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Understanding the Cost of Materials to Build a House

There are many components that make up the average cost to build a house, including labor costs, material costs, professional costs, as well as other fees, and building permits. Whether you're trying to save money by building your own home or want to get a clear idea of all these prices, it's vital to understand how much you're likely to have to spend on building materials. We give a full cost breakdown of the building materials you'll need to build a standard single-family home.

When it comes time to build your own home talk to Fortress Home in Chicago, experts in the home building process with over 20 years of building expertise. We save all our customers money by choosing the best materials at the best prices to ensure quality and affordability.


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Total average cost of building a house

Before we look at the specific building material components of building a new home, it's important to understand the current total cost to build a house nationwide. Currently, it costs between $100 - $400 per square foot to build a house, including materials and labor, but not including land costs. Generally, around 50% of those costs are for materials, and the other 50% is labor, construction equipment, professional services, permits, and other additional fees.

Factors affecting the cost to build

When it comes to building a house there are many components, so giving a per square foot cost is often not very accurate. These elements all contribute greatly to the building costs.

Location

The location will play a big part in the average cost of building your dream home with many different elements coming into play:

  • Land costs differ hugely by location, whether that's the region of the country, the state, and whether you are building in a city or the countryside. All these elements can mean land costs a few thousand dollars all the way to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Weather and climate play into the cost of building a home, as in a rainy area there are likely to be a lot of delays laying the foundation and putting up the framing if you get bad weather. All these delays add to the overall cost.
  • Labor costs can also vary by region and by the time of year. In peak construction season in your specific area, labor will be harder to come by and so, more expensive.
  • Materials costs also vary regionally and by season and demand.

Style and standard of house

The style of house you choose for your dream home will play a big role in both the material cost and labor cost, as some materials and construction techniques are more costly and time-intensive than others. If you are building a very specific custom home you will probably need to pay a lot extra for specialist materials and well-trained experts.

Even if you choose a standard new build house from major home builders you will have various options from standard finishes, all the way through to luxury finishes, all of which will have an impact on the total home costs.

Size of house

The size of your new home will have a major effect on the build cost as for larger homes you require more land, more materials, and a longer construction time. Whether you choose a one or two-story house will also alter the construction costs per square foot, as a two-story house requires less land, a smaller foundation, and a smaller roof, for the same square footage of living space as a one-story house.

To give you an idea of how the size of a house affects the cost to build here are some average costs of different sizes of homes with the price going from a lower-end build to a higher-end custom home.

  • 1,000 square feet: $100,000 - $400,000
  • 1,500 square feet: $150,000 - $600,000
  • 2,000 square feet: $200,000 - $800,000
  • 2,500 square feet: $250,000 - $1 million
  • 3,000 square feet: $300,000 - $1.2 million
  • 3,500 square feet: $350,000 - $1.4 million
  • 4,000 square feet: $400,000 - $1.6 million

The average home size in the US in 2021 is between 2,000 - 2,500 square feet and these will generally be 3-4 bedroom homes. For people looking to save money, a 1,500 square foot house will generally have 2-3 bedrooms and you can go even smaller and build a tiny home under 1,000 square feet.

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Cost of materials to build a house

Over the last couple of years, the cost of materials to build a house has gone up especially with imported materials like lumber, steel, and aluminum. These are all key materials used to build a house, but don't worry. If you work with a well-established general contractor, like Fortress Home, we will use our industry connections and bulk discounts to get you the lowest possible prices on the best materials to build a house.

List of materials to build a house

Here are some of the key structural materials for building a house and their average prices.

Please note that these are the materials used to build a standard home. If you are looking for a custom build your material cost is likely to be higher.


  • Concrete for the foundation: $1,000 - $10,000
  • Lumber for the framing and roof frame: $25,000 - $65,000
  • Roofing materials: $1,000 - $3,000
  • Exterior siding: $2 - $15 per square foot
  • Insulation: $0.10 - $1 per square foot
  • Drywall for the interior: $10 per sheet
  • Flooring materials: $1 - $5 per square foot

Cost of materials to build a home

While the above gives you some rough ideas about how much some standard building materials cost, we break down the material costs in more detail here:

Foundation

When it comes to laying a foundation you might choose a standard slab or a basement foundation, based on where your house is located and the climate. these options will vary a lot in price, with slabs being much cheaper:

  • Slab foundation: $4,500 - $13,500
  • Basement foundation: $18,000 - $80,000

Framing

Most houses use lumber for framing although some modern homes will use steel or metal stud framing. The framing is the skeleton of your house and making sure it's sturdy is very important. You can expect to pay around $33,000 for high-quality wood and $20,000 for metal stud framing.

Roofing

The standard type of roofing used most frequently is asphalt shingles which come in at an affordable $5,500 - $11,500.

Siding

Depending on where you live you'll want to buy weather-proofed siding which will help your house stay warm and dry for many years to come. Available in many different styles expect to pay around $12 per square foot for your exterior finishes.

Insulation

Insulating your home well is a good investment and will save you money over time, keeping energy costs down. You should pay around $4,000 to insulate your new house.

Drywall

Drywall is needed to cover all your floors and ceilings and will cost about $2.25 per square foot. This means that most homeowners will pay about $25,000 for an average size house.

Windows and doors

Much like insulation, ensuring you have solid doors and double glazed windows will keep your house warm in winter and cool in summer. Exterior doors have a wide price range of $400 - $3,500 per door while interior doors are more affordable at $250. Standard vinyl windows come in at approximately $175 each. This means the total price for windows and doors for a new house is around $6,000 - $8,500.

Plumbing

Plumbing is a very important construction cost and you have the option to go with copper or plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, or PEX). If they go with copper the average homeowners spend around $9,000.

Electrical

Getting your electrical work right is important - you want to make sure you have outlets and light switches exactly where you need them, which can add to the length of wiring in your home. On average though this should cost around $8,000

HVAC

Of all the major systems HVAC can be the most expensive, although a lot will depend on the climate where you're building and your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning needs. For a full system, price ranges from around $7,000 - $12,500. If you also want to add a fireplace you'll be adding around $4,500 to the final price of the HVAC.

Cabinets and Counters

Unless you are building a custom home you will probably install some standard cupboards, which start at around $6,500. However, the price can double or even triple if you have custom units using more exotic woods or other high-grade materials. On average most homeowners pay around $2,500 for their counters, but again high-end materials like marble or granite can end up costing up to $100 per square foot.

Ask your home construction company about its previous projects and the scope of work that it provides.

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Flooring

There are so many flooring options available but generally, most homeowners spend between $6-$10 per square foot, which equates to about $1,500 - $4,500 for the average home.

Trim

While not a major cost, don't forget about any trim you'll need. Unless you have a super modernist house with clean lines, you'll probably be adding baseboards, stair rails, and possibly molding. This should cost around $1,500.

Painting

If you want to paint yourself you'll probably spend between $1-$3 on materials, however, if a professional decorator paints your house this will go up to about $5 per square foot. And don't forget that ceilings need to be painted as well as walls when you are calculating how much paint is required.

Fixtures

You can have a lot of fun with your interior finishes by adding some interesting fixtures to your bathroom and kitchen. Generally, a full bathroom should come in at around $10,000. Lighting fixtures are another place you can be creative and most people end up paying about $3,500 on lighting for their new house.

Household appliances

If you are moving out of an existing home you might be able to save some money by bringing your old appliances with you. But if you want to start out fresh in your new house expect to pay around $5,100 for kitchen and laundry appliances, not including countertop appliances.

Furniture

Furniture is somewhere you can save money initially and splurge on more luxury items over time. You can also bring a lot of furniture with you from your existing home.

However, many people want to move into their own house with new furnishings. Prices here can vary wildly and people often spend between $20,000 all the way up to $80,000 furnishing their dream homes.


Landscaping

Don't forget to make the outside of your new house look as lovely as the interior. For a simple lawn and a few select plants you can expect to pay around $2,000 and a driveway should set you back between $1,500 - $4,500.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do materials cost to build a house?

The average material cost to build a house is around $50 - $60 per square foot, according to HomeAdvisor. This equates to the following material costs to build a house of different sizes:

  • 1,000 square foot: $50,000 - $60,000
  • 1,500 square foot: $75,000 - $90,000
  • 2,000 square foot: $100,000 - $120,000
  • 2,500 square foot: $125,000 - $150,000
  • 3,000 square foot: $1500,000 - $180,000
  • 4,000 square foot: $200,000 - $240,000

How much does it cost to build a house from scratch?

If you are building your own house from scratch and trying to do some of the work yourself, you will save money by not using a general contractor, but possibly not as much as you would expect. The current self-build cost of building a house is from $122,500 to $411,500, so you will probably save between $40,000 - $73,000 over the cost of getting a house built for you. Remember you have to factor in the cost of your time, on top of this, so depending on your earning potential it could actually cost you more to build your own home.

How much does it cost to build a house 2021?

Currently, to build a new house the average cost range is approximately $163,000 to $484,000, according to HomeAdvisor. This will include the cost of all the labor and material to build a house but won't include things like the land, architect and general contractor fees, and any additional expenses. With land fees being very different nationwide, the final cost of a new house can be much higher than these figures.

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