cost estimate to build a house

How Much Does it Cost to Build a House? A Comprehensive Guide

how much does it cost to build a house

how much does it cost to build a house

The process of building your dream home requires getting things right as you begin to plan for the construction. Even though the process might be tasking, it is worthwhile when you eventually finish it.

There are many salient questions you should ask yourself before you begin. These questions will effectively give you a sense of direction on how to go about the planning and construction.

In this article, we have made things easy for you by giving answers to all your likely questions — most especially, the cost of successfully building your home.

Whether you choose to build a simple and small bungalow, duplex, multifamily apartment, or 3-bedroom luxury home, below are the likely questions that will help you to get started.


1. Can I Afford It?

    The most important questions of all are “Can I afford it?” and “How much does it cost to build a house?”

    Start by calculating the construction costs of the building, the fence or wall surrounding the property, connecting water and electricity, and building permits. Make sure to include some extra money (about 10%) for unforeseen costs.

    Later in this article, you'll learn how to calculate your construction costs and how to save money during construction.


    2. Do I Have the Time?

      Construction requires a lot of your time. You must select a plan, materials, colors, doors, sinks, tiles, fixtures, and other pieces of equipment that you will need.

      You must oversee payments to the contractors or laborers, get building permits, deal with your water department and electric company for them to make connections, and so much more.

      It sounds intimidating but it’s something you’ll learn naturally as long as you’re involved in the process. Just ensure that you have the time to deal with it all.

      Expect a realistic timeline of 8 months to 2 years of construction. And even longer, if you’re on a small budget or constructing your home gradually with your monthly income.


      3. Is the Location the Right One?

        So, you’ve bought a plot and you’re ready to start building. But is the plot in the right place? Once you get started with construction, there is usually no stopping. And you can no longer change your mind about the location.

        Ask yourself the following: Do I like the neighbors? Is it a noisy location? Is there access to water and power? Are the roads passable during the rainy season?


        4. Who Will Supply the Building Materials?

          In most cases, it is worth employing a contractor to undertake all the work. You go into an agreement with the contractor who then ensures that all materials are purchased as per drawings and agreements.

          The contractor will also ensure the safety of construction materials on the site. It is cheaper to purchase materials yourself but if you don’t have very good security, you will find materials disappearing from the building site without your knowledge. This could end up costing much more in the end.

          Unless you’re experienced or have done enough research, it is better to have several contractors make bids on the project. Then, you select the cheapest option.


          5. How Many Bricks Do I Need?

          cost to build a house calculator

          This is a very common but not very relevant question. If you’re using bricks (or concrete blocks) like 92% of buildings constructed in urban areas, then the cost of bricks will only amount to about 10% of the total construction cost.

          You can find a cost estimate calculator for each house plan from to give you a good indication of the total costs involved for each plan.

          Alternatively, you can get a Bill of Quantities prepared for your project to give you a more accurate cost estimate including a detailed list of all materials required.


          6. How Do I Select a Home Builder/Contractor?

            The first thing the contractor must have is experience. The more experienced the contractor the better and faster the construction. The contractor will also know how to minimize cost and, therefore, will charge you less.

            Secondly, ask the contractor to show you his portfolio. Talk to people the contractor has worked with and get feedback. This is your biggest investment, so make sure that you have the right person for it.

            Don’t select a contractor on face value; rather, make thorough research and base your selection on facts, references, and positive feedback(s). A contractor should also know your local building regulations so that you don’t get into trouble with the local government.

            Prepare a list of questions and meet with several contractors before making your final decision.


            7. Will the House be Properly Secured?

              When you are still deciding on what your dream home will look like, it is important to know that you will be able to live securely in it. If the neighborhood is not safe, make sure you have burglar bars and a secure perimeter wall or fence.

              Fewer doors and windows give you more security; so, select a plan that reflects this if you’re concerned about your safety. You can also ask yourself whether you can add steel grills to the doors in your selected plan if they will be needed.


              8. Do I Have the Right Plans?

                how much does it cost to build a house yourself

                Make sure that you have the right plans by talking to a professional. A plan should work with your plot and the surroundings, the local building codes, landscape, your taste and requirements, your budget, and much more. You can contact professionals at in case you need assistance with selecting the perfect plan for your dream home.


                9. What Design Style Should I Go With?

                  This question is closely related to the issue of costs and security. The fancier a design is the more expensive it will be. For instance, if you want a design with large windows, the price will be higher than installing small windows.

                  Likewise, large windows are less secure. Keep in mind that all additional elements or decorations translate to additional costs. With most designs, it is quite possible to add decorations at a later stage once your budget allows you to do that.


                  10. How Many Roofing Sheets Do I Need for the House?

                    Just like bricks, you need to decide the type of roofing sheet you'll need for your building and do some calculations to get the right estimate.

                    Most building constructions use the pitch roof style for their roofing. There’s no generally accepted method for measuring the number of roofing sheets you'll need for a house because houses differ in size and structure.

                    But in a nutshell, the process of determining the sheets you need has to do with knowing the exact measurement of each aluminum sheet to be used. After that, you have to measure the length and width of each side of the building.

                    You will then proceed to add an allowance for the pitch or roof rise. To get the area of the roofing sheet, you have to multiply the length of each sheet by its breadth. Then, divide the total area of the building by the pitch to give you the total number of roofing sheets you need for the house.


                    11. How Much Do I Need to Get Started?

                      After you must have effectively answered the above questions and figured out all you need for your building process, the finance comes next. The cost of building a house often varies from one location or country to another.

                      how much does it cost to build a house

                      The size, square footage, and type of house you plan to build also go a long way in determining the overall cost of building your house. Also, the materials you use and the location of your building will determine how cheap or expensive your construction will be.

                      If you’re DIY-savvy, you can cut costs by doing some constructions (if not all) yourself, rather than hiring construction engineers and builders. However, you may need to obtain a license to enable you to implement that.

                      On average a 2 or 3-bedroom luxury apartment will cost about $150,000 to $500,000 or more. But if you’re on a budget and prefer a simple, tiny, but chic house, you can build one for $25,000 to $50,000.

                      In all, your budget has an integral role to play in your building process.

                      If you’re on a high budget, you can build your home in an urban area with enough luxury and infrastructure to enjoy. In contrast, it’s recommended to build your house in a rural area if you’re on a low budget. This is because you can spend less, especially when you want to purchase land for the construction process.


                      Construction Cost Calculator

                      The construction cost calculator gives you an indication of the costs of constructing your home.

                      The calculations are estimates based on the current average market prices in sampled African countries and may not necessarily give you an exact construction cost estimate.

                      For exact construction costs, you need to acquire a BOQ (Bills of Quantities) with specific estimates for your location and building plan. Many factors determine the final construction cost but we cannot incorporate them all into the cost calculator due to various limitations.

                      Below are some factors to consider.

                      • Your choice of contractor: Some are simply more expensive than others.
                      • Location of site: The further you are from the source of building materials the more money will go into transportation costs.
                      • Type of soil and terrain you are building on: Clay soil and black cotton soil will require stronger and more costly foundations than firm soil.
                      • Types and quality of finishes: This factor makes one of the biggest differences as the costs for finishes such as tiles and doors can vary considerably.
                      • Local taxes
                      • Access to power and water: Having to ship water for construction is costly compared to having water on site.
                      • Duration of construction: Overheads such as security and supervision continues as long as the construction continues.
                      • Changes to the plan during construction: Make sure you have proper plans to avoid having to break and rebuild any part of the building. This will greatly affect your total construction costs.


                      Tips to Cut Your Construction Costs

                      Here are some great tips to cut your construction costs without compromising on safety, beauty, or comfort.


                      1. Choose simple well-designed floor plans

                      Complex shapes are difficult and expensive to construct. To cut costs, choose simple rectangular or square floor plans. You should also avoid complicated rooflines.

                      A well-planned home will save you thousands of dollars. Think of it this way – the cost of constructing 1 square meter ranges between 300 – 600 USD, depending on the market. A well-designed 3-bedroom plan may be up to 20 square meters less, meaning savings of up to 12,000 USD.


                      2. Build small

                      how much does it cost to build a house

                      A large house can seem like a bargain when you compare costs per square meter. However, if you look at the bottom line, a small house is more affordable to build and more economical to maintain. If you have a budget for construction, make sure you consult your architect for cost estimates before making up your mind.


                      3. Find economical building lots

                      The cheapest lots are not always the most economical. Your costs may escalate if your contractor has to excavate, clear away bushes and trees, or provide extended drainage. Be sure to factor in the cost of fixing public services. If possible, go for lots in areas that have access to electricity, gas, and water.


                      4. Use professionals

                      On paper, it looks cheaper to get cheap plans off the streets and use cheap inexperienced contractors. However, this always leads to massive amounts of changes to the structure during and even after construction, which will raise the costs tremendously.

                      Make sure you have the right consultants to advise you on the best and cheapest way forward as well as provide you the fully detailed designs that you will not need to change once the construction has started.


                      5. Get a BOQ

                      A BOQ (Bills of Quantities) and schedule of materials are documents showing the exact amount of materials and corresponding costs for constructing your home. By investing in a BOQ, you give yourself a safety net from any contractor looking to make enormous profits at your expense by not being well informed about the actual construction costs.


                      6. Get quotations from several contractors

                      With or without a BOQ, always request quotations from at least 2 or 3 contractors with good reputations as this is a free service. Make sure you inform them that you are also seeking quotations from other contractors to get the best possible deal.


                      7. Building materials


                      By the time you have finished with the foundation, walls, and roof, you have only completed about 50% of the building. The price up to this point is very standard, and it is hard to make significant savings. The real cost savings come during the finishing stages with windows, doors, sinks, ceiling, floors and tiles, electrical installations, plumbing, and fixtures.

                      Always keep in mind that the price of an item does not always directly correspond with the quality. Take your time and choose your finishing materials wisely.


                      In Conclusion

                      Nothing beats the satisfaction and cost-effectiveness that comes with having your home. Planning to build a home essentially means that you are devoting your free time, resources, and patience towards the project for many weeks or months. You need to be well-prepared because the whole process is not for the faint-hearted.

                      Now that you have a better understanding of how to cut your construction costs, you can get started with a premium account to get all the benefits from our website. 

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