Florida continues to attract new homebuyers in droves, topping the charts for domestic migration, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. And the Sunshine State offers new transplants plenty of opportunities to build across a smorgasbord of architectural styles and price ranges. With one of the longest coastlines of any state in the U.S. — second only to Alaska — beach lovers can find lots of communities in which to build, from Key West to Pensacola, while others flock to Miami, Orlando, or Jacksonville for more urban living. But what’s the cost to build a house in Florida?
While Florida is not one of the most expensive states in which to build, it does rank in the top third, but benefits from the state’s low labor costs. At an average cost of $125.41 per square foot, building a home can be affordable in many areas of the state.
To help you navigate the ins and outs of building in Florida, we spoke with experienced agent Myles Reeves, part of Tim Ekelund’s team in Pensacola, Florida, who specializes in beach front, condominium and investment properties.
Average cost to build a house in Florida, by city
Building a home in Jacksonville is the least expensive option, with an average cost of $114.28 per square foot, while building a home in Miami is the most expensive option, at an average cost of $138.34 per square foot. Here is a look at cities in Florida and the average cost per square foot to build a home, with estimates from ProMatcher:
|City||Cost per square foot|
Breakdown of the cost to build a house in Florida
No matter which state you’re in, the steps involved in building a house will vary depending on whether you’re buying a tract home — which is when a builder has bought a large tract of land to divide into lots and build out several homes — or if you’re building a custom home.
Keep in mind that the price ranges we’re providing are a general estimate. Your agent and, eventually, your builder can give you much more specific information on pricing.
Here is an at-a-glance look at the average costs of each phase of building, but we will break it all down next:
|Building Phase||Average cost (2023)|
|Framing||$14,000 – $32,000|
|Roof||$8,00 – $16,500|
|Finishes and fixtures||$42,000 – $175,000|
Buying a plot of land ($72,431 per acre)
According to an April 2022 report by the National Association of Realtors, land sales rose 6% in a year. Land sales for residential use were also up, accounting for 4% of all residential real estate sales.
Currently, there are more than 32,500 land listings in Florida, at an average per acre price of $64,540. Of course, the cost of land is going to be quite different from community to community. In Volusia County, a 1.7 acre plot listed for $65,000, or $38,235 per acre, while a 0.35 acre tract in North Fort Myers listed for $39,995, the equivalent of $120,000 per acre. A 5.64 acre tract in Nassau County was listed at $145,000, or $25,709 per acre.
Reeves says many, if not most, of his clients who are looking to build in Florida are new to his area. He recommends that clients spend some time in the area where they want to live and visit multiple cities, towns, and neighborhoods before deciding where they want to buy.
“Each of our cities and towns has a unique and distinct vibe,” he notes. “I recommend that you immerse yourself in the area to get a feel for what is going on. In most of these cities, land is readily available. We are not hurting for land listings in Florida. Buyers should take their time to get the land that is best suited to their needs and lifestyle.”
Foundation ($4,000 – $13,500)
Foundation costs will vary depending on whether you’re pouring a slab or digging a basement, but a typical price range is between $4,000 and $13,500.
In Florida, you will find very few homes with basements, and very few areas that can actually accommodate a basement. That is due to Florida’s aquifer system, which can be as little as 6 inches from the surface. In addition, digging deep into the aquifer system can trigger a sinkhole, so most builders won’t even consider it.
Most inland homes are built on slabs. But if you are buying waterfront property, your house will most likely be built on stilts.
“Should you buy a waterfront home or anywhere there are flood concerns, your house is going to be built on stilts,” Reeves says, noting people coming from the Midwest or Northeast states are always a little surprised by that construction feature, but it is standard along the coast to ensure homes can weather storm surges.
Framing ($14,000 – $32,000)
Framing is when the sticks go up and a structure actually starts to take shape. Expect to pay between $14,000 and $32,000 for this phase of building a house in Florida. Framing costs tend to vary due to both the size of the home and the complexity of its design — a one-story home with 2,000 square feet of living space will generally be less expensive to frame than a two-story home with the same square footage.
The threat of strong tropical storms and hurricanes in Florida adds to the cost of building a home due to required safety features.
“Homes in Florida need to be wind rated for 150 miles per hour,” Reeves explains. “On the builder side, that adds to the cost. But after you’ve been through a couple of hurricanes, you think whatever they do to keep me safer, I am for it!”
Reeves says windows and doors have to be wind rated as well, and homes are often outfitted with further hurricane protections, such as shutters that go over the windows. The good news, according to Reeves, is that your insurance company will take into account any wind mitigation protections built into the home and your insurance costs should reflect that.
Roof ($5,500 – $12,000)
Roofing doesn’t come cheap — whether you’re putting one on a new house or replacing the roof on an existing home. The costs of a new roof typically range from $5,500 to $12,000.
While the most common and affordable style of roofing in Florida is asphalt shingles, metal roofs are more practical for the Florida climate. Not only are metal roofs more able to endure hurricane winds, but they are also better at reflecting heat away from the home, providing valuable insulation against the intense Florida sunlight.
Concrete or clay tile roofs are also options and like metal roofing, are highly wind resistant. Although expensive, the longevity of a tile roof makes it worth the investment. On the down side, tiles are subject to cracking or breaking, but they are easy to replace.
When deciding on what style of roof you prefer, you must consider the cost of the various types of roofing materials. Here are some general estimates:
- Asphalt shingles: $50 to $70 per square
- Steel and aluminum: $100 to $300 per square
- Concrete tiles: $150 to $250 per square (standard weight) and $350 to $500 lightweight)
- Clay tile: $200 to $600 per square
Siding ($5,000 – $14,000)
Siding is another big variable: Are we talking vinyl, wood, brick, concrete, stone, stucco, or something else entirely? Siding costs range between $5,000 and $14,000, with vinyl or engineered wood siding typically costing between $3 and $12 per square foot.
According to the National Association of Homebuilders, stucco and vinyl were the most common siding material on new single-family homes built in 2021. Fiber cement siding such as Hardiplank or Hardiboard and brick or brick veneer were not far behind. Wood siding was used on only 4% of new homes.
Wood siding, once the most common type found in the U.S, is not a good choice for the Florida climate. Wood siding consistently underperforms in light of threats from humidity, rainfall, heat and sun exposure, and hurricanes.
Vinyl is probably the most common siding choice due to its affordability, ease of installation, and variety of colors. It is a good choice in Florida, as it is waterproof, fireproof, termite-proof, and resistant to denting.
One of the most expensive options, but arguably the most durable, is fiber cement board. It stands up well against rain and wind and is fairly easy to repair, but very expensive to install, nearly twice the cost of vinyl.
Here is a rough comparison of various siding materials, but remember that installation costs must be taken into consideration as well:
|Material||Cost per square foot|
|Metal||$3 – $11|
|Wood||$2 – $6|
You guessed it — appliance pricing also varies widely. Depending on brand, functionality, finish, and so on, you’ll spend an average of $10,875 if the home does not come with any, but you can definitely drop up to $24,400 or more on high-end appliances.
HVAC system ($12,500)
Plumbing system ($2,000 – $5,000)
Plumbing can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 on average — not including fixtures like sinks and toilets.
Electrical system ($500 – $2,300)
The cost to wire a house is, on average, between $500 and $2,300.
Building permits (variable)
Permits vary by state, city, and county, but they typically range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.
“The permitting process is pretty straightforward in Florida,” Reeves advises. “You apply through the city where the land is located. Zoning is more of a concern. Making sure the land you are buying is zoned correctly and has proper runoff, because as flat as we are, drainage is paramount.”
Building permit fees are determined by the municipality and vary greatly across the state of Florida. Often, the fees are calculated based on the square footage, so the larger the project, the more expensive the building permit will be. It’s advisable to research these numbers before you launch into your project.
Finishes and fixtures (variable)
Finishes and fixtures comprise everything from countertops to sinks, and lighting to flooring. Needless to say, pricing varies widely and depends heavily on your preferences.
Building a custom home vs. a home in a development
As a general rule, building a custom home that is tailored to your every need will be more expensive than buying a tract home from a builder. On average, building a tract home in Florida will cost $125.41 per square foot, while going custom could add an additional 20% to 50% above that estimate, significantly increasing the cost to build a house in Florida.
“For clients who have a very specific vision, building a custom home can be the most logical option,” Reeves notes. “If you are a little more cost conscious, it probably makes more sense to purchase a home in an established neighborhood that is being developed by a builder.”
Building a custom home will also require you to assemble a team of experts to design and build the home from start to finish. Here are the team members you will need and a breakdown of what they might cost you:
Architect (10.46% of the final build cost)
Hiring an architect will be integral to making your vision come to life when building your custom dream home. Before you start your search for the right architect, get clear about what you are looking for. Be sure to do your research and ask your network for recommendations for architects in your area with experience designing the kind of home you are looking to build.
The cost of hiring an architect could make up anywhere between 5% and 20% of the final cost of the build. For a 2,000 square foot home in Florida, with a final build cost of $372,000, that would amount to $18,600 to $74,500.
In Florida, the average architect charges approximately 10.46% of the total construction cost. Some architects will opt to charge by the hour or per square foot of the build for their services, but this is less common.
General contractor (10% – 20% of the final build cost)
A general contractor will oversee the entire process of building your custom home, and can be a substantial part of the cost to build a house in Florida. They will also be responsible for hiring and paying subcontractors, vendors, and construction workers. General contractors typically charge what is called a “cost-plus” fee arrangement which accounts for the cost of the labor and materials plus a negotiated fee for the general contractor. This usually comes out to 10% to 20% of the final cost of the build.
Additional costs of building a home in Florida
As we mentioned, building a custom home usually comes with additional costs. Again, your agent can help you determine more accurate costs — these are average figures provided to give you an idea.
Land survey ($375 – $745)
Excavation and grading ($3,200 and up)
If you’re buying a tract home, the land price will be rolled into the overall price to build a home. If you’re buying a lot on your own and then building a custom home, you must consider the cost of excavation and grading, which will vary depending on the size of your build and the amenities you want to add to your property.
General excavation may cost around $3,200 but you may also want to consider typical costs for excavation and grading for various aspects of your build:
- Basements (rare in Florida): $6,000 for smaller homes up to $10,000 for larger homes
- Patios and Driveways: $1,000 to $2,500
- In-Ground Swimming Pool: $400 to $1,500
- Land Clearing: $40 to $100 per cubic foot
- Plumbing: Trenching for utilities $6,000 to $10,000
If you are purchasing in a development farther away from the city, you will likely find more of the ranch style homes. If you choose a builder who is developing in a city, you will most likely see more two-story houses because it is more efficient to get the square footage in a smaller footprint in a city development. Most homes on average tend to be the 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom design and will almost always include a porch or a Florida room in the back.
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Common styles of homes in Florida
When it comes to choosing a style of home in Florida, you are only limited by your ability to imagine your new home. But to some extent, your choice may depend on your location, as each area of Florida has its own cultural influences, limitations, and environmental issues.
Cultural influences range widely in Florida, and the architecture reflects an eclectic mix of European, South American, and Caribbean influences. Styles range across the board including Mediterranean, Spanish, Art Deco, Craftsman, Coastal, Ranch, Traditional, Contemporary, and Victorian.
“If you are purchasing in a development farther away from the city, you will likely find more of the ranch style homes,” Reeves advises. “If you choose a builder who is developing in a city, you will most likely see more two-story houses because it is more efficient to get the square footage in a smaller footprint in a city development. Most homes on average tend to be the 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom design and will almost always include a porch or a Florida room in the back.”
Because of the climate, many of the preferred styles, though different on the outside, share some common features, such as open floor plans, large windows, high ceilings, and lots of porches, decks, and Florida rooms. This is especially true of the Coastal, Traditional, and Contemporary styles.
Art Deco also shares these features and is one of the most iconic architectural styles found in Florida, primarily in Miami Beach. Its sleek, geometric lines, metal roofs and distinctive colors seem perfectly conceived for oceanfront living.
More affordable options for building a home in Florida
While going with a bare bones building strategy can get you into a new construction home for less, cheaper isn’t always better. Shoddy build quality will inevitably lead to problems down the road — anything from a leaky roof to poor sound insulation can be a frustrating discovery when you’ve only been in your new home for a few months — and there’s value in creating a home you genuinely want, not just one you’re settling for.
Alternative home building options can give you more for your money and offer valuable flexibility during the construction process.
Tiny homes ($30,000 – $60,000)
A tiny house is usually 600 square feet or less in size. They’re not ideal for large families, but building a tiny house can be faster and more affordable than a conventional home if a smaller space fits with your lifestyle. On average, tiny homes cost between $30,000 and $60,000 to build.
Tiny homes are growing in popularity in Florida, as they present an affordable option to retirees with a ready-made community for people migrating to a warmer climate. They can also be a great option as a starter or even retirement house — especially since construction of new starter homes in Florida has declined between 32% and 39% since 1980, according to researchers at Freddie Mac.
One of the growing attractions of these communities is the added amenities, the costs of which are shared by the homeowners, such as a community garden, a dog park or fitness areas, such as in The Lakeshore at Lake Andrew in central Florida.
However, if you want to build on your own, do your research, as each county has its own specific regulations concerning size and construction.
Reeves says there is a lot of excitement and interest around tiny houses in his area, but they typically are not being built as primary residences. “A lot of people are using them as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), to rent out as an Airbnb or as a secondary residence for family members,” he says.
Modular and prefabricated homes
Modular and prefabricated homes are generally less expensive because there is less material waste, they take a shorter time to build, and require less manpower since the homes are constructed in a factory setting where tasks are managed in a more efficient manner.
According to ModularHomes.com, the average price for an 1800 square foot modular home is currently $150,000, well below the single-family average cost to build a house in Florida.
While the price of a modular home in Florida is less expensive than a tract home or custom build, the prices will vary depending on the style and square footage.
Because the science of modular building has gotten more sophisticated through the years, there is a surprising range of housing types and styles to choose from — and it is a much more efficient way to build in Florida. This is true with manufactured housing as well, which is estimated to make up nearly 9% of the total housing stock in the state.
Reeves acknowledges that most established neighborhoods do not allow manufactured houses and recommends that homebuyers interested in this type of home should consider buying in more rural areas.
Is buying cheaper than the cost to build a house in Florida?
As a general rule, buying an older home will be cheaper than building a home. The median cost of new construction was $385,000 in January 2023. Comparatively, the median cost to buy an existing home was $329,634 in December 2022.
While building a home will almost always come with a higher price tag upfront, there are some long-term savings that new construction homeowners enjoy:
- Energy efficiency: Newly constructed homes are generally more energy efficient than older homes — homes built after 2000 use 21% less energy than older homes on average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This is partially due to more strict energy regulations as well as better insulation and windows in new homes.
- New home warranties: New construction homes are often covered under builder warranties for a specified period of time. When purchasing an older home, most of the key systems, such as the HVAC, roof, and plumbing, will be older and no longer covered under any kind of warranty.
- Fewer maintenance costs in the first few years: With a newer home, you can count on your HVAC, plumbing, electrical system, and more to be functioning properly with little required maintenance in your first few years of homeownership. Older homes will likely have older roofs and older systems, requiring you to pay for replacement much sooner.
- New homes might be cheaper to insure: Many homeowners insurance providers offer discounts for new construction homes, due to the lessened risk of damages common in aging homes.
Get started on building your dream home
There is a lot to think about before buying land to build a house in Florida, but the key is to do your homework and understand how your choices – from where you build to what materials you use – will ultimately determine the cost of your home.
An experienced real estate agent can be your greatest asset in identifying a property that meets your needs and finding a builder that can craft a home that fits your specific requirements and budget.
Header Image Source: (Kristin Wilson / Unsplash)
- "Domestic Migration Drove State and Local Population Change in 2021," Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (August 2022)
- "Most and Least Expensive States to Build a Home," GO Banking Rates (October 2021)
- "2021 Land Market Survey," National Association of Realtors (April 2022)
- "Floridian Homes and Basements: Why This Mix Is Uncommon and Dangerous," iMold (January 2020)
- "What Are The Most Common Types Of Roofs In Florida?," RoofClaim.com (March 2022)