Cost to Build a House Using a General Contractor

Dear Carl,

My wife and I are struggling trying to decide if we should buy land and build a retirement home in the Pearce, AZ 85625 area. We hope to make a decision by next week.

A local builder is quoting us a price that I think that seems a little high, based on information I have seen on your web site.

The most likely plan is shown below. The building site would be 10 acres, flat ground with a slab foundation and all tile floors.

Can you provide a quick estimate of what you think a “fair” cost to build would be?

If it matters, we will be paying cash for the construction of the house.  No bank involved.
Your help would be GREATLY appreciated.

Keith & Kathie

Cost to build a house

Courtesy of

Cost to build

Total sq ft 1296, 3 Bdrm, 2 bath, 509 sq ft garage, slab foundation.

Hi Keith & Kathie,

What a great looking home! I love stucco and Spanish design.

I ran a cost to build estimate on the free cost estimating software from Craftsman Books found on my Construction Estimating Software  page on and came up with an approximate 2016 cost to build of 172,926, including a General Contractor Markup of $21,995. That’s about $133 per sq ft

I used the following criteria for the software input:
Total Living Area 1296
Number Of Corners 4
Foundation Quality Class 6
Exterior Walls Quality Class 6
Exterior Finish Quality Class 6
Windows & Doors Quality Class 6
Roofing Quality Class 6
Interior Finish Quality Class 6
Flooring Quality Class 6
Bathroom Quality Class 6
Kitchen Quality Class 6
Plumbing Quality Class 6

Tip: Since you are actually acting as your own Lender for the Construction Loan, be careful how you pay your General Contractor.

Pay your General Contractor exactly as the banks do, that is, for work completed and/or materials on the building site. Read my Chapter on Construction Loans on my Construction Loan page.

Good luck,

Carl Heldmann

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