Updated On

December 18, 2023

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    They say dreams can come true in Iowa and it’s definitely true. Building a life in some of Iowa’s small and charming towns will benefit budding entrepreneurs. In Iowa, opportunities come to those who take it. 

    Whatever industry you are in, the competitive job market in Iowa will help you land a job. The best part? The cost of living is affordable and will allow you to live your best years. You’ll be able to enjoy your life without worrying about bills to pay from paycheck to paycheck, making one of the best places to make the move. 

    • Saltbox homes are one of the most affordable home styles to construct in Iowa.
    • The cost of site preparation is typically independent of construction costs and adds 3-8% to the total project cost.
    • To estimate the cost of a home addition or renovation project, start by determining the scope of work required to build your home.
    Get Your Estimate From a Professional Home Builder
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    The Average Cost to Build a House in Iowa

    Cheapest Type of House to Build per Square Foot

    Saltbox homes are one of the most affordable home styles to construct in Iowa. Because of its lightweight structure, it can be constructed fast and efficiently, allowing you to move in sooner than a brick or concrete home.

    Home Construction Costs per Square Foot

    • Total Home Construction Cost Range: $107.02 – $428.08 per square foot – The cost per square foot of building a house in Iowa would take you anywhere from $ 107.02 for Saltbox-style homes to $428.08 for high-end colonial revival homes.
    • Saltbox Homes: $107.02 – $133.77 per square foot – Low-cost and affordable homes in Iowa are typically of Saltbox-style architecture. Built through a wooden skeletal framework and enclosed in lightweight materials. It’s usually characterized by a gable-type roof, with two storeys. Most homes in Iowa boast an average floor area of 1,550 square feet, pegging your construction anywhere between $165,881 to $207,351.  
    • Mid-Range Home Cost Range: $133.77 – $294.30 per square foot – The cost for a 1,550 square foot mid-range home ranges between $207,351 to $456,172.
    • High-end or Luxury Home Cost Range: $294.30- $428.08 per square foot – Grand colonial-style homes are typical in upscale neighborhoods in Iowa. All these are fitted and finished with expensive materials and fixtures, high-end homes in Iowa would cost you roughly $456,172 to $663,524.

    Construction Cost per Square Foot in Various Cities in Iowa

    The construction costs per square foot in various cities in Iowa are relatively lower than average; with costs ranging as low as $100 and as high as $476.owa

    A list of several cities and respective costs like this:

    StateCost per square foot
    Des Moines$111.00$166.50$444.00
    Cedar Rapids$113.00$169.50$452.00
    Mason City$109.00$163.50$436.00
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    What Constitutes Full Cost to Build a House in Iowa?

    Land Price In Iowa

    From farm estates, Planned Unit Developments and charming small towns, there are a lot of options available if you decide on building a home in Iowa. 

    Farm estates typically range from $6,000 to $ 12,000 per acre, with cuts ranging from 5 acres and above. In urban areas, you could score a small plot of land inside a planned unit development for as low as $50,000. It’s perfect for those who wish to live in a tight-knit neighborhood. 

    Pre-construction Expenses

    Site preparation involves a number of jobs and tasks, including but not limited to surveying, grading, and excavation. The cost of site preparation is typically independent of construction costs. Site preparation typically adds 3-8% to the total project cost, depending on the scale and nature of the project. For example, building a home atop a boulder will cost more than building on flat land. With that said, prepare to spend at least $3.21 per square foot and at most $12.84 per square foot. The cost for site works will depend on the type of construction, the number of storeys, and existing site conditions. 

    Site works approximately: $3.21 – $12.84 per square foot

    Professional fees usually cost between 8 to 15 percent of a home’s total project cost. Asking prices can range from $11.82 to $88.68 per square foot. For a 1,550 square foot home, professional fees cost a minimum of $18,321. 

    Professional fees approximately: $11.82 – $88.68 per square foot

    Building permit fees start at approximately $500 for a $300,000 home. 

    Building Permit approximately: $3,000 and above

    Scope of Works

    Foundation costs usually occupy 10-15% of your total construction budget. For a house with a floor area of 1,550 square feet, consider spending anywhere between $16,588 to $37,323.

    Foundation works approximately: $16,588 – $37,323 for a 1,550 square foot saltbox 

    Lightweight framing costs start at 10-20% of the total project cost, giving you a price per square foot of $10.70 to $32.10. These estimates are all based on a 1,550 square foot craftsman bungalow. Luxury and high-end projects would cost five times the average pricing. 

    Framing works approximately:  $16,588 – $49,764 for a 1,550 square foot saltbox 

    Exterior work refers to the building envelope, cladding, and glazing. For glass-clad facades, the cost for these glass enclosures would also fall under this category. For a saltbox-style home built of wood, a budget of $16 to $32 per square foot is a reasonable budget. 

    Exterior works approximately: $24,882 – $49,764 for a 1,550 square foot saltbox 

    Installing the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems of your home can include essential elements like power, lights, water, heat, and more complex ones like sewer lines and ventilation systems. Utility costs can range from 10-15% of your final project cost.

    Utilities approximately: $16,588 – $37,323 for a 1,550 square foot saltbox

    Related: The Best Solar Installers In Iowa

    Consider a budget of 25-35% for interior works. Another way to estimate the cost for your interior finishes is to combine all rough works: foundation, framing, and exterior works. The price will approximately reflect how much you will be spending finishing your project. 

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    Low-cost finishes usually start at $26 per square foot. It usually does not include any design element and is limited to flooring, walls, and ceiling alone. If you wish to build lovely kitchens, beautiful trim, and exquisite cabinetry, consider a budget of $56 and above per square foot. 

    Interior finishes approximately: $41,470 – $87,087 for a 1,550 square foot craftsman bungalow

    Labor costs 

    The labor cost usually represents anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of total project costs, with the exact percentage depending on the type of work involved. Rough or pre-finishing works run generally around 35 to 40 percent of the final price. Finishing jobs are closer to 41 to 50 percent of the total. 

    Labor cost approximately: $37 – $80  per square foot; all dependent on the type of house and scope of works

    Get Your Estimate From a Professional Home Builder
    Match with an expert to help you with your new home.

    Home Addition Costs In Iowa

    To estimate the cost of a home addition or renovation project, start by determining the scope of work required to build your home. You must also determine whether extra foundation and framing work will be required. Because most house addition projects work within a smaller floor area, the cost per square foot is roughly the same, with a total cost that is usually less than building a new home.

    Hidden Costs

    Take into account the homeowner’s association fees that are required for your home. You will almost always have to submit plans for approval if you are building a house in a planned development with rigorous requirements. Prices vary, so it’s best to ask your HOA for specific statistics.

    A reasonable budget for an average landscaping job for your home, encompassing all yards and sides, is 10% of the construction cost. If you’re working with a $165,881 building budget for a 1,550 square meter home, it’s feasible to spend roughly $16,000 on landscaping.

    Landscaping costs approximately: $16,000 lump sum

    The cost for a plain concrete driveway installation in Iowa ranges from $3.35 to $6.90 per square foot. An upgrade to concrete would be concrete pavements, which cost $8.71 to $16.84.

    Driveway cost approximately: $3.35 – $16.84 per square foot

    Depending on the type of fence you wish to install, it could go as low as $10 and as high as $27 per linear foot. Perimeter fence options ranging from wood, vinyl, wrought iron, chain-link, and concrete. 

    Perimeter Fence approximately: $10 – $27 per linear foot.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Matt Greenfield

    Matt Greenfield

    Matt Greenfield is an experienced writer specializing in home improvement topics. He has a passion for educating and empowering homeowners to make informed decisions about their properties. Matt's writing focuses on a range of topics, including windows, flooring, HVAC, and construction materials. With a background in construction and home renovation, Matt is well-versed in the latest trends and techniques in the industry. His articles offer practical advice and expert insights that help readers tackle their home improvement projects with confidence. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, Matt's writing is sure to provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

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    photo of Roxanne Downer

    Roxanne Downer


    Roxanne Downer is a commerce editor at Today’s Homeowner, where she tackles everything from foundation repair to solar panel installation. She brings more than 15 years of writing and editing experience to bear in her meticulous approach to ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and engaging content. She’s previously edited for outlets including MSN, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, Roxanne is now an Oklahoma homeowner, DIY enthusiast, and the proud parent of a playful pug.

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