D Harris Jr. is the personal blog of HERS rater and Berkshire Hathaway Realtor Dwight "DJ" Harris Jr.

What does it cost to build a house?

What does it cost to build a house?

It's a question I get all the time! For the purpose of this post, the answer is to be used to ballpark the cost of construction for discussing options with a spouse, realtor, architect, builder, etc. There will be plenty of variation in final cost due to the house design, specifications, and site. Feel free to contact me for assistance or advice.

TLDR: See the conclusions section at the bottom.

Data

The "Cost to construct" figure is strictly the labor and materials cost to build a move-in-ready home.

The "cost to homeowner" is the final cost for a move-in-ready home, including the builders overhead, financing, profit and 3% sales commission.

Both cost figures exclude the cost of land.

NAHB Survey Cost of Construction (National)

The National Association of Home Builders produces a study titled "Cost of Constructing a Home" every two years by surveying builders around the country. In 2015 the survey utilized data from 33 builders, which they used to represent a national average cost of construction. 

Size: 2802 Sq ft
Cost to construct: $289,415 ($103/sq. ft.)
Cost to homeowner: $383,179 ($137/sq. ft.)

RSMeans (Regional)

RSMeans publishes guides on estimating the cost of construction each year and is much more detailed than the NAHB survey. Its high level estimates will vary plus or minus 10%. RSMeans is useful because it breaks costs down by category, provides regional data, and allows you to adjust for the size, features and quality of materials. The Connecticut Housing Financing Authority (CHFA) uses RSMeans to support their cost of construction estimates in their 2015 guide.

Using RSMeans categories of "average quality" two-story, vinyl house with 2.1 bath, an unfinished basement, attached two-car garage, forced hot air heating and A/C in Connecticut (11% upward regional cost adjustment):

Size: 2600 sq. ft.
Cost to construct: $317,547 ($122/sq. ft.)
Cost to homeowner: $376,134 ($145/sq. ft.)

Note: excludes well/septic or sewer/water hook up and appliances

Burlington, CT Builder Sales Data (Local)

Assume $100,000 per building lot.

Brycorp (West Ledge): Averages for the latest four houses sold (10/2015-4/2016)
Size: 3385
Cost to homeowner: $547,925 ($164/sq. ft.)

Homes by Carrier (Taine Mountain): Averages for the latest five homes sold (9/2014-6/2015)
Size: 3557
Cost to homeowner: $681,393 ($192/sq. ft.)

Style Homes (Nicole Ln): Averages for the latest three homes (11/2014-12/2015). Assume $90,000 per lot.
Size: 2838
Cost to homeowner: $400,000 ($110/sq. ft.)

Burlington builders average cost to homeowner/sq. ft.: $155

Johnnycake Custom House (Personal)

Finished 3/2015
Size: 2600 sq. ft.
Cost to construct: $401,622 ($155/sq. ft.)

Note: RSMeans predicted $160/sq. ft. for the cost to construct the "custom quality" 2.5 story house. Includes well/septic.

Data Summary

  • The national cost to a homeowner to build a house is $137 per square foot of living space, which completely finished, ready-to-move in, but excludes the cost of land.
  • RSMeans regional cost data estimates $145 per sq. ft.
  • Three Burlington, CT builders averaged $155 per sq. ft.

Data Cross-Check: RSMeans estimates building in Connecticut costs 11% more than the national average, moving the NAHB data to a regional cost of $152/sq. ft. This cost is in line with my personal experience and feedback from other local builders.

Conclusions

For an "average new construction home," assume $150-$160/sq. ft. of living space for a 2600-3000 sq. ft. Assume a lower cost per square foot for larger homes  and a higher cost per square foot for smaller or single-story homes.

I define an "average new construction home" as a colonial style, two-story code-minimum, vinyl siding/window single-family home with an attached garage. The elevations will likely be busy with gables and bump-outs. It will also likely have 9' ceilings with two-story spaces and some interior eye-candy trim, but utilize "builder-grade" materials such as box cabinets and hollow-core doors, and standard construction practices/structural materials.

I'd be wary of any quote/price from a builder that's wildly out of line with this average estimate unless your specifications are very detailed and checked by someone with construction knowledge. I do not recommend giving a builder a house plan and asking for a quote without such specifications... the final cost will likely be tens of thousands more or quality will be sacrificed. Feel free to contact me for assistance or advice.

Take advantage of CHFA mortgage programs to buy a home with only $1,000 cash

Take advantage of CHFA mortgage programs to buy a home with only $1,000 cash

Property Disclosures: Murders, Meth Labs, Structural Defects and Botched Renovations

Property Disclosures: Murders, Meth Labs, Structural Defects and Botched Renovations