"How Much Does it Cost to Build a Home?" - Answers to that Question....

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty SP000

It is not unusual to have the question "How much does it cost to build a home" directed at me. 

I wish there was a simple answer.   However, it is far from simple.

Let's start with the type Floor Plan/Style your home will have.   

2-Story with bonus over garage - Tim Jank and Associates - Custom Home Builders - IdahoDo you want a Rancher (one-level home), Rancher with a Basement (one-level home with basement), Rancher with a daylight walk-out basement (1-or more walls are not in earth), Rancher with a Bonus room above the garage, Rancher with a bonus room above garage and a basement or daylight basement?

Do you want a 2-story home ( a home with the square footage equally distributed on each of the 2-levels) a 2-story with a Basement, 2-story with a daylight walk-out, 2-story with a bonus room above garage, 2-story with bonus room above the garage and a basement?

Do you want a Multi-Level home, a tri-level, four-level home (homes where the Living room dining room, kitchen and a ½ bath are on the main level and then you go ½ flight of stairs to bedrooms and baths and down ½ flight of stairs under the upper level to a ½ submerged basement (your windows start at ground level and go up 2-1/2+ft.) with a family room additional bedrooms & baths?   A four level would take you down below the main level of the home to a fully submerged basement for additional space.

Tim Jank and Associates - Custom Home Builders - Rancher w/Bonus RmDo you want a Split-Entry home?  A split entry is where you enter the Entry of the home on the main-level and then have to go up or down a full flight of stairs to go to the living areas.  Upstairs are usually a Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, bath and bedroom(s).  Down stairs are usually a family room laundry room, bath and additional bedroom(s).  The down stairs is ½ submerged into the ground (windows start at ground level and go up about 2-1/2+ft).


There are even more styles than these, but I think you get the idea of the many different Floor Plan Styles.

Let's say you want to build a home that has a total of 2,000 sq. ft. and you want the Style/Floor Plan that will give you 2000 sq.ft. for the LEAST amount of money.

Two Story - Tim Jank and Associates - Custom Home BuildersHere are the home Styles/Floor Plans in the order of Least to Most expensive to build 2000 sq. ft.

1. Split-Entry

2. Multi- Level

3. Rancher with Basement

4. 2-Story

5.  Rancher

The least expensive 2000 sq. ft. Style/Floor Plan to build is the Split Entry. 

But, let's say you don't like the idea of having to go up and down flights of stairs to get into the house or to go between levels.  Then you would opt to pay a little more for your 2000 sq. ft. by going to the Multi-level with allows you to enter the home without having to use stairs.  Once you are inside the main-level of the home the flights of stairs to the different levels are shorter flights or ½ flights.

Rancher with Daylight Walk-out BasementNow you have decided that even ½ flights of stairs are more than you want to deal with on a daily basis getting to and from the living areas you use on a daily basis. That would take you to another price level up to Rancher with a Basement (1000 sq. ft. on the main level and 1000 sq. ft. in the basement).  Most of your daily living needs would be on the main level.  Living room, dining room, kitchen, bath, your bedroom.   The basement would have your Family room, hobby room, guest room, bath room and possibly a laundry room unless you want it upstairs. (Add more money for a daylight walk-out basement).

So, you don't like basements, walk-out or otherwise.  Then you would go up another price level to the Two-Story home (I think we all know what that is)

After all that... you have now decided that you don't like stairs at all... nada... zip... Well, you have just found the most expensive way to get 2000 sq. ft.  It is called "The Rancher" One-Level home.  All 2000 sq. ft.  are spread out on the same level.  No stairs. 


Once you have decided which floor-plan best suits your needs for that 2000 sq. ft. home, you have to decide what amenities or upgrades to the home are the most important to you.  I.e., Granite, stone, tile, kitchen, baths, fireplace(s), lighting, moldings, floorings, siding, roofing, flatwork (patios, pathways).

To give you an example:  A full kitchen appliance package could be done for $2500 or it can be done for $50,000.   A full lighting package could be done for $600 or $30,000. It all depends on your specific needs and wants. (these are generalized prices not exact).


The lot (Land) you choose to build on will dictate the type of floor plan you will be able to build.  The  slope, steepness, levelness, shape, width, depth, etc... of the lot (Land) has much to do with what you can build.  Different types of lots have different ADDED costs to build.   Do you need retaining walls, a longer driveway, additional engineering costs, etc? 

**That great buy you got on your lot (land) may have had allot to do with your unseen "ADDED COSTS" to build.**

Are you starting to see the "DIFFICULT to ANSWER" Part?

If I had to generalize, using a 2000 sq. ft. Rancher on LEVEL & STABLE lot with average size driveway and utilities to the property, (the per sq. ft. costs are relative to our area in Kootenai County, Idaho.  Your per sq. ft. costs may or will differ):

  1. An entry level (simple design, inexpensive grade materials, no bells or whistles!) 2000 sq. ft. one-level  "Rancher" with a 2-car garage could be built for as little as $75+/- per sq. ft.
  2. A moderately priced one-level 2000 sq.ft. "Rancher" with some higher end amenities and building materials (siding, roof, stone, etc) and higher kitchen, bath, flooring, counters, lighting allowance) could be $100+/- per sq. ft.
  3. A very nice one-level 2000 sq. ft."Rancher"  with a 3-Car garage and really good blend of higher end building materials, amenities, and style could be $140+/- per sq. ft. (See 2nd Photo "Rancher w/Bonus Rm")
  4. If you are the type of person that has to "HAVE IT ALL" you could be looking upwards into the $200+ per sq. ft.

I have barely touched on the things that determine your "COSTS to BUILD." This has been a generalization.  Your specific needs and/or type of land you are building on will reduce or increase the "Costs to Build"

The State, City, Town, and or distances to where building materials are available will also make a difference in "Cost to Build."   Accessibility to your property can be another issue.

So, as you can see, the "Cost to Build" is very relative!


If you are looking to have a custom home built here in the Kootenai County, Bonner County, Shoshone County, Benewah County areas, please give me a call.  We are more than happy to work with you on your "New Construction" needs and provide you with actual costs for your specific needs.

Posted by


Pam Jank, CRS, GRI, ABR, CNE, RRS, Realtor(c)Pam Jank, CRS, GRI, ABR, CNE, RRS, Realtor(c)
Your North Idaho Real Estate Pro
www.SellingNorthIdaho.com - Your Free Local MLS Property Search Link
208-661-2282 or Toll Free 800-829-2555 ext. 1275
Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty
1924 Northwest Blvd, Coeur d'Alene ID 83814


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Re-Bloggged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Tim Jank 10/07/2008 12:14 PM
  2. Ted Ewing 10/07/2008 12:25 PM
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Marc McMaster
Putting my clients before myself
RE/MAX Centre Realty

Great explanation to a very difficult wquestion to answer. I always tell people it depends on how nice you want it to be. 

February 17, 2014 10:32 AM
Joe Pryor
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties
Redbud Realty

There is even a lot more detail than that involved in costing a new home although this is an excellent start. For instance, Oklahoma City soil has heaving clay content so using a more expensive post tension slab is a good idea. The other issues that can add cost is energy efficency upgrades like a radiant barrier which adds about $2000 to the cost. I also don't think that appraisal guidelines have kept up with some of these added cost and they should.

February 17, 2014 11:33 AM
Mike & Eve Alexander
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers
Buyers Broker of Florida

Excellent blog...nicely written and good information.

Eve in Orlando

February 17, 2014 02:07 PM
Jack O'Neal
High Touch High Tech
Solutions Real Estate

Great post Pam!  Yes the cost of building your own home to your needs/wants is very relative!  I always say, it all depends on what you want in it and how much you are willing to spend!

February 17, 2014 07:35 PM
Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

I'm always happy to give a buyer a price RANGE per foot for the different styles, depending of course on all the factors you mentioned and average cost for permitting, etc.

No matter.  It's always more than they expected and doesn't even include the cost of the lot.

OR, we can determine their qualifying price range and then determine what they can build within that price range considering the lot cost.

February 18, 2014 08:54 AM
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Pam Jank

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