How Much Does It Cost to Build a House in Bozeman?


If you don't know what your dream home costs to build, how will you know if you can afford to build it?

Cost to Build a House in Bozeman

Local economic data shows the cost to build a home in Bozeman can run anywhere from $110/square foot to $260/square foot. That's an enormous range. For example, if you want to build a new 2,500 square foot home, your build cost could be anywhere from $275,000 to $650,000, so not exactly a helpful range for determining the cost of your dream home.

To narrow the range, you might search for an online building cost estimator.

Is there A Decent online building cost estimator?

There are a number of apps and websites claiming to offer building cost estimation. We've played around with many of them, and thus far, we believe they do a disservice to people. The numbers they spit out are either too wide-ranging to be useful for decision making, or they tighten the range only to become wildly inaccurate.

Estimating construction costs requires a lot of specific information about the actual building to be built, the lot it's going on, and local market conditions for materials and labor. The problem is, most people looking for an online estimation tool don't have that information. It's unusual for people to know things like how high their water table is, how much overdig and backfill their foundation will require, how much surface area they have for siding, or how complex their roof structure is to build. What's more, apps often don't have local market information on labor rates, which vary considerably in Bozeman depending on the current demand for work. 

Shooting in the dark will rarely put you in the right galaxy, let alone the right ballpark.

For our own use, we've developed and honed our own estimating tools, which allow us to produce rather accurate estimates. But they're only as good as the data we feed them. The same is true of all the apps and online building cost calculators we've seen. If all you have random shots in the dark for numbers – like how many cubic yards of concrete you'll need, what your city impact fees will be, and how much it costs to install tile – the final estimate will also be a shot in the dark. Shooting in the dark will rarely put you in the right galaxy, let alone the right ballpark.

But essentially, that's what online building cost estimation tools offer. We recommend that you not use them to inform your planning, because unreliable numbers will likely only give you headaches at best, and heartache at worst.

What determines construction costs?

Perhaps the most influential variable is the design of the home itself. Some homes are drawn with very cost-efficient structural elements, while others aren't. The thing is, you can't always tell just by looking at a floor plan or elevation. Many builders, even with years of experience, sometimes have difficulty estimating structural costs, and even more struggle to collaborate with designers in a way that successfully controls costs. However, this is one variable you can control, simply by working with a capable team of cross-trained design/build professionals.

Another way you can control costs is by prioritizing your finish choices. Maybe window quality is really important to you, so it will be really valuable for you to splurge for more efficient, more aesthetically pleasing windows. Or perhaps appliances are higher on your priorities list. Or maybe you'll absolutely love a wood floor that's $18/square foot, when a more typical floor at $5.50/square foot just doesn't make you feel at home.

Then there are the variables you can't control quite as easily. Your lot may require additional investments due to difficult access, a steeper slope, a high water table, or necessary site improvements like a septic system and well. Though lot attribute costs can't be controlled, we can help you predict them.

There is, however, one variable that cannot be controlled nor predicted: the market. Material prices and labor rates tend to track with broader economic indexes. As we write this, we're experiencing a very hot bull market, both on Wall Street and in Southwest Montana real estate. The result is that materials and labor are noticeably more expensive than they were even a year ago.

There is, however, one variable that cannot be controlled nor predicted: the market.

Say you want to complete construction on your dream home within the next year. During that time, we might see a correction that brings market costs down, or perhaps the trend will continue, and material and labor will continue to climb. Because no one can predict the market with any accuracy, we offer our clients intelligent budget ranges that account for plausible short-term market shifts. That way, you'll have the information you need to make wise decisions for your family, whatever the market does.

Let's sum it up. The biggest variables affecting your build costs are:

  1. Design - The controllable cost-efficiency of your home's structural design
  2. Finishes - The controllable cost of the finishes you choose
  3. Lot - The predictable costs of building on your specific lot
  4. Materials market - The unpredictable market prices for materials
  5. Labor market - The unpredictable market rates for labor

One other thing to note is that everything adds up. It sounds like common sense, but oftentimes our clients are shocked when they see just how many items there are to add up when building a home. We want to help you know exactly what you're getting into, so we've created the below checklist showing the more common items we'll need to budget for when building your house in the Bozeman area.

Before you scroll (and scroll, and scroll), before you get overwhelmed, just remember that this is for informational purposes only. When you work with the team at Ploughshare, you won't be responsible for any of the items on the list below. The entire list is our responsibility to manage, and we'll simply guide you through every step. We're on a mission to make the planning, designing, and building process as uncomplicated and un-stressful as possible. Together, we'll craft a home you love, within your budget, giving you everything you need to make great decisions for your family.

A handy list of items that contribute to Construction Costs

    • Architectural Plans and Construction Documents
    • HOA/Architectural Review Committee Pre-Review
    • HOA/Architectural Review Committee Final Review
    • City Plan Review
    • City Permit Issuance
    • Land Survey
    • City Impact Fees
    • Financing Costs
    • Engineering Fees
    • Insurance
    • Project Management Costs
    • Realtor: Listing Agent Fees
    • Realtor Buyer's Agent Fees
    • Job-Site Security
    • Dumpster, Dump Fees & Removal
    • Lot Clearing
    • Storage On Site
    • Portable Toilet
    • Temporary Power
    • Temporary Heat
    • Scaffolding Rental
    • Tool/Equipment Rental
    • Soil & Perc Tests
    • Septic System Design
    • Septic Permits, Inspections, Fees
    • Septic System Installation, Tie In To House
    • Well, Pump, Trenching, Plumbing To House, Pressure Tank
    • Well Permits & Fees
    • City Water: Tap Fees & Hookup
    • City Sewer: Tap Fees & Hookup
    • Soil Engineering
    • Dig Waterlines
    • Rough Grading
    • Trenching For Utility Hookups
    • Foundation Excavation
    • Overdig and Dirt Removal
    • Backfill and Compaction
    • Driveway/ Roadbase
    • Footings, Foundation walls, piers
    • Slabs: Sidewalk, patio, garage, pad
    • Masonry Chimneys
    • Fireplaces
    • Masonry Faces and Hearths
    • Exterior Patios and Walkways
    • Trusses
    • Rough Framing
    • Framing Materials
    • Shingles
    • Metal
    • Roofing Installation
    • Gutters & Downspouts
    • Exterior Foam Sheathing
    • Weather Barrier (Tyvek, etc.)
    • Membrane & Flashing
    • Hardie siding, Miratec Trim
    • Wood Siding
    • Brick Vneer
    • Stone Veneer
    • Stucco
    • Fascia, Soffit, Frieze, Corner Boards, Water Table
    • Exterior Paint, Stain, Caulk
    • Exterior doors
    • Locksets, knobs, door hardware
    • Patio doors: sliding or hinged
    • Windows
    • Garage Doors & Opener
    • Piping Labor and Material
    • Fixtures Allowance
    • Gas Piping
    • Water Heater
    • Sump Pump
    • Service Panel, Sub-Panels
    • Wiring Labor and Material
    • Lighting Fixtures
    • Home Automation
    • Home Entertainment
  • HVAC
    • Furnace
    • Ductwork
    • A/C Unit
    • Radiant Heat
    • Boiler
    • Blow-in Insulation
    • Batting
    • Spray Foam
    • Complete Insulation Package
    • Drywall Hanging
    • Taping
    • Mud/Plaster Finish
    • Interior Doors
    • Trim Material
    • Door knobs, hardware
    • Interior Trim: Baseboard, Casings, Crown, Chair Rail, Other
    • Wainscotting, Wood cielings
    • Built-In Display Shelving
    • Closet Shelving
    • Stairs, Railings, Newels
    • Interior Painting
    • Wood Flooring
    • Carpeting
    • Tile
    • Kitchen Cabinets
    • Bath Cabinets
    • Cabinet Pulls, Hardware
    • Countertops, Backsplash
    • Shower Enclosure/Doors
    • Shower Tile
    • Mirrors
    • Towel hangers, toilet paper holders, accessories
    • Bathroom Exhaust Fans
    • Topsoil
    • Finish Grading
    • Ponds
    • Drainage Swales
    • Retaining Walls
    • Ground Cover
    • Seeding/Sod
    • Edging
    • Plantings
    • Underground Sprinklers
    • Decks
    • Paver Patio
    • Pergolas/Other Outdoor Structures
    • Fencing
    • Refrigerator
    • Cooktop
    • Oven
    • Microwave
    • Range Hood
    • Dishwasher
    • Washer
    • Dryer
    • Wine Cooler
    • Appliance Installation


While we can computerize so much of the construction process, the most accurate approach to cost estimation begins with a decidedly un-technological step: a conversation.

You're just a phone call or email away from an expert, one of our Principals, who can answer your questions, learn about your family's needs and the home you're dreaming of, and begin creating an accurate cost analysis for you. When you're ready, just reach out at 406.595.0393 or

The Ploughshare Promise: We give every client everything they need to make great decisions for their family.