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.