Average Cost to Build a House

“Hi Carl,
I keep hearing to use $103/sq ft to estimate the “building cost” of a house, but does this give the cost of just construction (foundation, walls, and roof), or does it include everything (electrical, plumbing, drywall, paint, flooring, kitchen cabinets, bath tubs, doors, windows, etc.)?

Hi Lisa,

The $103 /sq ft average cost to build a house you keep hearing about includes everything, including the Kitchen Sink.

$103 per sq ft however, is what is called the “Median Average” cost.

That means 50% of all houses cost more than $100/sq ft, and 50% cost less than $103/sq ft.

It is a good statistic for giving us a “snapshot” of the housing industry.

It is better than using what is called the “Mean Average”, where the total cost of all houses is divided by the total number of all houses built and the average cost gets “skewed”.

In the 50% below $103/sq ft, you’ll find houses built for much less, such as in Tract housing.

Tract housing:  Alike houses built together on the same tract of land
Photo courtesy of  Wikipedia.

In the 50% above $103/sq ft, you’ll find houses built for much more, such as in Custom homes.

Custom home photo courtesy of The Pinnacle Group, Inc

Read my pages on “Cost Estimating” and Cost Estimating Explained” and you WILL have a clearer picture of this often confusing issue.

By the way, land, land development (Building site), local impact fees, and other local fees are NOT included in any of these “costs per sq ft”.

Thanks for writing. You had a good question.
Carl Heldmann, 2018

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