When you are looking at getting into a new home, many people have the option of buying an existing pre-built home or building their own. There are many factors to consider when deciding between these two options. Is there a drastic price difference? With the insane housing market, does that favor buying or building? Are there better locations than others around Sacramento for building a  new home? Looking at these factors is an important step in the process of weighing whether to build vs buy.

Weighing Factors To Building or Buying An Existing House

Asking yourself what things are most important to you can help you weigh which option might be best for you.

Here are questions to consider when deciding to build vs buy:

  • Have you always wanted to build a home?
  • Is it within your budget to build a home?
  • Do I absolutely have to have everything on my home wish list, or can I compromise?
  • Are there homes or lots available in the area that you want to live in?
  • Is now the best time in the market to build or to buy an existing home?
  • Do you have the time available to build a home, or do you need to move right away?
  • Do you not want to have to worry about repairs or replacements for awhile?
  • Do you not want to deal with the competition in the buying market?
  • Is it important for you to know if your home is built with non-toxic or eco-friendly methods?
  • Does making a lot of decisions overwhelm me?

Cost Of Building A House vs Buying

One of the main factors that people consider when building vs buying a home is cost. The cost to build or buy can be different depending on location and other variables, but overall the two are fairly close in terms of price difference.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the median U.S. home sales price in June of 2019 was about $288,900. On the flip side, the average cost to build a new home is about $295,820 according to HomeAdvisor (though it typically ranges from $150,354 – $441,956). Granted, these are national averages, but does it surprise you to know that building may not be as expensive as you thought? But let's look specifically at home sales data for Sacramento, CA in May of 2021.

  • Sacramento, CA Median Home Price: $457,770
  • Sacramento average price per square foot: $302
  • Sacramento, CA Median Price To Build A Home: $550,000 - $700,000

You can see that Sacrament is much more expensive than the national averages. Additionally, building any home, spec or luxury, will cost proportionally higher in California than almost anywhere else in the country. Much of this is driven by government permit fees. Finally, the pandemic has driven up the price of materials and costs associated with building a home, in many cases around 25-30%.

Does this mean that you shouldn't build a home? No, not at all. Ask anybody trying to buy a home right now, and they'll tell you how incredibly competitive it is. If you're not bidding tens of thousands over asking price, your offer oftentimes isn't even considered! Taking this into consideration, building a home doesn't look all that more expensive than buying an existing house.

What are the premium areas around Sacramento To Build a Custom Home?

  • Cameron Park
  • Carmichael
  • El Dorado Hills
  • Folsom
  • Granite Bay
  • Lincoln
  • Rocklin
  • Roseville

These areas are some of the most desirable areas around Sacramento, many which are close to Folsom Lake. With that obviously comes a premium price. If you build an average home in one of these areas, it will easily cost between $500-$700k. Land could very well be in addition to that. The average price per square foot for existing homes in Sacramento is around $300/square foot. High end homes will cost well over $1 Million.

Factors Beyond Price

It's easy to get hung up on cost. But if we circle back and look at the list of questions posed at the beginning of this article, we realize that there are many other factors to consider.

For example, if you're looking for a more traditional single family home that has plenty of space and enough room to grow your family - the cost might be worth it to you. You may want to consider building on an empty lot in one of these cities like Cameron Park or El Dorado Hills where there is less competition when it comes time to existing pre-built homes.

One factor that you really must consider is the timeline. Can you wait a year or more for your custom home to be built? It doesn't always take that long, but even getting permits approved in CA can prove tiresome - sometimes taking even 3 - 6 months. Hiring a builder can definitely help in this process, as they are used to working with the governing bodies, and if they are good, even have preferred status with them.


Making the decision to build a house or buy an existing house is no small matter. Hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars are on the line. You want to make sure and do your due diligence and answer all the questions above, weigh each answer carefully, make your plans, get financing in order, and then call Bianchi-Tillett Developers to get details on building a home! (If that's your choice.) Contact us today to get specific details about the area you are looking at.

Additional Reading:

Best Places to Live in Sacramento

Building a New Home Checklist

Pros & Cons of Building a Custom Home

Cost to Build a Custom Home