9 min read Mar 26, 2024

How Much Does It Cost to Build a House in District of Columbia in 2024?

$145 per square foot! Sounds tempting, right? But hold your horses. Building your DC dream home goes way beyond that small amount.

Building involves permits, fluctuating material costs, and surprise expenses – all adding up to thousands of dollars. Then there’s the architect (hello, fees!) and engineer (more fees!). You’re now out of pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Here’s the good news: a move-in ready DC home offers upfront costs. Plus, 22.1% of homes are selling below the asking price, and there’s a 3.1% increase in new listings. So, you have tons of options to score a fantastic deal on your dream home. 

Skip construction and move into a home in the District of Columbia – your wallet will thank you!

💸 Home Building is Expensive

  • Homeowners spend $763,969 in total to build a house in the D.C State, which is $138,969 more than the median sale price.
  • Expensive labor, supply chain issues, and a rise in material costs can further increase your expenses.
  • In most cases, it is more affordable to buy a home for sale in District of Columbia and move in quickly.

Can I Build My Own House in the District of Columbia?

Yes, you can build your own house in the District of Columbia, if you have land in an area of your choice. You have to budget for the time and the cost of building your home though. You will also need permits to build your house.

Permit fees depend on the home value or the construction area. Home building permit laws vary across counties in District of Columbia. Refer to your local county’s website or office for more information.

» Permit Costs: Read more about home building permits.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a House in the District of Columbia?

The average cost per square foot to build a house in the District of Columbia is $145. This doesn’t include land costs, permit fees, excavations, and other costs. Use our cost to build a house calculator to get a fair idea of the construction costs.

      Cost to Build a House Calculator


      Your estimated cost to build a house in DC is: $600000

*Disclaimer: The above estimates are based on research on each state’s local construction rates. Please note that actual costs may vary as per building material price fluctuations.

Cost Breakdown of Building a House in District of Columbia

To paint a better picture, here is a house building cost distribution for a 2,500 sq. ft. house in District of Columbia:

Hard Costs to Build a House in District of Columbia

Hard costs comprise expenses directly involved in the home-building process.

1. Material Cost to Build a New Home: $147,500

Building materials make up approximately 50% of the overall construction prices. You can expect to spend about $50 per square foot on material costs.

The Chief Economist at Associated General Contractors of America, Ken Simonson, expects price hikes and shortages to ease for some products, and to remain volatile for others in 2023.

Here are the material expenses you need to take into consideration while you build your home in District of Columbia:

  • Flooring: $9 to $12 per sq. ft.
  • Drywall: $2 to $2.25 per sq. ft.
  • Siding: $3 to $8 per sq. ft.
  • Lumber: $25,000 – $65,000

2. Contractor(s) Charges: 10% – 20%

You need a contractor or a firm to manage the construction process. A general contractor hires several other professionals involved in the home-building process. They include:

  • Electricians
  • Architects
  • Floor installers
  • Plumbers
  • HVAC installers
  • Carpenters, etc.

A contractor charges around 10% to 20% of the total construction value. The fee depends on several factors, such as property type, detailing, materials, and workforce. Apart from a contractor fee, ensure to account for each professional’s hourly rates.

The average hourly rates of home building professionals in District of Columbia are as follows:

ProfessionalsHourly Rate*
Flooring Installers$23.15
Brick Masons$24.18
General Contractors$23.25
HVAC Technicians$34.34
Structural Engineers$48.58
*Hourly rates are sourced from indeed.com and may exclude equipment charges.

3. Electrical Costs: $7,500 – $12,500

The electrical cost for new construction per square foot is $3 to $6. This amount includes both the rough-in as well as the finishing work.

The amount you spend on electrical work will differ depending on the property size, type of wiring, wire material, etc. Some electricians can charge up to $120 per hour.

4. Roof Installation Costs: $4,400 – $50,400

The cost of roofing depends on the type of material you select, the roof’s slope, and the size of your home.

The table below displays District of Columbia home roofing prices per square foot for various materials:

Roofing MaterialAvg Cost per 100 Sq. Ft.
Asphalt Shingle Roof$224.16 – $364.26
Tile Roof$1,050.75 – $1,681.20
Wood Shake Roof$735.52 – $966.69
Slate Roof$1,015.73 – $2,521.80
Source: ProMatcher

5. Plumbing Costs: $12,000

Plumbing costs include installing plumbing fixtures such as toilets, faucets, wash basins, bathtubs, etc. Homeowners spend around $4.50 per sq. ft. in plumbing in new construction or $4,080 on average.

You require a plumber to fix the pipes and lay the sewage lines. You also need to install washing machines, dryers, and geysers while custom building a home in District of Columbia.

6. HVAC Installation Costs: $12,500

Homeowners pay $1,500 to $12,500 to install a new HVAC system. This cost can further vary as per the size of the cooling area, the type of system, the brand, etc. All these additional factors can increase the HVAC installation cost by $2,000 or more.

Soft Costs to Build a House in District of Columbia

Soft costs in home construction contribute to the building process indirectly. They include costs like land costs, permit costs, design costs, etc.

1. Land Costs

Before you build your house in District of Columbia, you need to shop for land. You will incur two costs related to land:

  • Land Purchase Cost: The average cost of house building in the District of Columbia is $613,969. The cost of land depends on the size of the house you wish to build as well as the location.
  • Preparation Cost: You need to clear the land and level it before starting the construction process. Land preparation costs can be anywhere between $1,500 – $3,000.

    🤔 Is it cheaper to build a house in District of Columbia if you already own land?

    Yes. In most cases, building a house in District of Columbia is cheaper if you own the land. You will bear only the cost of building the home. Plus, you can customize your home to your requirements!

    » Land For Sale By Owner in District of Columbia: Buy land to build a house near you.

2. District of Columbia Home Building Permit Costs: $5,000

In District of Columbia, contractors need a building permit to construct a new house. Construction or building permits are legal documents that authorize the house-building process.

The permit costs and building codes vary per county. They are usually based on the construction type, occupancy type, home building area, and project scope.

Some permits you may need, along with their average costs are as follows:

  • Building Permit: $1,000 to $2,000
  • HVAC Permit: $250 to $400
  • Plumbing Permit: $50 to $500
  • Electrical Permit: $10 to $500

3. Home Interiors: $20,000

Before you move into your new home, you’ll need furniture, electronics, utensils, silverware, and bathroom essentials.

The costs will depend upon your taste, quality of finishes, location, and the outlet you order from. For a 2,500 sq. ft. home, you should budget at least $20,000 on interior furnishings.

4. Home Interior Designer Costs: $5,400

If designing your own home interior isn’t your thing, you can hire an interior designer. A great interior designer will provide you with 3D views and renderings of your home.

An interior designer will also order the right furniture, wall prints, rugs, etc. based on your taste and requirements. They can also help you maximize space utilization.

The cost of an interior designer isn’t cheap. You can budget $5,400; it can be more or less depending on your requirements.

House Building Financing Options

Here are the typical home-building financing options available for you:

Home Construction Loans

The two most prominent home construction loans are:

  • Construction-to-Permanent Loan: This loan covers land purchases and home-building costs. It is converted to a conventional mortgage after the construction is complete and you move into the house.
  • Construction-only Loan: It only covers the cost of home building. After your home is ready, the entire loan amount is due. You can pay back the loan in cash or take out a mortgage.

Personal Loan

A personal loan will not cover your entire home-building cost. You can opt for a personal loan to finance a specific part of the construction. For example, you can finance landscaping through a personal loan.

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan applies to homeowners who already have a property and want to finance new construction. Depending on how much equity you own in your existing home, you can finance the entire construction of your new home or a part of it.

Is It Cheaper to Build or Buy a House in the District of Columbia?

It is usually cheaper to buy a home than build a new one. However, by building your own home you get a brand-new residence, customized to your needs.

It costs $613,969 on average to build a home in District of Columbia. This figure can add up to $763,969 if you include land costs, excavations, permits, and other expenses. A new home construction can take up to 9 to 12 months.

Whereas you can buy a home in District of Columbia for $625,000 (median sale price as of September 2023) in 1.5 to 2 months. So, buying a turnkey home is not just cheaper but also faster.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to build a 2,500 sq ft house in Washington D.C?

It would cost you $362,500 to build a house in Washington D.C. These costs will vary depending on location, property type, labor expenses, material costs, etc.

How much does it cost to build a house on land in Washington D.C?

It would cost about $145 per square foot to build a house in Washington D.C. However, home-building costs depend on several other factors. These include property type, construction area, labor costs, etc.

How much does it cost to build a house from scratch in Washington D.C?

Depending on the type and area, Washington D.C home building costs range between $145 to $600 per square foot.

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