What Are the Costs of Building Your Dream Home in Washington State?

July 29, 2019
Last updated:
January 12, 2024
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In this blog post, we cover the costs of building your home. You’ll learn about the advantages and disadvantages of building your own home versus purchasing an existing home and some of the factors that play into determining the price of the building.

Building your perfect home can be a great solution when you’re not finding your dream home.

Finding your dream home certainly has its challenges. The time it takes to find that home you have been thinking about in the perfect location for you while also fitting into your budget can quickly add up and feel daunting.

The current 2024 housing forecast for Washington shows that housing inventory is still very tight. Building your dream home could be a great solution for you because you’re in control of the location and involved in choosing the home’s specific traits, which truly makes it yours.

We’ve gathered our thoughts on why building your new home could be your best option and what to think about while calculating the construction cost. Read on for more details.

Advantages of building a home in Washington

Building your own home can be very exciting because you get to choose every detail and create your dream home from the ground up, making it feel like your own from the get-go. You also get to choose the location, which is a critical factor in choosing your primary residence, vacation home, or investment property.

Once your new home is complete, you can rest easy knowing that since everything in your home is new, you most likely won’t have to replace anything any time soon, unlike moving into an existing home, which could save you some money.

Related: Best Investment Properties in Seattle, WA

Disadvantages of building a home in Washington

Like most situations, there are some downsides to building your own home. You will need to take the time to find the perfect lot and location, then you will need to work with an architect to begin planning out the design and blueprints for your dream home.

Before you get too far, you need to consider permitting with your local city/county. Unforeseen Critical Area Designations or stormwater management issues can force you to change your plans.

Consider the cost of building a house in both time and money.

Building your own house could cost more per square foot than purchasing an existing home in Washington state. Not only could you spend more money to build a new home, but you will also spend a lot more time on the actual home construction. The time devoted to choosing every detail, from cabinets to windows to exterior finishes and landscaping, quickly adds up. Construction time can easily be a year, depending on the size of your home.

Compare this to purchasing an existing home where you could move in shortly after your home loan closes, which could be between 30 and 45 days. During the home-building process, your new home will not be livable for a while, so you will need to be able to cover the cost of your current home and the home you will be building.

Planning and managing the construction process can be a stressful endeavor, so be prepared.

What’s it going to cost per square foot?

A complete home construction project has a lot of variables. Starting with location, the cost of the land factors in the acreage, the area in Washington where it is located, the quality of land, etc.

For instance, the cost of land in King County can be significantly higher than land near the Tri-Cities. If you are looking to build a vacation home, the cost of waterfront property could vary from land located in a forest area.

Next is the home itself. How big will the home be? How many stories? What kinds of details are on your wish list, and what quality of materials are you planning on using? All of these aspects and more will play a role in determining the cost of building your home.

Home Advisor says the average cost to build a house nationally is around $150 per square foot. The building costs alone for your dream home (not counting the cost of the lot or land) will run between $111,588 and $450,911.   

Remember that the cost of building and living in Washington State is higher than the national average, so you will be paying more per square foot than this estimate. If you plan on building in King, Pierce, or Snohomish County, you can expect the cost of building a house to be significantly higher than the national average. Specific costs per square foot can vary depending on the complexity of construction, materials, and builder, but expect to be in the $250-$500 per square foot range, not including the land.

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It’s all in the details.

As you read previously, many factors play into the cost of constructing a home.  Here are some specifics to consider before deciding to build your home.


The lot or land you build on is probably the most significant purchase of the entire construction project. The size of the lot will help determine the size of the home you can build. Whether the land already has the essential utilities such as gas, water, and electricity can make a huge difference in cost. Also, take into consideration whether the land is ready for construction.

For instance, will you need to build any retaining walls before you can lay a foundation? And is the property accessible to the builders and construction crews? Is there an existing dwelling on the property? The cost of demolishing a home can be significant.


The location of the land that you purchase can play a significant role in your budget for building a home. Prices can vary around the state of Washington; for example, land near a more developed area such as Kirkland or Seattle with little inventory will cost more than land in a less developed area like Vancouver or Yakima.


Once you’ve decided on a place, you’ll work with an architect to begin laying out the design of your home. With this, you must cover the cost of building permits and fees. After your local jurisdiction approves your design, you will begin working with a contractor to discuss your budget and timeline for construction.

Plan on paying your architect and contractor hourly or with a lump sum. Both payment methods have pros and cons, so make sure you research architects and contractors and go with the one you feel most comfortable with.


Next, the foundation will be laid out, and the framework will be built. The vision for your home is coming to life as site work proceeds. Soon, the results of your home-building project will begin to be visible.

The exterior of the home

It’s on to building the shell of your home, this includes the roof, windows, walls, and doors. Building your home allows you to go green, such as installing solar energy panels or energy-efficient windows.


Utilities include the essentials such as plumbing and sewage, electric wiring, and potentially a gas hookup. Your builders will have accounted for all these when putting in the foundation. As the interior walls go up, space will be designated for pipe fittings and electrical outlets.

Interior of the home

Think cabinets, flooring, kitchen and bathroom sinks, countertops, and lighting fixtures. The cost of interior details can vary dramatically depending on the quality of materials you are using and the look you’re going for.

That’s a wrap

Last but not least, you’ll want to put aside a budget for the clean-up of debris leftover from construction and start working on the landscape of the lot around your new home. And, like any project, you’ll need to budget for any unexpected expenses.

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Looking to Apply For a Mortgage?

Do you have questions about mortgages? Are you considering applying for one soon? If so, Sammamish Mortgage can help. We are a local mortgage company from Bellevue, Washington, and have been serving the entire state since 1992, as well as Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. Our experts are on standby, ready to work with you to help you choose which one of our mortgage programs is best for you. Contact us today with any questions you have about mortgages.

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