NORTH Idaho Real Estate Pro


"How Much Does it Cost to Build a Home?" - Answers to that Question....


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.


Pam Jank, CRS, GRI, ABR, CNE, RRS, Realtor(c)Pam Jank, CRS, GRI, ABR, CNE, RRS, Realtor(c)
Your North Idaho Real Estate Pro - 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

Comment balloon 25 commentsPam Jank • September 28 2008 04:25PM


Very well written post. It will help buyers when they make an offer on a house.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 11 years ago

Pam - This blog is so full of information, I really like it. And the pics of the homes are beautiful. I will have to go through the blog later to absorb all the information.

Posted by Robert Vegas Bob Swetz, Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale (Realty ONE Group) almost 11 years ago

Great info for someone considering building a house in your area, Pam.

I don't know if we could do $75 a foot in Florida but the other figures could work here. Interesting about least to most $$. Have to think about that in reference to our area.

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) almost 11 years ago


And then there are those magnificent log homes.  I saw one fully constructed in the Mall of America in Minnesota, and think it's the best!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 11 years ago

Pam ... thanks for your post. The cost to build a dream house rancher top of the line here in South OC, CA, is more than $200 per SF.  Best wishes.  Harrison

Posted by Harrison K. Long, REALTOR , GRI, Broker associate, Attorney (HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty) almost 11 years ago

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.  

Posted by Pam Jank, Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro (Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty) almost 11 years ago

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!

Posted by Pam Jank, Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro (Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty) almost 11 years ago

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.

Posted by Debbie Malone, From Lynchburg To The Lake (434) 546-0369 (Londeree's Real Estate & Property Management) almost 11 years ago

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!

Posted by Pam Jank, Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro (Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty) almost 11 years ago

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.

Posted by Not a real person almost 11 years ago

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.....

Posted by Pam Jank, Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro (Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty) almost 11 years ago

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.

Posted by Tim Jank (Jank & Associates) almost 11 years ago

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.

Posted by Ted Ewing (Simmons Built) almost 11 years ago

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.

Posted by Pam Jank, Your Coeur d'Alene & North Idaho Real Estate Pro (Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty) almost 11 years ago

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

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) over 5 years ago

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.

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (RE/MAX Gold) over 5 years ago

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.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 5 years ago

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!

Posted by Kevin Ray, REALTOR & U.K. Real Estate Consultant (Resident Realty) over 5 years ago

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.

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 5 years ago

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

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) over 5 years ago

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.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 5 years ago

Excellent blog...nicely written and good information.

Eve in Orlando

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) over 5 years ago

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!

Posted by Jack O'Neal (HomeSmart Elite Group) over 5 years ago

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.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 5 years ago

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

Posted by Toni about 4 years ago