Posted by Melissa Lynn Galland on Oct 1, 2018 12:46:49 PM
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With its rolling hills, lush mountains, and 300 days of green, East Puget Sound is a picturesque setting for building a new custom home. Whether you decide to move to the area because of its excellent schools, the abundance of jobs in the tech sector, proximity to Seattle, or access to sparkling rivers, you can enjoy it all from the comfort of your dream home.

If you are thinking of building a new home in King County, chances are you have more than a few questions. How much does it cost to build? What is the process? What do I need to know about homebuilding in East Puget Sound? Although every situation is unique, we have gained deep experience building in this area and can tell you a few things that are common to almost every new build. Start with this list to get an understanding of what is included in the cost of homebuilding in East Puget Sound, and follow up with a Home Ownership Counselor who will answer any questions that are specific to your situation.

Outline Your Needs

One reason to build a new custom home is to get all of the features and functions your family wants and needs for daily living. For some people, this means an in-law suite for the grandparents; for others, it’s two offices located at opposite ends of the house. Whatever your vision, take the time to clearly outline in detail everything you want to include. This serves as the starting point for determining the best layout and also helps inform your budget during the early planning stages.

If you don’t already own land, think about where you want to live and learn more about the neighborhoods, community amenities, and school districts in the areas you are considering. If you already own land and still owe money on it, make sure you know how much when you start the homebuilding process, because this will be factored into your financing calculations.  

Know Your Timeline

Think about when you would like to start building and when you need the home to be finished. Building a new home in King County takes time because of permitting requirements, so it’s important to understand that it could be a year and a half before you are able to move in. Factor this into your cost calculations, especially if you need to sell an existing home or find a rental property to live in during the process. Although it might seem like a long time, compared with searching for an existing home to purchase, the timeline is predictable and you know you’ll have exactly what you want at the end of the process.

Understand the Costs

Construction costs are always changing with fluctuations in labor and materials. However, you can use these rough numbers from our experience building in King County to help you estimate the total cost of building a new custom home.


An Adair Homes base home typically costs in the range of $90-$95 per square foot, so the total cost will depend on which floor plan you choose and how large it is. You then have the option to invest more in upgrades, such as a gourmet kitchen, spa bathroom, extra garage, or higher-level finishes. Many of our customers allocate $40,000-$80,000 for upgrades, but the decisions are entirely up to you. From the total cost of the base house plus upgrades, you can calculate the tax, which ranges from 8.6% to 10.1%, depending on where the land is located.

Site Development

If you are starting with raw land, the site development costs in East Puget Sound typically range from $85,000 to $120,000. The Adair Homes process includes a free site visit to help you estimate these costs before you have closed on the land. The costs will depend on a number of factors such as the existing landscape, soil quality, length of the driveway, and more.


If you are buying a new property, your land cost is the total purchase price of the land, including realtor fees, taxes, closing costs, and other associated expenses. If you already own land, this is the remaining amount, if any, that you owe on the property.

Understand the Process

Once you understand all of the costs associated with building a new home, you must define your budget. If you need a construction loan, the first step is getting preapproval to confirm the amount you are able to borrow. If you need to buy land, preapproval or cash verification is required before you can make an offer on a property.

Once you have received preapproval for a loan, the next step is to make an offer on the land with a 90-day close. This will give you ample time to schedule a site visit with your builder so you can get an estimate of the site development costs. You should also take the opportunity to visit the county and local regulators to confirm that you are able to build the home you want on the land. This is your opportunity to learn more about local ordinances, environmental restrictions, and any special permitting that will be required to build.

The next step is to meet with the design team to price out your desired home. By now you will know the price of the land and have an estimate for site development costs, so you can determine how much you have left to dedicate to the house. At Adair Homes, our team walks you through every step, so although it might seem overwhelming to build a new home, you don’t have to do it alone.

Get to Know Your Team

Building a new custom home requires teamwork from several different parties. The construction superintendent coordinates the schedule, but you are responsible for working with various other entities throughout the process. In King County, this typically includes:

  • A loan officer or finance broker
  • An excavator
  • Puget Sound Energy
  • A flatworker or concrete contractor
  • A septic system designer
  • A septic system installer
  • An ecologist
  • The water district department or a water testing company
  • Interior and exterior painters

Adair Homes will guide you through the process to help you determine when each party should be engaged. We also work with many contractors in the area and can provide recommendations based on our experience. 

Research the Regulations

In addition to state and county requirements, King County has 26 different jurisdictions, each with its own set of rules. In order to obtain a building permit, you must submit the home plans and the following information:

  • Critical Area Determination (CAD): a wetland study that takes 3-6 weeks
  • Septic design: done after the CAD, required for all new construction
  • Engineered site plan: shows how runoff will go back into the ground
  • Water-quality test: required only for wells
  • Geological study: required if land has steep slopes or landslide hazards
  • Infiltration test: typically for sewer systems, not septic
  • Topographical study: required if land has elevation changes of more than 12%

If your lot requires placing the house within the buffers required for slopes, wetlands, or wells, you will need further studies throughout the permitting process. All of these studies and permits should be factored into your timeline and the total cost to build, so do as much advance research as you can to get a complete understanding of all of the steps and costs involved in building your new home.

Consider Your Financing Options

Unless you are paying cash, you will likely need to secure financing to build a new home in East Puget Sound. Although it varies, the average total project cost for a new custom home in the area is in the range of $500,000 to $700,000, including land cost, site development costs, and the cost of the house. For many people, this means getting a jumbo loan.

Adair Homes has partnered with Alliance Financial Services to help our customers find the best financing solutions for new construction. Not every bank offers new construction loans, so it can be difficult to get financing through this channel. Because every homeowner’s financial situation is different, we offer multiple types of loans to match your needs.

Our mission at Adair Homes is to work with a broad range of budgets to help new homeowners build their dream homes. We’ll work closely with you to figure out exactly what you can get for your budget, how long it will take, and the steps required to make it happen. Our unique equity-building program allows you to generate $100,000 to $200,000 in equity right away, so you can get more home for your budget.

If you’d like to speak with a Home Ownership Counselor about building a new custom home in East Puget Sound, schedule an appointment at our branch office in North Bend, or give us a call today.