How Much Does It Cost to Frame a House

by | Jun 20, 2024 | Uncategorized

The frame of your home is the literal backbone of your house, providing structure and shape to your building. For a framing project, by far the two most common building materials used are timber and steel. In this article, we’ll be providing house framing cost breakdowns and comparing steel and timber frames.

What is House Framing?

The frame of your house is basically the skeleton of your home, providing structure and shape to the rest of your building. Pieces are placed together to create the frame, with the two key elements being your wall frames and roof framing. It’s an exciting part of the home-building process because it’s the first visual sign that your house is taking shape (as important as the foundation stage is, a concrete slab isn’t the most thrilling thing in the world).

The framing stage of a home happens after the foundation has been set. While it wasn’t that long ago that all timber frames were measured and cut on-site by carpenters, it’s becoming more common for this to happen elsewhere. Volume builders especially are known for delivering pre-cut pieces to the site for the team to then assemble. Steel frames are constructed in a similar way to timber frames, with pre-created pieces put together on-site or delivered as already assembled pieces.

The plus side of pieces arriving pre-cut is it cuts down on labour and time which, ideally, means lower costs for you.

Different Types of House Framing

Timber frame

Timber house frames are still the most popular frame in Australia and are usually made from pine wood. This makes them more affordable, eco-friendly and easily sourced. Plenty of houses made from timber have provided homes for families for decades, and many heritage homes are made from timber. This shows it can be a durable and long-lasting building material. Though it’s been the most used material for over a century and builders continue to use it today, timber does have both advantages and disadvantages.


  • Timber frames are usually more affordable: Timber house framing endures in large part because it is cheaper than steel framing, both in terms of materials and installation. Labour costs involved are lower and timber doesn’t require the same level of expertise as steel.
  • Easy repairs: Over the years, you’re going to need to perform upkeep and repairs on your house. Timber frames are relatively easy to repair and more contractors are skilled in this area, so you won’t need to look far for someone to take care of this for you.
  • Eco-Friendly: Timber is a natural and renewable material, therefore many eco-conscious people prefer to build their homes with it. Make sure your timber is from an ethically responsible source.
  • Energy Efficient: Timber offers better insulation than steel and can help cut down on energy costs. Remember though that other factors like your layout and insulation are also essential in keeping your home at a comfortable temperature.
  • More On-site Flexibility: It’s much easier to adapt and modify timber frames than steel on-site, meaning fewer delays and costs are involved.


  • Termites: Anyone who’s had to deal with termites will tell you how expensive it can be to fix. Installing a termite-resistant system in your home is crucial to protecting your house frame.
  • Less durable: A well-looked-after timber house can last for decades, however, they’re vulnerable to issues like water damage, rot, pests, termites and fire.
  • Soundproofing issues: Sound travels through timber, which is great for instruments, but not as great for your home. Insulation can help minimise this.
  • Some high maintenance: A timber frame house will need to be treated to avoid issues like rot, termites and mould.

Steel Frame

Considering buildings have been around for millennia, steel house frames are a relatively recent innovation, becoming more mainstream in the 1980s. Lightweight steel beams are used for homes, making them easier to work with while still being sturdy.


  • Strength and durability: Steel is renowned for being a strong, durable material. A steel frame should last many decades.
  • Easy to fabricate: If you’re building a custom home or need to make adjustments to a pre-existing structure, steel can be customised into a wide range of shapes.
  • Termite and pest-resistant: Termites are a nightmare to deal with, but they’re not interested in steel, eliminating this risk from your home.
  • Can be a sustainable option: Steel is a very recyclable material and it’s possible to have your home made from 100% recycled steel.
  • Less Maintenance: Unlike a timber house frame, which will need treatment, steel requires little, if any maintenance.


  • More expensive: There’s no getting around that in most cases, steel is more expensive than timber.
  • Corrosion: The one big disadvantage of steel compared to wood is the potential for corrosion.
  • Less Flexible on-site: Though steel is customisable, this needs to be done before it arrives on site. If adjustments need to be made on the spot, this can cause delays and be expensive.

How much does it cost to frame a house

Material Costs for House Framing

Lumber costs

Timber frames will usually cost about $1,200-$1,500 per square metre, but a variety of things such as where you’re building and where the timber is being sourced from will influence the final costs.

Steel/metal stud framing costs

Keeping in mind things can vary depending on location and other factors, a steel frame is going to cost you around $1,300-$2,000 per square metre.

On average, steel frames cost about 10-20% more than the same frame made from timber. There are a few influencing factors to consider such as where you’re ordering the material from and transportation costs. Any customisation will also add to your overall cost.

Factors Affecting House Framing Costs

Project size and scope

The size of your home is naturally going to affect the price of your frame. A bigger home needs a larger frame and therefore, more materials and labour will be involved.

Architectural complexity

A general rule of thumb for any construction project (or any job really) is the more complicated it is, the more it’ll cost to complete. Therefore, if you’re going with a custom design or a complex layout, be prepared to pay a little more.

Labour costs

Both residential and commercial framing costs will have varying labour costs depending on who you hire and the job they’re being asked to perform.

How to save money on house framing

No matter how you frame it, the framing of your house isn’t going to be cheap. However, here are a few key ways you can save some money on your framing costs.

  • Design a simple floor plan to reduce costs.
  • Choose smaller square footage to reduce material costs.
  • Use materials that are readily available and require little transportation
  • Build up rather than out to save on roof and foundation costs.

Should you Hire a Professional?

DIY House Framing vs. Hiring a Professional

Pros and cons of DIY house framing


  • Can save money: Labour costs can be pricey and constructing your own frame could save you some serious cash. However, this is assuming you do it right and make no mistakes.
  • More hands on approach: There is a certain satisfaction to building something with your own hands. You’ll also have more say on the overall design and construction.


  • Skills required: It probably goes without saying that this is a big DIY job and you really need to know what you’re doing. If you have any doubt you can’t do this, you shouldn’t.
  • Safety Standards: Beyond simply being functional, a house frame needs to meet all safety standards. Many DIYers may find this a lot to keep track of.
  • Huge time commitment: Even for a pro, a house frame can take weeks to months to put up. Many people simply don’t have this type of time.

Pros and cons of using a professional for house framing


  • Skilled labour: Hiring a professional gives you the peace of mind of a job done with years of skill and expertise.
  • More efficient: A professional labourer has done this before and will perform the job faster than even the most enthusiastic DIYer.
  • Safety regulations: Builders are legally required to follow guidelines and know regulations back to front.
  • Connections: A professional is going to have connections for materials and other contractors you won’t.


  • Cost more: Hiring a professional will come with labour costs.

Summary of key points

The frame of your home is an essential part of the house’s structure. The two main framing materials, timber and steel, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Though you can save money by building a frame yourself, it is probably beyond the skillset of most people.

If you want more advice and guidance throughout your building journey, get in touch with Buildi! We’ve saved our clients time, stress and money and we’re confident we can do the same for you!


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