What’s the HVAC System Cost for a New Construction?

A new house is always exciting, a chance for homeowners to put an indelible stamp upon their home in a way that purchasing a pre-existing home just doesn’t allow for. With this power, though, comes responsibility—or so the trope states. Because you also have to consider the HVAC system cost. Being able to make a decision involves familiarizing yourself with the subject so that you can take an educated stance.

There only a few systems in a new home where this is truer than with regards to your HVAC system. There are many types of both heating and cooling systems available with wildly ranging costs of both installation and energy bills. We have compiled some information to help you with your decision making process.

HVAC System Cost for a New Construction

Your house’s HVAC system is a complicated structure, involving several different components. An average home will possess some mix of heating and cooling elements, including:

  • A furnace
  • A central air conditioning unit
  • Means of transmission such as ductwork or radiators
  • The thermostat
  • Other considerations such as ceiling fans

The list of factors that you need to consider when evaluating the potential HVAC installation cost includes the following:

  • The size and scope of the construction.
  • The brand and grade chose for each component.
  • The type of each component chosen—for example, gas vs. oil vs. geothermal for heating.
  • The complexity of the installation—it’s harder for technicians to work in an attic or a crawlspace.
  • Whether there needs to be ductwork installed or not.
  • The SEER rating. A unit that is energy efficient will save you a lot on energy bills.
  • Finally, don’t forget your individual area’s cost of living.

Plus, there are tax credits for renewable energy that you can claim later on.

HVAC System Cost per Square Foot

The square footage of the installation is one of the most important considerations to have in mind upfront. Let’s look at an average, 1,200 – 2,200 square foot, single-family home, for example. You can expect to pay $1,000 – $4,000 in ductwork alone. And this will be different for commercial spaces. The cheapest ductwork, flexible non-metallic, costs $1-2 per linear foot while the most expensive option is fiberglass board, which will run you $4.50-6 per linear foot.

New constructions sometimes come with ductwork—ultimately, it depends on the individual builder. However, even if there is ductwork already in place, it may not be the correct material or size for the system you select, which adds an extra layer of complexity to the decision. Definitely make sure you know what your home’s starting point is before moving too deeply into the decision making process.

Additionally, don’t forget to consider that as the size of your house increases, so too increases the power you need out of your furnace or central air conditioner. And this will also increase costs. So bear it mind that a lot of this depends on the size of your space.

Type of HVAC System

The first question which should be asked is what systems your climate requires. Those dwelling in the far northern regions has less need of air conditioning while those dwelling in regions such as southern Florida may not need a furnace.

So consider what your heating and cooling systems or air handlers require before moving on to system installing. Central air conditioning requires ductwork, which, if desired, could let you save some money by opting for a forced hot air heating system, which could use the same ductwork. At the same time, if you want your house to have air conditioning but ductwork simply isn’t possible due to various factors, you could consider one of the newer ductless air conditioning systems which connect to an outdoor unit by the conduit.

Adding Zones

The cost to add zones to an HVAC system is based on the type of heating and cooling system you have. A higher-end system will have more circuitry, more ductwork and more parts that are more difficult to install. The average cost of adding zones ranges from $600-$1,000 per zone. However, this will vary based on the size of the zone and the type of HVAC unit that is installed.

Quadruple-zone systems are the most costly because they have four separate HVAC circuits. These systems have two circuits for each floor of your house or building, so you can control the temperature in each room separately. You can find these systems on some larger homes or commercial buildings. But smaller buildings and homes usually aren’t worth the high HVAC system cost. Plus, there is a lot more maintenance required for a quadruple-zone HVAC system.

Triple-zone systems give you three separate HVAC circuits, one for each floor and one for the basement or other area. You can use these circuits to control up to three different areas of your home or business separately.

Double-zone systems give you two separate HVAC circuits, one for each floor of your home or building. This setup is perfect if you only want to control two areas separately. For example, for the main floor and basement but don’t need separate circuit work for each

Type of Heating

Of course, such a system would then let you consider installing any of a wide variety of other heating solutions, including baseboard or hot water. And this would also affect your overall HVAC system cost.

Ultimately, each option has its own advantages and drawbacks, which must be measured against one another.

Electric Heat

Electric heat is typically spread through a home by baseboard heat, which are elongated coils hidden behind an aesthetically generic shield and run along the edges of walls. Baseboard doesn’t typically stick out more than a few inches and is only around 4 inches tall on average, so it’s relatively unobtrusive. Electric heat has a reputation for being expensive and drying, however. So it may require a humidifier during the winter months for your comfort.

Oil Heat

Oil heat is frequently found as forced air, which pairs well with central air conditioning. However, oil can also be used for hot water boiler systems which heat water and pump it through usually bulky radiators throughout the house, causing ambient, long-lasting warmth. Oil is usually one of the most expensive options for heating fuel although, as always, factors ranging from geographic location to the current economic or political climate can impact this.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is a brother to oil. You can use it in basically the same ways. Except, it tends to be cheaper to get. However, it has the tradeoff that not every place has access to a gas pipeline to provide the fuel. Unlike oil, which they deliver in trucks, you have to pipe in natural. If you can hook it up in your area, natural gas can power the same furnace or boiler systems that uses oil. And there you have a gas furnace instead of oil. Bear in mind, it comes with the same advantages and drawbacks.


Solar and geothermal options also exist for more green-minded. While solar heating options are relatively new on the block and are thus expensive to install and maintain, geothermal systems can provide some of the lowest energy bills of all.

Geothermal systems work by the construction of a temperature well, of sorts, which the system draws from. During the summer, people use this is a heat storage area. It pumps the warmth out of your home and replaces it with cool air from the ground. During the winter, this reverses. So it uses the warm earth temperatures to heat the home instead. This works because temperatures below the earth’s surface stay relatively constant year-round.

Whatever system you select for your home, it will be a permanent fixture of that home for decades to come. Some of the systems mentioned in this article can last for over 50 years. But others are not nearly as long-lived. So there is a lot to think about when you want to repair or replace an HVAC unit.

Even after failure, though, future homeowners tend to keep the same type of system in a house. It’s usually much easier and cheaper to install an updated version of the same type of system. So there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Our HVAC contractors are experts in creating comfort.