How Much Does it Cost to Build a House in Columbus?

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Columbus was initially known as “cow town,” but has since grown into a state capital where local businesses can thrive. Today, Columbus is home to various major industries such as technology, finance, and education. Despite its thriving culture, however, Columbus took a bad hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, and its unemployment rate rose up to 5.7% as of June 2021. Despite this, the city is now quickly showing signs of recovery. It is predicted to offer 26,800 jobs by the end of 2021, according to Bill LaFayette — owner of Regionomics, an economic consulting firm in Central Ohio.

The city is also known to be an affordable city to live in, being 10% cheaper than the national average, specifically in the healthcare, utilities, and housing sectors. While offering a diverse selection of neighborhoods from the most rural areas to peak urban living, Columbus continues to be economical, with its median value of homes being 18% lower than the national average. With its recent growth and available job opportunities, numerous people have decided to move to this city. In fact, its current population is 1,666,000 and is expected to increase to 1,849,000 by 2031.

Suppose you are also interested in relocating to Columbus. If so, it’s important to know the costs of building a home in Columbus, Ohio. 


The Cost of Building a Home in Columbus

Before relocating, it’s first important to know whether Columbus is a better environment for renters or homeowners. As a general rule of thumb, when a city has a higher price-to-rent ratio, it is more favorable for renters. In Columbus, this ratio is around 14.5, which means it is better to buy or build a home.

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Fixr reported that the cost to build a new single-family home in the Midwest is around $140 per square foot (PSF), second least expensive in the nation (after the South). According to HomeAdvisor, the cost for this type of project in Ohio ranges from $290,000 to $345,000 — around $145-172.5 PSF. More specifically, the median price for Columbus is estimated to be $156.11 per square foot, or $313,220 for a 2000-square-foot home.

To give you more context, HomeAdvisor also reported that the national average cost to build a house ranges from $100 to $200 PSF, or  $200,000-$400,000 for a 2000-square-foot home. Custom and luxury homes range from $200-$500 PSF. These homes tend to be more expensive because of the size, complexity, customization, and amount of work needed. All data considered, the cost to build an average house in Columbus is well within the national average.

As mentioned earlier, however, many other factors must come into play before reaching the final price of building a house in the area. Future homeowners have to also consider the land costs, permit fees, design fees, and much more. To help you with that, we have divided it into separate categories: hard costs and soft costs.

Hard Costs

Hard costs are costs that directly relate to the actual building of the home. The estimated cost per square foot of basic construction in Columbus is $113.17 — roughly $226,340 for a 2000-square-foot home. Prices can vary because of the home’s location, design, and size. The national average cost of building a house is around $287,466, with a basic home unit in Ohio starting at approximately $290,000 but can go as high as $345,000. For Columbus specifically, according to HomeAdvisor, the average price of a residence in Columbus is roughly around $312,222.

To dive deeper, Porch reported that the materials required to build a house cost $48 per square foot, which is around $96,000 for a 2000-square-foot home. This includes the delivery price and the additional materials for installation. For the framing materials specifically, it starts at $3 up to $12+ PSF. It is important to keep in mind that prices are susceptible to change as the supply chain issues in the country are yet to stabilize. 

Other costs include labor costs, which range from $1457 to $7540 for a 44-hour job, and may increase as the project becomes more complex. Other miscellaneous fees include planning, preparation, and cleanup of land from plants, shrubs, overgrowth, and trees. This cost ranges from $41,198 to $51,498. This costliness is due to the service including a daily rental of specialty equipment to provide the best services. Lastly, if you’re planning on adding extra amenities to your home such as pools, garages, extra living spaces or other such additions, the project budget may need to be increased as well. 

Figure 1. Typical cost breakdown of a single-family home constructed using the conventional method, according to Home Builder Digest.

Home Additions

Having a custom home built means you can add extra amenities to your home. This can increase enjoyment, convenience, and relaxation while bumping up your home’s value. Keep in mind that construction of these extra amenities can be quite costly and may require a substantial amount of upkeep. According to HomeAdvisor, here is the average price range of specific amenities:

  • Inground Pools: $36,000 – $100,000
  • Outdoor Kitchen: $5530 – $22,150
  • Large Decks: $4080 – $11,300
  • Balcony: $5000 – $10,000
  • Garage: $25,000 – $50,000
  • Porch: $5000 – $25,000

Additionally, mudrooms and sunrooms are the most common types of addition as these provide added storage and living space. Mudrooms are estimated to cost $12,000 for 50 square-foot, complete with storage and built-in organizational systems. On the other hand, sunrooms cost around $8000-$11,000 and may increase up to $80,000 for a 200 square-foot space with electrical wirings and heating.

It can be beneficial to consider this early on in the pre-construction phase as home additions in Columbus can be pricey, ranging from $15,850 to $54,544. This price quote can quickly increase as plans become more complex and more extensive, thus requiring more work and materials.

Soft Costs

Soft Costs are additional costs not directly associated with the actual building of the home. These costs involve land fees, architectural fees, design fees, engineering fees, and permits. Other processing forms required for building, such as insurance, documents, certifications, utilities, and other paperwork are considered soft costs as well. 

Figure 2. Soft cost percentage and average price range of additional fees, determined from the overall cost of custom home building in Columbus.

Cost of the Land

Land Costs in Columbus highly depend on the size of land you plan to build your home on. Naturally, the larger the land, the more expensive it will be. According to Clever Real Estate, land costs start at $32,077 per acre. Moreover, the kind of home you wish to have can have an effect on land costs to accommodate your requests. For example, luxury custom homes will have a more expensive land fee to house the numerous furnishings and amenities, but a basic residence can maintain a steady price. This is one aspect you should consider as the price per acre can increase depending on the location and construction suitability. 

Permits and Other Fees 

Before getting started with the building process, homeowners in Ohio need to purchase three permits: the occupancy permit, the utility permit, and the septic permit. The prices of these permits change depending on the county and regulations, but these permits typically cost around $500 and $2,000. In addition, if the land you own has not been built on before, additional fees such as site inspection and utility connection fees are added to the total price. According to a local government document, the price for inspection permits cost around $675 to $800. In addition, occasionally there are inspections for additions and alterations that may also affect the final price. Lastly, fees can rise if you choose to hire a construction manager. This comes at an estimated price of $3,072 and $47,279. This makes up around 5% to 15% of the total price but may vary depending on the size of the project. 

Architecture and Design Fees

According to HomeAdvisor, the price per square foot for an architect runs anywhere between $2 to $15.  In terms of an hourly rate, an architect will charge around $125 to $250 per hour and might have an intern to assist in other tasks, which will cost an additional $45 to $90 per hour. In addition, full architectural design services make up around 10-20% of construction costs for new construction projects, and 15-20% of the total fees for remodels. Lastly, architectural fees must also include other architectural services such as concept development and drafts, construction documents, and project management or administration. These can range from around $2 – $5 per square foot. 


How do the custom home building costs in Columbus compare to nearby cities?

As mentioned earlier, the Midwest is the second least expensive region to build in. According to BusinessInsider, Minnesota is the most expensive state with a median home value of $188 PSF. The city is followed by South Dakota and Illinois with $169 PSF and $154 PSF respectively. More specifically, Winnetka, Illinois has the most expensive homes in the region with an average price of $1,091,700. The village of Indian Hill, Ohio follows this with an average value of $955,500, and third is Glencoe, Illinois with $953,700, as reported by 24/7 Wall Street. The site also reported the other end of the list wherein the least expensive neighborhoods in the Midwest are Creve Coeur in Missouri, Riverside in Illinois, and Mequon in Wisconsin. Here, home values are estimated to be $402,300, $406,300, and $407,000, respectively.

As the pandemic ravaged the world, numerous metropolitan cities in Ohio saw an inflation of price in homes, including Cincinnati and Cleveland. Cincinnati, the largest metropolitan area in Ohio and home to over 1,754,473 residents, had a median home value of $178,000 in September 2020. It increased by 19.6% and is now valued at $213,239. On the other hand, homes in Cleveland are valued at $97,329, which increased by 27.2% from last year’s $76,591.

According to Realtor.com, the surrounding cities in Columbus also experienced this trend. The prices of each and its rate of increase compared to previous year are as follows:

  • Upper Arlington: $529,371, increased by 12.6%
  • New Albany: $504,182, increased by 13.7%
  • Dublin: $481,926, increased by 14.8%
  • Powell: $472,542, increased by 13%
  • Westerville: $379,439, increased by 15.3%
  • Hilliard: $310,643, increased by 17.3%
  • Grove City: $264,477, increased by 16.9%
  • Reynoldsburg: $243,508, increased by 18.1%

Suppose you’ve made up your mind about relocating to Columbus. It is crucial to know which neighborhood is within your budget. To help you with that, we have gathered the median home prices from realtor.com. The value for each is as follows — arranged from most to least expensive:

  • Italian Village: $580,000
  • Franklin Park: $362,500
  • King-Lincoln Bronzeville: $300,000
  • Woodland Park: $270,000
  • Southern Orchard: $235,000
  • South Linden: $115,000

Major Custom Home Building Cost Trends Across the Web for Columbus

One trend that has been prevalent in numerous cities across the U.S. is the continuous increase of construction costs. Columbus is no different as the city experiences a skyrocket in its prices. According to the local real estate association, supply has been an issue that needs to be addressed as homes in Central Ohio continue to be high on demand. This shortage has affected the market, resulting in higher construction costs, making it more challenging to build a home. Columbus Monthly reported that home values saw an increase up to 40% over the previous years. This surge of prices also includes nearby cities such as Dublin, New Albany, and Powell, with less than 25% rate of increase. Some residents are also waiting for the economy to bounce back, which will result in the decline of home values for most of Central Ohio’s communities, as Zillow forecasts.

House flipping or renovation is also a common trend in Columbus’ East Downtown area. Columbus Monthly noted that it is a steadily growing interest among many. On Columbus’s East Downtown, century-old homes are being renovated or replaced. Initially a $30,000 home from a few years back now costs $250,000 or more after construction. Empty lots in the area are being bought, and new homes are being constructed that are valued at around $400,000 or more. This value may increase as buyers, commonly millennials or empty-nesters, continue to outbid each other, and the demand for homes consistently rises.

Despite the surge in home values, the city still remains one of the “affordable” cities in terms of market value because of its diverse economy, which involves technology, education, and finance. This is in comparison to the national average listing prices for homes across the U.S., which presents Columbus as a decent city to stay in, especially during this ongoing pandemic. In addition to all this data, it is important to consider that the city continues to experience a 10% increase in its home prices on a year-to-year basis. However, this does not change that Columbus is still an ideal city to live in as its effects are not as drastic compared to the rest of the country. With the median price of a home in Columbus remaining at around $254,000, the city can still provide homeowners with a somewhat affordable house, especially during this pandemic. 

Last but not least, Columbus is known as one of the ten rising cities for startups. According to Forbes, numerous startup companies have been settling in the city. This is important to allow the city to recover from the economic downturn that the pandemic has caused. Once things have settled, the city should be able to recover from the economic crisis. Currently, business facilities acknowledge Columbus as the sixth best city for corporate headquarter leaders, while the Commercial Cafe recognizes the city as one of 20 cities ideal for startups. This presents an opportunity for the city to remain an ideal living location for the near future with the possibility of a more even supply and demand for the market. 


What Leading Custom Home Builders and Architects that Serve Columbus Say

We reached out to various construction and architectural firms that serve Columbus to give more value and context regarding the construction and architectural fees. We also asked for their insights regarding the current trends in the industry and their forecasts.

Yvonne Riggie, principal of YR Architecture + Design, anticipates that the construction cost will remain unstable for the next few years unless the industry can find a way to solve the supply chain issues, labor shortages, and demand. With that unpredictability in mind, the firm advised future homeowners to focus on why they want to build a house. “While people can’t control the changing market costs of construction, they can control what, where, and when they build,” Yvonne stated. Homeowners need to be smart in decision-making to control the overall cost of home building, and it would be easier if they had figured out and understood why they are doing the project. In terms of the firm’s architectural fees, the firm follows a hybrid fee structure. Their estimated cost for basic level services ranges from 6%-8% of construction costs. The value rises up to 15% for comprehensive projects that require more attention, care, design, and detail. With the design fees, the firm offers an hourly fee. Its team will familiarize themselves with the project specifics and the design concept first, then provide clients with the accurate fee for the project.

The construction firm Shrock Premier Custom Construction also gave their insights regarding the shortages. With the lack of subcontractors and materials, they anticipate that prices will continuously increase over the next two years. Additionally, high-end specialty pieces are now more favored by clients, which makes materials even more difficult to source. Ordering such pieces is done months ahead to receive special orders in time. In terms of home building values, the firm’s value-conscious homes are estimated to be at around $235 per square foot. The mid-range and high-end homes cost $275 per square foot and $325 per square foot, respectively.


The Future of Residential Construction Industry in Columbus

An aspect about the city of Columbus is the constant availability of incentives, property improvements, and the rise of numerous businesses. This is an important facet to the city as it continues to grow from the challenges the pandemic presented in the past two years. In addition to this data, it is worth noting that the city is the 14th largest city in the U.S. with around 892,533 residents. This is important as it allows the city to balance out its economy using numerous industries such as education, technology, healthcare, and residential and commercial construction. As mentioned earlier, the supply and demand data is not at the greatest position today with the huge shortages involving materials that lead to more expensive costs. However, it is essential to remember that the city has continuously performed well despite the circumstances. This presents an opportunity for the city to thrive in the near future, and that involves residential construction. Once the supply starts to rise, it can potentially lower costs of residential construction, ultimately leading to more affordable housing and other residential services. 

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