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How Much Does it Cost to Build a House in Des Moines?

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Des Moines is the cultural and economic center of the state of Iowa as well as its capital city. As of 2022, the city has a population of 559,000 and is constantly growing. It’s been identified as the fastest growing city in the Midwest. In recent years, the state of Iowa has been losing residents with the exception of Des Moines, whose population continues to grow.

It was ranked the top metropolitan area for millenials to buy in 2019 by Grow Magazine. This is mainly attributed to its low rate of unemployment (lower than the national average) as well as the low cost of living. Investopedia also topped Des Moines on its list of places with good jobs and cheap housing. The median price to buy a house is also well below the national average. Homeowners describe Des Moines as a big city with a small town feel, which makes it very appealing to small families and retirees. An abundance of schools and colleges have also led Des Moines to have a highly talented workforce for the city’s many specialized industries.

Similarly, Des Moines has been identified as a place for great business since the cost to do business is very low. It is considered one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. Des Moines is also considered as a global hub for insurance and even prospected to be the insurance capital of the United States. Des Moines is also a powerhouse in other industries such as agriculture and biotechnology and advanced manufacturing. It also has a steadily growing data and technology industry with tech giants such as Facebook, Apple and Microsoft entering the city. The abundance of prime farmlands and a talented workforce in the area has also resulted in this city being called America’s Cultivation Corridor.

The Cost of Building a Home in Des Moines

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Des Moines’ construction industry is currently facing the challenge of chasing after a constantly increasing demand for homes. Several contractors have expressed difficulties in the industry, particularly in the scarcity of raw materials, resulting in a deficit in the supply of new homes for aspiring homeowners. The median cost of a home in Des Moines is over $120,000 lower than the national average, making it very appealing to real estate newbies.

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

Hard Costs

Any and all fees related to the construction of a physical home falls under hard costs. These include fees involved with installing utilities and the price of procuring raw materials needed for a house. Expenses incurred for acquiring supplies for each component of a house, such as roofing, floorings and its foundations are part of this category. It also includes contractual services and its associated costs such as labor and materials that contractors require to complete the project.

The cost to build a custom house in Des Moines, Iowa is pegged at $500,000 to $600,000. The per square foot price of home construction depends, of course, on the region the homeowners plan on having their homes built, although the typical rate usually runs at $100 to $155 per square foot in Iowa. Custom homes in the state on the other hand can come at a price anywhere between $200 to $500 per square foot, with the price depending on location, design choices and finishes.

The cost to install a roof is dependent on factors such as the size of the roof as well as the type of room a homeowner wants to install. A flat roof is the most affordable option for homeowners with a price of $1.57 per square foot. Slate roofs come at a premium price of $11.47 per square foot. Other roofing options include asphalt shingles, tile roofs, wood shakes and metal roofs; which cost $1.90$8.86$5.52 and $7.81 per square foot, respectively. The average cost to build a new roof is around $3.50 to $5.00 per square foot. Roof replacements in Des Moines can set homeowners back anywhere between $3.20 to $6.94 per square foot. Shingle roof installation fees can cost $5.24 to $6.79 per square foot. The regular price homeowners can expect to pay for a roof is more or less $8,000.

Carpentry framing in Des Moines $21.09 per square foot for unfinished home additions. The typical range for carpentry framing runs between $19.45 to $22.72. The cost to frame interior walls on the other hand cost anywhere between $2.77 to $3.06. The cost to add vinyl sidings to homes can cost $3.36 per square foot for mid-grade sidings. However, on average homeowners can expect a range of $2.75 to $3.97 per square foot. 

Doors and windows also fall under hard costs. The cost to install exterior doors typically results in $374.97 per door for a mid-grade steel entry door. Interior doors on the other hand cost around $172.26 per door. Window installation typically costs around $100 to $250 per window.

Other home additions such as swimming pools and fences are considered hard costs as well. The average price homeowners can expect to pay for a swimming pool ranges from $40,000 to $50,000. A basic wooden fence can go up to a price of $1,330 to $5,550.

Soft Costs

A soft cost is any expense that goes into the intangible requirements to construct a home. This includes the plot of land, fees for permits, and any government-imposed tax or regulation for inspection and construction. Costs accumulated for the design of the home and any architectural service are considered soft costs as well.

Cost of the Land

The average size of land in Iowa usually runs at 10,800 square feet. Based on listings on Zillow and Redfin, average lots in Des Moines can cost anywhere between $64,214.29 and $68,258.82, with a per footage cost that falls between $6.80 and $7.66 per square foot. 

Permits and Other Fees 

Permit fees in Des Moines are computed based on the total finished floor area of a home excluding basements and garages. Single-family dwellings with a finished floor area of 1,200 square feet or less cost a fee of $850. Homes with a total finished floor area of 1,201 to 2,000 square feet have an associated fee of $1,050. And homes with finished floor areas greater than 2,000 square feet come with a fee of $1,450.

Additional building permits include additions to dwellings that come with a $250 fee. In addition, renovations can come with a $150 fee, and adding detached sheds and garages requires an associated permit fee of $175. If homeowners desire to add details to their homes such as decks, fences, retaining walls, swimming pools, hot tubs and other accessory structures, they will need to shell out an additional $75 per accessory to be added.

The Des Moines government also charges fees for utility inspections and installation. Electrical permits for new dwellings can cost up to $225. Mechanical installation associated with new construction comes with a cost of $125. Plumbing installations that are associated with new home construction come with a fee of $200. Permits for electrical, mechanical and plumbing installations for existing houses all cost $75 each. In addition, if homeowners opt to include a fireplace to their homes, it comes with an additional mechanical installation fee of $75.

Architecture and Design Fees

The national average to hire an architect is normally 5 to 20% of the actual construction cost for a residential project. Some architects choose to charge their clients an hourly fee or a per square footage fee, with rates ranging from $100 to $250 and $2 to $15 per square foot.  Drawing basic plans with the help of an architect can usually cost homeowners anywhere between $2,000 and $20,000. On the other hand, full house design and services can cost as much as $15,000 to over $80,000

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

Homes in Des Moines, Iowa are lower compared to the national average. Compared to its neighboring cities, it is considerably lower to purchase a house in Des Moines. Venturing further from the main city to the general Des Moines metropolitan area, homeowners here can expect to pay a premium for their homes. Zillow home values for Des Moines as of 2022 are pegged at $180,066. Adjacent to Des Moines is its suburb, West Des Moines with houses valued at $283,671. North of Des Moines, Ankeny has homes valued at $300,254. Northwest of the city is Urbandale, with houses valued at a costly $302,538.

What Leading Custom Home Builders and Architects that Serve Des Moines Say

Des Moines, Iowa-based remodeling firm Eden + Gray Design Build estimates the cost of new builds in Des Moines to be about $175 per square foot for value-conscious homes, $250 per square foot for mid-range homes and $300 per square foot for high-end custom homes. Their observations have been affected by sourcing and how people are choosing to live currently. The abundance of space and low cost of living in Iowa has made it an appealing place for people to live. Ever since the pandemic hit, many homeowners opted for compartmental plans for their homes since they needed to divide the space in their homes for school, work and play. The scarcity of materials has also contributed greatly to the increase in the cost to build a home. The firm advises homeowners to plan ahead and acquire materials early before prices increase further.

The Future of Des Moines’ Residential Construction Industry

The city of Des Moines, similar to other cities across the nation, was severely affected by the pandemic. The construction industry saw unprecedented increases in the cost of raw materials such as lumber and labor. The price of raw materials hit Des Moines pretty hard. The cost of a home rose by as much as 75% from 2020 to 2021. And it seems that this increase won’t stop anytime soon. Although prices have been increasing, the demand for new homes has not waned. Demand is still going strong in Des Moines. The low interest for home mortgages, low standard of living and cost to build a house in Des Moines all still make the city an appealing place to live. However, families looking to invest in Des Moines need to act fast because not only are prices rapidly increasing, but deals are also getting closed more quickly.

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