In recent years, New Jersey has become the face of reality television drama and the luxury lifestyle. Stunning beaches and sparkling city lights make this small state a bright gem and beautiful affordable cities give it extra charm. Residents of the Garden State will tell you, however, that the region’s charm is worth the hype.
There’s no place quite like New Jersey to enjoy the perfect balance of cityscapes and natural hillsides. Ample green spaces abound in the popular cities of Morristown, Jersey City, Newark, and Hoboken. Follow the beaches along the Jersey Shore for a seaside stroll or travel along the boardwalk in the summer. From fabulous cuisine to historical landmarks, the state is a true jewel of the East Coast.
For major sports fans, the New York Giants and New York Jets both play at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Escape to the casinos in Atlantic City and enjoy world-class retail at your leisure. For commuters, New York City and major employers are an easy train ride away. And while you’re making the commute, don’t forget to start your day in New Jersey with the famous bagel and schmear from one of the many classic diners that dot every city block.
With so much to love about New Jersey, it’s no wonder that the state is consistently ranked among the best places to live in the U.S. If you are looking to build a new construction home in New Jersey, you’re taking the first step in a great lifetime investment.
The cost to build a house is dependent upon many factors such as location, style preferences, and finishing features. As you begin your research, you can use this list as a guide for the process to build your new construction home in New Jersey.
New Jersey happens to be geographically located at the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole. Consequently, its weather patterns vary significantly across all four seasons. Summers tend to be humid and warm with high temperatures in the 80s, while winters are chilly with low temperatures in the 20s. New Jersey receives quite a bit of rainfall and frequent snow. Breezes coming from the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware River cool the region and contribute to its moderate climate.
New homebuyers should be cognizant of weather patterns in their city or county. Weatherization is important, especially in the winter months, to ensure that the home’s structure is protected and well-insulated from the occasional winter storm.
According to HomeAdvisor, the cost to build a house in the U.S. is typically between $100 and $200 per square foot. In New Jersey, the cost is a bit higher and may range from $175 to $500 or more per square foot.
Custom options vary widely and add to the overall cost of the home. Location, design, materials, and labor are often the largest contributing factors to the final out-of-pocket expense. A 3,500-sq. foot home in New Jersey may easily cost anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million. It is critical for homeowners to start with a target number in mind and consult with their builder for the most accurate cost estimate to ensure that they remain within their budget.
Here is a step-by-step guide for building your new house in New Jersey.
For homeowners who do not have a piece of land already selected and purchased, they may be surprised to learn that this expense is typically a sizable chunk of change. On average, lots account for around 20 percent of the overall new home construction cost. In New Jersey, this is often higher due to the sizeable cost per acre.
The costs per acre of land in New Jersey are the highest of any state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, one acre in New Jersey cost $196,410 in 2015 and has increased in recent years. Similar to Connecticut and Rhode Island, the smaller surface area of New Jersey means that land is less abundant, and therefore scarcity drives up the prices. However, real estate markets are local, and residents tend to earn higher than average incomes, offsetting the costs.
New Jersey has historically enjoyed a robust real estate market, despite the higher land costs. Many homeowners find bargains on land outside of the cities and metropolitan areas. Your realtor can help you navigate the best options for your preferences and price range.
Permits and Paperwork
In New Jersey, the process of applying for a building permit is pretty straightforward. Your contractor will most likely handle this for you, but it can be helpful to understand the process to avoid confusion or missed deadlines. Required forms are available online through the State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Permits must be completed and approved before construction may begin.
Contractors will be required to submit plans for the design along with the required forms. The cost for a permit will vary, based on what is included in the new construction. In general, most homebuyers spend between $1,200 and $2,000 to obtain proper permits.
It’s important to keep in mind that raw land will require at least some preparation. Any excavations, leveling, soil testing, and clearing will add to the overall cost to build a home. Once the land is prepared, homeowners will need to connect the lot to necessary utilities such as city water, sewage, natural gas, and electricity. These expenses can swing widely and may cost from $10,000 to $30,000 or more.
In New Jersey, homes likely have either a concrete slab foundation or a basement. Each option poses certain benefits and constraints.
A home may have a basement if the area is prone to ground freezes in the winter, and thus will need a deeper excavation. At some point, it makes sense to keep digging and salvage the underground area as extra storage or living space. Additionally, some areas in New Jersey have zoning requirements regarding the height of structures. In these cases, the only way to increase the vertical space is to add a below-ground level. Costs to build a basement in New Jersey are in line with the national average of $18,000 to $30,000, depending on finishes.
If you choose a slab foundation, you will sacrifice the extra space for a lower-cost option. A concrete slab may cost between $4,100 and $13,100, depending on the size of the home and any reinforcing materials.
The framing stage of the new construction process tends to be the most expensive part (aside from lot prices) for new homebuyers. Framing a home typically costs between $30,000 and $50,000 on average in the U.S., with the costs landing on the higher end of $50,000 in New Jersey. This is the part of the process that gives your home its unique shape and structure. The more intricate and specialized the design, the higher the costs will soar.
Homeowners may choose to hire a general contractor to manage the overall project or opt to be their own project manager. It is most often recommended to hire a contractor to oversee the building process, as this professional will hire a team of subcontractors to complete the job. Labor costs will vary by location and season, but the cost to hire a contractor and team of subcontractors in New Jersey is in alignment with the average cost to build a new home in 2022.
Once the structure is completed and the exterior elements have been added, homeowners will need to install the major systems that bring their homes to life. These include plumbing fixtures, HVAC systems, and wiring for electricity. The cost for installing these units is about the same as the U.S. average.
To maintain the best efficiency of these systems, especially the HVAC, this is the perfect stage to complete the weatherization of your home by adding thorough insulation and closing off any air escapes in the walls and siding.
Finishing Features and Appliance Installation
Now comes the fun part: personalizing your space so that it feels unique to your style! Finishing features may include flooring installation, interior painting, custom cabinetry, pristine countertops, and expansive windows to allow a breath of natural light to enter. Don’t forget the outdoor space, especially if you want to include a swimming pool or outdoor deck. Landscaping, fencing, and a driveway are also important to factor into the overall cost.
Helpful Tips for Building in New Jersey
Finally, below are a few tips and tricks for building your dream New Jersey home.
Most states offer some form of homeownership incentives through down payment or closing cost assistance. Review your state or local benefits online to learn if you’re eligible to save thousands of dollars in your upfront costs.
Depending on the size, style, and builder capacity, your New Jersey home may take anywhere between six to 16 months from start to completion. Make sure to consult with your builder to determine the best time of year to begin construction based on workload and weather patterns.
Build Your New Jersey Home
The Garden State is perfect for families, singles, and retirees to enjoy a vibrant lifestyle and welcoming community. From stunning beaches to captivating skylines, New Jersey is a fantastic place to build a life with the people you love.
Melanie Theriault is a writer, counselor, and lifelong learner. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Southwestern University, where she discovered her passion for fostering human connection through storytelling.