Understanding if it is cheaper to buy or build a home is a complex question. The first step is to understand the cost of house building in the UK. Buyers should consider all associated costs and benefits before deciding whether to invest in a conventional property or build a house from scratch.
The average cost of building a house in the UK varies dramatically depending on the location. However, there are some features that can be controlled, such as the construction method and materials. Knowing which costs you can control allows you to make an informed choice.
This guide explains all you need to know about how much it costs to build a house in the UK compared to buying.
Why Build a House?
Property prices across much of the UK have seen massive increases in recent decades. Even in spells where property prices fall, the percentage of income spent on a mortgage is still far higher today than it was 20-30 years ago.
As this trend has continued (and shows no sign of stopping), the question of how much it costs to build a house in the UK has arisen as new builds represent a potentially cheaper alternative. While conventional brick-and-mortar new builds can already save consumers money, the rise of prefab construction has presented an opportunity for even greater savings.
Prefab and modular homes are designed and built to far higher standards than in the past, making them a competitive choice in terms of quality. In addition, several aspects make this type of home cheaper than a conventional new-build.
Costs may be saved throughout the construction process. For example, assembling a prefab house takes less time than building a property using conventional means. A longer construction schedule means significantly higher costs – hence, more people are looking into the cost of house building for prefab homes.
The frustration of the “buying chain” and the property ladder is another reason people consider building over buying. While acquiring land is still an issue, this tends to rely on fewer variables than purchasing conventional buildings.
Calculating the Average Cost of Building a House
Understanding the average cost of building a house depends on numerous factors. We consider the most significant factors in the cost of house building below.
This is by far the most variable cost. Buying a plot of residential land with planning permission initially appears prohibitively expensive.
By contrast, a plot of farmland typically costs around £10,000. It may be slightly more or less depending on where in the country it is. Of course, farmland must be prepared and assessed before it can be considered suitable for conversion into residential land.
There are online services to help you find an appropriate plot of land for a building. These tend to be in less densely populated areas and are often sold POA (price on asking). In the UK, Wales is a primarily available area for residential land purchases.
For this reason, the price per square metre tends to be somewhat lower than the eye-watering figures in the government index – you will typically be looking at £50,000-£120,000 for a serviceable plot of land, depending on the size and location.
Let’s consider other factors in the average cost of building a house.
It stands to reason that more space and an extra floor will increase the cost of house building. Likewise, a bespoke design will typically cost more than a home designed by a prefab construction company.
Buyers can save a lot by choosing the latter. Pre-approved designs are much cheaper because the property’s structural integrity, layout, and features have all been optimised and tested.
Construction and finishing materials play a significant role in the price of a property. Again, this is something that homebuyers can control to a degree, especially when choosing a ready-designed prefab home. Many modular properties are made primarily from composite panels, which are significantly cheaper than conventional brick.
The interior features of the property add to its construction cost. If you wanted to install an extra bathroom, for example, it would require additional plumbing to be fitted, bumping up the cost. Special interior features should be factored in advance to determine the estimated cost of house building.
Construction time is a major expense. This is typically lowered when you choose a ready-designed prefab home for two reasons:
- The property’s dimensions, materials, and order of construction are pre-determined and understood. This makes the construction process more streamlined.
- Prefab construction takes significantly less time than conventional building methods. This significantly reduces the average cost of building a house.
When it comes to how much it costs to build a house in the UK, buyers should liaise with the company in charge of construction to get a clear picture of potential costs ahead of time. When buying land and constructing a home, there are almost always factors that get missed – careful planning can help you understand the average cost of building a house and decide if it’s right for you.
Cost of House Building in the UK
Conventional construction in the UK is sometimes more cost-effective than buying a pre-built property. However, the price per square metre is still somewhat high compared to the cost of building a modular home.
While an average house built from scratch using conventional methods might be around £200,000, similar modular homes are often available for half that price or less.
What is the Cheapest Way to Build a House?
According to a report by Cambridge Centre for Housing & Planning Research, the UK Government is considering introducing more modular housing as it may represent the lowest average cost for building a house in the UK – “new buildings at a third of the cost”. Shorter construction times, more efficient use of materials and improved design mean that the cost of house building may be far less for prefab homes than it is for conventional construction.
Should I Wait to Build a House in 2023?
Buyers often watch house prices rise and fall with anxiety – when is the best time to move? Unfortunately, falling house prices mean that fewer homes are available for purchase. Meanwhile, rising prices can quickly put average buyers out of contention for the home they want. There is rarely a “perfect time.”
Understanding how much it costs to build a house in the UK alleviates these concerns somewhat. Prefabricated construction prices are often more stable than the general housing market. This means that the cost of house building in 2023 measures up well against buying a conventional property.
How Do I Estimate How Much It Will Cost to Build a House?
Below are some tips to help reduce the average cost of building a house.
Find Affordable Prefab Houses
Pre-designed modular and prefab properties are less subject to price fluctuations. Construction and installation are much more straightforward and less subject to delays than conventional construction. This makes it easier to accurately estimate the cost of house building and budget for the project in advance.
Research the Cost of Land in the UK
As mentioned, land prices can be confusing at first. Putting in some research hours is best practice. As land cost is low compared to most housing costs, it is less affected by regional fluctuations.
While it is likely to be more expensive in areas like the South East, the percentage increase is applied to a much lower sum and increases the overall purchase cost by less.
Work with a Reputable Prefab Construction Company
Understanding the cost of house building is easier with an expert to guide you through the process. A reputable prefab construction company can help you through the process, from knowing which land would be suitable for construction to finding a mortgage to build a home.
This guidance can save you money and provide you with peace of mind when building a home from scratch in the UK.
The average cost for building a house in the UK varies depending on your needs – but more importantly, it depends on how you approach your construction project.
Working with experts, finding savings wherever you can, and conducting thorough research are essential. With some careful planning, you can make building a house into an affordable reality, a comfortable home, and a superb investment.
Land value estimates – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/land-value-estimates
Cambridge Centre for Housing & Planning Research – report on modular housing –https://www.placesforpeople.co.uk/media/zudfphry/modular-housing-report-21.pdf
Featured Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash