Material List for New Construction Homes – Material Cost for Luxury, Standard and Cheap Houses

Material List for New Construction Homes – Material Cost for Luxury, Standard and Cheap Houses

High end materials are used in a luxury house. Upgrades are done in a semi-luxury house with better than average standard specifications. Minimum standard houses make use of cheap siding, finishes and roofing. There are six classes of single family homes in the United States.

Materials for Superstructure Walls & Cladding

Back View of Newly Built Home in Michigan 2651 Lovington Drive – Troy – Price 359,000 USDSource Zillow USA

Timber framing a house

In the United States, timber framed houses are more common than brick / concrete block houses. Actually, more than 90% of residential homes in the countryside and city suburban areas are timber framed. Timber framing is a traditional building method that has been practiced since the 17th century and carried forward to the next generation. Nothing has changed much, even today, wood is the building material of choice for many Americans. What has changed is the construction technology. Beginning in the 1830s, traditional timber framing morphed into balloon timber framing, a construction technology which was widely adopted by home builders.

Timber is the building material of choice because of its plentiful supply, affordability, ease of installation, availability of skilled labour, low-cost labour, energy efficiency and its ability to be easily dismantled and taken down for building a new replacement. However, in high seismic activity regions, wooden houses are a necessity not an option. In these regions, building codes require the walls and roof to be built from lightweight material such as wood which is much safer than bricks and concrete in the event of an earthquake. In this case, bricks and concrete are only prescribed for substructure foundations, ground floors and dado walls which cannot be higher than table height (roughly 700mm).

Timber is cheaper than bricks and concrete depending on the timber type. Pine is the most affordable wood for framing and construction.

Costs of framing a house – $7 to $16 per ft² [total installation including materials + labour].

Material cost – $3 to $6 per ft².


Also known as wall cladding, this is the external envelope that provides protective covering against weather elements. The protective cover or sheath is fixed on timber or steel framing. Siding comes in various forms. It can be a sheet, board or sandwich panel. There are various types of materials used which are listed below:

Gypsum board siding – Also known as plasterboard or drywall and available in brand variants such as blueboard, greenboard, acoustic board, fireproof board and sheetrock, the standard / regular gypsum board is white in colour (whiteboard). For a wooden house, a double skin plasterboard cover is fixed on the structural timber stud frame. Insulation is laid between the layers inside the cavity. The cost of installing gypsum board depends on its thickness and type, as well as the size of the house. Contractors charge a smaller rate for big houses, and higher rates for small houses to recoup their costs and make up for profit. Discounted costs on large houses can be as low as $1.15 per ft².

Typical cost of drywall installation – $1.50 to $2.40 per ft².

Vinyl siding – These are PVC panels, available as clapboard panels, flat panels or sandwich panels. Vinyl siding is cheap, durable, rot-proof, rustproof and doesn’t need painting. Actually, it’s among the cheapest cladding materials along with hardie board. However, vinyl is prone to cracking, fading, moisture leaks and once cracked or damaged, it can’t be repaired. You need a replacement. Research has shown that there are environmental and health issues caused by Vinyl compounds.

Vinyl is more durable and aesthetically appealing than aluminium siding. You can expect a lifespan of up to 50 years. Typical cost range – $0.90 to $2.50 per ft². Note that this is the cost per square foot of walls, not the floor. Other information sources reflect the cost per square foot of the house floor.

Structural Insulated Panels – Sandwich Panels with Foam, Honeycomb or Solid Core

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are widely used for external wall cladding in steel and timber framed structures. Also known as Sandwich Panels with foam, honeycomb or solid core. A sandwich panel has outer skins and inner core, which is basically three layers, but there are panels with two or more layers. The type of material used for skins and the core in the manufacturing process varies widely:

Skin types – Aluminium, galvanized steel, PVC, flat wood panels, oriented strand board (OSB) aka engineered wood panels, plywood, Thermoplastic Composite Panels, CFRT, FRP and plastic laminate.

Core material – Various types of synthetic and non-synthetic material can be used for core material – Thermoplastic Composite core, Polycarbonate, PP, PET, PVC, Balsa, Aluminium, Polyurethane (PU), Extruded Polystyrene (EPS) and XPS.

Aluminium siding – This is a lightweight metal siding when compared to iron, steel and zinc. It is rustproof, rot-proof, waterproof, fire-resistant, low maintenance and provides excellent insulation. The metal is easy to install, resistant to cracks caused by freezing weather, it can be painted on site or factory pre-coated. The cost of aluminium depends on its gauge (thickness). The 40-gauge is the cheapest, 44-gauge is the standard and 53-gauge is the most expensive, which is also the most durable. The 53-gauge has a life expectancy of up to 35 years. The popularity of vinyl as a cladding material among homeowners means that the demand for aluminium has declined considerably over the years, therefore aluminium siding may be cheaper than vinyl in most cases. You will save about 30% in costs by installing aluminium.

Typical costs – $1.50 to $7.00 per ft². [Total installation]

 Steel siding – Steel Profiled Wall Cladding Sheets

Steel wall cladding sheets come in different profiles such as box profile (rib and pan), corrugated and flat sheets. The price depends on the sheet thickness and type of prefinishing or coating. Galvanized steel is factory pre-coated with a layer of zinc. Galvalume steel sheets are pre-coated with an aluminium/zinc alloy during the manufacturing process. However, there are other types of factory coating such as Chromadek, PVC Plastisol, Polyester paint and Prelaq mica coating.

Steel siding is more expensive than aluminium but less expensive than bricks. Steel is the most commonly used metal in construction and structural engineering. It is highly valued for its compressive and tensile strength, durability and malleability. Coatings enhance its resistance to rust and corrosion. Galvanized steel has a life expectancy of up to 50 years.

Typical cost – $4 to $5 per ft².

Fibre cement siding

Fibre cement siding is available as flat panels or clapboards. The material is heavy, flexible but brittle, proper handling is required during installation to prevent breakage and cracks. It has attractive properties such as resistance to rot, heat, fire, ultra-violet radiation and extreme cold. The siding can be painted on site or factory pre-coated. Warping and buckling is a problem that affects Vinyl sheets. Fibre cement is resistant to warping and bucking. Little to no maintenance is required, and above all, this material is highly durable, with a minimum life expectancy of 50 years. Fibre cement blends in well with brick, concrete, stucco and wood, and thus you can achieve a simulated appearance of these materials using fibre cement. If you are interested in maintaining the market value of your home, homes with fibre cement siding have a higher resale value.

The cost of installing fibre cement is in the same range as wood and OSB siding.

Material costs – $0.70 to $5.25 per ft².

Total installation costs – $6.00 to $13.50 per ft².

Engineered wood siding – Engineered wood panels / OSB

Invented in the 1980s, Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is manufactured from 3 to 5 layers of wood strands of similar geometry and thickness which are laid in a perpendicular direction to each other. Logs are pre-treated by dipping them in hot ponds, and a waferizer is used to slice them into narrow strands (wafers).  The strands are then dried in rotary drum dryers at 540 to 870 degrees Celsius or in conveyer dryers at 160 degrees Celsius to achieve a moisture content of between 4 and 10%. After drying, the strands are blended with wax and binders (resins) and compressed by machines into mats. OSB is widely used as an exterior wall panel or sheathing in timber/steel framed buildings. About 70% of external cladding in framed structures in the USA is OSB panels. Oriented strand boards are lightweight, rot-proof, termite-proof and available in multiple prefinished imitation textures and colours. The boards are lighter than natural wood and easier to install than Vinyl and fibre cement. They can withstand loads much better than natural wood. However, the problem with OSBs is their poor moisture drainage capability and average water resistance which should be improved by adding a layer of damp-proof membrane or vapour barrier. The edges of OSB panels will bloat when they come in contact with water.

The material cost per board of OSB is lower than plywood by 4 or 5 dollars. However, plywood is more durable than OSB (especially un-insulated OSB), with a proven life expectancy of at least 50 years or more. A 30-year warranty is usually offered by manufacturers for OSB.

Typical cost of OSB [materials + labour] – $3 to $7.40 per ft².

Natural wood siding:

Log siding

Modern log siding architecture draws inspiration from classic log cabins. Classic log cabins were cheap to build, but the modern log house is a construction project which is more expensive than a timber framed house. The cost of log siding depends on the type of timber, plank thickness, factory pre-treatment and pre-finishing.  As an example, cedar is more expensive than pine. Log siding provides a traditional rustic and aesthetic look, it can withstand shock from earthquakes and tremors, but it has many disadvantages. Log houses cannot withstand hurricanes and tornadoes. They require a lot of maintenance such as refinishing, re-painting and staining on a regular basis to prevent rot and insect damage. The tendency of logs to crack means that they should re-sealed and wood has a poor moisture resistance. The poor properties of natural wood plank siding has led to the manufacture of alternatives such as steel log siding, with a wood like appearance, lower price tag and no maintenance requirements.

Price range – $2,25 to $8 per ft².

2 inch Pine log siding – $2.25 to $4 per ft².

3 inch Pine log siding – $3.50 to $5 per ft².

2 inch Cedar log siding – $3.50 to $6 per ft².

3 inch Cedar log siding – $5.50 to $8 per ft².

Clapboard siding

Along with log siding, clapboard siding is an American tradition that was passed on from European settlers in the 16th and 17th century. Clapboard evolved from log siding. Log cabins were the original traditional houses built by stacking logs on top of the other, but later on innovative builders realized that cutting logs into flat, elongated rectangular boards and installing them in overlapping fashion offered much better advantages. Overlapped boards are efficient in draining off rainwater which  runs on the exterior of the wall because they are inclined at a suitable angle. This fixing method also prevents backflow of rainwater into the top edges of the boards. In winter, overlapped boards offer much better insulation from the cold. Besides, timber boards are lighter in weight than logs, and they can be fixed quite easily.

Cedar is the most popular wood used for clapboard siding. The most expensive option is Redwood. Cheaper clapboard is made from pine, spruce, fir and OSB (oriented strand board). Redwood is valued for its durability, good looking texture and natural resistance to rot. Cedar is valued for its high resistance to rot and termite damage. Cypress is an affordable wood which is highly rated for its durability and resistance to decay. Timber clapboard siding may be installed unfinished or painted on site. Note that wood because of its water-absorbent and retention qualities will retain some minimum amount of moisture even after the drying and treatment process. The environment in which the timber is stored can increase the moisture content, for example humid weather, rain, morning dew and lack of protective covering.  Depending on the environmental humidity and temperature, wood can gain or lose moisture. It is important to buy treated timber with a Moisture Content (MC) that will be at equilibrium with the relative humidity in your area. The factory stamped moisture content of lumber indicates the MC at the time of manufacturing. The MC will change over time depending on the storage conditions and the place in which the lumber is installed. To check the current MC of wood, use a moisture meter.

The mechanical pressure treatment of wood makes it rot-free, especially when water-repellent chemicals are added.

Redwood siding costs – $4 to $14 per ft².

Red cedar costs – $4 to $10 per ft².

Cedar siding costs – $3 to $7 per ft².

Pine, fir, spruce costs – $1 to $6 per ft².

Cypress siding costs – $1 to $6 per ft².

Plywood panel siding

When compared to OSB, plywood is a much better choice for siding. It is more expensive than OSB because of its durability, wide choice of panel textures, aesthetic looks and much better resistance to swelling, bloating and warping. The greatest property of plywood is its stiffness and ability to withstand bending and shear forces, which makes it suitable for use as a structural panel in construction. Plywood is graded from A to D, each with its own characteristics. For cladding and exterior applications, the bond classification is also useful. Exterior panels which are rated at least Grade C or higher are bonded with a superior glue that is resistant to water and vapour penetration. This panel can also withstand distortions caused by changes in humidity and temperature.

Plywood can be painted, varnished or stained to shield it from weather elements. The disadvantages of plywood are its high flammability which poses a fire risk, and although plywood is resistant to swelling, bloating and warping, it does absorb water like any other wood, which may cause rot damage if it’s not properly treated.

Plywood is a common sheathing material in the construction industry, not only for timber/steel framed walls, but also for flooring.

The cost of plywood siding depends on its grade, thickness, span, bond classification, surface finishing and application.

Cost range – $2 to $7.20 per ft².

Newly Built Brick House in Texas, Dallas, 2402 Kenesaw Drive – Price 320,000 USDSource Zillow USA


Concrete blocks

In the United States, concrete blocks are used in high quality residential homes. Concrete masonry units are an alternative for clay/sandstone/limestone bricks. Major hardware and material retailers like HomeDepot, Lowes and Menards have different kinds of concrete blocks in stock, which can be obtained at a discounted price for bulk purchases. Cinder blocks come in different sizes and shapes. There are solid blocks and hollow core concrete blocks. At Lowes, a [4x8x16 inches] solid block is around $1.75, while a [8x8x16 inches] hollow core block is around $1.55. A standard concrete brick [4×2.25×8 inches] is around $0.71.

At HomeDepot, a [4×8] block is $0.95, a [6×8] block is $1.69, a [8×8] block is $1.79. Face blocks (those which are used for aesthetic cladding and rendering) are more costly. The [6×8] natural and coloured face blocks are around $2.29 per block.

Note that bricks and blocks are sold per 1000 units, and the retailer will apply a discount for bulk purchase which will reduce the unit price.

Concrete blocks are different from cinder blocks. In the manufacture of concrete blocks, sand is used as a fine aggregate. Gravel or small stones less than 10mm may also be added as a coarse aggregate. Cinder blocks make use of coal ash/cinders as a fine aggregate. In both concrete and cinder blocks, cement is used as a binder. Cinder blocks are lightweight and concrete blocks are heavier.

Cost of concrete block wall – $10 to $18 per ft².

Poured concrete wall

Also known as reinforced concrete walls, they are built by pouring a wet concrete mixture inside formwork in which reinforcing bars are laid. The concrete is left to cure and set for at least 21 days, after which the formwork is removed. Poured concrete is measured in cubic foot, yard or metres. The cost of building a concrete wall includes other materials such as reinforcement and formwork. Ready mixed concrete alone is $119 to $147 per cubic yard including delivery. Formwork is $1.50 to $2.00 per ft². Reinforcement is around $0.15 to $0.30 per ft².

Poured concrete is cheaper than bricks and concrete blocks.

Brick walls – A symbol of many luxury homes, they include face bricks, burnt clay bricks (class 1 and 2), engineering bricks, concrete bricks, sand lime bricks, fly ash bricks. The typical cost of load bearing bricks is $0.50 to $0.85 per brick. Face bricks are around $6 to $11 per ft².

Brickwall installation cost – $12.45 to $22 per ft² [material + labour]

Brick veneer – Thin bricks (0.5 inches) for cladding. Typical cost – $7 to $9 per ft² excluding labour.

Face brick veneer – Typical cost – $14 to $28 per ft² including labour.

Natural stone walls – Granite, sandstone, limestone, fieldstone. Typical cost – $20 to $30 per ft².

Stone veneer – Granite, sandstone, limestone, slate, marble. Typical cost – $9 to $17 per ft² excluding labour.

Materials for Floors and Finishes

Polished Hardwood Timber Floor in a House in Dallas , Texas – Source Zillow USA

Natural stone floors – Marble, granite, slate, sandstone, limestone. Typical cost – $5 to $10 per ft² for materials, $7 per ft² for labour. Total cost range $12 to $17 per ft².

Carpets – Persian carpet, and brands such as Aubusson, Karastan, Fabrica, Camelot, Masland, Tuftex and Couristan. High end cost – $8 to $30 per ft²

Solid hardwood floors – Oak, mahogany, ash, maple. High end cost – $12 to $23 per ft²

Exotic hardwood floors – Made from imported wood. High end cost – $30 to $40 per ft²

Engineered wood floors – Generally, hardwood floors cost a lot more than engineered floors, but engineered floors are more durable. Engineered wood is manufactured from composite laminates of wood by-products and the top is veneered with a layer of natural hardwood.

Vinyl – Luxury vinyl tiles are ridiculously much cheaper than hardwood floors by 4 to 5 times less the price of hardwood floors. They don’t require much care and maintenance as hardwood floors, and they are more durable, moisture resistant and long lasting.

High end cost of Luxury Vinyl tiles – $7 per ft²

Mosaic tiles – These are small glass tiles or composite tiles containing chips of glass, stone or metal. They are smaller or equal to 2 inch squares (50x50mm) with a decorative pattern or art ingrained on them. Mosaic tiles are 1.5 to 5 times as expensive as luxury hardwood. The intricate patterns on small tile surface area and complex installation are some of the factors contributing to high cost.

High end cost of Mosaic tiles – $30 to $100 per ft²

Terrazzo floors – You can choose between traditional Terrazzo screeds and Terrazzo tiles. Terrazzo screed floors are more costly to install than Terrazzo tiles, with a price range of up to 3.5 times as much as tiles. However, tiles are a bit more expensive than hardwood floors. Terrazzo is a composite material made from small chips of granite, glass, quartz, marble and other materials.

High end cost of typical Terrazzo screed floors – $70 per ft²

High end cost of Terrazzo tiles – $40 per ft²

Ceramic tiles – Luxury Ceramic tiles are more expensive than luxury Vinyl tiles. They need a high level of skill to cut and install than Vinyl tiles which offer easy installation. However, ceramic tiles have a good looking appearance. Their appearance, hardness, thickness and long lasting qualities endear them to home buyers much more than Vinyl tiles. So if you want to maintain or improve your home market value, choose ceramic or porcelain tiles.

Typical cost – $3 to $7 per ft² excluding labour.

Porcelain tiles – Porcelain and ceramic tiles are kith and kin in that they are both made from burnt clay. The characteristics which set them apart are the texture and consistency of clay that is used to make them, as well as the duration of the firing and temperature of the kiln fire. Refined clay is used for porcelain tiles. Due to increased manufacturing conditions, Porcelain is much denser, less porous and more durable than Ceramic tile. These qualities make Porcelain tiles slightly more expensive than Ceramic tiles.

Typical cost – $4 to $8 per ft² excluding labour. The cost installation is about the same as ceramic tiles. The cost of labour is about the same as the material rate, so the total cost of installed tiles is in the range $8 to $15 per ft².

High end cost – Up to $30 per ft² for luxury and exotic tiles.

Materials for Roof Covering

Exclusive Luxury – Six Bedroom House with Red Tile Roof in Texas, Sugar Land, 75 Amber Hollow Ct – Price 1,799,999 USD Source Zillow USA

Clay roof tiles – Hand made clay tiles have a luxurious appeal that also offers other benefits such as durability, which helps to maintain or increase the home resale value. Machine moulded tiles are suitable for budgetary needs. Generally, clay tiles are lighter than concrete tiles, less porous to rain and more long lasting with a lifespan of up to 100 years. Colours for clay tiles range from terra cotta to brown. Types include Spanish roof tiles, Roman tiles, plain tiles and flat tiles. Clay tiles are 30% more expensive than concrete tiles.

Typical cost – $11 to $18 per ft².

Exotic imported tiles – $20 to $30 per ft².

Cement roof tiles – These are heavier than clay tiles by a ratio of 1.4: 1 and therefore may be unsuitable for unreinforced roof structures which can’t sustain excessive loads. However, cement tiles are much more stable than clay in all kinds of climates and weather, contracting and expanding appropriately with temperature changes to prevent cracks and shattering. By many standards, these tiles are quite durable, with a lifespan of up to 50 years, which is half the lifespan of clay tiles.

Low end cost – $7.70 to $12.60 per ft².

High end cost – $13.50 to $17.50

Natural slate roof tiles – Slates are on the expensive side of most roofing materials. The cost depends on the thickness of the slate as well as the special installation required by the shape and height of your roof. The advantage of using slates is that they are very durable with a lifespan of 50 to 100+ years, water resistant and fireproof. They require little maintenance and this is the best roofing material for mansions modelled on traditional European architecture found in the 14th – 18th centuries. Thinner slates cost less. Thick slates offer the highest quality and thus they cost more.

Typical cost of mid-sized slates – $11 to $18 per ft².

Typical cost of thick slates – $14 to $27 per ft².

 Wood roof tiles – These tiles are made from wood such as pine, white cedar, red cedar, redwood, cypress, white oak, rock elm and yellow poplar. There are two types of tiles – wood shakes and wood shingles. They are both made from the same material mentioned above. The only difference is that wood shingles are cut to precision by machines, and wood shakes are hand-made or roughly split by machines. Shakes will last longer than shingles, although this depends on the type of wood used. Like most hand-made tiles, they also happen to be more costly than shingles.

Typical cost of wood shakes – $4 to $5 per ft².

Typical cost of wood shingles – $3.50 to $4.50 per ft².

Asphalt shingles – This is one of the cheapest roofing materials you can find at $0.75 to $2.00 per ft².  Traditional asphalt shingles (also called organic shingles) are made from an organic sheet that is impregnated with asphalt. Wood pulp, recycled paper, cellulose and ceramic granules are some of the materials used to make the organic sheet. Modern asphalt shingles make use of a fibreglass sheet or felt which is recommended for its fire-retardant qualities. Organic shingles are declining in popularity because of their high flammability, although they are more durable than fibreglass shingles.

Basic shingles – $0.75 to $1.05 per ft².

Architectural shingles – $1.40 to $1.80 per ft².

High end shingles – $2.25 to $3.00 per ft².

Metal roof – Metal roofs are generally costly because of their long lifespan, exceptional durability and maintenance-free requirements. Their cost depends on the type of material used. Galvanized steel sheets are cheaper than aluminium. Copper and zinc are the most expensive.

Galvanized steel roof – $8.15 to $9.25 per ft² [materials + labour]

Aluminium roof – $9.25 to $11.00 per ft² [materials + labour]

Copper and Zinc roof – $14 to $19 per ft² [materials + labour]

Galvanized steel standing seam roof – $9.5 to $13 per ft². A standing seam metal roof is a type of roof with raised seams and concealed fasters. The seams are broadly spaced at suitable intervals along the panels. The raised seam and concealed fasters are the main features. In some types of roofing systems, fasteners and clips are not required, instead a locking system is used.

Material price is about 32% to 42% of the total installation.