Cost To Build A House

Are you debating whether you should build or buy a home? Find out more about house building costs to help you decide.

If you need a new home, you have two basic options. You can buy one that already exists, or you can build a new one. Both options have certain pros and cons. For example, when you purchase an existing home you can move in quickly. Building a home from scratch takes a certain amount of time. Yet, it is often advantageous because you can design the home exactly the way you want.

When considering building a house from scratch, there are many things to think about. What materials should you use? Should you do the construction yourself or hire laborers? How much can you expect to spend? Those are all good questions. You need to make sure building your new home does not break your budget. It is also important to have enough construction knowledge to either perform the work yourself or closely advise the design and construction crews. Here are some answers to those questions, as well as other things to consider about new home construction.

What is the Average Cost to Build a House or Buy One in the United States?

According to 2022 U.S. Census Bureau data, the average cost to purchase an existing new home in the United States is $496,900. Also using 2022 data, the popular website HomeAdvisor estimated the average cost of building one at $282,080. At a glance, that seems like a significant savings. However, there are many steps that go into new home construction. It is important to understand each component. The total cost to you could easily wind up much higher than the national average.

Another way to look at the average cost to build a house is to estimate it based on square footage. On average, it costs between $100 and $200 per square foot to construct a U.S. home. Therefore, a 1,500 square foot home costs an average of $150,000 to $300,000. However, that is only an estimate. Costs per square foot increase when modern amenities and conveniences are incorporated. Those costs are also often affected by the ways in which homes are constructed and the materials used.

What Materials Are Needed to Build a House?

There are many modern ways to construct a house. The type of home you want greatly influences the materials you need. For example, construction of a log home primarily requires wood. Other homes also use a lot of wood because it has useful properties. For example, it does not conduct electricity. When properly treated, it can also resist fire damage. Another advantage of wood is it provides sound insulation, dulling noise from busy roadways or other outside distractions. Also, wood is readily available and affordable. However, most homes require multiple materials to construct. Along with wood, you may also need one or more other building materials. Here are some options and their primary properties:

  • Glass – Glass is commonly used in construction for its beauty, as well as its functionality. It helps let light into homes. Glass also often improves home energy efficiency.

  • Concrete – Concrete is a construction powerhouse. It is often used in commercial and residential construction. During the latter, it is most often used to create foundations due to its longevity and ability to support weight. Although, it has many other potential uses in home construction as well.

  • Metal – One of the biggest advantages of metal in home construction is its waterproof nature. Metal is also a long-lasting material. Although, it can eventually rust and require replacement.

  • Plastic – Plastic is an inexpensive construction material. It is also highly versatile because you can mold it into any desired shape. Additionally, it is impervious to water. That is why vinyl siding, which is a type of plastic, is popular on many homes.

  • Brick/Clay – Bricks and clay blocks are often used in home construction. Sometimes home facades are covered in brick. Often, clay or brick is also used to form patios or other external features of a home. In fact, they are ideal for outdoor walkways because they are resistant to extreme cold or heat.

What is the Average Cost of Common House Building Materials?

When selecting construction materials for a home, you must consider the costs involved. However, those costs are sometimes difficult to guess. For instance, wood for home framing often costs $3 to $6 for each square foot. However, lumber prices are subject to frequent changes. The costs also depend on the types of wood used. 

Glass is another common construction material that varies widely in terms of cost. The cost of glass used in home construction depends on the type of glass and its use, as well as the sizes of the glass sheets required. For example, a standard window may cost less than $300, while a large bay window costs an average of $2000. Here are some estimates for average costs of other common construction materials per square foot:

  • Concrete – $4 to $8

  • Metal – $10 to $18 (For Metal Roofing)

  • Plastic/Vinyl – $6 to $11

  • Brick/Clay – $5 to $15 (For Basic Projects Like Siding – Potentially More for Walls and Elaborate Structures)

How Do Labor Costs Compare to Do-it-Yourself House Building Costs?

You must also decide if you want to hire laborers or take on building your home as a DIY project. An average of approximately 39 percent of the cost of building a home is usually spent on labor. Those costs skyrocket when extremely technical projects requiring a lot of expertise are involved. Therefore, it is easy to see how you can save some money by doing at least part of the construction yourself. However, you do need to keep points like the following in mind:

  • You need proper knowledge and skills to build a safe home.

  • Even if you do basic construction, you may need specialist laborers for some projects, such as electrical work.

  • Building a home as a DIY project typically takes much longer than hiring a professional construction team.

  • You may need to partially spend costs saved on labor to pay for off-site housing during the potentially lengthy construction process.

What Other Factors Influence the Cost to Build a House?

Before you decide to build your own home, consider some final influencing factors. For example, site choice can cause costs to rise, especially if you have issues like bad soil, old pipes, or difficult weather conditions. Delays in receiving materials and other unforeseen factors can also cause expensive timetable extensions. Prepare for those and other issues to make sure your home construction project is a success.