Build Single-Family House Cost

How much does it cost to build a single-family house?

What does it cost to build a single-family house? This all depends on many factors. If we look at the current "average" home we would have a good base upon which to build this discussion. According to the 2008 U.S. Census the size of the average home was approximately 2,520 square feet, which assumes a two-story structure with a "footprint" of approximately 24'x50'.

The building of such a home is never viewed in terms of a "DIY" project and usually requires a knowledgeable contractor, an architect, a team of subcontractors, and cooperative homeowners to get the job done in under a calendar year.

For the building of a single family home, the typical costs include:

  • According to the Craftsman Book Company a home as described above, with mid-range materials, a normal foundation with full basement, efficient doors and windows, all appliances, and "turnkey" finishing would run at an average of $295,000 to complete. This does not include acquisition of the acreage or any furnishings.
  • The above figures place this construction at a $117 per square foot cost, though national average stands at $125. This pricing structure assumes that carpenters, masons and excavators charge an average of $70 per hour, electricians between $65 to $85 per hour, painters between $20 and $35 per hour and plumbers between $45 and $65 per hour.
  • This home has $146,454 in materials, $144,819 in labor, and also works in a budget of roughly $5200 for machine costs as well.

Cost breakout

What is included:

The basic structure of this house is uncomplicated and it uses the "four square" design. If the owners wanted something more decorative or customized, costs climb substantially. Most homeowners rely on both an architect and a contractor, and the architect will require approximately 10 - 17% of the total building budget;

  • An architect will:
    • Determine the scope of the project and review the client's needs and wishes. Establish a preliminary budget;
    • Draft list of proposed work, budget, and outline of plans;
    • Create the schematic design and draft floor plans with elevation drawings. Then work with any structural engineers and meet with planning agencies to verify any requirements;
    • Finalize drawings and incorporate all details about materials and finishes, any fixtures or equipment, and all systems in the structure;
    • Serve as the project manager and review the plans with any required local agencies while also obtaining necessary permits. (If contractors are to be used it is at this point that they must be selected);
    • Serve in an advisory capacity to select contractor and help the client through the bid review process as well;
    • Complete construction documents, obtain the building permit;
    • Administer the construction, ensure that contractor's requests for payments are accurate and that all "final" details are corrected or finished by the contractor; and
    • Based on figures given the architect on this project would receive from $29,649 to $50,404 for their services.
  • A contractor will:
    • Provide the services and materials required for the entire job;
    • Hire subcontractors according to need;
    • Suggest plans and ideas to homeowners to help them meet goals;
    • Deliver final cleanup of entire home;
    • Pull all permits for work and utility installation;
    • For doing all of the day to day management of the project the average contractor earns around $85 per square foot. They might also "mark up" supplies and services as well. For example, on the average home construction described here the contractor would account for roughly $40,000 in markup and indirect fees.
  • A general home construction project will cover:
    • Bath fixtures
    • Built In Appliances
    • Cabinets
    • Carpeting
    • Countertops
    • Doors
    • Excavation
    • Exterior Finish
    • Exterior Trim
    • Final Cleanup
    • Finish Carpentry
    • Finish Hardware
    • Fireplace and Chimney
    • Flooring
    • Foundation, Piers, Flatwork
    • Garage Door
    • Heating and Cooling Systems
    • Insulation
    • Insurance
    • Interior Wall Finish
    • Lighting Fixtures
    • Painting
    • Permits & Utilities
    • Plans & Specs
    • Plumbing Fixtures
    • Plumbing Rough-in and Connection
    • Roofing, Flashing, Fascia
    • Rough Carpentry
    • Rough Hardware
    • Unit Heating and Cooling
    • Windows
    • Wiring
    • and more