per square foot for smaller homes (in other words, the larger your home, the less you pay per square foot). The shape of your home will also affect the cost of building it. Typically, homes with a rectangular, dome or square shape cost less than those with more angles.


When designing your home, it's a good idea to stay 10 to 15 per cent below your total budget. Because the final cost is usually more than the original estimate, you should be prepared to cover unexpected costs.

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About the Author

Jessica Saras is a professional editor and copywriter. After earning an English degree from Reinhardt College, Saras completed the summer writing program at Sarah Lawrence College. A natural-born writer, she has more than six years of experience in web content development. In addition to being a full-time copywriter, she writes articles for Demand Studios,,, and