Budget For Your New Home with Our Cost to Build a House Calculator

When you decide to build your own dream home one of the first things you'll want to know are cost estimates for building a house. Many different elements go into calculating the price of building a new house, including the location, the style of the house, the size of the house, and the level of finish you are looking for.

The best way to get an accurate cost estimate for building a home is to speak to a general contractor or house builder in your area, who can give you an accurate, local estimate. In Chicago speak to Fortress Home who has over 20 years of experience in residential construction in the greater metropolitan area. For a free quotation call +773-770-8607 or email [email protected]

Factors affecting the estimated cost to build a home

There are many different items on the house building list and they will all have an impact on the home construction cost.


One of the first factors influencing the price is your location and the land cost. The cost of land varies wildly across the country from state to state and between urban and rural areas. For example, as of 2019, this was the cost of an acre of land in a few states:

  • Wyoming - $1,600
  • Georgia - $14,000
  • Illinois - $23,000
  • New York City - $5 million

This means that the average cost range of building a house in Georgia is between $100,000 and $400,000, in Illinois, it's $200,000 – $750,000 while in New York it ranges from $250,000 – $950,000.

Other location-based factors to consider are whether the land is ready for building (finished) or unfinished. A finished lot will have all the utilities already there and will probably also be cleared and leveled, whereas you'll need to organize all that with an unfinished plot.

Size and square feet

The size of your desired house will also have an impact on the cost, as a larger house requires more building materials and also more labor costs. The average cost per square foot to build a house ranges from around $100 - $200 but can go much higher than that depending on the type of home you choose to build.

Building a two-story house can be slightly cheaper per square foot than a bungalow or ranch-style single-story home. This is in part due to the extra foundation required per square foot of living space, for a single-story house.

Style of house

The style and construction techniques used will affect the construction costs. For example, prefab and modular homes can often be cheaper than a traditional site-built house and a one-off custom home will usually be far more expensive than a standard single-family home from a house builder.

There are also cheaper options like container homes and tiny homes for people who want to reduce their building a house estimate costs.


The level of finish will have a large impact on the overall price and is an area where you can save or splurge. Marble countertops in the kitchen and bathroom will of course cost more than tile. And oak floorboards will be far more expensive than linoleum.


When building your dream home there are lots of extras you can add on that will increase the overall price, so don't forget to budget for them too. Maybe you want a swimming pool or an extra-large garage. How about a big wrap-around deck? All of the extras will increase your costs.

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Your cost to build a house calculator

To help you create your own cost to build a house calculator we have given you the typical price range when estimating for residential construction.

Buying land

In your cost calculator, buying your plot of land is one of the costs that varies the most, based on whether the land is finished or unfinished and where it's located.

Remember that unfinished plots will require a lot more preparation work so you'll need to add more labor costs to cover the additional work.

Expect to pay: $3,000 - $150,000

Plans and permits

Don't forget you'll need to pay for an architect to draw up your floor plans and then you'll also need to factor in the costs of building permits and site inspections to ensure your building project is fully approved.

Expect to pay: $3,000 - $10,000

Site preparation

The cost of preparing your building site will vary based on the type of plot you have purchased. This may include installing utilities, demolishing existing structures, leveling the land, putting in drainage for existing waterways, or simply staking out your house size and floor plan on a ready prepared building site.

Expect to pay: $5,000 - $38,000


Your construction costs will certainly include your foundation but may also include the cost of putting in a basement if that's a feature you require. Straightforward foundations cost around $4,000 - $25,000 and the addition of a basement will increase your foundation costs by an extra $10,000 - $30,000.

Expect to pay: $16,600 - $72,000


Your framing construction costs will include the costs of lumber or steel as well as the carpenter's labor cost. This also includes the cost of roof framing, but the roofing costs are included below.

Expect to pay: 16,600 - $95,000

Exterior Work

Exterior work includes roofing, windows, doors, exterior walls, and cladding, including all your home's exterior finishes.

Expect to pay: $20,000 - $95,000

Major Systems

When we talk about major systems in a new home we include all plumbing and electrical work, as well as the installation of your HVAC system, an essential part of your new home construction.

Expect to pay: $17,000 - $72,000

Interior Finishes

This is a very large category and the final cost for this area will depend very much on the quality of the materials and appliances you choose. Interior finishes include:

  • Drywall
  • Painting and decorating
  • Interior doors
  • Carpentry including molding, stair rails, baseboards, etc
  • Fitted kitchen and bathroom cabinets
  • Counters
  • Flooring
  • Lighting
  • Appliances
  • Any additional fixtures
Expect to pay: $42,000 - $167,000

Recommended reading

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How much do contractors charge to build a house?

When you hire a general contractor to build your house for you and to manage the entire project, you should expect to pay around 10-20% of the cost of materials and labor, for their fees. They will calculate the total cost for the entire job and work out their fees from that.

Some contractors will work for an hourly rate, but this will need to be negotiated with them and will generally have a guaranteed minimum number of hours.

So when calculating your build a house cost estimate don't forget to include this fee. While it might seem expensive, it's a worthwhile new home construction cost, for all the skills, experience, contacts, and trade discounts they bring to your project.

Average costs for building a house

While you can find a house building calculator on many websites, many people are interested in the average cost of building a home. You will find slightly different figures on different websites but as of November 2021, the average cost to build a house in the US is $284,000 according to the HomeAdvisor website.

This varies a lot if you look by region or by specific type of house. For example, if you want a prefab or modular home the price range is usually from $180,000–$360,000, whereas modern custom houses which make use of a lot of glass can range from $750,000–$15 million.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I estimate the cost of building a house?

Firstly you need to decide if you want to build a custom home or a standard builder's house. If it is the latter you should be able to get quotes very quickly from suitable local builders.

If you want to build a custom house you need to work out your full specifications and requirements, from the floor plan and layout to the finishes. The best way to get a clear cost estimate for building a house is to contact a few local general contractors, who will be able to give you accurate estimates for your dream home, based on your specifications.

If you are in Chicago, contact Fortress Home today for a free building a home estimate consultation: +773-770-8607 or email [email protected]

How much does it cost to build a 1500 sq ft house?

The average cost to build a 1,500 square foot house at the moment is around $185,000, however, this will fluctuate based on the location of the house and whether you are building a cheaper prefab home or a more expensive designer custom house.

Is it cheaper to buy a house or build it?

There are many factors that go into the price of houses, both when building them and buying them, so it's impossible to say whether building or buying a house will be cheaper, without specific details.

However, in previous years buying a house was usually slightly more affordable, as regards upfront costs. But in 2021 the numbers seem to be shifting with the average cost of buying a house coming in at just over $400,000 and the average cost to build is around $280,000.

What is the average cost per square foot to build a house in 2021?

The average cost to build a new home in the US varies by region and can be as low as $100 in some areas and as high as $155 in other areas, based on US Census Bureau figures from 2017.

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What is the main asset of a construction company? Everything is simple. This is not an investment, not funds in the company's account. These are those unique houses, apartments, and buildings that have already been built and put into operation by the company. In different architectural styles, other concepts, and various tasks assigned to the general contractor. That is the asset in Fortress Home, with over 300 homes from more than 20 years of operation that delight their families.

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