Cost to Build a House in Pennsylvania: Complete Guide for 2024

Building a house in Pennsylvania on average cost $151 per square foot. For a 2,000 square foot home, expect to pay around $302,200. Total costs range from $270,000 to $350,000 depending on location, property type, labour, materials, etc. Construction typically takes 8-12 months to fully complete a new custom home in Pennsylvania.

Key Takeaways

  • The average cost to build a house in Pennsylvania is $151 per square foot
  • Total range $100-$250 per square foot
  • This means a 2,000 square foot home will cost around $302,200 to build
  • Total costs range from $270,000 to $350,000+
  • Key factors impacting cost per square foot include location, property type, materials, labour, etc.
  • It takes 8-12 months to complete house construction in Pennsylvania

The Average House Construction Costs in Pennsylvania

With the average home build costing $302,200 for a 2,000 square foot house in Pennsylvania.Total costs range from $270,000 to $350,000+. A 10% buffer above initial estimates is wise considering potential permitting delays, weather issues, labor shortages or material price spikes.

Here is a breakdown of average spend per item when building a house in Pennsylvania:

ItemPercent of Total CostCost
Land Acquisition, Surveys10-25%$25,000 – $125,000
Permits, Fees5%$15,000
Site Work, Foundation15%$45,000
Framing, Roofing, Exterior20%$60,000
Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC20%$60,000
Interior Finishes, Paint10%$30,000
Overhead, Profits, Warranties5-10%$15,000 – $30,000
Total100%$250,000 – $500,000

Average Cost to Build a House in Pennsylvania by Square Footage

Square FootageAverage Cost
500 sq ft$60,000 – $100,000
1000 sq ft$130,000 – $200,000
1500 sq ft$200,000 – $250,000
2000 sq ft$270,000 – $350,000
2500 sq ft$340,500 – $400,000
3000 sq ft$435,000 – $505,000
3500 sq ft$480,500 – $550,000
4000 sq ft$580,500 – $650,500
4500 sq ft$650,500 – $700,000
5000 sq ft$725,000 – $805,000

Average Cost Per Square Foot by Pennsylvania Location

The per square foot cost to build a house in Pennsylvania can shift dramatically depending on where in the state you decide to build. Here is a breakdown of average per square foot building costs by Pennsylvania location:

  • Pittsburgh area: $150-$300 per square foot
  • Philadelphia area (not city): $150-$300 per square foot
  • Harrisburg area: $150-$200 per square foot
  • Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area: $150-$200 per square foot
  • Pennsylvania suburbs: $150-$200 per square foot
  • Rural Pennsylvania: $150-$200 per square foot

As you can see, per square foot building costs tend to be higher in and around major Pennsylvania cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh compared to more rural parts of the state. Suburbs fall somewhere in the middle.

Also read: Cost to Build a House in North Carolina: A Ultimate Guide

House Construction Expenses Across States in US

STATEAVG. COST PER SQ. FT.AVG. COST 2000 SQ. FT.
Alabama$133$267,620
Alaska$210$421,080
Arizona$147$295,580
Arkansas$125$251,800
California$202$405,440
Colorado$149$299,300
Connecticut$172$345,440
Delaware$163$327,060
Florida$131$263,640
Georgia$136$273,860
Hawaii$206$412,840
Idaho$157$315,520
Illinois$132$265,440
Indiana$109$219,300
Iowa$107$214,040
Kansas$103$207,120
Kentucky$140$280,580
Louisiana$134$269,920
Maine$141$282,140
Maryland$147$294,160
Massachusetts$175$350,820
Michigan$108$216,780
Minnesota$118$236,980
Mississippi$127$255,320
Missouri$113$226,760
Montana$149$298,960
Nebraska$105$210,900
Nevada$167$334,140
New Hampshire$149$299,900
New Jersey$188$376,900
New Mexico$145$290,940
New York$180$360,180
North Carolina$150$301,500
North Dakota$106$212,500
Ohio$111$222,480
Oklahoma$130$260,500
Oregon$170$340,580
Pennsylvania$151$302,200
Rhode Island$169$338,180
South Carolina$150$301,840
South Dakota$102$204,420
Tennessee$130$261,940
Texas$132$264,100
Utah$144$288,560
Vermont$153$307,840
Virginia$155$310,100
Washington$171$343,100
West Virginia$150$301,120
Wisconsin$119$239,140
Wyoming$145$290,420

Land Acquisition Costs

Land costs vary dramatically by location when building in Pennsylvania:

  • Philadelphia Metro: Land averages $200,000-$300,000 for a 0.5 acre plot suitable to build on. High property taxes also factor in.
  • Pittsburgh Metro: Average around $100,000 for a 0.5 acre plot. Existing homes nearby lower some costs.
  • Central PA: State College, Harrisburg, Lancaster and other mid-sized cities land averages $70,000 to $150,000 per half acre.
  • Rural PA: Land can be purchased for as little as $30,000 – $60,000 per half acre plot when building farther from major cities.

In addition to the land purchase price, you also need to budget an additional 5-10% for surveys, site drawings, perc tests, permits and legal fees tied to land acquisition.

When evaluating land, consider factors like:

  • Location conveniences and access
  • Community amenities like schools, retail, etc.
  • Lot topography and drainage
  • Availability of electric, water, sewer and gas utilities
  • Internet/cell service coverage
  • Natural gas drilling/fracking activity nearby
  • Deed restrictions, HOAs, zoning details

Thorough due diligence during land purchase helps avoid major headaches when construction begins.

Also read: Where is the Most Expensive Places to Live in the US

Major Construction Cost Factors

Beyond land, the construction costs represent the majority of expenditure when building a new single family residence. This includes everything from foundation excavation to installing light fixtures and appliances.

Site Preparation and Foundation

Before vertical construction begins, the lot must be cleared and prepped. This involves tasks like:

  • Demolition of existing structures
  • Clearing trees/vegetation
  • Grading and leveling the area for build
  • Installing sewer/septic, water, electric and gas lines
  • Digging and pouring footings and foundation

In Pennsylvania, most homes require some degree of foundation excavation and backfill work due to hilly terrain. This can add $15,000-$30,000 depending on soil type and drainage requirements.

Total cost for site preparation and foundation on a typical home is $35,000 to $60,000.

Major Structural and Systems

The majority of construction budget goes towards structural materials and mechanical systems like:

  • Lumber, trusses, sheathing for framing
  • Windows, exterior doors, roofing, siding materials
  • Rough and finish electric (with lighting fixtures)
  • All plumbing pipe and fixtures
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork

This works out to around $180,000 to $250,000 depending on house size and quality of materials. Expect to pay premiums for brick vs. siding, superior insulation, media wiring, security systems and smart home tech.

A key decision is having an unfinished basement vs. completing this space. Finished spaces add $50+/square foot including egress requirements. But you gain a livable area that also supports resale. Carefully consider costs vs. benefits of finishing basements.

Interior and Exterior Finishes

The finishing touches make a house truly livable and also allow personalization. Major items include:

  • Drywall/plaster, interior doors and trim, painting
  • Kitchen and bath cabinets and countertops
  • Flooring throughout (hardwood, tile, carpeting)
  • Landscaping, fencing and exterior concrete
  • Deck, porch and patio spaces (optional)

Total finish costs run $30,000 to $100,000+ depending heavily on material selections. Mid-grade finishes would total around $60,000 for a typical 2,500 square foot home.

Also read: Cost to Build a House in Washington State

Additional Cost Considerations

Beyond the home structure itself, additional expenses add up when building new construction:

  • Permitting/Hookup Fees: Around $5,000-$15,000 depending on location
  • Architectural Design: $15,000+ for full custom home design
  • Specialty Spaces: $50,000+ for pools, carriage houses etc.
  • Contingency Funds: 5-10% of total budget for overages
  • Furnishings/Equipment: $30,000+ for filling all new rooms
  • Property Taxes and Insurance: Varies by township but often $500+/month

Carefully research all costs and maintain a minimum 10% contingency. With long lead times, prices and delays can change so flexibility is key. Get firm quotes rather than estimates wherever possible.

Key Factors That Impact Building Costs

Several important factors impact the overall cost to build a house in Pennsylvania:

  • Location: Land and construction costs can vary dramatically between different areas of Pennsylvania. Building in large metro areas or desirable suburbs will be more expensive. Rural areas are typically the most affordable.
  • Size of the Home: Square footage is a key cost driver. Larger homes require more materials, labor, site work, etc. Carefully evaluate needs versus wants.
  • Custom or Spec Built: A production spec home built by a developer is typically cheaper than a fully customized home. Some minor customizations may be possible in spec homes, however.
  • Materials and Finishes: High-end materials like stone, hardwoods, granite countertops, and luxury fixtures can increase costs substantially. Research less expensive alternatives that can achieve a similar look.
  • Additional Features: Things like multiple garage spaces, basements, bonus spaces, pools, etc. all add to the bottom line. Weigh the value of each item.

How to Save on Costs When Building a House

Look for reasonable ways minimize expenses without sacrificing quality:

  • Have a modestly sized, simple rectangular shape home design
  • Stick with a spec home from a production builder for basic features
  • Research and select mid-grade finishes that balance cost and aesthetics
  • Consider energy rebates for use of solar, spray foam insulation etc.
  • Build in off seasons when contractor demand is lower
  • Provide self-sourced materials like lighting fixtures when possible
  • Avoid extensive grading that requires retaining walls etc.
  • Plant smaller landscaping that can mature over time

Every dollar counts when trying to squeeze maximum home within a set budget. But also avoid excessively cheap materials that cause problems down the road.

How Long Does It Take to Build a House in Pennsylvania?

You can reasonably estimate a 8-12 month timeline to build a single family home in Pennsylvania:

  • 2-3 months for design, permitting, lot prep/surveying
  • 3-4 months for excavation, concrete, and framing
  • 2-3 months for mechanicals, insulation, drywall
  • 1-3 months for finishes, painting, fine details
  • 1 month for final inspections, Certificate of Occupancy, closing

Delays due to weather, backordered materials, or contractor overbooking can easily add weeks or months. Be sure your construction loan provides adequate flexibility here. The more complex the design and the higher-end the details, the longer the finish process especially will require. Building permits also sometimes slow initial demo and site work.

Average Builder Profit Margins in Pennsylvania

When receiving a bid for new construction, it helps to understand typical builder profit margins in Pennsylvania. Most aim for 15-25% net profits accounting for the following:

  • 5-10% for general overhead and supervision
  • 5% set aside for warranty repairs
  • Remainder as pure profit

Some production builders generate higher 30-40% margins by streamlining processes and using some shared resources across developments.

But 15-20% provides reasonable returns given the 10-14 month or longer timelines to deliver new construction homes in Pennsylvania currently.

Get at least three bids from prospective builders to stimulate competition and find the best deal. Checking online reviews and contacting references also provides insight on pricing and reliability.

Benefits of Building a House

  • Create fully customised layouts and designs
  • Lock in pricing early with new build contract
  • Design for upcoming life stages and accessibility
  • Utilise latest high-efficiency construction materials
  • Choose higher grades of finishes and fixtures
  • Personalise organisational details like storage
  • Opportunity to fulfil vision from blank slate
  • Instil greater sense of pride and ownership
  • Maximise property’s views, natural light, flow

Is Building a House in Pennsylvania the Right Choice?

Building a customised new home tailored exactly to your family’s needs and preferences has great appeal. And current real estate trends with limited existing home inventory combined with attractive new construction lending rates in Pennsylvania point to an opportune time to build.

Just be sure to accurately factor in ALL costs involved with land acquisition, materials, labor, permitting fees, architectural designs and other expenses before committing to such an enormous investment. Creating detailed project budgets and finding the right home builder to guide you through the process reduces the risks.

If building truly is your dream rather than purchasing a resale home, take comfort that construction costs in Pennsylvania remain very fair nationally, without the huge price premiums seen in states like California or New York. Just do your homework before breaking ground.

A Guide to Construction Funding Options in Pennsylvania

  • Personal savings accounts and investments
  • Home equity lines of credit on existing properties
  • Traditional fixed bank construction loans
  • Variable rate construction loans and lines of credit
  • 401K/IRA retirement account loan withdrawals
  • Interest-only jumbo and custom construction loans
  • Private financing groups for luxury home builds
  • Crowdfunding via specialised real estate platforms
  • State and federal construction grants (limited eligibility)
  • Hard money loans using asset collateralization

Building vs. Buying a House: Key Differences

Building a House

  • Custom design/layout
  • Brand new construction
  • Potentially higher upfront costs
  • Wait time for construction (8-12 months typical)
  • Exact preferred finishes/features
  • Energy efficiency easier to maximise
  • Can personalise to suit lifestyle needs
  • New construction warranty protections
  • Pride of ownership/creation opportunity

Buying an Existing House

  • Faster move-in timeline
  • Verify condition before purchase
  • Often costs less upfront
  • Needs may require renovation
  • Location/neighbourhood established
  • No construction noise/mess
  • Existing landscaping grown in
  • History of home available
  • Can focus on decor vs. building

Key Differences

  • Timeline – building takes longer
  • Costs – buying existing often less
  • Customization – greater when building
  • Process – more complex stages when constructing
  • Flexibility – building allows more personalization
  • Unknowns – fewer buying existing property
  • Warranties – stronger protections building new

The Bottom Line

Constructing a brand new house in Pennsylvania costs around $151 per square foot on average. With competitive labour, materials and property costs compared to nearby states, Pennsylvania can accommodate nice homes at relatively reasonable prices. Just carefully weigh the multitude of expenses before finalising plans to ensure your home building budget is realistic.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How much does it cost to build a house in Pennsylvania?

With the average PA cost being $151 per square foot, a typical 2,000 square foot house would cost around $302,200 to build.

Is it cheaper to build or buy a house?

Building is often more expensive upfront, but you get a customized home tailored to your needs. Buying an existing home tends to cost less initially but may require renovations.

How long does it take to build a house?

The construction process typically takes 8-12 months from planning to completion, depending on size, design complexity, weather, etc.

What is the cost per square foot to build a house?

The national average is $100-$200 per square foot but can vary dramatically based on location, finishes chosen, labor costs, property type and more.

What should I budget for building a house?

A good rule of thumb is to budget 15-25% extra on top of material and labor costs to account for incidentals, delays, changes, and contingencies that pop up.

Can I customize when building new construction?

Building new allows for full customization of layouts, finishes, features compared to buying an existing home. Create your dream home from the ground up.

Does building a home take longer than buying?

Yes, construction typically takes 8-12+ months after the design phase versus buying a move-in ready resale home within 1-2 months.

Jean Folger

Jean Folger brings over 15 years of expertise as a financial writer, specializing in areas such as real estate, investment, active trading, retirement planning, and expatriate living. She is also the co-founder of PowerZone Trading, a firm established in 2004 that offers programming, consulting, and strategy development services to active traders and investors.

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