How much does it cost to build a house?
August 10, 2014 2:48 PM   Subscribe

We just moved to northern Bergen County, NJ, and notice that a lot of the older homes in our neighborhood are being sold, torn down, and brand new houses are being built on the property. How much does that sort of thing cost?

The house + property alone is usually somewhere around $400-500k; how much more do you spend to build the new house? I'm interested anecdotes as well as articles on the topic.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Someone I know is doing this out on Long Island to the tune of about $500K.
posted by griphus at 3:16 PM on August 10, 2014

It really depends on what type of house you build and how you finish it. I'm in the research phase of building a new house, and a kit or modular house could be as low as $80/sf if you act as your own GC and do some of the work yourself. At the other end of the price range, a custom site-built home of high-quality materials with pros doing all the labor could be $250/sf or more.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:47 PM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

This article is about tiny houses in Oregon, but if you scroll to the bottom, they break down the cost of building aside from design, permits and fees. So that should give you a jumping off point to look at similar things in your area.

The point of the article is, there are a lot of fixed costs beyond the square footage cost.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:03 PM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

We paid $140/sqft in Calgary, Canada. That seemed about average here. YMMV.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:04 PM on August 10, 2014

Is true that there are fixed costs regardless of the size of the house, and I learned recently that a 2-story house can be cheaper to build than a 1-story of comparable square footage, because the 1-story has a bigger foundation and a bigger roof, both of which are not insignificant costs.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:26 PM on August 10, 2014

On the same note, tearing down he old house but reusing the foundation is a pretty popular way to get a new house but save 100k or so.
posted by janell at 4:33 PM on August 10, 2014

Demolishing the old foundation and building a new one costs nowhere near $100K. Demo would be $2 - 5K and the new foundation would be $10-15K.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:51 PM on August 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing rabbitrabbit's cost. A midsize-large (1300-2500sf) home that is well laid out and built to minimize cost of the expensive bits (roof, foundation, plumbing, wiring) can be done for $80 sf if you don't get fancy on your finishes and trim, to $250+ for high end stuff like marble tile, fancy counters, exotic hardwoods and a sprawling single story lay out with a complicated roof and that awful half rock veneer outside finish. The expensive house doesn't usually buy you a better house, just fancier stuff that you touch in the house and making people say uhhh and ahhh when they see it.

If you do want to spend more spend on quality of life things-get higher grade cabinets (and especially hinges and drawer slides), insulation, an outdoor kitchen(or sink and grilling area at least), tile showers/tub surrounds instead of fiberglass inserts, better exterior doors and it is amazing how much things like top quality faucets, door knobs and locksets make a house feel really good without driving up the cost much at all. Stuff like stainless appliances, carpets, countertops, laminate flooring and crown moulding cost a lot, but are something that is easy to change/upgrade later and are fashions on these things are fickle and don't usually return very well on home equity.
posted by bartonlong at 5:31 PM on August 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am in Westchester County. I would guess that in Bergen County the costs would be similar. I would estimate that on the low end, around $150 per square foot and on the high end, almost $300 sq ft. If it is a builder doing it on spec who does this for a living, his costs will be lower and he can probably do it for around $100 sq ft.

Go look on one of those real estate websites like Zillow. See what new construction in your neighborhood is selling for per sq ft. Take off some amount for markup and the spec risk and you have a good estimate of what it would cost.
posted by 724A at 8:51 PM on August 10, 2014

Have you seen the documentary TINY? The couple in the movie build a tiny house that's on a trailer. It's about 150 square feet, if I remember right. It took them $27,000 and a year of labor. I was really surprised by that final figure.

Costs all depend on what you want to build. You can even order house kits from Menard's with all of the materials you need to build your own house. You then just need to act as a general contractor and get someone to put it all together.
posted by Ostara at 9:54 PM on August 10, 2014

Are you talking about doing it yourself or having someone else do it?

You can get a pretty good idea of the latter by looking at how much new construction is going for, and think how much a builder would need to profit in order to make decent money.

Doing it yourself? Well you are in North Jersey so fuggedaboutit. Building a house is an incredibly difficult and complex process for people who do it professionally and have a long list of carpenters, plumbers, electricians that they work with. For a lay person it is simply not worth it.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:17 AM on August 11, 2014

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