The sun is shining, your checklist is made, and now it’s time to find out how much it might cost to build a custom home. With the real estate market going up more buyers are beginning to consider custom home cost and how it can benefit their lifestyles. Rather than purchase a home that needs considerable upgrades or remodeling, families can choose a floor plan that works for them and pick finishes that align with their style. In order to start the process, it’s important to get a solid understanding of the costs involved with building a custom home.

How To Estimate The Cost To Build A Custom Home

Giving specific cost estimates is impossible as there are so many variables when building a custom home. That said, we can give some general percentages and costs to start guiding your thinking and prepare you to talk to a builder.

As you begin to look at custom home costs, it’s necessary to realize that all associated prices are estimates based on specific builds. In order to have a complete financial breakdown, you’ll need to talk to a builder and have them give you hard numbers based on your plans and design. 

Factors That Will Impact Costs

Depending on if you own the property or have to purchase a lot will be immediate costs to consider. While some properties may seem to be lower in price than in other areas, it’s necessary to find out how much permits and zoning cost in that municipality.

Location of Property

The location of the property that you want to build on will have an impact on your overall costs. Each town has zoning requirements that need to be met as well as differing costs for permits. Depending on the lot, you’ll need to take into account the cost to add sewer, water, and electrical services. Towns also all have different tax fees and requirements to build, you can find out about these by visiting your local planning department. 


The design of the home you want to build will also have a significant impact on your overall costs. This will depend on the floor plan you choose, the amount of square footage you decide on, and if you want a multiple storied home. 

Always prepare for design complications as these can greatly impact the cost to build a custom home. 

Builder Experience

Builders with a greater degree of experience are less likely to run into issues. They will also have a strong understanding of what to expect from city planners, as well as permit costs and timeframes. The higher quality the builder, the more likely your home will reflect their high level of attention.


When choosing high quality materials and amenities, your cost to build a custom home will increase. Depending on the designer and builder, they can often help you determine which fixtures will have the best overall impact and be worth the increased investment. 

Site Preparation

Site preparation is the least exciting part of the building process and yet the literal foundation of your project. The costs to build a custom home associated with this are the sewer lines, water, electricity, as well as pouring your foundation and cement costs. It’s necessary to get permits for these projects and depending on the area you choose to build; this can be both an expensive and lengthy process.

Exterior Finish

Choosing an exterior finish that can withstand the elements in your local area can impact your overall budget. However, this can also increase the longevity and efficiency of your home. Your roof will also play a large role in your energy conservation as well as the overall cost of your project. These finishes may be more up front, but they will likely save you money over the years.

Landscaping and Outdoor Living Spaces

Landscaping and outdoor living spaces may be a cost to build a custom home that you are not prepared to invest in upfront. You can save these for down the road, but they may impact the initial enjoyment of your space. It’s a better choice to move forward on any outdoor living spaces while you have your builder working with you. This will save you any later frustration trying to find someone to make time for a smaller project. It will also increase your overall enjoyment of your custom home from the day you move in.

Construction Costs Itemized 

Having a list of itemized construction costs, can help you when determining fixtures and elements you may want to add to your project. This is not a complete list of items you may choose; however, it gives you a great overall outlook on what to expect for a typical 1800 square foot home. Large luxury custom built homes can run much higher. This is where the expertise of a quality home builder can help to mitigate some of these costs, and know where the best places to splurge and where to save are. They’ll work with you every step of the way to match your budget with your dreams.

Windows & Sliding Doors 

The costs can be extensive when choosing energy efficient, metal, or design conscious windows and sliding doors. Of course, the more window and doors that are included in your design, the more the cost will go up.  These can range in price from $150 - $3000

Bath Accessories

A luxury spa-like bathroom may be forefront in your mind when designing a custom home. Deciding how much you are willing to spend is important to the type of finishes you choose. Builder grade materials will be less over all, but they may miss the luxury that you are hoping for. These costs can be as low as $75 for faucets or as high as $10,000 for a bathtub

Brick Hearth & Veneer

If you decide to add a fireplace, which may be a good idea depending on the local weather. There’s nothing better than curling up in front of a crackling fire on a rainy night. The cost for a brick hearth or veneer surround may be extensive. The cost to add a custom fireplace can be as low as $1,000 up to $10,000.

Built-in Appliances

Having built-in appliances can have a strong aesthetic in your home and impact the overall enjoyment of your space. Be prepared to spend between $5,000 - $15,000 depending on the quality and level of efficiency


Cabinetry has a powerful effect on the overall design of your space. They are also one of the biggest reasons people may choose to build a custom home. Having a spice rack next to your cooktop or designated Tupperware drawers can impact how much you enjoy your home. These can range from $4,000 to $25,000


Many people differ on the types of flooring they prefer. Carpet is a great alternative for families who have small children or like the warmth in the bedrooms. This is a more cost-effective flooring and typically ranges in price from $2-$4 a square foot.


With all customization options, countertops can range from high-end granite to a lower-cost stainless steel wrapped counter. It depends on your budget and the overall aesthetic you are working toward. Prices can range from $40-$200 a square foot, plus labor. 


A tall striking wood door with glass windows to a solid blocked door for security, there are many different needs and desires when it comes to what you use to enter your space. The costs for doors can vary greatly from $450-$1600. Specialty or exotic wood doors can run more than $20,000 each. 


Ready to clear land to lay a foundation? You’ll need someone to come out and excavate your land. This can range from $1200-$20,000.


The exterior of your home will need to be resilient to the climate of the area that you choose to build. Prepare for stucco if you are in the desert or wood framing if you are in a mountain cabin. As engineered structures gain recognition, you may find that this is the best product for your dwelling. This wide variety of options can range from $3-$11 a square foot.

Final Cleanup

That final stretch will still add to your overall costs with the final cleanup cost in the ballpark of $300-$1500.

Finish Carpentry Labor

There are few things more important than the finish work in your home. It’s the process of building out the interior of your home. From installing your flooring, tiling your shower, plumbing, painting your space, and making sure that everything is ready for you to move in. This cost can vary from $15-$150 an hour. 

Finish Hardware

Don’t forget the importance of drawer pulls, curtain rods, and towel hooks. Finishing the space in your home with small items that are necessities can still add to your overall price. These can be as low are $.27-$80 depending on what your vision is for finishing the look of your home. 

Finish Wood

Any finish wood you may need to complete the house by adding moulding, etc. isn’t cheap. Depending on the wood you choose prices can vary from $4-$10 a linear foot.

Flatwork (Drive & Walk)

Imagining stamped concrete patios and walkways around your space, filled in with brightly colored flowers? Those additional details can add to your overall budget. The average cost for concrete work around your home can be between $1,800-$6,000. For larger areas, stamping, or custom work, expect to pay much more. 

Foundation, Slab & Piers

The foundation of your home will likely not grace a magazine cover, but it is the necessity of keeping your dwelling solid and safe for years to come. Prepare to spend around $4,143-$13,220.

Garage Door

Garage doors have been getting an upgrade in recent years from modern tinted to a wood look; depending on the design of your space, this can have a profound impact. Expect to pay between $600-$3500.

Gypsum Wallboard

Dry wall is necessary to make a cohesive space. It covers up the framing, electrical wires, and plumbing pipes. You won’t want to skip this important piece. However, the price can be as high as $12 to $20 a board. 

Heating and Ducting

Unless you live in the most temperate region of the world, you’ll need an HVAC system with corresponding ducting installed in your new home. These systems can range in price from $6,820-$12,350. 

Insulation (R19 ceiling)

To help keep the heat in, and the cold out, you’ll want to insulate your ceiling. This can vary from $1-$1.75 a square foot for materials and labor

Insurance & Payroll Tax

It will likely come as a surprise that the IRS requires some of the labor costs, insurance, and taxes that employers pay to their employees be rolled into the price of the custom home. Therefore, make sure you budget for this expense when figuring out your price point. Most often this will be calculated as a percentage of your final custom home cost. 

Lighting Fixtures

Imagine a sparkling cascade of lightbulbs glistening overhead when you walk into a room. These can set the mood of your home from bright and cheery to mellow and dramatic. Prepare for prices ranging around $1-$4 a square foot. This is from a lighting expert in the field to calculate costs.

Builder Overhead & Profit

Even though you are planning your dream house and calculating costs, the person who takes your ideas and brings them into reality will need to be recouped for their time, vision, and management skills. Expect to add 15-20% to your final overall cost to build a custom home. Though given what can go wrong during a construction project, the builder cost is well worth it.  


You may be tempted to take on this task yourself, how hard can it be to paint a room? Well, when it comes to keeping lines straight and prepping the space for a new cost of paint, you’ll likely find yourself quickly overwhelmed. A beautifully painted space is well worth the investment. You can expect to pay between $2,000-$16,000 depending on the size of your space.  

Permits & Utilities

One of the least fun parts of building a new home. Permit and utility fees can highly impact your bottom line. Depending on where you live these costs can vary from as low as $1200 to even as high as $80,000 in certain townships. 

Plans & Architect Fees

It’s exciting to take a vision of what you want and find someone to put it on paper for you. Architects are skilled at creating a structure that aligns with your imagination. If you are budgeted to work with someone to customize your plans these can range from $25,000 to $70,000. If that is out of your price point, you can always choose a pre-made plan from a quality custom home builder. 

Plumbing & Sewer Connections

Those pesky plumbing and sewer connections can impact your bottom line by about $2,200-$5,500 depending on the size of your house and the proximity to city sewer lines. 

Prefabricated Fireplace

Imagine a beautiful sparkling fire on a rainy California day. The warmth is well worth the investment. Especially with the PG&E blackouts. This addition could cost you as much as $8500.


Do you want cool tile floors, warm carpet, or luxurious hardwood? The price point for this feature is as endless as the options. If you have a pool in the back and little children, you may want to install vinyl plank flooring to catch all the drips and spills associated with younger people. The range is as varied as the flooring from $2-$20 a square foot.


This is a house feature that may be impacted if you have HOA or CC&R’s. Double check your neighborhood guidelines prior to choosing materials. With the importance of energy efficiency there are many options to fit your budget from cooling tile roofs to solar roof panels. The price can be adjusted from $900-$45000.

Rough Carpentry Labor

All that framing has to be installed by a strong group of laborers. The cost for the framing of the house plans can vary from $3000-$20,000.

Rough Hardware

With a custom home building costs, some that are highly unexpected are the additional cost of nails, glue, staples, and basic hardware to hold the home together. However, these are typically grouped in the rough carpentry costs.

Rough Lumber

Another one of those unexpected costs, the lumber associated with the building of a home depends on the type of wood that you choose. Just the wood for a 2000 square foot home can cost about $10,000. After the pandemic, the cost for that same lumber is as high as $30,000. 

Showers & Tubs

Dreaming of standing under a rain shower or soaking in a warm tub overlooking your garden? Then this will be a fun part of your building process. Shower and tub inserts will be the lowest cost, while tiled showers and custom tubs can increase your budget. The price can range anywhere from $500-$10,000.


The fixtures and finish work you choose will impact the overall price of building a custom home. However, one price point that is unavoidable is the cost of wiring. This depends on your area and the demand on your local electricians. The price for wiring materials can be as much as $7800 to as low as $1600.

Average Cost of Building A Home

new home construction cost
Graph source

The cost to build a custom home will vary greatly depending on the fixtures and features you choose to add to your space. The graph provided is an excellent guide when deciding how much of your budget should go to certain aspects of the process. Talk to a qualified custom home builder today to learn more about this process and find out if it’s the right choice for your living situation. 

Custom Home Cost Per Square Foot In CA

Real estate prices are skyrocketing and for the first time in almost thirty years it is cheaper to build a new home than to invest in an already existing structure. Therefore, if you have been on the fence debating the investment of building your dream house; this is the ideal moment in history to bring that vision into reality. California is a prime area to build a custom home. With the varied counties and communities, the custom home cost per square foot may vary greatly. The state average when building a custom home are between $250-$750.

With the current low inventory in the housing market, more people are realizing that they would rather build a custom home that aligns with their lifestyle than purchase a prebuilt home. Costs will only increase as people find themselves needing more space or enjoying higher spending power. 

Costs Many Don’t Think About When Building A Home

When it comes to the cost to build a custom home there are many services that impact the overall construction budget. Therefore, it’s important to research the process prior to moving forward in order to be best prepared for all unexpected costs associated with the building process. It may be worthwhile to reach out to property management companies to get a comprehensive list of costs associated with building a custom home rather than purchasing a pre-existing home. 

Architect and/or Engineer

If you have been drawing house plans and picturing yourself in a specific home, then the cost to have your plans drawn up can impact your budget. It is necessary for an architect to work with an engineer in order to make sure your good ideas are structurally sound and can work with the materials available. If this is a preventative cost, then many custom home builders will have pre-made house plans that could be a better fit for your financial needs. The cost to hire an architect and engineer can vary from $15,000 to $80,000.

Outdoor Living Space (Pool / Landscaping)

Many can’t imagine a new home without the comfort of a sparkling pool or custom landscaping. It is necessary to determine what customized features you’ll need to make your new home feel move in ready. The additional cost of landscaping can be as low as $3000 to as high $20,000. When determining what you want to add, you’ll also need to take into account the local climate and the water restrictions in the areas. 

If you plan to add a pool, which can be a lifesaver in California summers, then you’ll need to determine the type of water feature you want. If you need something able to accommodate your child’s friends coming over to splash around or if you want something more convenient to swimming laps. Depending on the size and depth, your custom pool could range from $30,000 to $300,000 (or a lot more for high end water features). An added feature that could make the cost to build a custom home more enjoyable when you are floating in the cool waters.

Permits (CA permits are ridiculously expensive)

The most unenjoyable aspect of building a custom home is the outrageous cost of permits. California is notorious for their high permit fees and long wait periods. However, much of this is based on the municipality in which you choose to build your home. It’s worthwhile to talk to property management companies and find out what they recommend for the best locations to build and with the lowest associated fees. Some areas may charge as low as $1200 to as high as $80,000 for your permits. Therefore, speak to a qualified custom home builder and get their recommendations. 

Land Preparation (esp. If on hill)

If you have imagined a home built on a hill with sweeping vistas and towering trees then you may pay more for land preparation than if you were to build on a flat lot. It’s helpful to research with a custom home builder what location is able to be graded for your project and get some estimates on associated costs. If you have already bought a lot then you may find yourself paying more in preparation fees to get it ready for your home. The average cost for land preparation is $1200-$8,000.

Delay and/or Materials Inflation

With much of the world still experiencing lockdowns due to the current pandemic; the production and processing of materials has been delayed or increased in price. When you find a reputable home builder, make sure to add in the cost to build a custom home and the possible delays that could be associated with the final cost. These delays could increase your budget if you have to find housing while you are waiting for your project to be completed. The expected increase due to inflation could be as much as 3.1%. 


If you have decided that you can’t wait any longer to build a custom home and that there has never been a better time to move forward with your project, then you’ll want to hold onto this list. The low inventory on the housing market is encouraging more potential buyers to explore the cost to build a custom home. And, as you can see above, the vast number of decisions for materials and design can quickly become overwhelming. A good custom home builder like Bianchi-Tillett Developers will help you cut through the noise and put a plan in place that suits you. Contact us today and find out if building a custom home is the best choice for your lifestyle and future goals. 

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