Building a house in Hillsborough County

Is It Cheaper To Build A House Or Buy A House In Florida?

There are a lot of reasons to love Florida - and to want to live here. With its fantastic climate and access to amazing beaches and activities, it is little wonder that Florida was the fastest-growing state in 2022.

As you start to think about finding a new place to call home, you’re ultimately faced with two options if you want ownership: you can either buy an existing house for sale or build a new home from the ground up.

Historically, building a home has tended to be more expensive than buying one. However, a limited housing supply has pushed prices up drastically in the past three years, making buyers reconsider building a home as a feasible option. Is it currently cheaper to buy a house or build one in Florida? We explore both options below to help you figure out the best route for you to take.

Costs to Build a House in Florida

As an initial matter, it’s important to understand that the cost to build a home can vary widely based on where you are building, the size of the house that you want to build, the features that you plan to install, the type of builder you are working with, and more. For example, a two-bedroom ranch house will cost far less than a sprawling ten-bedroom mansion with its own movie theater and bowling alley. This post will address the more common costs associated with building what we consider a typical or average home in Florida. Generally, you can expect to pay for the following:

  • Buying and preparing land (such as tree removal or having the lot leveled, if necessary)
  • Drawing up plans and getting the appropriate building permits
  • Preparing and building the foundation (which is usually a slab foundation in Florida)
  • Framing the house
  • Installing external elements, such as the roof, siding, windows, and doors
  • Putting in plumbing and electrical
  • Adding interior finishes, including insulation, drywall, flooring, cabinets, countertops, bathrooms, and interior doors
  • Building any outdoor spaces, such as decks or patios

The first significant expense is buying land, which can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $150,000. Generally, larger lots in more populated areas will cost more. In addition, lots that are ready to be built with utilities in place will typically be more expensive.

You will also have to account for building permits - which start at $1,814 in Hillsborough County. Depending on the type of builder you use (custom, semi-custom, or production builder), you will likely have an additional cost to pay for the plans. Generally, custom builders will cost the most and involve fees for related professionals like architects and designers.

Materials make up about 50% of the total cost of building a house in Florida. In other words, if you have a budget of $350,000 for the build, then about $175,000 will go towards things like lumber, concrete, flooring, siding, drywall, insulation, and roofing. Again, this number could increase significantly depending on the finishes you choose and your home's size.

The average price range for these materials is as follows:

  • Lumber: $25,000 to $65,000
  • Concrete: $1,000 to $10,000
  • Flooring: $1 to $5 per square foot
  • Siding: $2 to $15 per square foot
  • Drywall: $12 to $20 per sheet
  • Insulation: .10 to $1 per board foot
  • Roofing: $1,000 to $3,000

The next big category of expenses is labor. Expect to spend 40% of your budget on the construction work necessary to turn those materials into a house. If we use the $350,000 home build example again, then $140,000 will go towards labor. These costs may include the following:

  • Electrician: $50 to $100 per hour
  • Plumber: $45 to $200 per hour
  • Roofer: $5,700 to $12,250
  • Construction or project manager: $2,840 to $66,400
  • Framer: $7 to $16 per square foot
  • Driveway paver: $10 to $15 per square foot
  • HVAC contractor: $500 to $2,500
  • Landscaper: $1,300 to $5,700

Again, these costs may increase based on what type of house you are building and the amenities you add. For example, if you want a pool that will run between $35,000 and $65,000. Adding a screened enclosure may add between $6,000 and $12,000 to the build.

In addition, you may add some features designed to protect against Florida’s often harsh weather - such as hurricane windows, shutters, or even a hurricane shelter. These options can add a few thousand to more than $30,000 to the cost of building your home.

Average Cost to Build a House in Florida

Overall, building a house in Florida may cost between $60 and $150 per square foot, and this cost-per-square-foot will increase in bigger cities like Tampa or for more luxurious builds. An experienced Florida realtor can work with you to understand how much it will cost to build the home of your dreams in Hillsborough County - and can partner with you to make it happen.

Costs to Buy a House in Florida

Buying a house instead of building one means fewer expenses to account for, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any cheaper. If you plan to finance your home purchase, you’ll be paying closing costs, inspection, and appraisal fees regardless of whether you buy or build. So, we will only focus on the different expenses, which would simply be the home price.

The average home price will vary greatly depending on where you’re buying. You can expect to pay more for a home in larger metropolitan areas like Tampa than in smaller cities like Plant City. The average home price in Tampa is $430,000, while the average home price in Plant City is over $100,000 less at $325,000.

Average Cost to Buy a House in Florida

Overall, the average cost of homes for sale in Florida is $406,988, with an average price per square foot of around $207. Therefore, it’s currently more expensive on average to buy an existing home in Florida than it is to build a house.

Does It Make More Sense to Build or Buy a House in Florida?

Building a home is often more expensive than buying an existing home. Of course, this is only sometimes the case. Building a house may be more cost-effective in a competitive housing market - such as what we experienced over the past several years. The cost to build versus buy may also change depending on size and location.

Pros of Buying a House

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding whether it makes more sense to buy or build a house. With existing homes, you can move in after closing. They also tend to be less expensive, with mature landscaping. You can also renovate the home to meet your needs. Buying a home may be your best option in densely-populated urban areas, as land may be hard to come by or too expensive to be practical.

Pros of Building a House

When you build your home, you can completely customize it - eliminating the need for expensive renovations. There is also less competition for vacant land than purchasing a home. Because the house is newer, it may be more energy efficient and require less ongoing maintenance, and this may make up for an initial cost that is often higher than buying a new house.

Making a Decision on Which Option to Pursue

There is no one correct answer to whether building or buying a house makes more sense. A lot depends on your budget and what you want. For some people, the opportunity to choose exactly what they want in a house far outweighs the potential extra cost of building. For others, moving into their home without going through the expense and delays of construction is preferable.

If you’re debating between buying or building a house in the greater Tampa Bay area, Eaton Realty can help. We can help you understand the pros and cons of each option and give you an estimate of costs.

Considering Building or Buying a Home in Florida? We Can Help.

Eaton Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage that can help you regardless of whether you decide to buy a house or build one. If you choose to build a house, we can advocate for you throughout the process.

We will start by helping you find a plot to build your home if you don’t already have a piece of land in mind. As expert negotiators, we can also help you when it comes to dealing with the builder. We can help you negotiate prices and features to build the house you want at the best possible price. We can also work with you to create a budget for the build.

Eaton Realty offers a unique perspective on the home building process because we have experience in both construction and real estate. Our founder, Craig Eaton, started the Eaton Construction Company in 1974 in Ohio. This company built single and multi-family homes in a master-planned community. He worked in the construction industry for over 20 years before moving to Florida and starting Eaton Realty.

With a background in the construction industry, we understand the typical costs associated with building a home. We also know what homeowners can expect when building a house, from weather-related delays to material shortages to the need for inspections. We’ll work collaboratively with you to make the home-building process seamless.

If you decide to buy a house, we can put together a search to help you find homes that meet your criteria. We can then arrange showings and help you negotiate to receive the best possible price for your new home.

We understand the local real estate market and the construction industry and put that knowledge to work for our clients. If you’d like to learn more, fill out our online contact form or give us a call at 813-672-8022 to talk to a member of our real estate team.

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