How Much Does it Cost to Build a Saltbox House?

Typical Range:

$200,000 - $500,000

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Published February 9, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

The average cost to build a saltbox-style house in the U.S. is $285,000. Generally, this type of home costs between $200,000 and $500,000, with the cost per square foot running between $100 to $250. The home size, location, and quality of finish all impact the final build costs. 

This traditional New England home-style typically has a distinctive sloping gable roof, allowing two stories at the front and one at the back. The roof is more complex and costly to build than a standard gable construction, but the rest of the build is relatively straightforward.

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Estimating Saltbox House Build Costs

There are many elements to budget for when building your own home. Below are the primary considerations.

Material Prices

Set aside up to 50% of your budget for materials. Aside from the complex roof, saltbox-style house designs don’t feature the intricate architectural details that you might find in Victorian-style or Tudor-style homes. Your final budget will depend on what elements you incorporate into your design and the quality of the materials you select. The materials below are some of the key components to include.


Average Costs


$20,000 – $60,000


$1,000 – $10,000


$0.50 – $0.75 per square foot


$0.10 – $1 per square foot


$5,000 – $20,000


$6 – $22 per square foot


$1 – $5 per square foot


$300 - $2,000 each

Some saltbox-style design elements have costs that typically run higher than the average new build; these include:

  • Lumber: Two-story saltbox houses typically have quality timber frame construction, so lumber is a major part of your material budget.

  • Roofing: The differing heights of the distinctive sloping saltbox gable roof mean construction uses more materials than a standard gabled roof.

  • Flooring: Hardwood flooring is common.

  • Siding: Simple wood or clapboard siding is common

  • Windows: Typically feature large, double-hung windows with four or six sashes to let in more light.

Labor Costs

Unless you have relevant construction project management experience, hiring a local general contractor (GC) to manage your house build will help it run smoother and account for all building considerations and professional hiring. Expect to pay around 10% to 25% of the total project cost for general contractor services. 

A GC manages laborers and subcontractors, sources materials, secures relevant permits, and oversees day-to-day activities. Choosing one with previous experience managing this type of build means they can help you achieve the design aesthetic.

House Plan and Designer Fees

Expect to pay between $2,000 and $6,000 for plans and designer fees. It’s more cost-effective to purchase a pre-made saltbox house blueprint, but an architect can customize the design elements. A fully bespoke, architecturally designed plan costs considerably more.

You may incur various fees during the planning phase, and below are some indicative costs.

Pre-Construction Costs

There are some additional elements to consider before you start the house build, these include:

  • Land purchase: Average housing land costs between $50,000 and $100,000. They could be higher if you're going for a substantial piece of land or it’s in a premium location. 

  • Land prep: You might have to factor in the cost to demolish an existing house, which could be anywhere between $3,000 and $25,000. There are also land excavation and grading costs, and these run from $1,500 and $5,000.

  • Building permits: These vary depending on local authority requirements, but expect building permit costs to be between $1,200 and $2,000.

Foundation Costs

Budget between $18,000 and $30,000 for the cost to install the foundation. Typically, two-story building foundations cost less than bungalows with extended floor space, so you might not want the one-story section of your saltbox-style house to have an overly large footprint.

Framing Costs

The average 2,000-square foot single-story home has framing costs between $14,000 and $32,000. Sheathing and wrapping can add another $4,000 to $16,000.

For the traditional saltbox construction style, expect costs to be on the higher side of these estimates. Saltbox house posts and beam framing typically use dense timber; high-quality and expensive woods, such as American walnut, cherry or red oak are standard materials.

The framing of the second floor of a two-story home usually runs about $3 per square foot more than the ground floor, so this is also something to factor in, given that this style of home usually has two floors.

Major Systems Costs

You can’t build a new home without factoring in the costs for materials and installations for things like plumbing, electrics, and HVAC. These can run anywhere from $30,000 to $75,000.

Exterior Finishing Costs

It makes sense to budget at least $50,000 for the materials and installation involved in the exterior finishing. 

Saltbox houses are relatively minimalist and don’t feature many intricate design details. However, the unique asymmetrical, steeply sloping catslide roof is more complex to build than a traditional gabled roof. 

The average cost to install a roof is between $10,000 and $20,000, and the specialist roof construction could be at the higher end of these estimates. The roofing material you use makes a big difference. Asphalt shingles or wood shakes are standard on saltbox-style houses. Asphalt shingles typically cost $100 to $150 per square meter, and cedarwood shake costs $250 to $600 per square meter.   

You could save on the cost of siding, as saltbox houses often feature basic, narrow clapboard types that cost $1.50 to $3 per square meter. If you opt for shingle siding, also seen on these homes, expect this to cost $2.50 to $6 per square meter.

Interior Finishing Costs

Average interior finishing costs range from $50,000 to $175,000. Saltbox-style houses are known for their simplicity of design. You won’t need to budget for elaborate cornices, fireplaces in multiple rooms, or grand staircases. However, they do feature a high-quality finish. Often a large stone or brick fireplace is a central feature, and thick, hardwood flooring is common.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Saltbox House Yourself?

You could save as much as 30% to 50% on the overall project costs by tackling the entire build yourself. Even acting as the project's general contractor could shave as much as 10% to 20% off your total budget. However, your construction and management skills need to be excellent, and you'll need to have extensive knowledge of materials, laborers, permits, and building regulations.

Building a Saltbox House Yourself vs. Hiring a Contractor 

If you don’t already work in the construction industry, you’ll want to save the majority of the project for the pros. It might seem like you can save a lot of money, but it’s a lot easier to end up over-budget and off your anticipated timeline, and sometimes contractors need to be brought in to fix costly errors. 

Saltbox-style houses might be more straightforward in terms of their construction than some house designs, but any new construction project is complex and challenging. If you have strong DIY skills, you could do some finishing work yourself to save some money. You might want to tackle things like laying floors, staining siding, and painting and tiling. For everything construction, major systems installation, and other necessities, you’ll want to consider hiring a home builder near you.

What Factors Influence the Cost to Build a Saltbox House?

The ultimate cost of your saltbox-style house build depends on various factors. Below are some of the key considerations when budgeting.


Saltbox homes typically range from 1,500 to 3,000 square feet. How big you want to go depends on your family size and lifestyle, the lot space, and your material and labor budget.


The cost to build a saltbox house in Long Island, New York, will be considerably more than building in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Land, contractors, and sometimes even materials are generally more costly in highly populated cities or coastal locations than in rural areas.

Quality of Finish

Saltbox houses use simple, functional designs and high-quality materials. More expensive, high-quality woods are traditionally used for the frame and flooring. Taking advice from your contractor, you could look at alternatives to the more costly American walnut, cherry and red oak.

Opting for asphalt shingles rather than cedar shakes on your roof is another way to save money while still retaining the traditional design.

FAQs About Saltbox House Builds

What makes a saltbox house distinctive?

This classic New England architecture stands out for its clean lines and geometric look. However, the most distinguishing feature is the steeply pitched asymmetrical roof, allowing for two stories at the front of the house and one at the back.

Traditionally finished with wood or clapboard siding, these houses are built around a large, central chimney. Inside, you’ll often see exposed beams, an impressive brick fireplace in the living space, and large windows.

What was the original purpose of a saltbox house design?

The strong roofs of these houses were designed to cope with the harsh New England winters, and with no flat sections, the snow couldn’t gather. They also cope better with higher winds than a traditional gable roof.

Originally, a single-story lean-to was built on the back of the house to add space for large families sharing their home, and this is how the iconic saltbox roof came into development. 

Should I build or buy a saltbox house?

Usually, a traditional saltbox house is less expensive than building a new one of a similar size and in the same location. However, when building a new home, you can customize the design to best suit your lifestyle. You also won’t have to deal with the costly maintenance and renovation bills that can come with older properties. Problems with dampness, plumbing and electrics, and inadequate insulation are just some issues you might come across during a renovation.

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