How much does it cost to build a house?
The national average cost to build a house is $392,241, according to the most recent data from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). That breaks down to $153 per square foot for the average single-family home. However, your costs can vary widely depending on the size of your home, the location you're building and the features you decide to add, among other factors.
Cost to build a home:
National average cost range
National average cost per square foot
Source: National Association of Home Builders
Keep in mind that $392,241 is the average construction cost (as reported by the NAHB) — not the average sales price. The NAHB reports the total sales price is much higher at $644,750.
If you're thinking about building your own home, consult nearby professionals, such as contractors and home builders. Once they know more about what you want for your dream home, they can help you get a better understanding of pricing and the different factors that can impact it.
Until then, keep reading to learn more about what features and finishes can impact the cost of building a home.
What's in this cost guide?
- Cost per square foot to build a house.
- Breaking down the average cost to build a house.
- Site work
- Excavation and foundation.
- Exterior finishes
- Plumbing (except fixtures)
- Insulation and drywall
- Interior trim, doors and mirrors
- Cabinets and countertops
- Plumbing fixtures
- Decks, patios and porches.
- Cleaning up
- Additional cost factors
- How to save money when building a home
- What is the cheapest type of house to build?
- Is it cheaper to buy or just build a house?
- Get free estimates from home builders
The national average cost per square foot to build a house is $153. The bigger your house, the more you can expect to pay in total.
Here's a look at how going up in total square footage can increase your costs, assuming your home costs around $153 per square foot:
Total square footage
Estimated national average cost
Building a home involves a lot of work and planning. The NAHB has broken down the most expensive components of a home to give you a better idea of where your money is actually going.
Keep reading to see the national average cost of different finishes, components and fixtures when building a home, according to the NAHB report.
Quick note: Some fees listed below may be imposed on property developers instead of homeowners. Always consult your home builder for a clear understanding of which costs and fees you will be responsible for when building your home.
1. Site work.
In total, the national total average cost of site work is $29,193. Site work includes all of the tasks required to get your land ready to build on. For example, building permit fees are required before breaking ground — these average $8,292.
Other potential fees include:
- Impact fee (imposed on property developers): $5,208
- Water and sewer inspection fees: $5,800
- Architecture and engineering costs: $4,724
2. Excavation and foundation.
Excavating dirt, building a foundation, pouring concrete and putting up retaining walls give your home a solid base. Together with backfilling and other fees, these total $43,086, on average, in the U.S. This cost makes up 11% of the average home building costs.
3. House framing.
The national average total framing costs comes out to $80,280. Building your home's structural interior includes the following fees:
- $60,831 for framing
- $11,479 for trusses
- $5,383 for sheathing
- $1,168 for metal and steel reinforcements
- $1,419 for other expenses
4. Exterior finishes.
Exterior finishes cost a national average of $46,108 and break down like this:
- $19,746 in exterior wall finishes
- $11,496 in roofing
- $13,158 on windows and doors
- $1,709 in other miscellaneous expenses
5. Plumbing (except fixtures).
Plumbing is a major expense in home building, with a national average cost of $22,706. That doesn't include fixtures, either.
Costs may go up if you choose more expensive materials. As an example, copper piping is generally more expensive than chlorinated polyvinyl chloride piping (CPVC).
Electrical systems are slightly more expensive at $23,892, on average, in the U.S. This figure also doesn't include fixtures.
Of course, the cost will vary depending on whether or not you want a lot of outlets, phone jacks and switches.
On average, an HVAC system costs $21,845 when building a home. You have a lot of options to consider when choosing appliances for heating and cooling. For example, you'll need to decide between ductless vs. ducted, smart thermostats vs. standard thermostats or even forced air vs. boiler heat.
8. Insulation and drywall.
Insulation helps you maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home. It helps keep heat in during the winter and hot air out during the summer. The national average cost of insulation in a new home construction is $6,530.
Drywall gives you a blank canvas for painting or decorating, and costs an average of $13,184.
9. Interior trim, doors and mirrors.
The average cost to include interior trim, doors and mirrors comes out to $12,727.
When it comes to trim, you have many options — pine, hardwood (which is typically the most expensive), medium-density fiberboard and more. Talk to your builder to see your options and the price points.
After you've put up the walls, doors and trim, you'll likely want to paint them to make your new home welcoming. When building a new home, the average cost of painting its interior is $8,793.
However, if you choose premium paint or unique finishes, this cost might fluctuate. Again, consult your builder to get a better understanding of pricing.
Installing lighting costs $4,502 for the average home. Lighting improves your home's ambiance and helps you see at night. Work with your builder to decide which type of ceiling lights, accent lights or chandeliers you want to install in your home.
12. Cabinets and countertops.
Cabinets and countertops account for $17,775 of the average construction cost. This number varies depending on the material you choose. For example, granite countertops are more expensive than traditional laminate ones.
In total, the average cost of appliances is $6,263 when building a new home.
Appliances include things like your refrigerator, dishwasher and washer and dryer. These are often installed when the home is built because they're usually put in a space specifically designed for them.
Though the average cost of flooring is $13,019 in a new home, there are many variables to consider.
Carpet is soft, but it can also be difficult to clean. Real hardwood floors, on the other hand, can be more expensive but can be easier to wipe up spills. However, you may need to refinish your hardwood floors down the line. You can also choose laminate, vinyl, linoleum, natural stone and more — all of which have different price points as well.
Landscaping can include things like planting grass, establishing a garden or mulching around your house. It's essential to give your home curb appeal.
In total, landscaping costs an average of $9,123, but this can go up or down depending on how many outdoor touches you want and the types of features you choose (trees, lighting, edging, etc.).
Not all homes have fireplaces, so this cost may not apply to you. But if you do want to include a fireplace in your home, note that the average cost is $1,608.
Gas fireplaces are common today, as you can get a fire going with the press of a button. However, traditional wood-burning fireplaces have a charming aesthetic.
17. Plumbing fixtures.
While your contractor installs your flooring, they'll also likely install your plumbing fixtures. Usually, the flooring has to be cut around things like your toilet and bathtub or shower for a seamless look. All these plumbing fixtures cost $5,166 for the average home.
18. Decks, patios and porches.
Decks, patios and porches can be a great extension of your home and give you a comfortable outdoor oasis for entertaining or relaxing. These types of structures add an extra $2,178, on average, to the cost of building a home.
A driveway gives you a safe place to park your car off the street. A driveway will run around $8,775 when constructing a home.
A basic driveway will often cost less than a more sophisticated driveway or one with heating. Adding more features like intricately laid blocks or gates may also increase the cost.
20. Cleaning up.
After all that work, chances are you'll have a lot of debris around. Cleaning fees add up to $2,280 on average.
Note: In addition to the fees mentioned above, the NAHB report also includes unidentified "other" fees that contribute to the total home construction cost.
Many things can impact how much it costs to build a house. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when building a home:
- Shortage of materials: When there's a shortage of materials, it increases demand, which causes average prices to rise. In a May 2021 survey, 90% of builders said they faced a shortage of plywood and 87% said they faced a shortage of windows and doors.
- Weather: If you live in a location with extremely cold weather, freezing can make the earth harder to dig and lead to costly delays in the construction timeline.
- Size and design choices: The bigger the house, the more materials it takes to construct it. This increases costs greatly. Additionally, the more premium features you choose, the more your costs will increase.
- Location: If you're building on a flat and level lot, it will likely be cheaper than building on a swampy hill. It will take extra labor to stabilize and dig out land with steep grades.
If you'd like to save money on your new construction, consider the following tips:
- Choose a smaller footprint. Decreasing the size of your home can lead to big savings on materials and labor.
- Save the landscaping for later. Getting a place to live is more important than making the outside of your place look nice.
- Skip the custom design. While you might want your dream home to have turrets and an attached mother-in-law suite, sticking with a stock design can save you big in terms of the architectural fees associated with building a custom home.
- Stick with less-premium interior finishes. Do you really need quartz countertops or marble floors? Choosing lower-cost materials reduces your overall budget.
If you're looking for the absolute cheapest house, go for a single-story, tiny house. The floor plans for these are simple, and because they're under 600 square feet, they won't require a lot of materials to construct.
For a more traditional cost-effective home, consider a ranch-style house. A one-story is usually more affordable, and you can also save by not including a basement.
Related: How much does a tiny house cost?
Generally, it's cheaper to buy an existing home than to build a new custom home. However, you also have to consider loan rates and real estate agent fees.
If you live in an area where many homes are old or outdated, it may be worth the cost to build a new home. Older homes that require a lot of repairs may cost more to fix and maintain in the long run.
Building a new home may also reduce your energy costs (if you stick with energy-efficient appliances and roofing) compared to older homes with no energy-efficient features. Consider your options and compare costs before you make a decision.
Get free cost estimates from home builders near you.
To get a better idea of what building a new home would cost in your area, you'll want to compare estimates from local professionals. Luckily, Thumbtack can help with that. Download the app today, and get free cost estimates from your area's top home builders.
All costs included in this article were sourced from the National Association of Home Builders report.