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How Much Does it Cost to Build a House in Virginia Beach?

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Also known as one of America’s “first regions,” the city of Virginia Beach sits on the stunning blue waters of the Atlantic ocean and is located just at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. This area is dubbed “The Resort City” with its lengthy beaches, numerous lodgings, and remarkable restaurants along the oceanfront. In fact, Virginia Beach was named The World’s Longest Stretch of Pleasure Beach by the Guinness World Records. Its 35-mile coastline extends up to three beaches: Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Bay Beach, and Sandbridge Beach.

Besides the city’s sand shores and salty, warm breeze, Virginia Beach is also home to various industries. This includes national and international corporate headquarters, advanced manufacturing industry, defense contractors, and multiple locally owned businesses. Its convenient location quickly made it a hub for international commerce. The Virginia Beach Economic Development described it as a highly desirable location for a high-tech workforce. Today, Virginia Beach’s employment sectors are showing the fastest signs of new growth, and as the world’s economy continues to recover, it is expected to grow even more.

The Cost of Building a Home in Virginia Beach

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According to Home Builder Digest, building a 2,600-square-foot home in the U.S. can cost approximately $400,000 or $150 per square foot. This value may cost as low as $140,000 and may rise to $700,000 or even up to the millions. The home building cost varies depending on multiple factors, including materials, size, level of finish and customization, and location.

In terms of location, constructing a new house in the state of Virginia will cost $155 per square foot or roughly $405,000 — only 3% higher than the national average. This is only an estimated value for the livable space and excludes land cost, site development, extra amenities, permits, and other fees.

Focusing on Virginia Beach, the median price to build a home is 25% higher than the national average, with $187 per square foot. More specifically, value-conscious homes range from $147 to $186 per square foot. On the other hand, mid-range homes cost $187-$337 per square foot, and high-end homes cost $338 and more. Building a 2,600-square foot home will land roughly between $383,000 to $880,000.

The values given above are only estimates; in construction, there are various factors that affect the overall cost. We have divided these factors into two separate categories, namely hard and soft costs.

Hard Costs

Hard costs refer to all the fees involved in the actual building of the home. These include the materials used, labor fees, extra amenities, and landscaping. 

The average cost to build a home in Virginia Beach is $180 per square foot and ranges from $110 to $250 per square foot, as per HomeBlue. This estimate only includes the basic construction and excludes land cost, site work, and other additional fees beyond structure. The price differs depending on the type of finish and level of construction done. Value-conscious homes are usually built with standard-grade materials costing $110-$160 per square foot. Mid-range and High-end homes cost $160-$200 per square foot and $200-250 per square foot, respectively. These homes tend to be more complex and are built with better materials, thus costing more.

Aside from the project’s complexity and materials used, the price also relatively increases with the size of the home and the location, especially if situated within an affluent neighborhood. Another thing to note is that scope creep or the slow increase in the requirements for the project may also affect the overall building cost. Every change of plan in the middle of construction may be costly as materials can be wasted along with a longer building timeline to incorporate the order of replacements.

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.

Soft Costs

Soft costs cover all the expenses that go beyond the home building aspect of the home. These include acquisition of land, permit fees, and architectural or design fees. Most of these are settled on the pre-construction stage, and some are to be paid upon project completion.

Cost of the Land

According to the Municipal Code of Virginia Beach, the minimum lot size requirement for a single family detached home is 5,000 square feet with a minimum of a 414-square-foot space for the yard. This brings the minimum lot size required to a total of 5,414 square feet.

Various residential lot listings in the real estate market site Zillow show an average of $774,384 or $38.67 per square foot. The cheapest land available is priced at $138,900 for a 43,560-square-foot lot — approximately $3.19 per acre. On the other end, the most expensive land available costs $750,000 or $148.54 per square foot for a 5,049-square-foot lot.

Following the regulations set in the municipal code, the minimum cost of land for a single family detached home will be approximately $210,000.

Permits and Other Fees 

Acquisition of a building permit is a necessary step before starting construction. Contractors must submit the project plans and other required documents to the local government for review. Additionally, four building inspections — setback/footing, slab/foundation, framing/insulation, and final — must be conducted to new constructions to ensure the project follows the plan, within city regulations, and is safe for the family and community.

The Municipal Code of Virginia Beach states that the minimum fee for a building permit costs $30. The final cost for the building permit will be determined depending on the size of the project. Additionally, $7 will be added to the $30 minimum fee for every 100 square feet of the total living area. For the non-heated building area, only $4 will be added instead of $7. Upon approval, any modification done to an existing permit will cost $100.

According to the online contractor platform BuildZoom (BZ), residents in Virginia Beach paid an average of $535.05 for their new home construction permits. Approximately $652 is the highest-paid permit fee, and $373 is the lowest.

Architecture and Design Fees

Architectural and designer fees vary widely. Some architects charge more than others because of their experience, expertise, and reputation, and some are charged based on a package deal with design-build firms. In the end, hiring them can be beneficial to strictly follow the project plans and keep the structure within city regulations.

There are multiple ways architects charge their clients, and the most commonly used ones are through percentage and hourly rates. The most frequently used method is the percentage. Architects typically charge new home constructions by 5-15% of the total building cost, depending on the complexity and amount of work. Using the values mentioned in the hard cost, building a 2,500-square-foot home will cost $450,000. The architectural and design fee for this home will come to a total of $22,500-$67,500. This value may still rise depending on the scope of work and intricateness of details.

The hourly rate is a less practiced method compared to the percentage. The price varies between $100 to $250 per hour, depending on the architect’s experience and expertise. Basic architectural services usually take 480-600 hours to complete, while a full service typically takes up to 1,095 hours. Using the median price of $175 per hour, the architectural and design fee will cost roughly $84,000-$192,000.

How do Virginia Beach’s custom home building costs compare to other nearby cities?

Virginia is included in the country’s Southern Region. Records show that it is the cheapest among the four regions. Home building cost in the south is estimated to be around $110.19 per square foot — almost 15% cheaper than the national average. With Virginia specifically, Business Insider reported that the median home value in the state is $163 per square foot. This makes Virginia the fourth most expensive state in the Southern region, next to Washington D.C., Maryland, and Florida, respectively.

According to BuildZoom (BZ), custom home building permits in the Virginia Beach Metro area — Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News — shows that new homes typically range from $132 – $255 per square foot. More specifically, value-conscious homes are estimated to be around $132 per square foot. Mid-range and high-end homes cost about $187 per square foot and $255 per square foot, respectively.

Current home listings on show that homes in Norfolk have a median value of $169 per square foot. On the other hand, homes in Newport News generally cost $163 per square foot. Virginia Beach’s median cost is around $187 per square foot — 10.7% more expensive than Norfolk and 14.7% more expensive than Newport News.

To further compare the home costs in Virginia Beach with other major cities in the state, we have reviewed data from the online real estate marketplace Zillow. To give context, the median home value in Virginia Beach is $346,059. The home values of each city and its price point difference with Virginia Beach is as follows:

  • Chesapeake: $343,521 — 0.74% cheaper
  • Arlington: $786,957 — 127.4% more expensive
  • Richmond: $301,615 — 14.5% cheaper
  • Alexandria: $607,472 — 75.5% more expensive
  • Hampton: $227,538 — 52.1% cheaper
  • Fairfax: $674,569 — 95% more expensive

The Future of Virginia Beach’s Residential Construction Industry

A common trend across the nation is that home prices have surged to an all-time high due to the pandemic. Although Virginia Beach did not experience a price increase as much as the other cities, its supply market is still scarce with only 1.3 months of inventory — 78% less than what is considered as a balanced market with six months of supply. However, this does not stop future homeowners as many are willing to engage in bidding wars to buy a home. WalletHub reported that Virginia Beach is the #1 city where homes are sold the fastest. Homes are being sold for 5 days less compared to the previous year. The Virginia Realtors confirmed this with an analysis saying that the number of sales transactions in the city grew by 3.7%, and the median change in home sales price increased by 8.3%. With housing demand progressively growing, experts anticipate that home prices in Virginia Beach may also soon rise further, possibly even more than the recent 14.1% increase in home values as per Zillow’s Home Value Index (ZHVI).

Aside from the home price increase, the Morton Group, a real estate agency based in Virginia Beach, is expecting a 3.3%-4.0% rise in mortgage rates. Despite the anticipated increase, it will still remain historically low — 17% lower than the previous decade. Looking at the bright side, this can be beneficial as this can potentially slow down the continuous surge of buyers and may level out the progressive increase of home prices. The supply chain is also reportedly catching up with the demand letting the construction industry ramp up its projects by 10% more compared to 2020. All of this combined leads experts to believe that home sales and construction will be strong and perform well again in 2022. More and more people are moving to meet their changing needs, and the industry is steadily solving this demand.

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