What is the Cost Per Square Foot to Build a New Home?

This is one of the first and most common questions I am asked by clients who are considering building a new home. 

I understand why they ask. They need to see the full financial picture before they take on the costs involved with house plans or a land purchase. They can’t list their current home until they know they can afford a new home.

It is, however, a difficult question to answer. There is virtually an unlimited range of products and systems available for today’s homes, and the prices can vary just as much. For instance, if you were to compare the cost of the exterior finish on two average homes, you may find a difference of $50,000 or more depending on the products selected.

 Without knowing all the details regarding size, complexity, and product choices for a new home, it’s nearly impossible to estimate the cost per square foot.

 A budget is a much more practical tool when determining whether you can afford a new home. Here’s how to create one:

  • Select a plan from a plan book or a website. A photograph of a home you like can work as well.
  • Make a list of the most important products and finishes you would like in your new home.
  • Meet with a few reputable builders and ask them to estimate the cost of the house based on the information you have provided. Chances are there will be a great deal of variation in the “ballpark” quotes you receive. Calculate the average price based on the estimates you’ve collected, and you’ll have a fairly accurate and realistic price of what your new home will cost.

One final piece of advice: please do not eliminate any potential builders of your new home at this time! They are just making an educated guess of the final cost. If the average price is within your budget, you can proceed to have a complete set of plans prepared.

 Meet with your preferred builders again to get detailed, accurate pricing for your new home. Then, you can make an informed decision as to the builder who will fit your budget and continue on with the homebuilding process, confident that your new home will be within your means. 

Keith Sawlor Sawlor Built Homes Custom Home Builder in Nova Scotia

Keith Sawlor

Keith Sawlor is the second generation Owner of Sawlor Built Homes. With more than 35 years experience building custom homes in Nova Scotia, Keith has built a team that mirrors his professional knowledge and values.

Keith is a Certified Residential Builder who is also certified with many leading industry organizations. He is a Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified Builder, a Net Zero Energy (NZE) Certified Builder, a Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) R-2000 Certified Builder, and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS).

Keith is a Board Member of the Atlantic Home Warranty Program as well as the Canadian Home Builders' Association Nova Scotia. He is involved in many other industry programs and associations, such as the Canadian Home Builders’ Association National, Safety Services Nova Scotia and Better Business Bureau.

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  • I’m in the process of looking for quotes. We are tearing down our existing cottage and hoping to build a new one. I have an idea mentally of what I want - just curious of how much it would cost roughly. I have no idea where to start.

    Maria Walsh, 3 years ago

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