How much does it cost to build a house ?

The chances are you are here because you are thinking of building your own house, whether that is a home for you (and maybe your family) to live in, or a house for you to sell on for a profit. Let’s cut straight to the chase and answer the question that is on a lot of our lips – how much does it cost to build a house? Of course the correct answer to this question is – it depends.

So, how much does it cost ?

The most accurate figure that can be placed on the cost of building a house is when you look at the most basic build. As a ball park figure you can expect to pay a minimum of about £80 to £100 per square foot, which works out at about £850 to £1050 per square metre. The next related question has to be – how long does it take to build a house? The same conditions apply as to the original question, how much does it cost to build a house? So, on the same basic build premise, it will take on average about 7 months to build a house from scratch.

These figures correspond to the house being built entirely by qualified builders, and for this price and build time your property will meet all current building regulations, but that is about it. This is the price and build time you can expect for a no frills house, but it will be warm and will keep the rain out. So if you are on a budget, or are looking to quickly sell the house on for a profit, then these are the figures you should keep in your mind when you embark on your self build journey.

Price, build speed, or quality – you can’t have them all !

Let’s suppose you are speaking to a contractor about what you want from your build. You put these blunt and straight to the point requests to them.

Your request #1: I want a good quality house that is relatively cheap to build.
Contractor response: Fine, but it will take a long time to complete.

Your request #2: I want a quick build and it has to be as cheap as possible.
Contractor response: OK, but the build quality will be pretty shabby at best.

Your request #3: I want my house built ASAP, and it has got to be top notch quality.
Contractor response: I hope you brought your wallet, because this is going to be pricey.

When you build a house you probably want it to be as cheap as physically possible, but you also want it completed as quickly as possible, and to be finished to a very good standard. Well, unfortunately, it is very rare indeed if you achieved all 3 of these criteria. In the trade it is generally agreed that you can have any 2 of these criteria, but not all 3. It’s good to visualise these 3 criteria as corners on a triangle, and you can have any 2 of the corners, but only at the expense of the 3rd. See the Figure 1 below.

Criteria of a house build
Figure 1 Triangle representing the 3 criteria of a house build. You can only have 2 of the corners at the expense of the 3rd.

So the next time someone tells you that they got their house at a great rate of just £450 per square metre, you can shake your head reassuringly and say “yep, but I bet that took for a year or 2 to complete”.

Cost of building a house

How much does it cost to build a houseApproximately half of your budget will go on raw materials, and the other half on labour when you build your own house. This is based on hiring builders to do the entire build, so if you choose to do so you could cut back on labour costs if you get your hands dirty and do some of the construction work yourself. However, while this seems a simple solution, and a solution many self-build people turn to, in reality it is a tough, time sapping and back breaking task.

While you may save on some of your expenses, you will put a lot of time into the build, and this leads to the question of how much do you value your own time. Time is a valuable asset for all of us, and putting a value on it is difficult, but if you choose to put in many hours building your own property you could be exchanging your time for as little as a few pounds an hour. This is a consideration you should weight up before you decide to get heavily involved in your own build. As mentioned, raw materials are the other major cost in building a house, which is something you would expect. We have a special article focusing on keeping build costs to a minimum. Read it here.

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