How To Calculate The Cost Of Building A Home
The idea of building your own home is an attractive one. Thousands of new builds are completed every single month in the UK, and there’s a good reason for it. Building your own home has many benefits, one of which is a larger return on investment. It comes with many different drawbacks, too, though, like the inflation of labour and materials costs thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people thinking about a newly built house, though, have one question in mind – Exactly how much does it cost to build a house in the UK? A custom-built home could be achieved for just a few hundred thousand pounds. You could also spend millions of pounds building the home of your dreams. The number of variables is overwhelming, but understanding what they are may allow you to better understand your overall costs and what you can do to control them. That’s what makes the question of the cost to build a house a little difficult – there aren’t any answers. How much to build a house depends on exactly what you end up building. While you can use one of the many house-building cost calculators for free in the UK, it may help to build a deeper understanding. Before you work to understand exactly how much it might cost you to build a new home, though, you need to decide whether this is the right way to find the house of your dreams. Before you can even begin to figure out how much you may have to spend on your new home, the key is deciding whether building a home is right for you.
Buying an Existing Home vs. Building a New Home
For many people, the question of the cost of a house begins when they start thinking of the benefits of buying an existing home vs working with luxury house builders in Manchester and beyond. There are several benefits to building a new home, but it’s essential that you explore whether the process is the right one for you even before you think about the cost of the building.
The benefits of building a new home are numerous. Maybe the most attractive one for many people is that you get to build the house you want most. If you can’t find what you want on the market today, building what you do want means you have everything exactly the way you want it the day you move in. That means a chance to personalise everything, whether that means room layout or the colour palette for your home. Your home will be unique to you, and you may find you have a very valuable investment should you decide to sell it down the road.
For as many advantages as there are to building your own home, though, there are several disadvantages, too. The key problem many people who are considering building a home encounter is the timescale itself. It can take nearly 12 months to achieve the home of your dreams, and that could extend if anything happens during the process. For example, a particularly rainy patch may mean that the progress of your home is seriously affected. Delays and shortages of materials can also greatly affect your home. You may also have trouble finding a mortgage lender to work with, as custom home loans don’t work the way other mortgages do.
So, is building the right choice for you? It can be tough to choose. You have to weigh the question of how much it costs to buy a house like you want vs how much it cost to build a bungalow or a house like you want. Take a closer look at the timeline involved to make your decision.
The Timeline of a Custom-Built Home
The schedule to build a home usually takes between six and twelve months, but it doesn’t work the same way for every builder. There are a few places where it can vary. The first step for every builder is initially finding the right site for your home.
Not sure where to even begin there? Start by keeping an open mind. If you refuse to compromise on the site, you may find you’ve encountered one of the biggest stumbling blocks so many others do. You have an image in mind of what you want, but you may not find exactly what you want, so you may need to compromise in some cases. It may help to know the different kinds of plots available. Some plots of land come packaged with planning permission, but others don’t. You may find a great plot, but have to take the extra step of applying for planning permission, and while that can be a bit harder, it may mean you find a better spot. You may also find plots that are near other homes or even plots with abandoned homes on them that could be demolished and prepped for your build. The key is to look around as often as possible and look creatively. You may want to look at planning departments and view the planning register to see what’s nearby. You may also want to talk to local estate agents, as they typically have a few plots on their lists regularly. Don’t forget, of course, to tell family and friends that you’re looking for the perfect space to build your home, as it could lead to the ideal plot.
Once you have the right spot of land, prep can begin. Your team will clear the debris and begin creating site access. A plumber will connect you to the water, and surveyors will begin to mark out the building site. You’ll have lots of materials delivered at this point, including the materials to construct the exterior of your home. The goal is to get your house weathertight as soon as possible. This is when your home has its walls intact, the roof is on, and the windows are doors are in. Essentially, at that point, it resembles a finished house from the outside. You’ll see all of the materials to make that happen delivered fairly quickly once your team is onsite.
The next step in the process is the foundation itself. The cost of building a house can get really expensive here, and we’ll talk more about how to control that in the next section, but this is one of the hardest parts of building your home. It can also be a spot where lots of delays happen, particularly if the weather isn’t quite suitable for breaking ground yet. At this stage, the groundworkers excavate the foundation for your home, and they begin to lay reinforcement bars in the trenches. Then they place compressible materials in those trenches, lay your service ducts, and pour concrete footings for your home. Once they have approval from the building inspectors, they begin to lay foundation blockwork, install drainage systems and cranked air vents, and bring the entire foundation to ground level.
Work on the exterior structure starts next, and this is when people get excited about building a home. Your groundworkers will finish up the service trenches and lay the necessary pipes and ducts, and you’ll begin to see the infilling of floor beams with blocks. You’ll also see things like the brickwork for chimneys, meter boxes for gas and electricity, and lots of plumbing going on. Carpenters will be on-site building trusses, and the walls will start to go up. You’ll even see the templates for your windows and doors go in at this point. The structure of the roof will be created, and then the roof itself will be attached. The guttering goes up, and the windows and doors go in. Suddenly, you have a watertight house, and your team can begin to get to work on the inside of your home.
At that point, all of the internal piping and electrical work will be done. If you chose to have underfloor heating, those loops will be laid and prepared. Your staircase, if you have one, will be installed, and the framing inside your house will begin. Any necessary insulation to keep the cold of a UK winter out will go into the walls, then plasterers will come to work on the ceilings and the walls. The exciting part happens next. The trim goes in, and floors begin to be laid. If there is fitted shelving in the home, it will then be installed, as will the kitchen units. Once the trim is done, your decorator will come in and begin painting and ensuring everything is ready for you. Wall tiles will be added in the kitchen and the bathroom at that point too.
While the finishing touches are being put on the inside of your home, the outside of your home will be getting the much-needed landscaping job it needs. Groundworkers and gardeners will begin preparing the required spaces like driveway surfaces and patio slabs. Your garden area will be levelled and prepared for seeding and turfing. Bricklayers will appear to build any decorative walls on the site. The final stage is a walk-through to make sure you’re happy with everything.
You can see just how much work goes into a home. How much would it cost to build a house like this one? It depends a bit on the selections you make along the way.
Understanding the Factors That Can Affect a Self-Build
Many different factors can affect the overall cost of a self-built home. One of the most important is the size of the house itself. The larger the home you choose to build, the higher the overall price tag. Even if you choose to build something fairly large, though, you’re likely to be able to save some costs in a few different places. You can look for a cheaper superstructure option and stay with standard options across the board. Multiple storeys tend to cost more, but they also make better use the of the land, so you may end up needing a much smaller lot for a much bigger home. A basement could also extend your space without adding a lot to the overall cost, too.
Finding an Architect
The single best first step you can take in the process is to find an architect who will help walk you through the initial design process. It’s tough to even begin to talk about ideas like how much to build a house in the UK if you don’t have a plan initially. You can typically find someone to meet your needs if you talk to others who have recently built their own homes. There are lots of online databases full of architects, too, who might make good prospects. As you search online, you may want to look at the architects’ fee calculator. UK architects’ sites often have these embedded, and they can be quite helpful as you investigate this part of your house build costs. Make sure anyone you choose is registered with the Architects’ Registration Board and that they offer the level of service you need. How much does it cost to work with an architect? Usually, seven to 15% of the total cost of the build. The good news, though, is that when you work with an architect, you can typically land on a low-budget simple house design you love and recoup some of the costs you spent on the architect.
Once you have an architect and you’ve started to consider the design itself, the next step is the plot. You can typically get a fairly good idea of what plot prices look like as you search online. Sites like plotfinder.net offer an overview of plot prices in your area, but there are lots of good plots around that aren’t listed on the various sites, so do a bit of shopping around. Keep in mind that plots end up being one of the biggest costs of building a house. Many people choose to build homework on a third, third, or third idea where the cost of a plot is a third of the value of the home, the cost of labour is a third, and the cost of the structure itself is a third of the overall cost.
If you want to keep costs down where you’ll want to think about the plot conditions themselves. Some experts suggest that for every degree of the slope you have on your plot for your house, how much you spend goes up. You can expect to add £1,000 to the cost to build a house in the UK. You’ll also want to check to see if the plot itself is already connected to services. That, in and of itself, can determine the added expenses you might experience on this part of your build. If your plot is not already connected to mains services, you’ll need to budget for that too. How much is it? At least £10,000 to connect it to water, sewers, electricity lines, telephone lines, and gas. The larger the build, the more you’ll need to budget.
Additionally, make certain there are no covenants or easements on the house in 2022, as they can be quite costly to remove.
Adding a Project Manager
Once you have an architect who can help you develop the right plan for your home and you have a plot ready, the next choice you may have to make as you think about building your own home is whether to add a project manager to the cost of building a house. Many people take this step as someone has to manage all of the processes on-site. While that may mean additional building costs, it also means that you don’t have to worry about ensuring the right people are hired, the materials have arrived, and the site remains clean and safe. Your project manager typically coordinates the trades and materials, as well as the needed tools and scaffolding. They will also usually work with the architectural designer to ensure that your dreams are realised on-site. Additionally, they help to coordinate inspections and take responsibility for the site itself. An efficient project manager can help you save some money, too. They can reduce the overall cost of the project by up to ten per cent, depending on how well things are managed. How much will it cost? Typically, a project manager can add up to 8% to your actual budget, so it’s easy to see why so many people question this expense. The reality, though, is that it can save you a lot of time and hassle down the road, and if a project manager can help to reduce your overall expenses as you ask how much it costs to build a house in the UK, you may find it worth the added costs.
Will The Materials Shortages Affect My Budget?
When the pandemic hit in 2020, the construction industry experienced a massive lag. That lag led to an incredibly cost increase in materials when 2021 created a spike in demand. When Brexit hit, the cost of materials increased further, and shortages began to occur across the country. The hardest hit materials were timber and steel, both of which saw increases of up to 74%. While some of those numbers have gone down and the shortages have, on the whole, eased quite a bit, they’re certainly not over yet. Supply seems to be keeping up with demand for most materials, but the simple truth is that there are spotty shortages here and there, and inflation and energy costs are on the rise, which could lead to additional shortages and price increases. If you plan to build a home, it would be wise to factor in at least some additional costs to deal with potential price increases or even missing materials as your home remains in the build process.
Choosing a Construction System
Once you have the plot and you’ve decided on who will manage the build, you’ll need to begin thinking about a construction system as it can affect the cost of building a house in the UK. Some systems cost more than others, so you need to think about what might work for your home. A timber frame home consists of timber stud work which is then covered in insulation and a plywood layer. That’s protected by water-resistant membranes which are then covered in the cladding. These can be built on-site, but often the panels themselves are prefabricated in a factor, and then brought to the site to be put up. There are two main types – open panel has insulation and joinery added on the construction site. The closed panel is delivered to the site with insulation already fitted. This is a very quick way to build a house, but the initial manufacture can take a couple of months. It’s a great one if you’re hoping to manage the project on your own and if you’re on a tight budget, as the cost of the frame, delivery, and assembly is one package.
Masonry construction is another option. It’s sometimes called blockwork, and it’s the most common type of construction. Here you’ll have essentially an inner skin that bears the load of the home and an outer skin that protects your home from the elements. A cavity between the elements helps serve as a moisture barrier and provides insulation. The outer skin can have a variety of cladding options including timber, brick, and stone. Most builders are accustomed to this technique, so you’ll have several different teams with which you can work. Materials are more readily available with this type of construction, too. Moreover, you’ll find lots of different cladding choices. It also results in a fairly soundproof structure. Moreover, if there are last-minute design changes, it’s fairly flexible. The biggest drawbacks of this option are that it results in longer build times and the weather may have a greater impact on the build schedule itself.
ICF, sometimes known as Insulating Concrete Formwork, is another option. It essentially consists of blocks or panels that are made of polystyrene which are stacked to create the walls. Concrete is poured into that formwork. Polystyrene is not only a mould for the concrete, but it’s typically left in place to form insulation around the building. This type of construction, like masonry, has to happen on-site, but there are fewer components here than there are with masonry, so if you want to manage the project on your own, it’s possible. This method is also flexible enough to accommodate unique design elements like curved walls. It could even be used with basements and homes that are built on slopes. Moreover, formwork is readily available, so you won’t have to worry about on-site shortages. It’s also a fairly quick method of building a home.
Structural Insulated Panels (or SIPs) are a bit like a timber frame. They’re constructed off-site, precision cut in a factory, and then brought to your build. It’s essentially two timber panels (usually OSB) with rigid foam insulation bonding. The entire panel is incredibly strong, and the panels can be erected to form your home in a very short amount of time. In that time, you get a well-insulated structure that is airtight, but the wall thickness is kept to a minimum thanks to this unique construction technique. It’s ideal if you don’t have a lot of space. The drawback, though, is that not very many companies specialise in this type of construction.
Oak frame construction also means you’ll have a frame that is manufactured off-site, but the panels themselves will be hand-finished. It’s typically encased in a timber panel or SIP system to help increase the thermal efficiency rating. It’s more attractive than other methods, though, which makes it ideal if you’re looking for a great space with vaulted ceilings or glazed gables. The real drawback is that careful design is a must with this, as the oak will shrink over the first few years as it dries out. It’s also one of the most expensive construction methods.
If cost is your only concern, the cheapest option is masonry construction. How much does it cost? The concrete blockwork for the external walls and partitions on the ground floor means you’ll likely spend just 13% of your overall build cost. If you choose timber frame construction instead, you’ll spend about 10% more, but likely just 15% of the build cost as a whole. Oak frame is maybe the most expensive. How much would it cost? Usually about 50% more than concrete blockwork. If you’re looking for a small upgrade, you may want to consider SIPs or ICF, as they’re usually about 5 – 15% more expensive than blockwork, but what you lose in costs you make up for in the speed of the build itself.
Adding in the Cost of the Foundation
Foundation costs per metre squared are likely to be the same no matter what the size of your house. The cost to build varies when it comes to foundation depending on the type of soil that’s on your plot. The local authority surveyor will have to dictate what type of foundation system will be required for your home. It can be a bit tough to predict what that will be, as it could mean rafts, piles, or a reinforced slab. Depending on what you need, you may have to budget up to an extra £10,000. Your foundation costs could also be affected by the nearness of the site to a ready-mix concrete plant, how close you are to muck away, and the vegetation on the plot. Those with trees are tougher to clear and can drive up your costs.
Pricing The Add-Ons
Think you want the outside of your home to stand out? You have several options, but not all of them are inexpensive when it comes to overall house-building costs.
Many people love the look brick adds to a home, but it can be quite pricey. Typically brick prices add 5% to the overall cost, but that could depend on the type of brick you decide to add. If you choose to use stock brick, you’ll likely add up to £1,000 to your build. If you choose to use character bricks, you could double your costs, as they’re tougher to find and lay. The type of brick you want on your home, too, can shift costs significantly, as things like arch work tend to be more expensive.
Not sure about the look of brick but love natural stone. It was a bit more expensive. If you use course stone blocks to add to the outside of your house, build cost increases by £20,000. You can reduce those costs slightly if you use reconstituted stone, but the labour is the bigger part of the cost involved. It’s a slow process, and it can not only add to your overall costs but also your timeline.
Sand and cement house rendering is a great option that many people love on blockwork homes, and it’s cheaper than you might imagine, particularly if it doesn’t require painting. You can also add lime to make things a bit more forgiving. You’ll find the cost per square foot to build a house in the UK with this option around £10.
If you opt to go with cladding, particularly if you have a timber frame structure, you’ll find that UK construction costs per square metre in 2021 were £10 and £50 per square metre for this type of UK house build cost. The cheapest is timber cladding, but there are many other options including Cladco Fibre Cement, composite cladding, and tile.
The Cost of the Roof
The roof costs on your home don’t just depend on the coverage you select, though that’s a large part of those costs. They also depend on the structure of the roof, the type of insulation you use, the felt and the battens, and the flashings. A simple rectangular low-pitched roof with manufactured trusses is the cheapest option. The rafter lengths are fairly short, very little timber is required, and the manufactured trusses use thin timber, so you experience far fewer costs. As your roof structure strays away from that basic option, the costs begin to go up, though, in part because the trusses are likely to have to be made on-site and more labour costs will be involved. It may also require the added services of an engineer to check its design and the inspection of a building’s regulations inspector. Depending on the roof design, you may also need some structural steelwork added. The steeper the pitch of the roof, the higher the cost. How much is a house with a fairly basic roof? Concrete, simple roofs can run as low as £8 per square meter. Looking for something bigger and better? You could spend up to £80 per square meter if you want handmade roof tiles.
Windows and Doors
The external joinery can complement your home, but it can also really add to the overall costs of your property. Standard specs usually include off-the-shelf windows and doors. Often these are painted softwood casement varieties that are double-glazed, and they typically run about £60 per square metre. If you want to go with something a bit better, though, you may want to spring for double-glazed aluminium windows with hardwood surrounds and a hardwood-panelled front door. Often this cost will run about £121 per square metre. You could go for something amazing, though, and include bespoke windows, but that will truly increase your costs by quite a bit.
The Floor Structure
The outside of your home comes with many different costs, but so does the inside of your home. Your ground floor structure is one of those first costs you’ll face. Most ground floor structures are concrete slabs, suspended timber, or beam and block. Softwood joists covered with chipboard runs about £16 per square metre. Engineered joists like I-beams increase those costs by nearly £3 per square metre. They do, though, improve stability in the structure. If you choose to go with an ICF home, you can opt for a completely concrete first-floor structure, and it means great acoustic separation in the home, but it adds to your costs by as much as £12 per square metre.
The Flooring Itself
The floor covering also varies in cost quite a bit. If you’d like to go with something like a contract-quality carpet, you won’t pay too much, usually around £20 per square metre. You can typically upgrade to wood effect laminate for just £25 per square meter. If you want to go with something a bit more beautiful, though, be prepared for the costs to jump considerably. Wool carpeting, for instance, will last for quite some time and feel soft and beautiful underfoot, but it will likely cost as much as £55 per square metre. Engineered oak flooring is incredibly popular too, but it typically runs £65 per square metre. Ceramic tiling can look beautiful in your bathroom or kitchen but expect to add as much as £70 per square metre to your house build costs in the UK.
The Internal Walls and Ceilings
Internal partitions can also be fairly costly, but most developers work to keep those costs down whether you choose to go with blockwork or timber frame internal walls. You will need to choose wet plastering or dry lining for your walls, but the costs tend to be the same for both options Additionally, you’ll want to think about the type of paint. Most use emulsion paint throughout, which can help keep costs down. If you want extras like added tiling in the kitchen and bathroom or wallpaper, you’ll need to add a bit to your budget. How much does it cost to build a house with these options? About £80 per square metre.
The ceiling height creates the biggest cost difference. Typically, the average height is 2.4 metres. The further up you go, the more expensive it gets. Plan to add about 1.65 for each extra 100 mm. Most ceilings are covered with plasterboard and emulsion paint, and the cost usually runs £17 per square metre, though if you want decorative plasterwork, it can add to the overall costs.
Adding the Staircase
If you have a second floor in your home, your staircase design is a great way to make your home stand out, but the more complex your staircase, the larger your budget needs to be. A fairly standard staircase consists of two straight flights made of softwood linked by a half-landing. Typically, a softwood balustrade is included, too, and it’s usually painted or stained. The average cost to build a house with this option is around £1,250. If you’d like to make that a single straight flight of stairs, you can expect those costs to increase to something like £1,500. If you want to make a statement, though, you could do a straight flight of stairs in hardwood with a beautiful hardwood balustrade. The cost there grows to around £2,150.
Including a Chimney
Most modern homes exclude a chimney because there are some heavy costs associated with that. Instead, they typically include a log-burning stove with a stainless-steel flue, and that cost can be as little as £1,650. If you decide you’d prefer a beautiful fireplace with a gorgeous chimney, though, particularly one that’s finished in natural stone, you’re going to pay quite a bit more. How much does a house cost with this upgrade? The best designs usually add something like £11,300 to the overall cost of your property.
Upgrading the Kitchen
The kitchen is often the heart of a home, and the quality and style of your kitchen will determine the costs you face in your home. How much does it cost to fit a kitchen? A budget kitchen can usually be installed in your home for around £5,000. You can get a beautiful, chef-style kitchen, though, for around £50,000.
Focusing on the Bathroom
The plumbing costs you’ll pay for your bathroom don’t vary depending on the design. The spaces where you’ll spend more in the bathroom, though, are when you select sanitaryware, brassware, and tiling. You could also add a few other luxuries to your bathroom like different showers and enclosures, heated towel rails, and underfloor heating. Most standard home design cost estimates allow for two bathrooms, so the number of bathrooms you include in your home may also affect your costs. Standard designs in houses cost around £3,500 for a typical build. If you wish to add bathrooms or other beautiful finishing touches, though, you could spend up to £10,200 on these spaces in your home.
Many people choose to build their own homes in the first place because they need additional storage, and built-in storage can be a great way to achieve that. Often you can choose to add additional closets, cabinets, or even built-in bookcases for not very much additional money. If you’re looking for excellent finishes, storage costs for a 4-bedroom house in the UK run something like £40 in building cost per square meter.
Heating Your Space
If you haven’t yet considered how to heat your new home, now is the right time. Most standard builds include a radiator system, usually with a gas boiler. In general, UK construction costs per square metre in 2022 are estimated at £18 per square metre. If you’d like to upgrade that to include underfloor heating, you’ll always be pleased with the quality, but you may not be pleased with the overall price. This typically runs £40 per square metre. You can also upgrade to a system that uses renewables, but it, too, is fairly costly. Typically, you’ll spend another £1,600 on top of standard costs for your home to get a typical MVHR system.
Adding the Electrics
Most homes offer pretty standard electrical connections, and those usually run about £37 per square metre in the overall cost of building a house in the UK. If you’d like to upgrade your system to include things like a structured cable network, a built-in hi-fi system, or a security system, you’ll typically pay somewhere around £500 per upgrade.
Including a Garage
Many people today would like to include a garage in their homes. It’s a good idea, too, as it may give you a workshop space and off-street parking. Generally, the cost to build a garage in the UK runs between £13,000 to £25,000.
A Porch Might Look Nice!
Many people love the beauty and utility of a porch, and it can make your home both far more attractive and far more valuable. How much does a porch cost? 2021 estimates had it at between £1,500 to £5,500.
Are There Other Fees?
There are a few other fees involved in building a home. Typically, you can expect to pay a total of around £1000 in legal fees. You may also end up paying some Stamp Duty if the cost of your property exceeds £500,000. You’ll need to have a topographical site survey before you get started, and they usually cost around £350. Planning application fees usually cost around £500 fees. You can also expect to pay building regulations fees of up to £1000. The warranty on your property will usually cost about one per cent of the value of the contract. A building cost calculator can often help you better understand the other fees you can expect to pay.
Adding in the Cost of VAT
If you start adding up all of the numbers then consider VAT, you may be asking yourself “how much does my house cost with VAT?”. Fortunately, though, you’ll be able to reclaim all of that from the material that you use to build your house to the cabinetry in the kitchen and the flooring. To do so, though, you must submit your invoices to HMRC. You may find some estimates of VAT on a self-build calculator you can find online.
Should You DIY Part of Your Home to Save Money?
Many people are tempted to work in their own homes to save a bit of cash. Remember, a third or more of the cost of the home itself goes into labour, so with a bit of DIY work, you could reduce the overall cost of your home. You’ll want to be sure that you have some experience in the area in which you decide to work, but often people handle their roofing, decorating, flooring, and even landscaping to help save some cash as they work to build their home. Make certain, though, that everyone on your team knows in advance that you’d like to handle part of the build on your own, as it can throw off schedule if you let them know at the last minute. Additionally, make sure you have the experience necessary to do so. A weekend of watching online videos doesn’t necessarily make you a flooring expert, and the last thing you want to do is create a mess that makes your new home look bad or ultimately makes more work for a contractor to come along later and clean things up.
As you decide whether this is the right option for you, you may want to talk to your team. Ask questions like “How much to fit a kitchen labour only” to find out exactly what you might save. Feel free to ask about any aspect of the home that you’re comfortable taking on. For example, investigating block laying rates in 2021 in the UK might help you decide whether it’s worth it to save on your masonry rates. There are several self-build cost calculator options out there that can help you understand where you might save a bit if you choose to DIY. You’ll quickly learn the answer to the question of whether is it cheaper to build a house on your own or to let contractors handle all of the work.
A Final Look at the Average Cost to Build a House in the UK
So, how much is it to build a house these days in the UK? Typically, you can expect those costs to be somewhere between £1,750 and £3,000 per square meter. Be sure to use a cost-to-build-a-house calculator to better understand.