Building Costs per Square Foot

Hey Carl –

Just bought your book and think it is great. I’m wondering if this statement, currently on your website, is true today: “You should be able to build anywhere in the USA for $80.00 to $110 per sq ft. for labor & materials.”

It seems rather low to me. We’re looking at housing in Western North Carolina and some of the new construction is $200 per square foot  for what we think is mid-level construction/finish/appliances.


Hi Ron,

I don’t have enough information from you to determine what the $200 cost to build per sq ft you refer to actually means.

I have a feeling that $200 per sq ft is a quote from a builder who has his profit and overhead built in, or is a retail price for a finished house that has land cost (price) included as well.

In Charlotte, NC, a city I am very familiar with, $200 per sq ft is pretty heavy with amenities.

Of course, it is dangerous to generalize. Home building costs per square foot depend on many variables, including; size, home design, how good a shopper you are, difficulty in building site access” (i.e. the top of a NC mountain), availability of labor and/or materials, just to name the major ones.

Whatever cost per sq ft you end up with should always be measured against what the finished value will be in the locale where you are building.

A good Realtor or a real estate appraiser can tell you if you are overbuilding (cost wise) for the area.

Overbuilding is not wise and unless you are paying cash for the house, you won’t be able to borrow as much money as you would probably like to borrow.

Construction Lenders, now more than ever, are very, very resale conscious. You should be too.

Visit my “Getting Started” page on and play with the Cost to Build Calculator.

Hope all this helps,

Carl Heldmann, 2018

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