General contractors help people build new homes from the ground up and can oversee the project from start to finish, from initial concepts and having professional plans drawn up to pulling permits and building. Custom-building means homeowners get to select each detail for the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, finished basement, living room, family room, dining room, master bedroom, home office, garage, outdoor spaces and any other special additions. Many factors affect the cost of new home construction. Once you’re ready to hire, check out these tips for choosing a professional before you sign a contract.
Read the video transcript.
Zip codes have the biggest impact on home construction costs. The price per square foot of land in New York City versus the rural midwest could be the difference of $1,000 per square foot.In addition, labor is more expensive in metropolitan areas. Floor professionals, painters and plumbers have to charge more to survive in metro areas than in smaller regions with a lower cost of living. All of these reasons make location one of the biggest factors in home construction costs.
Scope of project
Contractors consider the size of the home, grade of materials used (maple floors versus vinyl laminate), complexity of the design and factors such as accessibility (building on a steep hillside) to calculate a cost per square foot for a project. Each house is different, and the cost is always directly affected by geographic location. Maples Construction Co. in Maryville, Tennessee, provided three sample home construction projects as a snapshot of the cost of home construction in the Knoxville, Tennessee, region. All the example home costs include plumbing and electrical in the total price.
1,000-square-foot entry-level home: $149,000
- Two identical homes on the same divided lot for $298,000
- Four months of work
- Tear down original home on the lot
- Three bedrooms
- Three baths
- Two-car garage
- Entry-level linoleum floors and carpet throughout
- New stove, fridge, dishwasher, microwave
- Cabinets, paint and all finish work
- Hired by a developer to build both homes at the same time
1,400-square-foot comfort home: $219,000
- Spec home
- Five and one-half months of work: Two men on main crew, with about 15 subcontractors
- Three bedrooms
- Two baths
- Two-car oversized garage
- 12-foot ceilings, high-end fixtures and all finish work
- All interior and exterior paint
- Small back patio and small front porch
1,700-square-foot green home: $240,000
- Energy Star spec home with upscale finishes
- Five and one-half months of work: Two men on main crew, with 20 subcontractors
- Four bedrooms (plus a bonus room over the garage)
- Three full baths
- Two-car garage
- Walkout deck on top floor of master bedroom
- Energy Star rating required special sheetrock and window installations
- Stainless-steel appliances, including oven, stove and convection microwave
- All flooring, paint and finishing complete
In general, the bigger the house, the more it will cost. A larger home means more materials, labor and time. In the Marysville, Tennessee, region, the average cost per square foot to build a home ranges from $100 per square foot to $200 per square foot, depending on the materials and additions.
The type of flooring, tiles, windows, cabinets, lighting and countertops directly affects the total cost of constructing a new home. For example, handpainted tiles for a back patio and imported marble for bathroom counters will cost much more than the entry-level options from a hardware store. A smaller home in an affordable part of the country can still be quite expensive if it’s built with top-of-the-line materials.
Hot tubs, custom-built steam rooms, home theaters, radiant heat flooring—all these add-ons and unique touches increase the total cost of a new home. They require special expertise on the part of the builder, special materials and additional time to install.
Maples Construction Co. can build a new home in two to three months—if everything goes well. Summer projects usually take longer because there are only so many people to do all the work, such as flooring and painting. Planning ahead is smart because it can be four to five months after first contracting a builder before they can get all of the subcontractors lined up and be ready to start work.
- If the price a contractor quotes you is too good to be true, then it’s probably too good to be true.
- Be sure the contractor has good communication, that you have agreed on a good timeline, and that you’ve signed a contract with everything clearly outlined.
- Make sure the contractor has a surety bond that can kick in to cover the cost of your project if the company goes under as a business.
- Make sure the contractor has general liability and workers comp insurance, as well as good references.
"A lot of times, anybody that’s remodeling or doing any major improvement in their home doesn’t know what to expect. They really don’t. They don’t know where to start.
I’ll pretend like it’s my home. “If this were my home and this is what I wanted to do, this is how I would start.” And then I give them scenarios why they might be over budget or under budget. You kind of add or subtract products that may not fit into their budget.
And then you give them a realistic timeline of how long it’s going to take.
Do your research before you call a contractor. Don’t go with the first quote. Get three. I always insist, even if I’m the first person they called. Because at least they know I’m either competitive, way out there, or way cheap and approach me intelligently rather than just saying well go with me or say you’re too expensive. Based on what? I’m the only one who gave you a quote, right? It’s always good to have three quotes.
My name is Ricc Brindicci, I’m a contractor, and you can find me on Thumbtack."