House building cost in Japan

How much does it cost
to build a house in Japan?
- Key things to know - service logo

- What you need to know: how large your house can be and how much it will cost -

Do you want to build a home in Japan but don't know where to start? Have you started your research? Do you want to know how much it costs?

Here is your ultimate guide to understanding how much it will cost to build a house in Japan. There are 2 major concepts - house size and material choice - you need to know when you are building your home in this country. Read the full guide and get ready to start building your dream house.


<Table of Contents>

  1. 1.How large can your house be?
    1. 1-1.Major regulations in Japan: 建ぺい率 and 容積率
      1. 1-1-1.Building Coverage Ratio (建ぺい率)
      2. 1-1-2.Floor Space Ratio (容積率)
    2. 1-2.Illustrative simulation - how large you can make your house
  2. 2.How much will your house cost?
    1. 2-1.3 main types of construction methods as well as its overview and price
      1. 2-1-1.Wooden / Timber House
      2. 2-1-2.Steel Frame House
      3. 2-1-3.Reinforced Concrete ("RC") House
    2. 2-2.Illustrative simulation - your construction cost:

See also:

A Step-by-Step Guide to the house building process in Japan

Learn what you need to do and how long it takes...

1. How large can your house be?

- In order to know the building cost, you first need to know the rules that restrict your house size -

1-1. Major regulations in Japan:
建ぺい率 and 容積率

1-1-1. Building Coverage Ratio (建ぺい率)

  • Defines what proportion of the land can be used to have a building on top
  • The purpose is to have ample space in the city for fire safety and room for air
  • The ratio depends on the location - typically around 30~80%
  • 1-1-2. Floor Space Ratio (容積率)

  • Defines how large your total floor area can be compared to the land size
  • The purpose is to control the residing population, especially taking into account the capacity of the local infrastructure
  • The ratio depends on the location - typically from 50% to as high as 500%
  • It may also have other restrictions, including...

    • Height limitations (高さ制限): Height of your entire house can be limited based on local regulations.
    • Sun shadow control (日影規制): Prevents high building to throw a shadow on neighborhood buildings longer than a set period of time so that the sunlight is secured for the surrounding buildings.
    • Setback line limitation with roads or direction (道路斜線制限 / 北側斜線制限): Height or shape of your house can also be limited from regulations to preserve the ventilation or sunlight of (1) the roads nearby or (2) the house to your north, as your house on the south side could block some sunlight.
    • Fireproof area (防火地域) / semi-fireproof area (準防火地域): In certain areas, especially in urban places where you have crowded building located next to each other, the City Planning Act (都市計画法) requires you to build your house as a fireproof building (耐火建築物), a semi-fireproof building (準耐火建築物), or a fire control building (防火建築物). The important point to keep in mind is that it will mostly require more cost to your house as you are using materials with higher quality.
    • Conditional land (建築条件付き土地): This is not a law or regulation but some of the raw land may have a condition to use certain house makers or contractors, specified by the current landlord. You will also need to sign a service contract to build a house within a certain time frame, mostly 3 months from the time of your purchase. You need to keep in mind that this means you have to fix all the details as well as the quote / cost of your house within this period. A normal process to fix the design takes 6 to 7 months so it will be extremely tight if the time frame is as short as 3 months. It could be okay if you don't need any customization from the house makers' products but make sure you check the condition before you purcahse the land.

      It is sometimes negotiable to make the conditional land into an unconditional land by paying some extra price. Normally, in these cases, the landlord is receiving some incentive from the contractor to make the land conditional hence you will usually need to pay a similar amount to the landlord to make it unconditional, and build your house freely with the architect / house maker you like.

    Engage a professional or contact us if you want to have the land checked thoroughly before you purchase and make sure you don't regret after your payment.

    See also: How to find land for sale in Japan - Find the best property with skilled Japanese architects

    1-2. Illustrative simulation - how large you can make your house:

    If you had a land with a size of 100, here is how large of a house you can build with different Building Coverage Ratios (建ぺい率) and Floor Space Ratio (容積率)...

    Total floor area simulation

    2. How much will your house cost?

    - Depends on the material and floor size -

    2-1. Here are the 3 main types of construction methods as well as its overview and price:

    Each method and material has its own uniqueness and strength. In addition to the design and exterior aspect, which is obviously an important factor to choose based on your taste, you should also take into account the functionality as well as the price of each material.

    House type Major pros and cons Average price (rough ballpark)*

    Wooden / Timber House

    Wooden / timber house
    ・Relatively cheaper
    ・Good ventilation
    ・Lower soundproof etc.
    ・JPY 0.8~1.2 million per tsubo (坪)

    Steel Frame House

    Steel frame house
    ・Stronger build
    ・Faster construction
    ・Lower flexibility in renovation etc.
    (in between)

    Reinforced Concrete (“RC”) House

    Concrete house
    ・Strength and flexibility
    ・Higher price etc.
    JPY 1.4〜1.8+ million per tsubo (坪)

    *The price will depend on where / how / with who you are going to build. Please check with a professional upon construction.

    2-1-1. Wooden / Timber House

    Wooden / timber house
  • 80% of Japanese buildings are said to be built with timber.
  • Cheapest building option compared to the other 2 - steel frame and concrete.
  • Wood has high moisture absorbency as well as high thermal insulation.
  • Compared to a steel frame house or a concrete house, a wooden house generally needs more frequent maintenance as it is a natural material and you may see slight corrosion or age deterioration over the years.
  • 2 major types; timber framework method (木造軸組工法), also known as conventional construction method (在来工法), and wood-frame construction method (木造枠組壁工法), also know as 2x4 (two-by-four) method.
     - Timber framework method is the traditional method in Japan, where you have timber columns and beams as the frame of the house, reinforced by obliquely placed woods. 80% of wooden house is built with the conventional method.
     - 2x4 is an imported method from North America where you put together multiple timber panels and assemble them together to make a house.
  • 2-1-2. Steel Frame House

    Steel frame house
  • Uses steel for the frame of the house, including beams and columns.
  • Typlically applied to large-scale constructions including apartments, multi-story buildings, factories or warehouses, but there are also a number of residential houses which are built with steel frames.
  • 2 types of steel frame; heavy-weight steel frame (重量鉄骨造), which uses steels thicker than 6 millimeters, and light-weight steel frame (軽量鉄骨造) with steels thinner than 6 millimeters. Regular residential houses usually use light-weight steel frames.
  • Compared to concrete houses, steel frame houses can be built faster at a cheaper price.
  • Less thermal insulation or sound insulation capability as you typically use plaster boards for the walls.
  • 2-1-3. Reinforced Concrete ("RC") House

    Concrete house
  • "Reinforced" means reinforcing bars are placed inside the concrete construction to ensure robust strength.
  • Stronger build: RC houses have higher durability to earthquakes.
  • Trustable quality, including thermal insulation and sound insulation
  • Durable life is long and can preserve the asset value more and longer.
  • The most expensive choice among generally available building materials given the quality it brings.
  • Less ventilation / moisture absorbency compared to wooden houses.
  • With high thermal conductivity, it may be easier to get hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. You can plan and handle it with thorough planning with an architect on the air conditioning systems.
  • There is also a Steel Reinforced Concrete ("SRC") method (鉄骨鉄筋コンクリート造), which is a combination of steel frame method and RC method, with robust steel frames used as pillars of the concrete building. It is generally used in skyscrapers and other large facilities.
  • 2-2. Illustrative simulation - your construction cost:

    The following simulation has 2 example cases, assuming the same land size - [A] with 100% Floor Space Ratio (容積率) and [B] with 150% Floor Space Ratio - and the simple calculation shows how much your house construction will cost based on different building materials.

    In short, the ballpark estimate of your building cost will be total floor area multiplied by cost per tsubo (tsubo-tanka). A regular timber house is about JPY 1 million per tsubo, which is around JPY 300,000 per square meter of the total floor area of your house.

        [Case A] 100% Floor Space Ratio [Case B] 150% Floor Space Ratio
    House cost will be your total floor size multiplied by cost per tsubo Assumed
    cost per tsubo
    House with 100 square-meter floor area House with 150 square-meter floor area
    Total floor size:   100 ㎡ ÷ 3.3 = ~30 tsubo (坪) 150 ㎡ ÷ 3.3 = ~45 tsubo (坪)
    Wooden House JPY 1.0 mil ¥ 1.0 mil x 30 tsubo = ¥ 30 mil ¥ 1.0 mil x 45 tsubo = ¥ 45 mil
    Steel Frame House JPY 1.3 mil ¥ 1.3 mil x 30 tsubo = ¥ 39 mil ¥ 1.3 mil x 45 tsubo = ¥ 59 mil
    RC House JPY 1.6 mil ¥ 1.6 mil x 30 tsubo = ¥ 48 mil ¥ 1.6 mil x 45 tsubo = ¥ 72 mil

    (Sample price and calculation for illustrative purpose. Please get your own quotes when you are building yours)

    For example...

    Man speaking

    "I want to build a concrete house with 150 square meters of total floor area. How much will it cost?"


    150 square meters ÷ 3.3 = 45 tsubo

    45 tsubo x concrete house cost: ¥1.5 million per tsubo = ¥68 million total building price
    (+ land price separately)


    Woan speaking

    "We have a budget of ¥40 million for the building itself and want to maximize the floor space with a wooden house. How big will our house be?"


    ¥40 million budget ÷ wooden house cost: ¥1 million per tsubo = 40 tsubo

    40 tsubo x 3.3 = 132 square-meter total floor space

    When you actually build your own home or other buildings, there are other cost including design fee to the architect or administrative fees. Please consult with a professional to know more details about the incurring cost.

    You can also apply for a house loan as a foreigner living in Japan. Read the full guide to house loans in Japan to learn more.

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