How Much Does It Cost to Build a House in California?

Typical Range:

$104,000 - $1,035,500

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated January 20, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

The average cost to build a house in California is around $387,500. The average range for a house to be built in California will be anywhere from $194,500 to around $580,500. Depending on the home location, customizations, and style, you may pay anywhere from $104,000 to upwards of $1,035,500.

California remains the most populated state, with just over 39 million people. Because of supply and demand, land and property tend to have a low supply with high demand. This will drive up prices and contribute to why some neighborhoods just one street across from another will have different prices.

Average Cost to Build a House in California

Average Cost$387,500
High Cost$1,035,500
Low Cost$104,000

Material Prices to Build a House in California

The majority of the cost to build a house in California will come from the materials. They make up around 50% of the total build project. However, the overall cost will vary based on the size of the home and the quality and type of materials you choose throughout the build process.

MaterialCost
Lumber (for frame)$3 – $6 per square foot
Concrete$4 – $6 per square foot
Drywall$0.50 – $1
Flooring$9 – $32 per square foot
Siding$2 – $50 per square foot
Insulation$0.20 – $2 per square foot
Roofing$1 – $20 per square foot
Electrical wiring$6 – $10 per square foot
Plumbing pipes$5 – $7 per square foot

Labor Cost to Build a House in California

Labor costs won't be going to any one contractor. Building a home requires quite a large team, ranging from hiring a nearby construction management company down to the team needed to pave a driveway or install your electrical wiring. Services will not always be in flat numbers and may cost a percentage of the home instead.

Consider these fees:

Construction Manager

The average construction manager for homes under $10,000,000 will charge 5% to 15% of the project total. The project construction manager (also known as general contractors) will likely be in charge of helping your dream home come to fruition. Most will charge on a percentage basis rather than a fee basis.

Framing

Framing builds the internal structure of the home before any walls, wires, or pipes go up. It'll cost anywhere from $2,120 to $8,650, but fluctuating lumber prices could drive this number higher. California's close proximity to Oregon and Washington, two of the largest softwood-producing states, may help lower delivery costs.

Foundation

The foundation for a custom California home will cost anywhere from $1,300 to $14,280. This brings the typical cost to around $7,800. The final cost of the foundation will depend on slope grade, as California isn’t known for flat land. Houses in California are typically built on a slab foundation, and the cost to build a basement is higher than most places.

Electrical

Expect to pay around $175 per hour to rough-in electrical at a new California house. Most rough-ins are complete within 3 to 7 business days, but may take longer depending on the size of the home, the number of stories, and add-ons such as pools and speaker systems.

Plumbing

You can expect to pay around $5,000 per 1,000 square feet of home completed. But this will depend on the number of bathrooms, appliances, and any other water or sewage-running pipes you need.

Roofing

The average cost of a roof in California will be around $22,400, but you might pay anywhere from $8,650 to $65,000. This comes down to the home's roofing material and how complicated it is to install the roof.

For instance, the average cost to install an asphalt shingle roof is around $16,050, while the cost to install a metal roof is about $23,000. Then, you have higher-cost roofs like tile ones, which cost around $28,130.

Driveway

The average cost to build a driveway in California is around $6,750. While a driveway serves as the area you drive your car into, you can still customize it to your liking. This will depend on the length, width, and curvature.

HVAC

The average cost of an AC unit is around $7,400. AC systems are typically a must in California because of the extreme heat found in a good portion of the state.

Furnaces will run around $5,000 on average. In milder California climates—including cities such as San Francisco, Sacramento, Humboldt, and Redding—you might need the furnace portion of an HVAC unit.

Landscaping

Expect to pay around $6,750 on average for a standard California landscaping installation project. You’ll want your new home to catch some eyes after it’s all built, so landscaping shouldn’t be left out of the final cost.

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Cost to Build a House in California by Type

California’s home types are broken into six different classes, starting with luxury homes and ending at minimum standard homes.

The average building cost per square foot for the different classes includes:

  • Luxury homes: $445 per square foot

  • Semi-luxury homes: $270 per square foot

  • Best standard: $175 per square foot

  • Good standard: $165 per square foot

  • Average standard: $105 per square foot

  • Minimum standard: $85 per square foot

Cost to Build a House in California by Style

When you travel to the Golden State, it’s common to drive down a road and see a diverse set of home styles.

Cape Cod

The average cost to build a Cape Cod home in California is around $350 to $500 per square foot. Cape Cods are relatively common in California because they are great for adding height without seeming bulky. It’s a great way to increase square footage without necessarily needing more land.

Contemporary

Expect to pay around $180 to $400 per square foot, depending on customizations. Contemporary-style homes also have found a place in California thanks to their more modernistic approach, combining a little bit of farmhouse and mid-century designs to create elegant styles.

Mediterranean

These home styles run around $350 to $500 per square foot in California, although it’s common to see numbers above that range. Mediterranean-style homes complement the California coastline and offer a grandeur look.

California Ranch

Depending on the style, expect to pay anywhere from $70 to $330 per square foot. Ranch-styles homes are so common in California they have an entire style named after them. Rather than build up, California Ranch-style homes focus more on length.

Victorian

Expect to pay around $150 to $350 per square foot, depending on the size and location. Victorian-style homes are popular throughout California, as these houses are common in Sacramento, the state capital.

Cost to Build a House in California by Square Footage

The average California home is around 1,625 square feet. This brings the average cost to build a house in the state to about $240 per square foot.

Cost to Build a House in California Near You

10 cities in California compared by the average cost to build a home

Because California is so large, it's common to see vastly different prices for the same style home located in two different areas of the state. For example, Redding falls below the national average for building costs, while San Francisco falls above the average.

Common prices in these residential cities include:

CityAverage Home Price
Bakersfield$360,500
Eureka$380,000
Fresno$345,000
Irvine$403,000
Long Beach$387,500
Los Angeles$383,500
Pasadena$387,500
Redding$341,000
San Diego$383,500
San Francisco$487,500

Cost Factors to Build a House in California

There are several factors you’ll need to consider beyond your typical construction costs. You need land for the property, and California has some of the most expensive land value around. The state also has recent mandates stating newly constructed homes must have solar panels.

Land

Land costs in California are some of the highest in the nation, with it being the third-largest state in the country. For example, a plot can range from $50,000 to as high as $1 million in some regions of San Diego. Expect to pay around $150,000 on average for the land alone in California.

Solar Panels

California now has a mandate that requires new houses to come equipped with solar panels that produce electricity. The homeowner is responsible for this and should expect to pay around $8,500 extra. The inclusion of solar electricity will typically help lower your energy bill, helping offset the cost in the long run.

Permits

Expect to pay around $8,000 in total for permits. Building your dream home in California means you'll need to consider all the necessary permits to complete the project, particularly if you want a pool or a porch.

Interior Finishings

Of course, you'll need to complete the inside to your liking once you're done with the exterior. This includes appliances, fixtures, cabinets, and even doors.

Common interior finishings include:

Exterior Finishings

You’ll need to add windows and exterior paint as well to your finished product. If you want a patio and pool, consider these costs as well.

DIY vs. Hiring a Home Builder

Building a home is a multi-team process that even with the best pros can take anywhere from 6 months to 20 months, depending on material availability. Trying to build one yourself would likely take years—if not more. This is a job best left to a custom home builder near you.

However, there are ways you can save money in exchange for time. One way is to be your own construction manager, so long as you know what you're doing. Doing so could end up saving you around 5% to 15% from the final project, but it means you'll be hiring subcontractors and handling the ins and outs of the project.

Duties of a construction manager include:

  • Hiring subcontractors

  • Buying materials

  • Securing permits

  • Overseeing all work completed

  • Carrying worker’s compensation and liability insurance

  • Ensuring proper installation of all finishings to avoid voiding manufacturer warranties

  • Cleaning and disposing of trash and debris

  • Managing workplace safety

These are just some of the roles a construction manager might cover. You’d also need to obtain a general contractor's license before being able to handle any of these duties.

FAQs

How much does an architect cost?

You’ll likely need to hire an architect near you to draw up plans to get the project started. This initial cost will be around $9,500 on average.

From there, the architect will typically charge between 8% to 15% of the final project if they need to do more work. But they’ll work as your construction manager from there on out, meaning you typically don’t need to hire one on top of your architect.

Should you build or buy a home in California?

Generally speaking, you're going to save money by buying an existing home. You'll roughly save around $150,000 by purchasing an existing home. This may mean not getting exactly what you want, but you'll be able to move in quicker and not stress over the construction.

What solar energy system is required for new homes in California?

The California solar mandate requires the solar power system to provide enough electricity to power the building annually. With this being a new home, you'll need to go based on approximation since you don’t know how much electricity you'll be using. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), if you go based on the annual average household electricity consumption—or 10,715 kilowatt-hours (kWh)—you'll need at least a large enough system to support that amount.

Should you build a custom home or a home in a housing development in California?

It typically costs around $125,000 in savings to build a home in a housing development, because the development company has purchased the land, saving you a significant amount of money upfront.

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