Cost of Home Building Materials – A Big Chunk of Money But a Fraction of the Cost to Build a Home

How much does it cost to build a home? Everyone wants to start with the cost of the building materials. And while that represents a huge portion of the overall costs (probably the biggest in most cases), it’s still a fraction of the total cost to build.

This article is designed to help you, as an owner builder, understand the factors involved in figuring the cost of a home building project. My goal is to present you with a birds-eye view of how the cost of materials, while representing a big chunk of the home-building budget, cannot be thought of as an indication of your cost to build a home.

A Home Building Budget is Complex

Let’s put the cost of home building materials in perspective. What have you got when you have a pile of materials? Sticks, windows, doors, cabinets, appliances, tubs, sinks, lights, floor coverings … yeah, lots of cool stuff, but pretty much useless in a pile. The magic comes in how it’s all put together.

It takes a lot of people, talent, time and energy to make a pile of materials a home. This is what we pay for, even when buying materials. But, we’re still only about 30% of the way home once we’ve priced out our materials package.

Your total investment to build will be spread over the following:

Cost of land and utilities
Coaching and project supervision
Building permits and other required fees
Home design and architectural work
Financing and reserves
Professional and casual labor
Deliveries, insurance, contingencies

Simplifying the Process of Pricing With Kit Homes

Many owner builders use packaged homes to make pricing a materials package easier. But it still doesn’t remove the need to factor in all the other costs of building a home. Don’t make the mistake of asking for the price of a package and think you’ve got a good handle on the cost to build.

Home building packages do include more labor than a site built home, but they only slightly reduce the need for all the other building requirements I’ve listed here. As always, I advise the use of a home building coach to accurately assess your project.