Cheaper to Build or Buy a House

Narofsky Architecture principal Stuart Narofsky, a licensed architect and an American Institute of Architects fellow based in Long Island City, New York, has been designing and renovating homes for 40 years, and can offer insights into the cost of building a house versus buying.

I frequently consult clients on whether to purchase new, modify new or homes, or look for undeveloped property,” he says. “We evaluate many factors in determining the best route ahead: cost comparisons, timing, disruption to family, and property value evaluation.”

Average Cost of Building a Home

The cost to build a home can include similar factors as buying—especially when it comes to loans, construction costs, or paying professionals to help get your home ready for move-in. But what exactly is the average cost building your dream domicile? And when is it cheaper to build a house rather than updating an old one?

This is difficult to answer with certainty for many reasons,” says Robert Carroll, owner and president of Carroll Construction, LLC out of Clinton, Louisiana. “The cost of a new home is extremely reliant on the region where the home is built, the organization that builds the home (custom, semi-custom, speculative, or production builder), local regulations, property values and the labor market.”

You will need to work with home builders and experts to ensure your new build is of the best quality and safety possible. According to Narofsky, the average cost of building a home varies greatly depending on the location, client desires and specifications, and complexity of the site and scope included in your investment. “In the last year we have seen new home construction run from $500 per foot to almost $1,000 per foot,” he says.

If finances are your main deciding factor, there are ways to work with your architect to make things more affordable. “If budget is a concern, your architect should be able to advise you on cost-saving measures,” says Marica McKeel, founder and principal of New York–based Studio MM Architect. “Such as efficient space planning, simplifying the structure, or using long-lasting durable materials that will reduce maintenance costs over the course of a home’s lifetime.”

Therefore, if you’re looking to live in a simple, compact, low-maintenance dwelling, building your own may well turn out cheaper.

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