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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Construction & Renovation > Building a Custom Home

Building a Custom Home Cost


How Much Does Building a Custom Home Cost?

 
low costLow: As low as $100 per square footaverage costAverage: $200-$400 per square foot
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Having a house built to specifications means you get exactly the features you've always dreamed of owning, such as inlaid hardwood or tile floors, custom cabinetry, granite or marble countertops, an oversized Jacuzzi tub, an indoor lap pool or more. However, a custom home also requires your active participation and decision-making during each phase of the project, plus patience and money.

Typical costs:

  • Residential construction costs vary considerably nationwide, but as a general rule custom-built homes are about twice as much as production homes in the same area, plus the price of the lot or acreage. (The price of land is almost never included in cost estimates for custom homes.) On average, a custom-built home with top-of-the-line materials is $200-$400 or more a square foot, or $700,000-$1.4 million for a 3,500 square foot house. However, building a modest custom home in a low-cost area might drop costs as low as $100 a square foot, or $350,000 for 3,500 square feet. These price ranges usually include standard site preparation (foundation, utilities, etc.) but do not include the cost of the land, design plans, or loan fees (which can run $1,500-$7,000 or more).
  • A great deal depends on location plus the complexity of the project and the quality of the materials chosen. It's possible to custom-build an 800-square-foot dome house for $1 million or a 12,000-square-foot rural ranch house for $400,000. However, the $400,000 custom-built house is the exception rather than the rule. Typically, a landowner choosing to build a custom-designed home wants high-quality features which nudge the total costs toward $1 million.
  • Architects charge anywhere from 2-15 percent of the total construction costs to custom-design a home; one advantage is that their services should include overseeing the building process to be sure everything is done properly.
  • Thousands of custom home plans are available for $500-$2,000 or more, depending on style and complexity. But before building it's wise to pay an architect $50-$150 an hour to review the plans to be sure they fit your site and meet local building codes.
  • Check with the local planning department. Building permits vary widely by region but can add several thousand or tens of thousands of dollars to the building costs.
Related articles: Home Addition, Architect

What should be included:
  • From buying the land to moving into the finished product, having a home custom-built is an extremely complex process. The Arizona Home Builders Network lists factors that can influence a custom home's cost per square foot; B4UBuild.com[1] describes the various phases of the home building process, from research and pre-construction work to interior and exterior finishes and landscaping; and the National Association of Home Builders[2] explains what a custom builder does compared to a production home builder.
  • Financing and cash flow can be an important issue. Typically architects and builders require a deposit with additional payments scheduled as each phase of the project is completed.
Additional costs:
  • An itemized bid sheet listing everything from site preparation to debris removal is $15 from HomeAdditionsPlus[3] .
  • The DVD-ROM "Your Custom Home"[4] lists for $19.99 and includes design guides, a cost estimator, a home construction encyclopedia, and the ability to order from more than 6,200 home plans.
  • Making changes to the design or materials used after construction has begun adds to the total cost; the exact amount will depend on the nature and scope of the changes.
Shopping for building a custom home:
  • Read as much as possible about the custom home-building process; books are available through your local library, at bookstores or through Amazon[5] . Talk to other people who had their home custom-built, asking about any problems they encountered.
  • Contractor referrals are available through your local home building association[6] .
  • Get several estimates, making clear what is (and isn't) included in each quote. View other projects designed or built by the architect or contractor, and talk to people who have used their services to see how smooth the process was. Before hiring a designer or builder, ask about their training and the length and type of their experience. Be sure the contractor is properly bonded, insured and licensed in your state[7] . Check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau[8] .
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External Resources:
  1.  www.b4ubuild.com/resources/index.shtml
  2.  www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?sectionID=182&genericContentID=3911
  3.  www.homeadditionplus.com/New%20Home%20Construction%20Bid%20Sheet.htm
  4.  www.amazon.com/Valusoft-10429-Your-Custom-DVD-Rom/dp/B0007U9BT4
  5.  www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/104-2967680-0286341?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-k...
  6.  www.nahb.org/local_association_search_form.aspx
  7.  www.contractors-license.org/
  8.  search.bbb.org/
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