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

Typical Range:

$400,000 - $2,400,000

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated October 21, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

The average cost to build a house in California is around $1.35 million. This price is for an average 2,700-square-foot custom-built house and doesn’t include the price of the land. The average range for a house to be built in California will be anywhere from $1 million to $1.68 million. Depending on the home location, customizations, and style, you may pay anywhere from $400,000 to upwards of $2.4 million.

California remains the most populated state, with just under 40 million people. Because of supply and demand, land and property have a low supply with high demand, driving up prices and contributing to why some neighborhoods one street across from another will have different prices.

2022 Notice: Material Prices Are Surging

Demand for siding and other building materials has grown over the past year. And as a result, manufacturers are increasing materials prices. Prices have gone up 5% to 10% this year, and many parts of the country are experiencing long delivery times. If you're planning a building project, we recommend starting as early as possible in the season, preparing for potential price fluctuations, and allowing extra time to order materials.

Average Cost to Build a House in California

Average Cost High Cost Low Cost
$1.35 million $2.4 million $400,000

Material Prices to Build a House in California

How much is it to build a house in California? Most 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. Material prices also vary considerably based on your location even within the state, as well as the demand and availability.

Material Average Cost Range (All-In) Average Cost (All-In)
Lumber $650 – $1,100 per board ft. $880
Framing lumber $3 – $6 per sq. ft. $4.50 per sq. ft.
Concrete $4 – $8 per sq. ft. $6 per sq. ft.
Drywall $0.50 – $1 $0.75
Flooring $9 – $32 per sq. ft. $20.50 per sq. ft.
Siding $2 – $50 per sq. ft. $26 per sq. ft.
Insulation $0.20 – $2 per board ft. $1.10 per board ft.
Roofing $2 – $180 per sq. ft. $91 per sq. ft.
Electrical wiring $3 – $5 per sq. ft. $4 per sq. ft.
Plumbing pipes $5 – $7 per lin. ft. $6 per lin. ft.

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 local construction management company to the team needed to pave a driveway or install your electrical wiring. Services won't 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 million will charge 5% to 15% of the project total. The project construction manager (also known as a general contractor) 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 home's internal structure 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 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 $20,000, bringing the typical cost to around $10,650. The final cost of the foundation will depend on the 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 in most places, with prices of up to $50,000.

Electrical

Expect to pay around $180 per hour to rough-in electrical at a new California house. Most rough-ins are complete within three to seven 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 roof cost in California is $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.

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

Driveway

The average cost to build a driveway in California is $6,750, ranging from $1,800 to $14,000, depending on where in the state you're building. 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 $7,400, ranging from $1,500 to $12,400. AC systems are typically a must in California because of the extreme heat in a good portion of the state.

Furnaces will run around $5,000. 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 $8,050 on average for a standard California landscaping installation project, or anywhere between $600 and $31,000. You'll want your new home to catch some eyes after it's all built, so you shouldn't leave landscaping out of the final cost. How much you'll pay depends on the size of your outdoor space and what you want to do with it, such as making it drought-resistant for drier parts of the state.

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Cost to Build a House in California by House Type

California's home types are broken into six different classes, starting with luxury homes and ending with minimum standard homes. The average building cost per square foot for the different classes includes the following:

  • Luxury homes: $800+ per sq. ft.

  • Semi-luxury homes: $550 per sq. ft.

  • Best standard homes: $400 per sq. ft.

  • Good standard homes: $280 per sq. ft.

  • Average standard homes: $200 per sq. ft.

  • Minimum standard homes: $150 per sq. ft.

Cost to Build a House in California by House Style

When you travel to the Golden State, it's common to drive down a road and see diverse home styles. The price varies between house styles, as some are more complex to build. The range for each style is also substantial because the material choice, location within the state, and home layout all impact the price per square foot. Additionally, whether the home is modular or stick-built also influences the final cost.

House Style Average Price Range (All-In) Average Price (All-In)
Cape Cod $300,000 – $1.02 million $660,000
Contemporary $600,000 – $2.1 million $1.35 million
Mediterranean $400,000 – $1.5 million $950,000
California ranch $300,000 – $1.02 million $660,000
Victorian $420,000 – $1.68 million $1.05 million

Cape Cod

The cost to build a Cape Cod home in California is around $660,000. Cape Cods are relatively common in California because they’re great for adding height without seeming bulky. It’s an excellent way to increase square footage without necessarily needing more land.

Contemporary

Expect to pay around $1.35 million, 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 $950,000 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 an average of $660,000. Ranch-style 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 $1.05 million, depending on the size and location. Victorian-style homes are common in Sacramento, the state capitol.

Cost to Build a House in California by Square Footage

5 California cities compared by average cost to build a house per square foot, with Sacramento averaging the lowest at $320
Photo: epic_fail/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty images

The average price to build a home in California is $500 per square foot. This will get you a modest home in a decent location. Fancier houses utilizing high-end materials in more affluent neighborhoods can easily exceed $800 per square foot, while value-conscious builders can have a simple home using budget-friendly materials in a less popular location for as little as $150 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 home style in two different areas of the state. For example, the cost of building a house in Los Angeles is around $440, the cost of building a house in San Diego is about $640, and the cost to build a house in the Bay Area is around $650.

California City or County Average Cost Range per Sq. Ft.
Los Angeles $400 – $480
Orange County $400 – $480
Sacramento $300 – $330
San Diego $480 – $800
San Francisco $500 – $800
San Jose $300 – $450

Cost Factors to Build a House in California

You'll need to consider several factors beyond your typical construction costs. You need land for the property, and California has some of the most expensive land values. The state also has recent mandates stating that 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 1/2 acre lot can range from $50,000 to up to $1 million in some regions of the state. Where you build and how much land you buy significantly impact your home price. Remember that the land itself is only one aspect. Where that land is located influences the price of the materials and labor for the build, too. 

For example, in downtown Napa and Santa Rosa, the average land listing is $900,000 to $1.5 million, respectively. In Fresno, the land prices are lower than in the rest of the region, with typical land listings priced at around $160,000. In San Francisco, you can expect to pay an average of $2 million for a typical land listing.

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. Expect to pay around $25,000 for the cost of solar panels. Including solar electricity will typically help lower your energy bill, helping offset the price 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 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:

Number of Stories

Building up is generally less expensive than building out, so having multiple stories is a good way to minimize your home's footprint and build cost. Two-story homes are popular, as they potentially double the property's floor space without increasing the footprint. Three-story homes are common, but the cost savings are minimal because of the logistics of building a third story. 

Some people like the one-story ranch-style homes. On large lots, these properties are a great choice, but they cost more because of the increased footprint. 

For a property with the same foundation footprint, here are the typical costs to build based on the number of stories:

  • 1-story: $200,000–$1.15 million

  • 2-story: $400,000–$1.8 million

  • 3-story: $600,000–$2.4 million

Number of Bedrooms

Generally speaking, the more bedrooms a home has, the larger it is, so the more it costs to build. Take a look at the typical costs to build a house in California based on the number of bedrooms. 

Number of Bedrooms Average Cost Range (All-In) Average Cost (All-In)
1 $160,000 – $900,000 $530,000
2 $200,000 – $1.2 million $700,000
3 $400,000 – $1.62 million $1.01 million
4 $500,000 – $2.4 million $1.45 million

DIY vs. Hiring a Home Builder

​​Building a home is a multiteam process where even the best pros can take anywhere from six to 20 months, depending on the 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 save you around 5% to 15% from the final project, but it means you'll be handling the ins and outs of the project. The duties of a construction manager include the following:

  • 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.

How to Build a House in California

When you're considering building your own home, there's a substantial, multistep process to go through:

  1. Establish your budget: You need to include both land and building costs.

  2. Find a house builder in California or a general contractor whom you trust: Make sure you do your due diligence here.

  3. Get financing in place: Again, do your due diligence and choose a highly regarded, reputable lender.

  4. Purchase your lot: Keep minimum space requirements and your rough floor plan goals in mind while searching for land.

  5. Be aware of permit requirements and inspections: Your contractor handles this, but you should inform yourself about the legalities.

  6. Be patient: It's a good idea to check in with your construction manager regularly, but patience is necessary, as the average build time in California is seven months, assuming materials are readily available and there are no bumps in the road.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does an architect cost?

Hiring an architect near you to draw up plans and start the home-building project will cost around $9,500. 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 may not need to hire one on top of your architect.

Should you build or buy a home in California?

Generally speaking, you'll save money by buying an existing home, around $150,000. This may mean not getting exactly what you want, but you'll be able to move in quicker versus the average time of seven months it takes to construct a new home. In addition, you may have less stress over the construction process.

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?

You could save around $125,000 by building a home in a housing development because the development company has purchased the land and likely has all the necessary permits in place, saving you a significant amount of money upfront. However, you'll likely be limited on house style, size, and floor plan, so you'll have fewer customization options. Additionally, if you want a large lot or property spanning several acres, you'll unlikely find that with a housing development.