Cost to Build a House in Hartford

Hi Carl,

I am new to the tools and trying to figure out if I can build a home.

When I look at comparables in the area that I want to build and asked co-workers how much it cost them to build ($100/sq ft), it seems within my budget of $216k including the land.

But when I use the cost to build calculator, it is well above my budget. It almost seems to be double.

I think I am double counting square footage perhaps. I don't know what I am doing wrong.

If I want to build a 1000 sq ft house that has a 1 or 2 car garage, basement, cathedral or vaulted ceilings, and fireplace in the Hartford area of Connecticut (06101), how do I estimate properly?

I came up with a figure of $279k which seems wrong as I still have to buy the land!

$140k for the house and 76k for the land seem to be more aligned with the market and I want to make sure that I am correct.

Basic specs are: 2 bedroom, 1 or 2 baths, central air, 2 car garage, unfinished, basement, and a fireplace.

As you can probably tell, I have just begun my research. Can you help me?

Many thanks,

Hi Gail,

There is no exact way, no true shortcut, to estimate accurately the cost of building a house without actually getting bids from either a General Contractor or, if you are an owner builder, from all your suppliers and subcontractors.

But you can come pretty close or at least have an idea, something to “shoot for” as you progress in your research.

The “Cost to Build Calculator” found on my “Getting Started” page is pretty accurate.

I don’t know what numbers you plugged in when you ran the calculator to get $279,000 for a 1,000 sq ft house, but I’d wager you chose too high of “Quality Classes” for your initial estimating needs.

One should always start estimating with just a basic “custom” home, upgrading as your budget allows. Notice I said “custom” home as that’s what you will be building. It is always more expensive to build a custom home than it is to buy a house in a housing development.

Here is a 999 sq ft split-level home with a raised entrance and a basement for future growth, a garage (in basement), A/C, and some other nice features
HOME PLAN #592-013D-0054 from
Quick Details
• 999 Total Square Feet, 2 Bedrooms, 2 Full Baths, 2-Car Garage, Basement, A/C
• Vaulted ceilings adorn the kitchen, family and dining rooms providing a feeling of spaciousness
• A future studio on the lower level has an additional 300 square feet of living area and features a bath and a kitchenette making it ideal for a college student or in-law.

I came up with a cost to build estimate of $131,648 including a General Contractor’s markup and other incidental expenses that a professional general contractor incurs. That equals $ 131 per sq ft.

Note: I used the “Cost to Build Calculator”, and “Quality Class” #6 throughout, except I used #5 for the foundation.

If you decide to be your own General Contractor you can eliminate the General Contractor’s markup, as well as some of the insurance costs and the equipment rental costs and the estimated cost drops to $114,066, or $114 per sq ft.

Here is a copy of the entire cost estimate breakdown. Click on it to enlarge.
Until you actually start getting bids and entering them into your own spreadsheet (see FREE spreadsheets), it will remain approximate.

Everyone should keep in mind that the cost to build for this example, or any house plan, can vary considerably depending on actual bids for labor and material, design, and the quality of construction.

And as I have said before, a smaller house costs more per sq ft to build than a larger one, all things equal because many of the basic expenses that are incurred in all houses are spread over a smaller amount of square footage, expenses such as kitchens & bathrooms, and many other “basic” costs.

Hope this helps,