Cost to Build a High Performance Home

What is the typical cost (excluding land) to build a residential high-performance home project?

There is basically no ‘typical’ budget for a high performance home.

High performance means different things to every homeowner, so this is a very hard question to answer.

First, you’ll need to know what you would consider the high-performance features and options you would like in your green home.

Various Options in the Home

There are so many options to choose from when building a HP home.

The home can go from being a very basic, to very detailed in its HP features and anywhere in between.  

Most new homes in our area cost between $200 – $300/ sq. ft. to build.

There are many variables with these costs, depending on the finishes chosen, the HP features incorporated, and the total under roof square footage of the home, including the finished living area and other areas, such as a 2-3 car garage, covered porches, unfinished storage, etc.

One can build HP homes with no additional costs by planning the home appropriately to the site it will be built on, working with the path of the sun across the property, using appropriately sized overhangs for the area, including water-efficient plumbing fixtures, which can cost the same as other fixtures, energy star rated appliances, Low E windows, and using LED light fixtures.

Seal the Holes

Also, it is important to make sure that anyone who makes a hole in the exterior walls, roof, or floor of the building, seals them up.

No holes should be left unsealed on the exterior walls of the building.


Included in these homes should be universal design planning for accessibility, including wider hallways and doors, one accessible bathroom on the main floor, a 5’ turning radius, and an exterior door with wheelchair access. 

A home can be upgraded from there, as budget allows it, by adding in energy star rated windows, upgrading your insulation package in the entire house or at least in the attic, to foam, sealing the crawl space, increasing the SEER rating of the HVAC units, choosing No VOC paints & sealants, and cabinets with no formaldehyde.

Renewable Materials

Then, add in readily renewable products, such as bamboo or cork flooring, tankless gas water heaters, or solar panels for hot water or electricity and rainwater harvesting.

HERS (Home Energy Rating Service)

Also, consider having a HERS (Home Energy Rating Service) rater involved on the project.

This service typically provides blower door tests, which provide data on how leaky the home may be and where to seal it up.

They will also perform duct blaster tests to determine if the HVAC duct system is leaky and how well the system provides the required airflow into the individual rooms. The options are really endless.  

Closing Remarks

As you can see, there is a wide range of things to consider when building a HP home.

The most important features of an HP home are building it energy efficiently, meaning-making sure the building envelop (walls, windows, roof, and crawl space) are all of good quality and well sealed.

Secondly, make sure the indoor air quality is as good as you can afford to make it, that the plumbing fixtures are water-efficient, and the appliances are energy efficient.

This type of home can be built cost-effectively and very expensively, depending on the homeowner’s ‘HP’ goals and budget.

If you need helping designing a High Performance Home, please contact our High Performance Homes Team.

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