How Much Does It Cost to Build a Cottage?

Average range: $175,000 - $350,000
Average Cost
(1,500 sq.ft. cottage with a slab foundation, wood and stone exterior, and 1½ stories)

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Reviewed by Sophia Fennessy. Written by

The word cottage is synonymous with cozy living, vacations, and rural settings. Cottages have a long and varied history. They were often created as small laborers' homes, built from materials found on the land within a small radius. Eventually, they became synonymous with any small, cozy dwelling, usually located in a rural or vacation setting. Today, the term most frequently used is cottage-style to describe a small, cozy home with amenities designed for comfortable living.

There is no one cottage size or architectural style. This means there can be a wide range of costs associated with building a cottage. The national average cost to build a cottage is $175,000 to $350,000, with most paying around $260,000 for a 1,500 sq.ft. cottage with a slab foundation, wood and stone exterior, and 1½ stories. This project’s low cost is $120,000 for an 800 sq.ft. prefab cottage with a slab foundation and wood shingle exterior. The high cost is $500,000 for a 2,000 sq.ft. 2-story cottage with a full basement, stone exterior, and luxury materials.

Cost to Build a Cottage

Cottage Construction Costs
National average cost$260,000
Average range$175,000-$350,000
Minimum cost$120,000
Maximum cost$500,000

Build Cottage Cost by Project Range

800 sq.ft. prefab cottage with a slab foundation and wood shingle exterior
Average Cost
1,500 sq.ft. cottage with a slab foundation, wood and stone exterior, and 1½ stories
2,000 sq.ft. 2-story cottage with a full basement, stone exterior, and luxury materials

Cottage Prices by Type of Construction

Cottages are typically built in two ways. The first is a traditional stick build or custom build. In this case, the cottage is built using plans on-site, with the homeowners and contractor making choices for the finished design. The second method is a prefab or modular cottage. This is usually based on a set of readymade plans and built off-site before traveling to the final location. Prefab cottages are less expensive and faster to build but may not offer much room for customization.

Cost per Sq.Ft. to Build a Prefab or Custom Cottage

Cost per Sq.Ft. to Build a Prefab or Custom Cottage

Construction TypeCottage Costs per Sq.Ft. (Labor Included)
Prefab$125 - $175
Custom$150 - $250

Prefab Cottages Prices

Prefab cottages cost between $125 and $175 a square foot. Prefab and modular cottages are a faster and more economical method. Typically, you pick from different packages that let you choose the features of the finished cottage. The cottage is built off-site in one or more pieces. It is then transported to the final location, and the pieces are assembled on the foundation. Because everything is built indoors, there are fewer weather delays or other constraints that could cause issues.

Custom Cottage Prices

The cost of a custom-built cottage is $150 to $250 a square foot. These cottages range from choosing a layout or plan and customizing the materials to drawing a completely new set of plans. This cottage gives you complete control over every aspect. The cottage is built on-site using traditional building methods. Typically, you are more involved with the process in this build. It also takes longer than a prefab, but the results are often more personalized.

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Cost to Build a Cottage by Size

Traditionally, cottages have always been smaller than the average home size. However, as the average home size in the U.S. has increased, so has the size of the average cottage. There is no one size you can find or build a cottage in. It is assumed that most cottages fall between 1,000 and 2,000 sq.ft., but many can be smaller. The cottage’s size directly influences overall costs, with larger cottages costing more in material and labor than smaller cottages. Below are common cottage sizes and their average costs to build.

Cost to Build a 600, 800, 1,000, 1,500, or 2,000 Sq.Ft. Cottage

Cost to Build a 600, 800, 1,000, 1,500, or 2,000 Sq.Ft. Cottage

SizeAverage Cottage Costs (Labor Included)
600 sq.ft.$75,000 - $150,000
800 sq.ft.$100,000 - $200,000
1,000 sq.ft.$125,000 - $250,000
1,500 sq.ft.$187,500 - $375,000
2,000 sq.ft.$250,000 - $500,000

Cost to Build a Small Cottage

The cost to build a small cottage ranges from $75,000 to $250,000, depending on the size and materials. A small cottage is usually defined as 1,000 sq.ft. or smaller. Most small cottages typically fall between 400 sq.ft. and 1,000 sq.ft. Most are one story or 1½ stories with slab foundations, but not all fall into these categories. This means small cottages have a range of styles, heights, sizes, and attributes, creating a wide range of costs.

Cottage Construction Cost Breakdown

Regardless of your cottage’s size and how it is built, most cottages have a similar build process. They go through a planning stage, followed by site preparation, foundation pouring, framing, utility and HVAC work, and finishing work for the exterior and interior. The following breaks the costs down for the average 1,000 sq.ft. cottage. Your costs may be different if your cottage is larger or smaller.

Cottage Construction Cost Breakdown: Pre-Construction Planning, Site Preparation, Foundation, Framing, Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC...

Cottage Construction Cost Breakdown: Pre-Construction Planning, Site Preparation, Foundation, Framing, Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC...

ProjectAverage Cost (Labor Included)
Pre-Construction Planning$1,400 - $5,000
Site Preparation$1,600 - $8,000
Foundation$5,000 - $9,000
Framing$9,000 - $22,000
Plumbing, Electrical, and HVAC$21,000 - $30,000
Exterior Work$30,000 - $70,000
Interior Work$57,000 - $106,000


Plans and pre-construction planning for cottages cost between $1,400 and $5,000. Cottages may be small or designed to be occupied only part of the year, but the construction process is carried out exactly as it would be for any other house. During the pre-construction planning phase, you work with an architect or builder to finalize the plans. Depending on the site, you may also consult with a structural engineer about the soil and foundation type. You may use readymade plans or draw custom plans. The site, materials, and layout impact your final costs for this stage.

Site Preparation

Site preparation costs start at around $1,600 to $8,000, depending on the land condition. Prep work for building a cottage is similar to what you would expect when constructing a year-round home. If the site is not already prepared, the ground must be prepped. This may involve cutting trees and removing stumps. You also need to set up temporary electricity and arrange for building permits. Excavation and preparation for the foundation are also done to ensure the cottage is on level ground.

Cottage Foundation

A slab foundation 1 for a 1,000 sq.ft. cottage costs $5,000 to $9,000 to complete. Every new build begins with the foundation, which takes the weight of the building above it. It is responsible for ensuring the building is structurally sound.

Most cottages are built on a slab foundation, but you can also have a crawl space or full basement. The foundation type is partially determined by your cottage’s location. Many cottages are built near bodies of water and in rural areas, making slab foundations the most practical. However, a full basement foundation may be possible and beneficial for urban and suburban cottages.


The cost to frame a cottage is $9,000 to $22,000. Cottages are built of nearly any material, making them unique. Concrete forms, metal, wood, sod, and earth are typical building materials used in constructing a cottage. However, wood-frame homes are probably the most common.

The rough framing is completed first. The cottage skeleton includes the interior and exterior walls, the roof, and the beginnings of the floors. Regardless of what the home is finished with, this frame must go up first to support the final structure.

Rough Plumbing, Electrical, and HVAC

The cost to install your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC in a new cottage averages $21,000 to $30,000. After the framing is complete, your cottage has its rough plumbing, electrical, and HVAC work done before the finish materials are installed. This involves running pipes and plumbing through the entire home, wiring each room, roughing out outlets and switches, and doing the roughing in for electrical and plumbing fixtures. At this stage, ducts can be run for forced hot air and central air conditioning, or pipes can be run for a boiler system. If you choose to add a fireplace to your cottage, plan on an additional cost of $4,500 to $15,000.

Exterior Work

Full exterior finish work ranges from $30,000 to $70,000. Completing the home’s exterior includes first insulating and wrapping the sheathing to create a tight building envelope. After this, the final exterior finish materials are installed. Cottages can be clad in wood siding, stucco, fiber cement, brick, or log siding. The roofing can be asphalt shingles but may be thatched, slate, or cedar shingles, with many homeowners choosing metal roofing for durability.

Your exterior work also includes the windows, doors, porches, balconies, porticos, and other features you add.

Interior Work

The average cost of finishing the interior of a cottage is $57,000 to $106,000. Completing the interior involves installing insulation, drywall, flooring, finished ceilings, and the finish work. This work includes moldings, trim, doors, windowsills, cabinetry, closets, painting, and appliances.

Like any home, cottages can be finished with any materials or style, depending on personal tastes, layouts, and architecture.

Interior finish work varies enormously in cost, depending on the number of walls, flooring type, and kitchen style.

Backyard Cottage Cost

If you have the space on your property and are zoned for the structure, you can build a cottage in your backyard. These can be used as guesthouses or in-law apartments, depending on where you live and the zoning laws. Most backyard cottages are under 600 sq.ft., but you can build larger if you have the space. They have the same costs per foot as other cottages and have costs starting at around $75,000. You can also build a tiny cottage on your property for closer to $40,000 to $50,000.

Cottage-Style House With a Chimney, Green Front Yard and Two White Vinyl Fences

Cottage vs Cabin

Cottages and cabins are two home types that do not have a specific architecture. The terms are often used interchangeably. Location, building material, and finished appearance usually set them apart, with cabins being more rustic and cottages being cozier. Otherwise, they have similar costs to build, with most companies specializing in one often quoting costs for the other. Whether you call your small home a cabin or cottage may be determined by where it is built and the final appearance.

Comparison of the Cost to Build a Cottage and a Cabin

Comparison of the Cost to Build a Cottage and a Cabin

ProjectAverage Cost (Labor Included)
Cottage$175,000 - $350,000
Cabin$175,000 - $350,000

Cottage vs House

Cottages are a type of house. They tend to be smaller than the average house and may be more frequently found in rural areas, but they share building codes, parameters, and techniques. Because cottages are smaller, they cost less to build. They are also more likely to have slab foundations than full basements and less likely to have garages and other outbuildings, which would increase the cost of the property and project. However, their overall cost to build does not differ tremendously from the average home.

Comparison of the Cost to Build a Cottage and a House

Comparison of the Cost to Build a Cottage and a House

ProjectAverage Cost (Labor Included)
Cottage$175,000 - $350,000
House$240,000 - $710,000

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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Cost to Build a Dock

If your cottage is located next to the water, you may want to think about adding a dock. Since many cottages are built in rural locations, it is common to find them on lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. Building a dock 2 can help make the most out of your cottage’s location. Costs to build a dock range from $7,000 to $25,000.

Off-Grid Cottage

When building in a truly remote area, you may want to ensure your cottage can be off-grid. This means your cottage does not depend on the local utilities but is self-supporting. The cost to install an off-grid solar system averages $30,000 to $60,000.


You should landscape the area around your new cottage because construction typically disturbs the existing landscaping. Landscaping costs vary depending on what you plan to do and how much space you have. Average landscaping ranges from $8,000 to $15,000.

Waste Disposal

Your waste disposal options for your cottage vary depending on location, city ordinances, and your needs. Outhouses and composting 3 toilets are options for small cottages in rural areas. If your cottage is beside the water and cannot be hooked up to a sewer system, you need a holding tank, which must be regularly pumped. Septic tanks are also an option for those who cannot connect to a sewage system. These systems range in cost from $5,000 to $40,000, depending on your needs and the number of users.

Front and Back Porches

Porches are popular additions to many homes because it increases the outdoor living space. A porch enhances your cottage’s appearance as well. Many cottages have porticos and other small porches, while others are large enough to support a full-sized porch. The average cost to build a porch is $12,000 to $30,000.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Location. Your cottage’s location influences the foundation type you need. For example, building beside water requires considering the water table and soil conditions. Because many cottages are in rural areas, it is common to have a slab foundation.
  • Remote locations. If your cottage is located in a remote or rural area, shipping or trucking materials and equipment may cost more. Some utilities may not be available, such as natural gas. In this case, other arrangements must be made.
  • Blasting. Blasting for foundations or septic systems can be very expensive, increasing your project’s cost.
  • Zoning and codes. Check local zoning, ordinances, and building codes before starting construction. Some areas have restrictions or codes for mitigating seismic activity, high winds, or floods, impacting your project. Speak to your builder if you are unsure if these may impact your home.
  • Seasonal use. If your cottage is designed to be seasonal, some areas may exempt your building from certain codes. Seasonal homes may also not have as many utilities or as much insulation, which can lower costs.
  • Materials. You can choose many materials for your cottage. Better-quality materials last longer but cost more upfront than lower-quality materials.
  • Permit. Like any major construction project, a cottage build requires a permit. This is applied for after the plans have been drawn but before construction begins.
  • Private roads. Some roads in rural areas may be privately owned. Find out who owns and maintains your road and what your associated costs may be. These roads may also be narrow, making delivering materials difficult.
  • Insurance. All cottages require homeowner’s insurance. Your policy is affected by wood stoves, fireplaces, boats, water, waste systems, and location.


  • What is the difference between a cottage and a cabin?

There is not a large difference, and many use the terms interchangeably. At a rough difference, one could say a cottage is cozier, and cabins are more rustic.

  • What defines cottage-style?

There is no cottage-style when it comes to architecture, meaning elements from different buildings can be combined. However, cottages tend to be small and have details or styles that make them cozy or eclectic.​ It is also common for them to have 1 to 1½ stories, with low roofs and lots of interior detail.

  • How much does a small cottage cost to build?

Cottages cost between $125 and $250 a square foot to build, so a 600 sq.ft. cottage has starting costs of around $75,000.

  • What material are cottages made of?

Cottages can be made of any material that another house may be built from, plus more. Most cottages are wood-framed but can be built from logs, sod, hemp, concrete blocks, and other materials.

  • What is the average size of a cottage?

There is no one average size for a cottage. Cottages are simply described as being smaller than the average home, between 1,000 and 2,000 sq.ft.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Slab Foundation 1 Slab foundation: A layer of concrete, poured over a prepared surface of soil or gravel, that supports a house or other building structure
glossary term picture Docking Station 2 Dock: A device to which a portable device, such as a cordless phone, laptop, or mobile phone can be connected to charge its battery
3 Composting: A natural substance derived from plant, animal, or mineral matter that is added to soil in order to make it more fertile

Cost to build a cottage varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources