The question we get asked most often can often be tricky to answer. We get calls, emails, and DM’s everyday asking what the cost to to build a home in Asheville is. The answer? It depends on so many factors, but we’ll attempt to breakdown our cost per square foot. Keep in mind the overall cost of building a new home will depend on the lot, the square footage, the materials used, and the cost of materials at the time you build. Lumber prices have been at an all-time high for the past six months and we aren’t expecting them to drop significantly due to pent-up demand (updated July 2021). Some building materials are hard to find or can’t be found at all.
As a 100% custom home builder we don’t build from a portfolio of plans. Everything we build is unique to each client (read our custom home builder FAQ). Our clients work with architects or find plans online and we help them work through the process of getting the plans just right for their family and lifestyle. Many of our clients find a house plan that works for their family in some ways, but maybe not others, so we’ll enlist an architect to make changes.
When you think about the cost of building a home in Asheville, first, do yourself a favor and remove the cost of land. Land can range anywhere from $20,000-millions. Judd Builders builds on all sizes of lots in western North Carolina. Typically when people ask how much it costs to build, we have to ask about their land. Is it steep? Will it require a lot of grading and/or clearing? Do you need a well and/or septic? How long will your driveway be? Will your neighborhood association require it to be paved or can it be gravel? Of course as custom builders, we can guide clients through all of these questions and consult with them on what will be best for the land, house orientation, and budget.
Be ready to pay a premium or expand your search outside of Asheville if you’re looking for a flat lot. If you’re willing to be further out (30+ minutes), you’re more likely to find lots that don’t require extensive grading for under $100,000. The closer you get to Asheville, the smaller and more expensive the lots get. Buyer beware of photos on the internet. Lot listing photos can be very deceiving. The photos may look a little hilly and the property description may say “rolling” when in reality, it’s a steep mountain lot that requires four-wheel drive to get to it. If you’re inquiring about a lot that you see online, ask if there is a topographic survey. A topographic survey will help you determine elevation changes and help identify the best placement for a home and driveway.
Cost Breakdown for Building a New Home in Asheville, NC
Now that we’ve talked about the costs associated with land, let’s look at the most expensive items when building a home. The average cost to build a home with Judd Builders is $300-$400 per square foot (updated July 2021). There, we said it! Now let us breakdown the costs further. We’ll start by saying that our custom homes are built to the highest quality standards with the highest performing building materials. You have to weigh building cost vs. quality when determining your budget.
There are builders in Asheville that can build for a lower cost per square foot. Do your research before choosing a custom home builder. Ask a lot of questions and ask for references. A home builder with a solid reputation will be happy to walk you through a home they’ve built and answer all of your questions. They will also let you call and email past clients. A good thing to ask is to talk to a previous client that had a hiccup in their project and how they worked through it with the builder. Glowing reviews are great, but learning how tough situations were handled can teach you more at times.
Get a good understanding of what materials they’ll be using and make sure everything you mutually agree upon is outlined in a contract. Pre-construction agreements are common practice in the building industry. If the home builder asks for funds up front, be sure the pre-construction agreement clearly outlines how the funds will be used. Hundreds of hours go into our planning and budgeting process so we require a pre-construction agreement on all new construction homes. Knowing the exact cost to build up front and having a contingency fund will save you a lot of headaches during the home building process. If a builder throws out a number and can’t supply documentation to back the number, be cautious about moving forward with them. The best builder/client relationships are built on mutual trust and transparency. Read our questions to ask a home builder blog post to learn more.
If you’re curious about breakdown and why it seems higher than in bigger cities in the south or other areas in the country, read on.
Asheville’s Cost of Building
The primary reasons why building a home in Asheville is more expensive compared to other cities is the rising labor costs and the high cost of living. The skilled labor force is competitive and you must pay top dollar for top skilled laborers. When you read stats about construction costs in the south being lower than other areas, you need to exclude some cities including Asheville. Asheville can’t be compared to cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, or Atlanta. We are much smaller which results in a much smaller labor pool.
According to Bestplaces.net, Asheville’s cost of living is 106.0. The cost of living indices are based on a US average of 100. An amount below 100 means Asheville is cheaper than the US average. A cost of living index above 100 means Asheville is more expensive. North Carolina averages 90.6. You’ll most likely pay more for labor in a city with a higher cost of living compared to a city with lower cost of living. Fewer subcontractors and laborers results in rising costs for the builder and the client.
Judd Builders is different than many other Asheville builders because we employ our framing and trim crews. We subcontract as little as possible in order to adhere to our strict quality standards. Employing the most talented construction workforce in western North Carolina comes with a lot of expenses. We know our employees are only working on our projects and they’re reliable. Many builders in Asheville subcontract almost every step of the homebuilding process. This model works for many people, but it’s not how we operate.
Top Expenses When Building a Home
Windows and Doors
Cabinets and Countertops
Other – building permits and building fees