Washington state. From its miles of Pacific shoreline to its vast evergreen forests, it is one of the most beautiful states in America and one of the most desirable in which to live. And with remote workers having the freedom to live and work wherever they want, the population of Washington has increased by over 150,000 residents since 2020, thanks mostly to migration.
For those looking to join this migration to the Pacific Northwest, you may be wondering how much it costs to build a house in Washington state? While there are obviously many factors that can influence the total cost of a new build, data collected in 2022 indicates that the cost of building a house in Washington state comes out to about $186 per square foot.
For a 2,800 square foot family house, this equates to about $522,000. This is higher than the national average for new construction homes, which checks in at $173 per square foot and $485,000 for an average 2,800 square foot house, thanks to the desirability of living in Washington and the overall higher cost of living. Keep reading to find out some of the factors that drive the cost of building a home in Washington state.
Location, Location, Location
“As with anything related to real estate, the final cost of the build is going to come down to location,” says an expert from RexMont Real Estate. In urban and other highly populous areas of the state where obtaining a parcel of land on which to build is scarce, the overall cost of a new build will be much higher thanks to this land premium. For example, statistics indicate that even the most simple, bare bones house in the Seattle area will cost at least $350 per square foot to build.
In addition to urban areas, the cost of building will be high in trendy, scenic areas with low pollution, crime, and a high standard living. Some areas of Washington that meet some or all of the characteristics include Pullman, Sammamish, and Redmond.
On the other hand, if you are willing to sacrifice a little bit in terms of the convenience of urban/suburban living or the scenic charm of Washington’s most desirable locations, you can build a home a bit more affordably. Some areas of Washington where you may be able to build for less than the state average of $186 per square foot include Ephrata, Connell, and Quincy.
Cost of Building Materials
Keep in mind that the average cost of building a house in Washington is, well, the cost of building an average house. When you start moving into the semi-luxury and luxury realms, the cost of building a new home in Washington will likely exceed $1,000,000 per home. Desirable features in homes that can cause the cost of construction to skyrocket include hardwood floors, slate roofing, marble countertops, fiber cement siding, and smart appliances.
In addition, the cost of construction will vary based on the current market prices of building materials. The spike in price of construction materials was well documented throughout 2021 and the early part of 2022. While material price increases aren’t quite at the levels they were in previous months, it is still a market that will offer some degree of fluctuation, so timing the market can have a significant impact on the price of the build.
Finally, a general premise is that the larger the house, the lower the cost of building materials. So while the total cost of building a larger house in Washington will be higher than for a smaller house, the price per square foot will typically be lower thanks to efficiencies in buying in bulk.
As with building a home anywhere in the United States, building in Washington will require special permits and fees in different localities. For example, in the Seattle area, builders can expect to pay up to 2% of the total project cost in building permit fees. These fees will vary by city and county, and should be estimated prior to breaking ground on a project.
It is also critical to consider weather and natural disasters when building. Parts of Washington receive heavy amounts of annual rainfall, so permeable driveways and waterproof foundations are worth the additional investment. And while Washington has not been ravaged by wildfires quite like Oregon or California, the ongoing climate crisis makes it advisable to build with fire resistant materials if you are considering a build in the heavily forested regions of the state.
The Bottom Line: The Cost of Building a Home in Washington State
Although figures for the average cost of building a home in Washington state are all over the place, the typical cost for an average family home will be about $186 per square foot. This equates to about $522,000 for a 2,800 square foot home, which is above the national average of $485,000. With this in mind, be advised that any of the factors listed above could possibly make the price of a build increase substantially, with luxury homes in Washington state frequently costing more than $1,000,000 to build.