How much does it cost to build a house in Massachusetts?
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Build a House in Massachusetts Cost Guide
Updated: October 26, 2022
Massachusetts is one of the oldest states in the nation, with a rich history and diverse population. The state boasts the oldest home in the country still standing and some of the best educational districts in the nation. Whether you prefer the city, rural living, or suburbs, the state offers some of everything. Massachusetts also boasts some of the highest building costs in the nation, with home costs above the national average.
The state average cost to build a new home in Massachusetts is $500,000 to $750,000, with most people spending $650,000 for a 2,500 sq.ft. semi-custom modern colonial home with good-quality materials built using traditional methods. This project’s low cost is $150,000 for a 1,500 sq.ft. Cape Cod using modular technology with average-quality materials. The high cost is $1,800,000 for a 3,000 sq.ft. fully custom three-story colonial with dormer windows and high-quality materials built using traditional methods.
Cost to Build a House in Massachusetts
|Average Cost to Build a House in Massachusetts|
|National average cost||$650,000|
Average Cost of Building a House in MA by Type
Homes in Massachusetts can be built using two methods. The first is the most traditional form, called stick-building, where your home is built on the site. This method is more expensive and takes longer but allows for flexibility, with the ability to change things as the project progresses. However, many homeowners turn to modular building due to the high cost of building in Mass. Modular building constructs most of the home off-site in a controlled environment, and then transports it to the jobsite for final construction and finishing. This makes the project faster and less expensive, but you cannot make changes once construction begins. Modular homes are generally constructed with more material than stick-built homes, making them very durable.
Both methods are equally common in the state. The closer you are to Boston and other big cities, the more common modular building becomes as the cost of building rises. The farther west you are, the more common stick-building becomes because there are fewer modular buildings in this part. Both methods allow you to use a readymade plan or have a custom or semi-custom home built. This means both methods have a wide range of costs, depending on the plan, materials, and home. Custom homes of both methods are more expensive than non-custom homes. Below are the average costs per square foot to build a home in Massachusetts using both methods.
|Type||Cost per Sq.Ft. (Labor Included)|
|Modular||$100 - $300|
|Stick-Built||$200 - $600|
Cost per Square Foot to Build a House in Massachusetts
There is a range of costs associated with building a home in Massachusetts, depending on the construction type, whether the home is custom, and building materials. The total cost range per square foot is $100 to $600, with most spending $260 per sq.ft. in the state. Prefab modular homes can be built for $100 per sq.ft., while fully custom stick-built homes using high-end materials are as much as $600 per sq.ft.
New homes in Massachusetts average 2,000 to 3,000 sq.ft. However, a smaller home may be the right fit in many parts of the state. The state has many ranches, Cape Cods, and gambrels that are only 1,000 to 1,500 sq.ft. Some people in the state are opting for smaller custom homes rather than larger standard homes because of the high building costs. Below are the average costs to build a home in Massachusetts based on the size using modular and stick-building techniques.
|Size||Cost to Build (Modular)||Cost to Build (Stick-Built)|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$100K - $300K||$200K - $600K|
|1,200 sq.ft.||$120K - $360K||$240K - $720K|
|1,500 sq.ft.||$150K - $450K||$300K - $900K|
|1,800 sq.ft.||$180K - $540K||$360K - $1.08M|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$200K - $600K||$400K - $1.2M|
|2,500 sq.ft.||$250K - $750K||$500K - $1.5M|
|2,700 sq.ft.||$270K- $810K||$540K - $1.62M|
|3,000 sq.ft.||$300K - $900K||$600K - $1.8M|
|3,500 sq.ft.||$350K - $1.05M||$700K - $2.1M|
|4,000 sq.ft.||$400K - $1.2M||$800K - $2.4M|
Cost to Build a Home in Massachusetts by Number of Bedrooms
Most new homes built in Massachusetts have three to four bedrooms. However, many homes are built with two bedrooms in the state. Single-bedroom homes in Massachusetts are less common but can be found, particularly in small urban homes and rustic cabins.
While homes of many sizes can have varying numbers of bedrooms, it is common that larger homes have more bedrooms than smaller homes. However, there can be much overlap in sizes, depending on the layout and how the space is used. This can lead to overlapping costs. Below are the average costs to build a home in Massachusetts by the number of bedrooms using both building methods.
|Number of Bedrooms||Cost to Build (Modular)||Cost to Build (Stick-Built)|
|1 Bedroom||$100K - $360K||$200K - $720K|
|2 Bedrooms||$150K - $540K||$300K - $1.08M|
|3 Bedrooms||$200K - $900K||$400K - $1.8M|
|4 Bedrooms||$300K - $1.2M||$600K - $2.4M|
Average Cost of Building a House in MA by Number of Stories
Most homes built today in Massachusetts have two stories. However, ranches are a popular home style in the state, and most only have one story, but some large Federal colonials have three stories. The larger the home, the more likely it is to have two or three stories. This is because the cost to build tends to be higher for homes with larger footprints than for homes with smaller footprints because the foundation and roof are two of the highest costs. This means a 2,000 sq.ft. single-story home and a 2,000 sq.ft. two-story home have different building costs, with the single-story home costing more. Most people who want more square footage build up rather than out, so most single-story homes have a lower cost than two or three-story homes because they are smaller. Below are the average costs to build homes of one, two, or three stories in Massachusetts, using both building methods.
|Number of Stories||Cost to Build (Modular)||Cost to Build (Stick-Built)|
|1 Story||$100K - $450K||$200K - $900K|
|2 Stories||$150K - $810K||$300K - $1.62M|
|3 Stories||$300K - $1.2M||$600K - $2.4M|
Building a House in Massachusetts Cost by Style
There are many popular home styles in Massachusetts. The most popular within the state is the colonial. The colonial was introduced to the state centuries ago, and all variations, from Dutch to Federal, have remained popular ever since. The modern colonial is currently the most common home in the state. However, other homes can be found throughout the commonwealth, including Capes, ranches, bungalows, Victorians, and gambrels. Split-level homes are also popular because they can be built partially into a hill or underground, so hilly terrain is not an issue. You may see some contemporary homes if you live near Boston or out west, and you can find beach homes on the Cape or the South Shore near Cochituate, Hull, and Situate. Tiny homes can be found in some parts of the state, particularly in the western region. Each home has costs to build, depending on the size, layout, and level of detail. For example, Victorians tend to be more expensive because they have gingerbread and other details, while Capes and ranches are plainer. Below are the average costs to build each home style in Massachusetts using both building methods, based on the average size of each style.
|Style||Cost to Build (Modular)||Cost to Build (Stick-Built)|
|Tiny House||$15K - $30K||$30K - $90K|
|Bungalow||$100K - $450K||$200K - $900K|
|Ranch||$150K - $600K||$300K - $1.2M|
|Gambrel||$150K - $600K||$300K - $1.2M|
|Cape Cod||$150K - $600K||$300K - $1.2M|
|Split-Level||$150K - $600K||$300K - $1.2M|
|Contemporary||$150K - $1.05M||$300K - $1.2M|
|Beach House||$150K - $1.05M||$300K - $1.2M|
|Victorian||$200K - $1.05M||$400K - $2.1M|
|Colonial||$200K - $1.05M||$400K - $2.1M|
Home Building Cost Breakdown (Massachusetts)
Building a home is a big undertaking. Each new home needs several components to come together before, during, and after construction to complete the job. This is also true in Massachusetts, where building codes tend to be slightly stricter than in surrounding states. Because of added costs for permits, inspections, and the requirements of certain materials to be used on all homes, you may see different cost breakdowns for homes in this state than the national average. Every home may be slightly different in material, style, and construction, so your costs to build a home can vary overall and within each category.
While every home is different, most require certain steps and areas of construction. This begins with the prep work, including permits, land clearing, and drawings, moves onto the foundation, framing, roofing, major system installations, such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC, and exterior and interior finishing. Below are the average costs entailed in building a 2,500 sq.ft. home in Massachusetts using stick-building methods. Because modular homes are built differently, they have different costs.
|Category||Average Cost (Labor Included)|
|Prep Work||$20,000 - $30,000|
|Exterior Finishing||$40,000 - $60,000|
|Foundation||$45,000 - $67,500|
|Roofing||$50,000 - $75,000|
|Major Systems Installations||$105,000 - $157,500|
|Interior Finishing||$115,000 - $172,500|
|Framing||$125,000 - $187,500|
Labor Cost to Build a House in Massachusetts
Many professionals may work on your home during the building process. In most cases, you work with a builder, architect, or design-build firm to start your project. From there, the person or firm may manage the project, or you can hire a general contractor for the job. Whoever oversees the project is responsible for hiring the various professionals who do most of the labor. The project costs vary depending on the rate each professional charges for the job. Labor costs vary depending on the home style, detail, workforce, and materials. Some materials may be more costly and difficult to work with than others, increasing your labor costs.
Location can also change your project costs. In some high-end neighborhoods like Wellesley and Weston and areas like the Back Bay in Boston, labor costs may be higher than in other areas. As such, most professionals have a cost range they charge for the work. In addition, your general contractor or builder generally gets an additional 10% to 20% of the total cost as their fee for overseeing the build. Below are the average hourly costs of most professionals who may work on your home in Massachusetts.
|Professional||Labor Cost per Hour|
|Flooring Installers||$15 - $30|
|Roofers||$20 - $40|
|Painters||$25 - $50|
|Concrete Workers / Brick Layers||$40 - $60|
|Landscapers||$50 - $150|
|General Contractors||$50 - $170|
|Plumbers||$50 - $200|
|Carpenters||$70 - $90|
|HVAC Technicians||$100 - $200|
|Architects||$125 - $250|
|Structural Engineers||$145 - $200|
|Electricians||$200 - $300|
How Much Are Building Permits in Massachusetts?
Building permits in Massachusetts range in cost due to several things, including the city or town and the average cost of your building. The average permit cost for residential construction is $15 for every $1,000 of construction cost. Because there are hard and soft costs involved in building a home, your permit fees may not be based on the total amount. Instead, they may be based on hard construction costs. Speak to your local municipality for more information if you are unsure.
Building vs Buying a Home in Massachusetts
Real estate is fairly hot in Massachusetts, with many people buying and building new homes. The cost of real estate in Massachusetts is high, like it is everywhere. Right now, building a new home is slightly less expensive than purchasing an existing home in Massachusetts. However, there are many other things to consider.
Purchasing a home is faster than building. You may also have more choices for location because not every town or area has suitable building lots. Those that may be suitable may already have properties that must be demoed and removed.
However, building allows you to customize the home to your needs. So, this can be an advantage if you have the time to build and no homes on the market match your needs.
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
It is common when building a new home to involve an interior designer. Interior designers are common in Massachusetts and often work with builders and homeowners to determine the right materials. Interior designers can work with your architect or builder to ensure your layout maximizes the space you have. They can also help you decorate and furnish the home after it is built. The average cost to hire an interior designer is $50 to $450 per hour.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Shipping container homes. Another alternative to building a traditional home in Massachusetts is to build a container home. These use shipping containers as the shell, which you can finish. They cost around $105 per sq.ft.
- Demo fees. If there is an existing property on the land you are building on, you may need to have it torn down. The cost of demolition averages $10,000.
- Inspection. Every new home is subject to an inspection before occupancy can be granted. The inspection is triggered when the permits are pulled. Inspections in Massachusetts can be exacting, and it is not uncommon for some changes to be made before occupancy can be granted.
- Contingencies. Ensure you have a contingency fund of roughly 20% of the total cost to build. This helps ensure you do not need to slow down or stop the project if anything happens during the build to change the design or cost.
- Material shortages. Supply chain and labor shortages are ongoing across the country. These can lead to delays and volatile prices for your project. Try to lock in costs early in the process to help avoid delays.
- Can I legally build my own house in Massachusetts?
You can legally build your own home in Massachusetts. However, you must complete the long-form permit and submit to an inspection. Massachusetts has some of the toughest building codes in the country, and if you are unsure of the materials and conditions needed to meet them, your home will not be granted occupancy when complete.
- What is the minimum square footage for a house in Massachusetts?
The minimum square footage for a house in Massachusetts is 150 sq.ft., and at least 1 room must be fully habitable and meet all state building and occupancy codes.
- How long does it take to get a building permit in Massachusetts?
The permit is issued in 30 days or less if your application is complete and all prerequisites are done.
- How much does it cost to frame a house in Massachusetts?
Framing costs for a house in Massachusetts average 14% to 25% of your total project costs, depending on whether the roof and flooring are included or just the walls and materials. Given that costs for conventional building in Massachusetts range from $200 to $600 a sq.ft., framing costs vary greatly.