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How to Figure Out Build Costs for a Custom Home in San Diego County

How to Figure Out the Build Costs for Custom Homes

If you want to build a custom home and you want to know how to figure out what it’s going to cost to build, I’m gonna show you how to do that. There are three sections of the home that we break it into, which allow you to do it quickly. I’m going to go through the ranges of the costs such as an average level of finished cost this much or a luxury level finish costs, which gives you a price range on different areas of the home. This includes the living area, covered porches, and also the garages.

I’ll show you how to apply that to your project. If you’ve listened to any of these other cost guide videos that we have, as far as determining what the entire project is going to cost, go back and listen to those again. There’s more than one component here. This is just the structure costs, which we call build costs. This doesn’t include site cost, permits and fees, plans and design, and doesn’t include the land. I’m only talking about calculating the actual build costs today.

Custom Home Building Costs Per Square Foot

Make sure to watch the video when I share my screen to show you examples and a couple of documents. I share an example of a floorplan on a house that we built. I’m gonna show you how we break this apart. The first thing that we look at when we’re pricing out a home is the actual living space, which we call the living area. We also break out the covered porch sections and the garage.

When you talk to a builder and ask, “What is your price per square foot?” When he responds with $250/ft, $300/ft, $400/ft, or whatever he tells you, it’s important to clear up with him what that price point includes. Does that include just the living area? Does that include the garages and the porches? Is that an all encompassing number of everything? Find out what’s included in that price, it could even include the site costs, permits and fees, and the whole bit. It’s important to break apart and find out what the builder is including in the price per foot, because it could be different, and it’s a moving target.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Custom Home

The other thing that really drives purchase price-per-foot is the level of finishes inside the home. What I’ll show you today is an average level up to the upscale level of finishes so you can observe that variation. The next video I will  produce will show you on our website what actual projects have an average level finish, what projects have an upscale level of finish, so you can see exact examples. For now, I’m just gonna give you a range of what those are.

That’s very important regarding the level of finishes. We figure this out in several steps. The first thing we do is determine what size home living area do we want? After we establish that, then we establish the size of the garage. This is all in square feet, the square foot of the garage and square foot of the covered porches. Once we have those footage numbers, we can go ahead and multiply that and get a total cost for the living area, covered porches, garages, and then we get a total of what the actual build cost would be.

Determining Your Budget for a Custom Home Build

The way we would do this on this particular house is we would measure from all the extra dimensions of the home to get the actual living footage. That’s how it’s calculated. So you’d break this up and either get the number from your draftsman, if that’s how you’re doing it, or possibly break the floorplan into some squares/room boxes, and then multiply the square footage of each box. This particular house is 2226 square feet, you can see that at the bottom of the floorplan.

Popular Custom Home Floor Plans

This floorplan is actually one of our popular custom home floor plan downloads that you can get. There’s 23 different floor plans that you can download on our website. So you can download these exact plans. This actual plan we’re looking at is plan number three. You can look at it on the website.

Establishing Custom Home Build Costs

This is going to be your living area. We take that living area and multiply it times the cost for that living area for that particular home, and the level of finishes that it has in it. Then what we’re going to do is establish the covered porch areas. You can see the post and beam line that runs right here. So we would take this area in square footage, and then you can see there’s another post in the beam line that runs right here. So these, we get the area of this plus this area here that’s outside the house here. These would be our covered porches and then we would take this area here, and for our garage, we would multiply this and get the square footage of our garage. And then that would allow us to multiply again and get the cost for the total cost of that garage area.

Real Time Costs to Building a Custom Home

So now I’m actually gonna jump over and show you the next document here. This one is recapping what I just mentioned. Then I’m gonna go over the actual dollar amounts here. Below are examples of rough prices per square foot that you can use to figure out the living area, covered porches, and garages. The bottom of the range is for the home with an average level of finishes, and the upper range is for a home with upscale finishes for build costs.

So we’re currently seeing anything from $225 a foot on the very low end of the cost of living area, up to $400 plus. The $225 is kind of the bottom average price that you can see right now. Costs have increased by about a 50% margin over the last year. So we’re talking about these numbers right now. We’re coming out of April 2022, so these numbers will move from the first year in April 2022, they’re as accurate as they’re gonna be but that’s what they are currently right now.

Calculating Costs for Porches for Custom Home Builds

Covered porch areas will be typical covered porches. These are not open beam porches, these are not porches that have a lot of stain grade wood. Those porches will cost more. Typical porches are going to run anywhere from $85 to $105 a square foot, so take your 440sf area, multiply it by $85 to $105 a foot, and that’s where you’re gonna end up. Some simpler porches can cost less than that, whereas more complicated porches are going to cost even higher than that. These are the open beam stain grade, anything you do like that because there’s structural issues that make it more difficult to build. That’s kind of the ballpark area.

Calculating Costs for Porches for Custom Home Builds

Regarding attached garages, I’m not talking about detached, detached garages cost a little bit more money, because you have another wall you have to build that’s not attached to the house. But attached garages are running anywhere from $115, and that’s for about a nine foot plate line on a garage, flat ceiling, interior drywall about $115 upwards of $170 a foot. So the difference between the $170 to $115 can be wall height. So if you have an RV Bay, for your garage, or taller walls, you’re gonna have more lumber, more labor, more drywall, or even siding on the exterior, which drives the price per square foot up. That’s where your range is going to go, depending on what type of garages that you have.

Adding Together all Custom Home Costs

These are just the build costs for a project and are only a portion of the total cost of a project. Four to six percent of the project cost can be plans and design, so the build cost times four to six percent, plus your permits and fees, plus your site costs. Site costs vary for every project because you don’t know if you’re on a well, a water meter, or if you have city sewer or septic.

You need to know where your utility connections come from and what kind of grading you’ll need. All those things vary and site costs vary hugely. Check out our other videos, including site costs in which I give a better idea of what to expect for site costs. I just covered building costs so we’re gonna go back and we’re going to add up our plans and design, permits and fees, plus our site costs, plus build costs. Adding these amounts up is going to give us our actual total cost for our project. Remember to include your land too. Your land is going to obviously need to be added into that. If you’re looking to get a loan, you want to make sure that you factor that in too.

Interact with The Real Property Show

One thing I want to mention to you too, if you have more questions about this, we just added something new to our website. Find the voicemail tab on the right hand side of the website, and you can leave a 30 second voicemail with a question, and we will do our very best to answer it here on the podcast to provide more information.

How to Figure Out the Build Costs for Custom Homes

The next time I’m going to give you an exact tour of our website with projects that have videos and 3D tours and pictures to show you different types of projects and their level finishes that range between average and upscale. I’ll give you the exact numbers that cost the bill for those particular projects.

If you are needing help with residential real estate services contact our real estate company “Real Property”.



1. Request a Project Consultation Online or by Phone

2. We Will Meet With You at Your Home or Building Site

3. Establish a Budget for the Project & Start Drawing Plans

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