Property Q&A in San Diego>Question Details

Elizabeth, Other/Just Looking in San Diego, CA

What is the average cost per sq ft to build a home in san diego?

Asked by Elizabeth, San Diego, CA Tue Jun 8, 2010

Help the community by answering this question:


Builders have quoted for a typical tract home it is $130 sqft. as they are buying everything in bulk and get the best prices....customs min $250-300 and I have sold several where costs were $400+ is all in the finishes and architectural detail. Lots are a bargain..if you want to build now is a great opportunity ..lots in Santaluz are a give away as compared to 4 years ago. That said I agree with the other agents it is less expensive to purchase an exisitng home or a new home from a builder.However, if you are in the $2,000,000 price bracket I would strongly consider building what you want. Good luck!
Gretchen Pagnotta 760-715-0478
3 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
Hi Hannum,
Different people have different needs and wants.
At least you got the mathematical idea for size costs.

Flag Sun Nov 16, 2014
$2 Million?! But how many people really need a 4,000 sq ft home?
If its just a couple, empty-nesters, they don't need more than 1 or 2 bdrms.
Small is beautiful. 1,000 sq ft x $250 = $250,000.
+ a nice $100K lot = $350K Total. A far cry from $2 Mil !!
Flag Thu Aug 21, 2014
Hello Elizabeth,

Coming from a financial background, there is no disputing that that average cost per sq ft to build is primarily a function of supply and demand. Given the relatively high unemployment rate here in San Diego, contractors are definitely looking for work and willing to do it for much less than at the height of the housing frenzy. As noted by others, there are several other factors such as the area, materials, and choice of builder which weigh into the average cost per square foot. When analyzing adequate home insurance coverage, I generally use $200/sq ft. However, when talking about custom homes, that number moves more to $300/sq ft.

Let's use The Trails in Rancho Bernardo (neighborhood I grew up in and was devastated by the fires in October 2007) as a good example of whether to build or buy an existing home. There are 8 active lots for sale (all are a minimum 1 acre) and range in price currently from $469K-689K. For our sake, let's use $500K and then a 4,000 sq ft home at $250/sq ft. That get's you to $1.5 million, not taking into consideration landscaping. Now if you look at the 12 active properties in The Trails, the average "asking" price per square foot is $328. These most likely come with landscaping, but you are getting a much older home.

The conclusion, at least in this particular example above, would lead one to believe building a new home would cost more than buying an existing home, but there is a certain value to having a new place that you had designed and built from the ground up.

Hope this helps!

Chad Basinger, REALTOR®, CPA, CFP®
3 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
My answer would be it depends. The cost to build a home varies widely by location. Building a home in warmer climates is very different , and much less costly, than building in northern states, where foundations must be able to withstand freezing, etc. Different areas have different local codes and regulations. And of course build costs change over time.

I would first suggest that you find a good Realtor and have them run a free market analysis for you on the area you will be building in. Then you will have a good idea of what the going prices are so you do not over build for that area.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 10, 2016
I have several homes in the Pacific Beach area. I am presently getting bids for new construction. They are older SFR's sitting on nice lots. First, check your zoning ord's to see what you can build on them as many neighborhoods have and are adopting new zoning ord's.

For good quality finishes and construction my bids are falling in at about $250 Sq. Ft. less landscaping. On one lot, I am going to build a single 2500 Sq. Ft. home as my zoning is RM-1-1 on a 4,800 Sq. Ft. lot. On my second lot, I am going to build two 2000 Sq. Ft. homes as my zoning is RM1-1 on a 6300 Sq. Ft. lot. I anticipate my ONE house to sell in the $1.1 to $1.25M range. I anticipate to sell my TWO houses in the $.8 to $.9M range each.

I hope this helps and as always, if you are looking to buy a home or land, please do don't hesitate to contact me.

Lance A. Schmidt
W Partners, LLC.
lic. #: 01701692
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 5, 2013
Good morning afternoon sir,

Good advice! I am considering buying a small lot in Vista for building a small (1,100 sq ft) garage with apartment home for my wife and I. Any advice that I can get would be great. I'm experienced with home building on vacant land in Montana, but I feel lost in San Diego.
Flag Mon Jul 21, 2014
HI Elizabeth,

The cost of building and obtaining a lot is usually more expensive than buying a pre-existing home. This of course depend on the area because it will always be cheaper the further East you go. If you like, I'm happy to offer you a free consult where we can analyze it much closer. I'm happy to help! My cell is 858-204-7259.

Have a great week!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
We don't have a lot yet. We're trying to see if building a house is comparable, more expensive, or less expensive than buying an existing home. Of course, there are intangibles to build into the equation, but from a purely financial perspective we're trying to figure out whether or not it makes sense to build in this market....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
Generally the contractors who have given estimates to my clients in the past have quoted $200 per square foot for medium grade finishes, and going up from there. It also depends where you want to build. I am in the beach area where property values are higher and people want to put in more high end finishes. If you are in a less expensive area than you can go with more moderate finishes. Just keep in mind that for best resale value you want the property you build to be similar in quality and finishes for the neighborhood. It is not advisable to build to a much lower or much higher standard as neighboring properties or you will have probems when you sell. If you would like to get more information about comparable properties near where you are planning to build, just let me know. I'd be happy to help.

Beth Roach
Wills Allen Real Estate
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
It is closer to $300 +/- also depending on the area and upgrades. I have built serveral homes in the last 10 years and at the peak in 2005-06 It was costing closer to $400 a sq Ft.

Eric Polansky,GRI,CFS
Century 21 1st Choice
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
In a easy & quick answer, $150-200 per sq foot to build. But, it really depends greatly on the upgrades you pick. Do you already have a lot in mind or is it scraping an existing home? I have great contractors I would be happy to refer you to if you need an exact quote. You can call me anytime at 858-204-7259.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 8, 2010
How much does it cost to build a house in San Diego? What a great question. It seams like there should be a simple answers. The posts below ranges for $130 as sf to $500 per sf. As a cost estimator for a construction company I have spent the last 15 years preparing cost estimates for all sorts of construction projects. As a cost estimator I would figure out the answer by listing everything included from construction items like concrete through roofing as well as soft costs like permits, architectural services and construction loan costs. then I would figure out the quantity of each item, i.e. sf of drywall, cubic yard of concrete, design fees, permit fees etc.

As a consumer my advice to answer this question is to look for historical data. Historical data is term used in estimating and it refers to the construction company data base of project that they built and documented there costs to construct. The estimator goes to his/her historical data base when bidding new project. that is his/her best source for construction costs.

As one of the post below suggests, the rebuilds of homes that where burned down in the fire are perfect examples of reference construction costs. I would do some research and finds as many homes of a similar quality that where rebuilt within the San Diego city limits. The tricky part is to find out the cost to construct and design. I would contact the city building department and find out who pulled the permit and contact the general contractor who built the home. Or better yet find a contractor who competently rebuilt multiple homes after the fires. With that information you would know who could best answer the question. If you approached them as a potential customer they may be inclined to give you budget cost in the spirit of future business. The question you want to ask is what would the cost be including design fees, permits, construction management and construction costs. Be sure to ask if escalation of cost from past projects is included. If you have any questions related to construction cost estimating feel free to contact me at
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 26, 2014
A lot of the houses I am seeing in Poway are between $300 - 400/sqft. So, how is that buying such houses (ready made houses from a builder) cheaper than building one which some here have suggested can be done for $250-$300/sqft. Am I missing something?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 23, 2014
Rdunham you seem to be the most recent post on this blog, do you know the finished cost approximation per square foot for North county by chance. Most of the older post are as old as 2010. I'm not sure if the market has changed since then.
Flag Fri May 22, 2015
You're confusing construction cost with finished cost per SQ/FT which includes the cost of the land, landscaping, and any additional exterior add-ons like pools, etc.
Flag Wed May 20, 2015
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2016 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer