You’ve been waiting for years to turn your dream home into a reality. Should you build or buy? Learn more about the cost of building a house vs. buying one.

Everyone talks about how great a new car smells, but you hear less about how great a new home feels. There’s something refreshing about coming into a house and making it your home.

The not-so-great part is paying for it. If you’re ready for a new start, you have two options: buying an existing home or building a new one. Here’s what you need to know to compare the cost of building a house vs buying.

Total Cost of Building a House vs Buying

Total Cost of Building a House vs Buying
As you can imagine, the range of prices is endless for both existing and newly constructed homes. However, we can compare the average.

The average cost to build a new home in the US is around $297,000. To compare, the median sale price for a home is about $234,000.

The Variables

Do those numbers mean it’s always cheaper to buy an existing home or that it’s a better choice for your budget? No. There are many factors to consider that impact your total price and your decision.

Local Land Prices

The cost of everything varies to some degree from one part of the country to the next because the cost of living changes. The price of materials and labor will be slightly higher in California than it is in Nebraska. However, the largest variable in your home’s price will be the land.

Depending on the demand in your area and the location you choose, the land may make up the lion’s share of your cost.

As you shop for homes, you can compare the price of existing homes to the price of nearby plots of empty land. This will give you an idea of what to expect.
Local Land Prices


It should come as no surprise that building your own home is a longer process than buying a house. Depending on your timeline for your move, this could be a dealbreaker.

Remember that it isn’t only the building process that takes time. Depending on the laws where you live, you’re likely to need several inspections from state authorities before you can move in. That could include an electrician, a residential structural engineer, a fire marshal, and more.

Your Specifications

There are plenty of reasons people choose to build homes rather than buy them. Homeowners often make that choice because they aren’t finding the features and layouts they want in the homes on the market.

Building your own home allows you to have the exact house you want. At the same time, remember that those customizations could cost money. Certain layouts make require more complex plumbing, wiring, and more, while will increase your price and your timeline.

Other homeowners buy an existing house and renovate it to add their customizations. If this is what you’re considering, do some calculations because it may be cheaper to build the home from scratch.

Getting Your Dream Home

Getting Your Dream Home
Unless you have an extremely tight timeline, it’s always worth comparing the cost of building a house vs buying. Weigh all the pros and cons, from waiting longer for your dream home to getting the exact features you want. The considerations above will help you make your choice.

For more tips about the big picture, check out the articles on our architecture blog.