How Much per Square Foot Does It Cost to Build a House?
As a Custom Home Builder, the most frequent question that we get is, “How much per square foot does it cost to build a house.” This is not as simple a question as you might think…in fact; it is actually a very complex question. The answer lies in the details of the house.
In order to answer this question, we have to ask three questions:
1. What size of home do you need/want?
2. What is the design of the house?
3. What features will be built into the house?
The answer to these three questions can affect the price of the home equally. Let’s take a look at how these three answers will affect the price.
The question of size dramatically affects the price of the house because a 2000 sq. ft. home will likely have a kitchen, 2.5 bathrooms, three bedrooms, a garage, a deck, etc…but so will an 1800 sq. ft. home and a 2200 sq. ft. home. The kitchen and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms in the house. If you have a larger home, then you can spread the cost of these expensive rooms over more square footage and thereby bring the cost per square foot down. The opposite is true as well, if your home is smaller, but it still has all of the same rooms in it, the cost will go up per square foot. The truth is that if we made a list of all the costs in these homes (1800 sq.ft./ 2000 sq.ft./ 2200 sq.ft.), 80% of those costs will not even change with the size of the home. This means that the 1800 sq. ft. home will be significantly more per square foot to build than the 2200 sq. ft. house.
The question of design also dramatically affects the price of the home. A two storey home is less expensive to build than a one storey home because you have half as much roof and half as much foundation. A house with 10’ or 12’ ceilings is more expensive to build than a house with 8’ or 9’ ceilings. A detailed craftsman style home with a lot of decorative components is more expensive to build than a more simply designed exterior. A steeper pitch on the roof costs more than a lower slope. A covered deck and/or front entrance add cost. A three car garage is more expensive than a two car garage. A walkout basement adds cost to the home. All of these things can greatly affect the price.
The question of features carries as much weight in the final price of the home as size and design do.
On the exterior of the house you might like asphalt shingles, concrete tiles, or maybe a metal roof. This will change the roofing price by up to 4 times. The wall cladding may consist of vinyl siding, or stucco, or rock, or brick. All of these come with very different per square foot pricing. Inside the home, we may have carpet, vinyl plank, hardwood or tile. Even within each of these different products there are so many different qualities and accompanying prices. Cabinets can easily cost twice as much from one cabinet shop as from another…depending on style, design and materials. Plumbing fixtures are a really good example. One sink or faucet might cost $300 and another could be $3,000…and there isn’t always a lot of difference between the two. All of these decisions come together to greatly affect the “per square foot price” of a home.
Having said all of this, as a Custom Home Builder, we realize that it is important to have some idea of cost before you spend money on drawing plans. To help with this, we can ask you a bunch of questions regarding size, design and features that you might like in a house and then come up with a “ballpark price”. This will be an educated guess as to what your new home might cost, based on homes that we have built in the last couple of years. If the ballpark price is within the range that you are looking to spend on a home, then the next steps would be to draw the plan, write a spec sheet and price the house exactly the way that you would like it built. At this point, we can give you a fixed price to build your home and this price will change only if you add or delete something from the plans and specification sheet.