Home builders will be quick to tell you that estimating the cost of your home based on average home building costs per sq ft, is a very inaccurate way to estimate the cost of your home. The cost of building a house varies greatly by quality, location, the number of bathrooms and the number of expensive luxury items included, however the most uniform cost per square foot prices are shell prices.
Average Home Building Costs Per Sq Ft: Shell Option
The average home building cost per sq ft for a home is far more uniform than the finished cost per square foot. A shell does not include the foundation, landscaping, fixtures, cabinetry finishes or appliances. Sometimes it does not even include drywall. It usually doesn’t include the plumbing or electrical wiring either, though sometimes rough plumbing and wiring are included. The average home building cost per sq ft for a shell is about $25 per square foot with a range of about $22 to $30 per square foot.
Regional and state averages are a lot more accurate than attempting to go by a national average, but they are still too variable to be used as an estimate. California’s average cost per square foot is about $130 per square foot, while in most South Eastern states the average cost per square foot of as low as $75 per square foot. Hawaii and New York home prices are similar to California’s and many of the Northern home prices are also close to those prices. Homes in the Midwest are very similar to Southern prices, but each state varies from another in average cost per square foot.
There are many reasons for the vast difference in the average home building cost per sq ft. One is the overall inflation rate and pay scale in each state. States in the South and Midwest have many qualified carpenters, and the overall pay scale and cost of living are comparatively low. In California, everyone’s wages are higher, because the cost of living is over the top there. States that are near materials sources also have a certain price advantage. Hawaii is an island and so many materials have to be shipped by boat to the island. Things like that can drive the price up.
Probably the greatest factor is the degree of luxury that is common in each state. In the Southern States many budget homes are built, but in California homes commonly have swimming pools, and huge hot tubs. Low cost housing isn’t commonplace at all. This is also why homes vary so much in cost per square foot within each state. Luxury homes cost hundreds of dollars per square foot, and the cost of most luxury homes in the South and Midwest are about half the cost of luxury homes in California.
Only you control the actual cost per square foot. Here are a few ways that you can significantly reduce the cost per square foot in your home.
• Buy a Shell or Kit and do a lot of the work yourself
• Start with a flat lot to avoid excessive landscaping and lot preparation
• Keep your design simple and the overall shape square
• Limit your home to only two eves
• Fewer Bathrooms
• Stock Cabinets and plumbing fixtures are much cheaper than custom
• Do your own paint and wallpaper
• Budget floor coverings, cabinetry and counter tops
• Budget light fixtures
• Keep baths and kitchens close together to save on plumbing costs
• Build a smaller home
• Use salvaged materials whenever possible
While you may not want to incorporate all of the ideas above, some things can be compromised on, and which ones, depends on the personal needs and tastes of the owner. The average home building cost per sq ft is irrelevant, except as a basic guide, but the cost of your home depends on your desires and how much of the work you do yourself.