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

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Boise is the capital city of the state of Idaho as well as its cultural center, and a member of the Treasure Valley. Over 229,000 people call this place home and fondly refer to it as the city of trees due to its abundance in green space. It consistently ranks among the top places to live, especially among millennials in the United States. Many young adults migrate here from more expensive states such as California and Seattle, mostly due to the lower cost of living and higher quality of life. Boise has seen quick growth in many of its industries, particularly in food, healthcare and tech, making employment very accessible in the city. In 2019, it ranked top in Livability’s list of best places for millennials to live in the United States and the best place to buy a home by WalletHub.

Although the rapid growth of the city is certainly beneficial to many since the overall quality of life will follow, many longtime residents of Boise face the dilemma of the rising cost of living. Many seasoned residents of the city, having grown accustomed to its previous cheaper cost, simply struggle to catch up with the constantly increasing prices in their city. One common issue residents and tourists face in the city is also the lack of options for public transportation. Buses cease operating relatively early in the evening and the city lacks a railway system. So a car is essential if residents want to get around town easily.

The Cost of Building a Home in Boise

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Prices may have risen, but housing prices in Boise are still relatively low compared to the national average. It’s a great place to live for starter families since it doesn’t burn a hole through one’s wallet and there are countless family-friendly activities in Boise. Due to the abundance of parks, museums and historical sites, and an endless sea of food and drink joints downtown, dull moments are rare for families in this city.

The median cost to purchase a home in Boise is priced anywhere from $221,475 to $229,000, while the average cost homeowners spent to build a home is $257,762.25. Home prices have risen by about 10% due mainly to the Coronavirus pandemic, causing the construction industry to slow down. These rising costs can be easily attributed to the supply of raw materials such as lumber and the absence of laborers.

Figure 1. Typical cost breakdown of a single-family home constructed using the conventional method, according to Home Builder Digest. Image Source: National Cost Guide.

Hard Costs

Fees directly associated with the construction of the physical structure of a house is considered a hard cost. These include the home’s individual components such as roofing, flooring, utilities, cost of materials and the labor fees involved. These costs do not include any underlying expenses such as government and inspection fees.

In 2021, the price to build a single-family home in Boise, Idaho can range from $127.64 per square foot to as much as $495.90 per square foot, with a median price range of $235 to $255 per square foot. From 2020-2021, homeowners spent an average of $257,762.25 for their home construction projects. In the state of Idaho, homeowners can expect to pay $89.70 to $133.19 per square foot for basic building costs. Normally, materials make up around 30% to 50% of the entire budget to build a house while labor fees typically make up 30% to 60% of the construction costs. Competitive house prices usually run at $165 per square foot in Boise, and higher quality, above market prices can cost over $255 per square foot.

Roofing costs in Boise, Idaho can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $21,400 depending on the material, quality and the size of the roof to be installed. Asphalt shingle roofs can cost from $1.61 per square foot to $2.62 per square foot. Standard quality tile roofs can cost around $9.84 per square foot. Wood shake roof installation can range anywhere from 5.30 per square foot to $6.96 per square foot. Metal and slate roofs tend to cost higher than other roofing materials. Metal roofs can cost as much as $7.52 to $9.84 per square foot, while slate roof installation can cost anywhere from $7.32 to $18.18 per square foot. Flat roofs are the most affordable option with prices ranging from $1.31 to $2.17 per square foot.

An air conditioning unit in Boise can cost anywhere between $5,500 and $10,100. Homeowners can expect an average price tag of $7,200 just for a unit. Installation fees for air conditioning can cost between $2,200 and $9,800 with an average cost of $5,500.

Soft Costs

Soft costs pertain to fees not directly related to the construction of a home. These include all underlying expenses including the cost of the plot of land where construction will take place; permit and government fees; and architect or designer fees.

Cost of the Land

The cost of raw land in Boise can cost as low as $1,000 per acre to $383,000 per acre, or $0.023 per square foot and $8.80 per square foot, respectively. In suburban development, higher end lots can cost up to $349,000 per lot while lower end lots can cost as low as $15,000 per lot. Listings on Zillow indicate an average lot size of around 10,312.83 square feet with the average cost at $410,230. On the other hand, Redfin listings show an average lot size of 10,946 square feet and an average cost of $442,025.

Permits and Other Fees 

Administrative, design and permit fees in the state of Idaho typically constitute around 10-15% of the total construction cost of a project. Homeowners on average paid an average of $2,163.75 in permit fees in Boise. 

Below is a rundown of the cost of permits in Boise. Normally, fees are computed based on the total construction value of a project. Further is a list of other inspections, reviews and administrative fees associated with constructing a home.

Total Valuation Fee

Electrical Code Fee

Mechanical Code and Fuel Gas Code Fees

Plumbing Code Fees

Construction Site Erosion Control Ordinance Fee

Architecture and Design Fees

Architectural services usually range from 5 to 15% of the total construction cost of a homeowner’s project. Typically, hourly rates for drafts persons can go anywhere between $30 and $50 per hour. Licensed architects on the other hand can charge a fee of up to anywhere between $100 and $150 per hour. For designers, homeowners have to be willing to shell out over $150 an hour for their services. Draftspersons offer their hourly service for lower at $30 and $50 an hour. On a per task basis, draftspersons can cost as low as $2 per square foot.

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

The typical home value of homes in Boise, Idaho are considerably more expensive than some of its neighboring cities. Based on Zillow reports back in 2020, Boise homes are typically valued at $523,760. Nampa Home values come in second among its neighboring cities with a typical home value of $423,051. Caldwell Home values normally run at $408,299. Homes found in Mountain Home, Idaho on the other hand are valued significantly lower than Boise, Idaho homes. Typically, homes in Mountain home are valued at $294,656.

The Future of Boise’s Residential Construction Industry

Idaho, specifically the Treasure Valley area which includes Boise, has been seeing a rapid growth in its housing market. The inability to access supplies and the soaring prices of homes and construction have been making it difficult for construction firms to catch up with the high demand. In 2022, it is expected that more national home builders will enter the Idaho market. These firms are much larger, can operate for less and build faster and more efficiently at larger scales compared to local builders.

The presence of these Nationals (as the building community often calls them) will surely be beneficial to ease the soaring costs of construction in Idaho. However, the presence of these conglomerates may potentially hurt smaller, local builders who aren’t able to compete with these large scale builders in terms of buying power, and who may eventually push them out of the market. Although, more supply and more housing does not necessarily mean that costs will reduce immediately as well. The question, then, remains: how quickly can prices begin to possibly go down? And by how much?

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