OMG—The Cost of Building a Home Can Get Crazy!

photography by Lisa Russman

Building a new house is your opportunity to design and create a home that looks and functions in ways that meet your needs. Buying an existing home often means additional work and sometimes requires compromises to get the design, layout, and features you want. Without thought to sightlines and openness, you could miss out on the small, treasured moments your family values.

These added expenses are why so many turn to new construction to achieve their dream home. Calculating the costs of building new vs. buying existing construction can be a little confusing, though. To create a house that is perfect for you and your family, while also fitting your budget, requires an understanding of all the factors that can influence home building prices.

It is easy to assume that buying land and building a house costs roughly the same as or even less than buying existing construction, but this not always the case. Building costs vary widely and, if left unchecked, can increase the cost of your new home well beyond your budget or the price of comparable houses in your area. To accurately determine the price of building a home, you must consider these five major things that can affect the expense of new home construction.

1. Your Building Site.
The price of land varies significantly, even within the same community. The cost of building your home depends on the condition of your lot. If you need to improve the soil conditions, deal with conflicting utilities, or discover buried storage tanks, your construction costs can increase, sometimes significantly. When buying land, always investigate issues related to wildlife and historical protections as well as flooding zones.

2. The Materials You Choose.
House construction cost calculators can give you rough estimates for building costs, but these often do not take into consideration whether the materials you select are available nearby. Choosing readily-available materials can mean a substantial reduction in the overall building cost, and these touches can also help your home feel as if it is part of the local environment when well-integrated into the design. Buying in bulk for fixtures, tile, and other materials not only unifies your design across your home, but you save more when you buy in larger quantities.

3. The Cost of Labor.
The location of your new home influences labor costs. As the cost of living rises in an area, so will the price you pay for skilled labor to build a home. Talk with your architect about local labor pricing, including recent fluctuations or projected increases. An architect can help you design a home that fits your growing family while maximizing the use of space to create a home that feels larger but doesn’t cost a fortune.

4. Your Timeline.
An extremely ambitious building schedule increases costs, as does one that experiences significant delays. Building a realistic and well-researched project schedule for your home’s construction will help you stay on budget and avoid overtime or increased indirect costs. Working with a professional architect and reliable contractor helps you stay on schedule and budget.

5. The Right Architect and Contractor.
Selecting an architect who understands your family’s needs is crucial, but the right firm will also ensure proper adherence to the construction schedule. They will be knowledgeable about local materials and have strong relationships with reputable contractors in your area. The right architect will oversee every aspect of your new home’s design to fulfill your vision of the perfect place to live. When buying land and building a house, costs can skyrocket quickly without constant oversight, which is why a professional architect and licensed contractor are vital.

These and other factors impact your decision in the debate between building new vs. buying existing construction. Understanding all the elements that affect the calculation of new house construction costs can not only save you money but also help you create the home of your dreams.