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Home Build prep guide



How to Determine Cost to Build a House

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Carrie Barker


One of my blog readers recently asked me, “is there a way to find out what the average construction cost per sq ft would be?” I’ll share my answer below about how to determine the cost to build a house but first, it’s important to note that there are MANY variables that come into play when it comes to determining home build costs.

You can find general estimates and other general indicators, but there is only ONE way to get accurate information that is exact and specific to your situation (especially during the craziness of 2022).

Welcome back to the Before You Build Podcast! I’m your host, Carrie Barker (a.k.a. Caroline on Design), and today in episode 5, I’m going to share with you the best (and only) way to determine the cost to build YOUR house! That’s right …we’ll talk about your house specifically and not just the cost to build a house in general.


Let’s start by answering the question on many people’s minds, ‘What is the average cost to build a house?’

There are a lot of people out there (maybe even you) googling this question without realizing that the answer doesn’t paint the full picture. In fact, it barely gives you a sliver of the full picture.

This question (what is the average cost to build a house) is virtually impossible to answer.

Obviously, there are websites and online articles that offer averages for how much it costs to build a house … there are means and medians and all those stats we learned in school.

However, construction costs vary WIDELY between geographical locations … and even among builders within the same city.

The single largest variable that affects the cost to build your home is your LOCATION.

Other significant variables that affect cost are:

  • Your home build type (i.e. production vs semi-custom vs custom home)
  • The number of levels in your home (i.e. one-story vs. two-story house)
  • Your desired level of finishes (i.e. builder-grade vs. high-end custom materials)
  • Your ceiling heights 
  • And many more variables …


If all you want to know is the ‘average’ or the median to build a home in the United States (or your country), then just do a simple Google search. You’ll find a ton of (varying) information that is (honestly) impossible to apply to YOUR personal situation.

However, if you want to know how much it costs to build a house where YOU live, I recommend that you start having conversations with local builders to get an idea of how much you can expect to pay for construction costs (excluding your lot) in the city that you are building in. 

I encourage you to talk to several builders (not just one) who build the type of home you want to build.

If you want to build a custom home, talk to builders who build custom homes.

If you want to build a semi-custom or production home, talk to builders who build semi-custom or production homes.

When talking to these local builders, you need to be VERY clear with the builder about the caliber of exterior and interior finishes that you want. This is the only way to get an accurate estimate.

Once you’ve talked to several builders, compare pricing among the same types of builders (i.e. production vs semi-custom vs custom builders).

If one builder is much lower in ‘price’ than the others, you might want to steer clear of them. 

It’s possible that this is an honest mistake and the builder is simply uninformed. However, this also could be a red flag that the builder is providing an inaccurate (lower price) estimate in order to secure your business. 

Believe me, this will come back to bite you later in severe budget overages. It’s best to get a REALISTIC idea of your home cost before you ever start building. 

One word of caution … we are still living in a volatile home build market at the time of recording this episode. So you have to be realistic and understand that builder estimates aren’t going to be as exact as they were pre-pandemic. 

You’ll still be getting the closest possible estimate to build YOUR house by talking to local builders (as opposed to doing a general Google search), but do keep in mind that building a home in 2022 is full of unforeseen variables that may affect your home price. This is just an unfortunate reality of the ongoing pandemic that we’re all collectively living in.


So what are your next steps?

As I mentioned, there are MANY variables that come into play when it comes to home build costs so I can’t give you the answer about how much it will cost to build your house.

However, you now know that there is only ONE way to accurately determine the cost to build a house in YOUR location … you need to talk to local builders … lots of them!

Go ahead and start talking to local builders who build the type of home you want to build (i.e. if you want to build a custom home, talk to custom builders). This is how you get the most accurate estimate for the cost to build YOUR home.

If you found this episode helpful and would like more advice on how to prepare for a successful home build, download my free ‘Custom Home Build Prep Guide’. 

This free resource is a game-changer when it comes to preparing for a home build with less stress and more confidence. Plus, it takes away the overwhelm of ‘where to start when building’ because it gives you the five crucial steps you need to do before you ever think about breaking ground.

  1. That makes sense that the upgrades to your house would cost a lot more. I could see how that would make it important to pick and choose which upgrades you need. I’ll have to recommend that so my friend that wants to build a house so he can budget out his upgrades.

  2. Dave says:

    When planning a custom or even a semi-custom home, you’ll work closely with your custom home builder to choose features and materials that will fit within your specific budget. An experienced custom home builder will be able to find ways to bring your costs down to your budget without expecting you to make any major sacrifices.

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I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

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