house under construction

2022 REPORT: What Does it Cost to Build a Home in WI?

Since 2011, the housing market in Wisconsin has seen more buyers looking to buy homes then there are homes to buy. We call this a seller's market. In a normal housing market, home prices tend to increase a small percentage (3%-4% on average) each year, but when demand is greater than supply, prices can go even higher. And this has been the case since 2011. Existing home prices in Wisconsin have increased a whopping 77% over 2011 prices. That's almost double.

But never fear! When it comes to investing your money, there is no greater investment than real estate for this exact reason. Housing prices may go down a little bit here and there, but over time housing prices always increase. So how do you get into the market when there are few homes available? The answer is ... build a custom home. Building a custom home can get you into a home that you'll love without having to compete with other buyers.

In this report, we'll explain the process and materials that go into building a custom home, and we'll talk about costs. The information provided does not account for the cost of the lot or building in the country where there could be additional costs for a well, septic, and/or a long driveway. 

What is important to know about building a custom home is that you as the buyer are paying for every detail that goes into the home. But, you can also choose to make your home as simple or as extravagant as you like.

Every home we build is unique. While you might bring a floorplan to a custom builder, typically, we think of custom homes as starting on a napkin. Nothing about a custom home is pre-determined. As you work with a custom builder, you will make decisions on everything from the number of rooms to built-in furnishings, cabinets, flooring, countertops, windows, exterior facade, and more.

Building a Custom Home

Land

One of the major costs that goes into the purchase of a custom home is the land itself. Land prices vary, though you can plan to spend anywhere from $50,000 to over $150,000 for a city lot; country lots vary significantly based on proximity to major cities, such as Milwaukee, Madison, and the Fox Valley.  

Land value is based on location, size, and amenities. The median lot size in Wisconsin is 8,900 square feet. In a developed sub-division, the land is more expensive if it offers views or a proper topography for a garden-level or walk-out basement. When trying to decide which lot to buy, take into consideration factors such as:

  • Commute. How close is the property to your workplace or place of business?
  • View. What will you see every morning when you look out the window?
  • Amenities. What businesses are nearby, or do you favor a lot that is far from urban areas?
  • Topography and land features. Where will the home sit, and how much usable yard space does that leave?
  • Landscape features. Are there old trees on the property, and is this important to you?
  • Neighbors. Would you like the nearest neighbors to be close by or far away?
  • Raw versus developed land. Are there roads leading to the land, and utility, including Internet hookups, available?

Buying land is a lot like buying a house. Mortgage lenders will work with you to determine the best options for purchasing the land.  It really comes down to buying the land and then building on your land or including the price of the land in the construction loan.  There are reasons for selecting both options. 

Typically, construction loans roll over into a more traditional mortgage after the home is built. You may be required to make a larger than normal down payment and pay higher interest for the property using this special mortgage. Shop around to find the right lender at the best interest rate.

Base Costs

The expenses described below are costs that you can plan to spend on any home construction. Though these costs may vary depending on the size and layout, we've provided an example of how much you might expect to spend on a 2000 square foot custom ranch style home with 3 bedrooms, 2-1/2 baths, a basement and a 3-car garage with some nice upgrades like quartz countertops and upgraded flooring.

blueprints

Permits and Plans

Once you have a design and lot chosen, the builder will hire a surveyor to ensure the house will fit on the chosen lot. The surveyor will create a site plan showing the lot dimensions, house placement, easements, setbacks from the lot lines and easements, driveway width and length to name just a few items. To apply for a permit, the builder will need to provide the site plan, the architectural plans, a plan
for sediment control and proof of builder's risk insurance. For our 2000 sf ranch home, the cost for this is $8,112.

Excavation, Concrete Flatwork, and Foundation

The first step in actually building your home is excavating the property. First, the excavator takes dirt out so the foundation can be poured, then he brings dirt and rocks back to backfill around the foundation when it is complete. Excavation costs, including gravel, run $18,150.
The foundation includes the footings, the foundation, the basement and garage floor, the front porch, stairs, and the driveway. Included under the basement floor are insulation and waterproofing. Additionally, the basis for a radon system is installed. The total cost for all of this is $72,000.

Building Materials

Building materials are those items used to construct the home prior to drywall going in. This includes framing lumber, exterior doors, windows, trusses, screen porch, stairs, door hardware, roofing, siding, stone for the fac;ade and garage doors. The cost for all of this has almost doubled since our last report and comes in at $176,000.

But keep in mind that the cost of materials is based on supply and demand. On May 7, 2021, lumber prices hit their highest point since the beginning of the pandemic reaching an astronomical price of $1686.00 per one board foot. Since then, prices are trending downward. Now lumber prices are in the high $800's per board foot. Additionally, the cost of shipping is directly affected by the cost of gas.

Labor and Contractor Fees

Labor is another area where costs have increased. Be aware labor costs may vary depending on the builder and how much they charge. While it may be tempting to hire a builder with lower labor costs, be careful. A contractor who charges less for labor may be hiring lessor experienced workers. Typical labor costs today are around $76,000. This includes labor for framing, painting, roofing installation, siding installation, and more.

The general contractor charges a separate fee for the planning, coordination, and implementation of the home building process. Your general contractor will serve as your point of contact, your conductor, and your guide through the construction of your custom home. Their fee includes the time and effort that it takes to direct teams of employees and subcontractors to ensure a beautiful, finished product and the skill required to evaluate quality with each step of the process. Typical costs for the general contractor are around 8.5% -15% of the total cost to build. On our 2000 sf rancher, the cost was $54,800.

Mechanicals

Mechanicals includes heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, fireplaces, electric fixtures, insulation, and drywall. Expect to spend around $100,000 on these crucial parts.

Exterior

The exterior of the home including gutters and landscaping runs at a cost of approximately $18,500 but can go up substantially depending on how much you're willing to spend on landscaping. Want some trees? Need a retaining wall? Installing some flower beds? Hiring a professional landscaper? Your home builder will be able to walk you through these expenses to help you determine how they will affect the price.

gourmet kitchen with white cabinetryAmenities and Fixtures

Amenities and fixtures, like flooring, cabinets, countertops and appliances are parts of the house where cost variations can be dramatic. Your personal preferences will affect how much you spend in this area. For example, in our 2000 sf sample home, we priced it for carpet and vinyl plank flooring. Want a real hardwood floor? The cost will be significantly more as we discussed the price of wood previously. In other words, expect to spend two or three times as much on flooring materials if you'd like a high-end product like hardwood.

A typical home buyer will spend around $30,000 on amenities and fixtures, but splurging on custom cabinets, all hardwood floors and top of the line appliances can significantly increase these costs. It is important that you work with your builder when determining how much you want to spend on your home because this will determine the quality of amenities you can afford. These items are not fixed costs so if you exceed the pre-determined amounts for these items, the costs will be borne by you, the buyer.

It is important to remember that if you are building in a subdivision, most of the homes will be within a certain price point. If you exceed your allowances by a considerable amount that does not mean that your house will be worth more; it just means that your house will cost more. Those extra costs will not result in a higher assessed value of your property when it is time to sell.

Overall Costs

So how much does it cost to buy land and build a custom house? Our 2000 sf sample home came in at $603,000. Features like an unfinished basement and smaller square footage (1,500 square feet or less) can help keep these costs on the lower end of the spectrum.

With so many variables it's hard to shop on your own. Meet with area builders to find the one that meets your needs and feels like a good fit. Select a reputable builder and work with them to get bids from multiple subcontractors before setting the final budget. When trying to evaluate whether a contractor's costs are worth the price of a new home, these tips can help:

  • Check references and licensure
  • Evaluate the contractor's warranty
  • Research the builder's company history and look at their portfolio to examine the quality of their work.

What Is the Cost Per Square Foot?

One of the questions that home buyers always ask is, but what's the cost per square foot? Unfortunately, that question is nearly impossible to answer when discussing a custom home. It depends on the amenities that you include in the house and other factors, like the cost of the land. You won't know the cost per square foot until you get started with a reputable builder.

With a production home, the cost per square foot should be comparable to the cost of other homes in the area constructed by the same builder. To find out how much you can expect to spend per square foot on a production home, simply research newly built homes in the neighborhood that are currently for sale. It's important not to overbuild for the neighborhood, so keep your home in line with the cost of your neighbors.

Building a Custom Home? Contact Sugar Creek Homes

You can't put a price on the comfort and pleasure that comes from living in a home designed to fit your unique needs. If you've decided that building a custom home is right for you, contact Sugar Creek Homes. With over 19 years in the home building business in Wisconsin, Sugar Creek Homes is a proud building contractor of custom homes. Call today or reach out by email to schedule an initial consultation.

Sugar Creek Homes, LLC

237 Ridge View Trail  Verona, WI 53593

608.658.1127   |   EMAIL ME

Hours: 6am – 9pm Mon-Fri; Weekends by Appt

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Equal Housing Opportunity