building a house

Cost of Building a House in 2020

With house prices as they are you might be thinking about building your own home. This can work out really well but you need to know how much building a house from scratch is actually going to cost.

A general range to go by for a self-build is anywhere from £300 per m2 to £3,000 per m2. As you can see, this is quite a variation in price from lowest to highest. Location makes a difference – it’s more expensive in London and the South to build a house. But aside from that, there are a number of things that affect price.

Plot valuation

You’ll need your own land to build a house on so you’ll need to buy a plot. Plots are usually valued by estate agents, who calculate how much a finished house would cost on that particular plot and then subtract the estimated cost of building from scratch.

It’s worth noting that a plot of land goes for market value and doesn’t always completely reflect calculations.

Build route

The cost of building a house depends on how involved you want to be in building your house. Usually, the more involved you are the less it’ll cost. There are four main build routes for houses, listed below from cheapest to most expensive.

1. DIY

You build most of your new home yourself. This can save you around 30-40% on the total price, employing help as and when you need it. You buy all materials yourself, directly from the merchant.

While this is the cheapest, it also requires the most time and building know-how.

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2. Self manage with subcontractors

You hire tradespeople directly – builders, joiners, etc. You buy most of the materials yourself. You might need to do a few bits of DIY.

3. Main contractor with subcontractors

You employ a main contractor or package supplier to build a watertight structure for your house. You then employ subcontractors to carry out the remaining work. You buy all the materials yourself.

4. Main contractor

You employ a single main contractor who takes care of everything. This requires the least involvement from you.

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Quality of materials is an important thing to think about when it comes to house building costs. The more luxurious, the more it’s going to cost.

Standard: This is a basic build quality, offered by most developers.


  • cavity walls will be facing bricks, insulation, and 100mm block­work
  • concrete interlocking tiles
  • standard softwood joinery
  • studwork partitions
  • standard kitchen
  • basic bathroom fittings
  • radiator central heating

Comfortable: This is the build quality offered by higher quality developers.


  • cavity walls will be facing bricks, insulation, and 100mm blockwork
  • clay machine-made tiles
  • high-end off-the-shelf softwood joinery
  • blockwork partition walls
  • top-of-the-range standard kitchen
  • mid-range bathroom fittings
  • downstairs underfloor heating

Luxury: This is a very high standard of build.


  • cavity walls will be bricks, insulation, and 100mm blockwork
  • plain clay tiles
  • hardwood joinery
  • blockwork partitions
  • fully custom kitchen
  • the best bathroom fittings
  • underfloor heating everywhere

House building costs will vary depending on which of the above you want to follow. And you could even mix them up if, for example, you’re happy to have a basic bathroom but want a luxury kitchen. So make sure to calculate your building costs.

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External cladding materials

If you want external facing material aside from brick, you’ll have to account for this in your overall build costs. You can do this by adding an extra amount per m2 for the total area of your chosen cladding.

Here are some example prices:

  • Render on blockwork – £25 per m²
  • Timber cladding – £25 per m²
  • Hand­made all-weather tiling – £54 per m²
  • Rubble walling or flint – £90 per m²
  • Reconstituted stone – £48 per m²
  • Natural stone – £75 per m²

Don’t forget to include these in your total costs when calculating your estimate.

Roofing materials

Just like adding bespoke cladding materials, non-standard roofing materials will add more to your build cost. And again, you’ll need to account for this by adding an allowance per m2 for the total roof space.

Here are some examples:

  • Welsh slate – £60 per m²
  • Second-hand slates – £35 per m²
  • Handmade clay tiles – £65 per m²
  • Reed thatch – £80/m²

Roofing is sometimes overlooked, especially if you want to add unique materials, so don’t forget to calculate your estimates beforehand.

Extra fees

Buying land and getting the permission to build your own home doesn’t come without it’s own set of extra legal and planning costs. Below is a pretty exhaustive list but ensure you seek out the proper advice to ensure you haven’t missed anything.

Legal Fees: £500-1,000

Stamp Duty and Land Tax: 1% for land or house purchases valued from £125,001 to £250,000, 3% for plots valued from £250,001 to £500,000 and 4% over £500,000.

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Topographical Site Survey: £350-500

Design Fees: Architects charge 7-15% of the total build cost. Planning drawings from other sources cost £2,500-3,500. The same goes for Building Regulations drawings.

Structural Engineers’ Fees: £400-500

Planning Application Fees: £335

Building Regulations Fees: £500-1,000

Warranty: 1% of contract value

Self-build Insurance: £500-800

Services: £3,500-6,000 total

Demolition Costs: £5,000-10,000

External Works: Around 15% of total build cost

Building your own home can be great. But there are a lot of overheads to take into account and the cost of building a house isn’t as simple as buying the land and paying the contractors. To ensure no surprises, make sure you plan and calculate correctly.

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