"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 up another price level 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" or 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 $100,000.   A full lighting package could be done for $600 or $60,000. 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 a bit of higher end amenities and building materials (siding, roof, stone, etc) and a bit 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-$300 per sq. ft. range.

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.

As building material costs change... so do the "Costs to Build"  Also, when a market is "Slow" addititional savings can be made due to the reduced "Labor" costs.

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


Equal Opportunity HousingEqual Opportunity Housing

 Lake Coeur d'Alene


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Tim Jank 10/07/2008 05:14 AM
  2. Ted Ewing 10/07/2008 05:25 AM
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Pam Jank
Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty - Coeur d'Alene, ID
Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro

Sharon & Harrison, We are still one of the "Best Buys" in the US.   Also, we just made the "TOP 5" list of best places to invest right now.  

Sep 29, 2008 05:05 AM #6
Pam Jank
Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty - Coeur d'Alene, ID
Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro

Mike,  I had to chuckle when I read your comment about Log Homes.  Do you have buyers come to you with those ads that say you can have a log home for $40,000+/- dollars?   Nothing on the ad tells them that is just a basic small shell.  Then you have to educate them as to what additional costs are involved in order for them to actually live in it.  Little do they know, a really nice log home can cost more than a really nice stick built home!

Sep 29, 2008 06:36 AM #7
Debbie Malone
Londeree's Real Estate & Property Management - Lynchburg, VA
From Lynchburg To The Lake (434) 546-0369

Pam, this is an excellent post- I've had more people ask what the average new construction price per sf was and you can't give one answer, too many variables.

Sep 29, 2008 08:08 AM #8
Pam Jank
Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty - Coeur d'Alene, ID
Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro

Debbie, I know, that is why I was motivated to do this post.  Buyer's don't really understand the value differences of home styles and amenities/upgrades.  I was hoping this could shed just a tiny bit of light on it!

Sep 29, 2008 03:34 PM #9
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Great information. It reminds me, though, to remind my Clients to update their insurance policies for the start of the fire season, rain season, and mudslide season. Policies don't automatically adjust for inflation. A quick call to your insurance agent can help prevent heartbreaks and financial disaster if significant damage happens to your home.

Oct 01, 2008 07:36 PM #10
Pam Jank
Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty - Coeur d'Alene, ID
Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro

Russel, this is one of the reasons we love you so much... you always have a great tip, how to, or poignant story for us. Thanks!

We are all still looking forward to that MeMe from you.....

Oct 02, 2008 03:28 AM #11
Tim Jank
Jank & Associates - Coeur d'Alene, ID

Pam, Great information even if you are trying to find out why certain styles of existing homes cost more than others.  Those are some great looking homes.  Do you know the builder?  He must be really good looking.

Oct 04, 2008 10:19 PM #12
Ted Ewing
Simmons Built - Calimesa, CA

Pam, Thanks for putting this together.  This should help both Realtors and home buyers understand why there are different costs /prices for different types of homes.

Oct 05, 2008 05:15 AM #13
Pam Jank
Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty - Coeur d'Alene, ID
Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro

As building material costs change... so do the "Costs to Build"  Also, when a market is "Slow" addititional savings can be made due to the reduced "Labor" costs.

Oct 19, 2008 10:55 AM #14
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional

I would respond with something like "I'm not qualified to answer that question" because I am not qualified to answer that question.

Feb 17, 2014 12:38 AM #15
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

What about the one and one-half story home? You know, where there's a second floor but it doesn't run the full square footage of the first level. You probably see that more in the Midwest.

Feb 17, 2014 12:58 AM #16
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

You are so right, it's complicated and complex depending upon what they want.  I get "what's the price per sq ft?" a lot.   My answer is "depends on what you want?" It varies greatly.  Fortunately I have a builder in my office who can answer if they know what they want.

Feb 17, 2014 01:33 AM #17
Kevin Ray
Aurora, CO
Former REALTOR & U.K. Real Estate Consultant

Pam ~ great info. Most people don't realize how the configuration of a home actually does affect the build cost. 2 storeys must be more expensive because... and rancher must my less expensive because... That was an excellent and easy to understand outline of the differences in construction costs. Thanks for sharing!

Feb 17, 2014 01:55 AM #19
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

I wouldn't answer that quesstion since I'm not a home builder and the cost of building a home is way outside my real estate license.  If I were a licensed, active general contractor, I be more than happy to sit down and cost out home plans.

Feb 17, 2014 02:09 AM #20
Marc McMaster
RE/MAX Centre Realty - State College, PA
Putting my clients before myself

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

Feb 17, 2014 02:32 AM #21
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

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.

Feb 17, 2014 03:33 AM #22
Mike & Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Orlando, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers

Excellent blog...nicely written and good information.

Eve in Orlando

Feb 17, 2014 06:07 AM #23
Jack O'Neal
Conway Real Estate - Gilbert, AZ

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!

Feb 17, 2014 11:35 AM #24
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

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.

Feb 18, 2014 12:54 AM #25

Is there any way someone could assist me in acquiring the floor plans to the photo of the Rancher Daylight with walkout please?

Jun 05, 2015 02:45 PM #27
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