Matt McAlister
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How Much Does It Cost to Build a House

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Home?

A home is one of the most significant financial investments most people make. Being a homeowner also involves many decisions and a great deal of responsibility. With so much at stake, homeowners want to be sure they make a wise decision with their home purchase. One of the top questions they must debate is whether to build a house or buy an existing home. This logically leads to the question, “How much does it cost to build a home?”

Myriad factors affect the answer to this question. The cost to build a house varies based on many decisions the future homeowner makes. It also varies by region. The total is further affected by inflation and market values over time.

To get a general idea, we can look at national reporting to determine the average cost to build a house. U.S. Census numbers report that the average size of a new home in 2015 was 2,467 square feet. According to, the average cost per square foot was $103. HomeAdvisor reported a slightly higher average at $150 per square foot. Based on these figures, the total new home cost average was between $290,000 and $305,000.

Of course, this is an average. The full spectrum is much larger. HomeAdvisor reports new home costs varied from $17,000 to $700,000.

To bring these numbers forward, we can add four percent per year for inflation. That puts the average cost per square foot in 2017 between $111 and $127 and the total national average price just over $313,000.

For the Charlotte area, HomeAdvisor estimates the average cost of building a house at $332,131 with a typical range from $322,964 to $341,297.

Average cost to build in Charlotte is $33,131.

What Makes Up the Cost of Building a House?

Once homeowners discover the total cost to build a house, the next step is to break down this cost into its many parts. Exactly how do we arrive at the $300K average price? Here’s an estimate of the various slices of the pie:

  • The shell accounts for roughly a third of the home’s cost. This includes walls, windows, doors and roofing.
  • Interior finishes make up another third of the budget. This covers cabinets, flooring and counters.
  • Around 13 percent of the cost is mechanical systems such as plumbing and heating.
  • The land on which the house will be built averages around $3,000 per acre. The typical home sits on less than a quarter of an acre, so this piece usually makes up a small percentage of the total.
  • The remaining portion includes fees for architects, building permits, inspections and other government costs.

Factors That Affect the Cost to Build a House

Of course, each slice comes in a variety of flavors. Depending on what the home builder chooses, the cost within each category can vary greatly. Every minor decision a home builder makes affects the total cost of building a house. Some of these decisions are more significant than others.

For most homeowners, 15 major factors come into play that affect the cost of building a house. Some of these factors include standard costs which the homeowner can do little to affect. Other aspects involve homeowner decisions and are greatly determined by their selections during the building process.

  1. Lot
  2. This variable affects the cost in several ways. First, the location of the lot is a significant factor. Is it waterfront property? Is it located in a highly sought-after subdivision? The more desirable the lot is, the more expensive it will be. Second, the condition of the lot affects the price. How much work will the lot need to prepare for building? Will you have to clear trees? Level the ground? If it is far from civilization, will you have to run new utilities to the area? All of these preparation steps add to the total cost of building a home.
  3. Excavation
  4. The cost of this building step varies greatly. It’s hard to know exactly what you’ll find until you start digging. If the project goes smoothly, costs will be lower. If you hit large boulders or other issues, your total will be higher. Of course, if the home also has a basement, excavation will be more extensive and more expensive. For the average home, estimates an excavation with few problems costs around $33,000.

    Excavation costs average $33,000

  5. Permits, Inspections, Fees
  6. When you build a home, you must ensure the site, the construction and the final product are safe and meet all local and national codes. To ensure this happens, you must obtain the necessary permits and inspections. All of this involves fees. Building permits average around $900. Land inspections cost around $4,000. The government also charges an impact fee to cover the costs of new services to the home. This costs around $1,700. Drawings from an architect and engineer are another $4,500. The total comes to just over $11,000 for all of these fees. This may seem significant, but it only accounts for less than four percent of the total cost of the average home. It’s a small price to pay for accurate blueprints, a safe setting and a solid final result. Peace of mind is priceless.
  7. Size
  8. How big will the home be? How many stories do you want? Clearly, the bigger the home, the bigger the price tag. Multiple stories also add to the cost. Home builders must decide if they prefer a sprawling ranch, traditional two-story, split-level or multi-tiered estate. Another factor is the garage. Will it be attached or a separate building? How many cars will it hold? If separate, will it have additional rooms above it? The options are nearly limitless when it comes to the size of a home. Future homeowners must decide where they want to invest their dollars. You may prefer a smaller home but more interior upgrades. Others may want tons of square footage but balance the cost with more economical interior finishes.

    Homeowners can choose their size depending upon how much they want to invest

  9. Design
  10. Once the size of the house is determined, the builder must choose a design. These pieces go hand in hand, but both affect the cost differently. Two same-size houses with different designs won’t be the same price. A home with a simple design costs less. If you choose to add curved staircases, lots of corners, rounded walls and other complex designs, the cost will be higher. This aspect is greatly affected by personal taste and lifestyle. Some homeowners prefer intricate designs while others don’t want to invest a lot of money in these features. With semi-custom homes, it is easy to adjust these elements to meet individual preferences and budgets.
  11. Materials
  12. What materials will be used to construct the main building and the interior features? If you choose real wood, granite and other expensive materials, the building cost goes up. A brick front is more expensive than siding. Ceramic tile floors are more expensive than vinyl.

    Materials like real wood and granite can increase the cost to build your home, but these materials are often worth their investment

    Home builders must again decide where they want to invest. Solid materials are often a good place to do this, as they will extend the life of the home and typically require less maintenance and repairs over time. They are often worth the investment due to their return. While they cost more up front, they may be cheaper over the long haul.
  13. Windows and Doors
  14. These are a significant expense during home building. This should be expected, considering windows and doors make up a large portion of the construction of a home. It’s also important to invest in quality windows and doors to ensure their longevity as well as efficiency for heating and cooling the home. The NAHB estimates the total cost for windows, doors and garage doors in a new home at $12,000.
  15. Roof
  16. Homes feature a variety of roofing materials and styles. Homes with multiple roofing levels and complex roof lines are more expensive to build. Materials also vary greatly in cost. Composite shingle roofs are the most common and affordable. Wood shingles, wood shakes, clay tiles and slate roofs are additional options. These materials are more expensive and less commonly used. According to the NAHB, most homeowners can plan to spend about $10,000 on roofing for a new home.
  17. Siding
  18. This cost factor greatly impacts the overall cost to build a home. Vinyl siding is the most popular choice for lower-priced homes. It costs around $4 per square foot. Brick and stone veneers offer an upgraded option at between $11 and $15 per square foot. Homes valued at more than $750,000 typically feature brick and stucco siding. Stucco adds to the cost at a rate of $6 to $9 per square foot. In recent years, brick has gained popularity and is seen more frequently even at the lower end of the market.

    Siding greatly impacts home costs. Vinyl siding is a popular economcial choice

  19. Fixtures and Appliances
  20. The cost for fixtures and appliances can be minimal or significant depending on the builder’s choices. Materials, brand and style all affect the total cost. Basic ovens are more affordable than built-in double convection ovens. Washer and dryers that email you when the load is done cost more than basic spin cycles. The same is true for fixtures. The type of hardware chosen and the complexity of design both affect the final cost. This is an aspect of the home’s cost which each homeowner can help steer based on their selections.
  21. Flooring
  22. Do you want carpet or hardwood floors throughout the home? Your selection affects how much it is to build a house. Wall-to-wall carpeting is the most economical option. It costs between $3 and $5 per square foot. Hardwood flooring comes in at $9 to $12 per square foot. Of course, additional options are available. Ceramic tile, marble and other materials are often used for home flooring. For average selections, the NAHB reports homeowners can expect to spend around $13,000 total for flooring.
  23. Mechanical
  24. The home’s plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems make up a substantial portion of the total cost to build a house. Of course, this can also vary based on the style of systems a home builder chooses. Upgrading HVAC could save on utility bills over time. Some homeowners may also wish to include upgraded electrical features to integrate the latest technology into their homes.

    HVAC can save on utility bills over time. Homeowners may even want to upgrade electrical features to have the latest technology in their home

    For the average new home, the NAHB estimates each of these systems cost around $12,000. Therefore, to get a home’s systems up and running, you can expect to spend around $36,000.
  25. Kitchen
  26. The kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms to construct. It’s also a huge variable due to the many options available. If you choose high-end selections for every corner of your kitchen, the cost is significantly higher than a more economical kitchen. Realistically, homeowners can expect to spend at least $21,000 in the kitchen on countertops, cabinets and appliances. Again, this total varies greatly based on materials, fixtures and other features.
  27. Upgrades
  28. Home builders can upgrade myriad details of each home. Each upgrade adds to the cost of building a house. Some building companies include luxury upgrades as standard features. This can increase the total cost to build a home. Others provide some upgraded features as standard so the home includes nicer amenities at a lower cost. Possible upgrades include high ceilings, decorative moldings, upgraded interior doors, additional rooms and a host of other possibilities. This is an aspect of home building in which the buyer can partner with the builder to determine the best features for their home based on personal preference and budget.
  29. Exterior Details
  30. What will be included on the exterior of the home? Features may include a driveway, deck, patio, landscaping, walkways and more. The complexity of their design and the materials used will greatly affect the total cost to build a house. General landscaping to prepare a lot costs around $6,000. The driveway costs another $6,000. An average deck, patio or porch is around $4,000.

    Outdoor features can include a driveway, deck, patio, landscaping, walkways and more.The complexity of those features will affect total cost.

    Homeowners must decide if these features are to be included when the home is initially built or if they prefer to add some of these to their home at a later date. In some cases, it can be cheaper to add them when the home is first constructed. Other features are easily added any time.

Building vs. Buying

As you consider the many factors that affect the cost of building a house, you may wonder if it is better to build a new home or buy an existing one. This is a typical debate for potential homeowners.

The truth is, building a home offers several advantages over buying. This is probably why reports around one million homeowners built their own houses in 2016. These homeowners took advantage of the following benefits of building:


With new construction, you know the price ahead of time. You have a great deal of say in the final cost to build a house. Based on your selections, you can spend more or less. When buying a resale home, this is not the case. You are at the mercy of the market prices and the seller’s willingness to budge on their asking price.

If you choose a desirable home with multiple interested parties, you can even end up spending several thousand dollars more than the original asking price to successfully outbid the other buyers. The entire process can be quite stressful and expensive. With new construction, you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to final cost, rather than the seller.


New construction gets you a home that is built exactly to meet your specific needs. You don’t have to settle on certain features as you inevitably do when buying a home. It’s the chance to build your dream home and include all the features that are perfect for your lifestyle.

From the direction the house faces to the type of flooring in the dining room, you get to choose it all. Why settle for less with a resale home when you can create your perfect setting for roughly the same price?


New homes are typically better insulated and more efficient than older homes. You can outfit a brand-new home with better insulation, windows, doors and HVAC system that will save significant dollars in the long run. This is much cheaper than trying to retrofit an existing home with better insulation, which often involves tearing down walls and rebuilding much of the home.

Newer homes typically have better insulation, windows, doors and HVAC systems which save a significant amount of money over time


When you build a home, everything is brand-new. From appliances and fixtures to paint choices, the home is fresh and sparkling. This will prevent additional costs for several years, since you won’t have to worry about replacing old appliances, toilets, water heaters and other expensive pieces. You can enjoy peace of mind knowing your home is solidly built and will not need repairs anytime soon.

Semi-Custom Homes

Potential homeowners in search of buying and building options often find that semi-custom homes offer the best of both worlds. When choosing a semi-custom home, the homeowner gets to choose custom features with a lower cost. Because many features come with the home already, this reduces the cost of adding upgrades.

However, the customization possibilities allow the home builder to include the ideal aspects for the future homeowner.

Features such as lot location, floor plan, additions and interior selections are adjustable based on the homeowner’s needs. You can choose from an array of customization options that make your home unique. Because it is semi-custom, you can get your dream home built faster and much more affordably than with a fully custom builder.

A semi-custom builder can work with you to find the right land to build your home, choose the best floor plan, then customize it to perfectly meet your needs and style. The builder can also work with you to obtain the appropriate financing and assist you with the many other small steps along the way.

Semi-custom builders can work with you to find the land, choose a floor plan and customize your home to your needs and style

Why Choose SK Builders for Your Semi-Custom Home?

If you’re interested in a home in South Carolina, SK Builders offers the perfect partnership to create your dream dwelling. We build custom plans for less than our competitors. How? We start with basic features and give homeowners the option to upgrade as their budget allows. Other custom builders include luxury upgrades in the basic price. We make it possible for customers in a lower price range to build a custom home and then upgrade it as they desire in the future.

Established in 1994, SK Builders offers a solid reputation as a family-owned and family-operated business. We build over 100 houses a year yet remain small enough to offer personalized attention to every homeowner.

Our full-service advantages include:

  • We offer our own line of floor plans that clients can customize to fit their needs.
  • We’re a regional builder, not a national one.
  • Our company is large enough to negotiate lower prices from suppliers and contractors but small enough to listen to our clients.
  • Our size makes us more flexible than most of our competitors.
  • We include standard features that are often considered upgrades by other builders.
  • We can help you build a home on your own lot.
  • We offer a strong partnership with McAlister Realty as an asset for customers. The two companies work together to deliver a smooth home-build from contract to closing.
  • To complete your semi-custom home, we offer a total timeline of eight months with a 60-day builder extension.
  • Our team works with you to walk you through every step of the process, from land selection and financing to the final details of every room.

If you’re ready to get started on your semi-custom home or have any questions about how much a custom home costs to build, contact our homebuilding experts today. Reach SK Builders at 864-292-0400 or through our quick contact form. We look forward to partnering with you to build your dream home!

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