I don't think the above answers address your question. (In fact, I think the offers to make you a loan aren't permitted.) Ballpark, you can borrow 2.5 to 3 times your income. You want to look at the monthly payment, including taxes, interest, and insurance, to figure out how much you can afford while maintaining a lifestyle you enjoy. That's really the determining factor in how much you can afford/should borrow. A lot of people are in trouble now because they took out mortgages they couldn't afford, or they are "house poor" which means they can't afford to have or do anything because all their income is paying for the house and essentials. A down-payment will be required for the mortgage, at least 5% and probably 10% or 20%. While under construction, you can get a construction loan (money is borrowed in stages to pay the contractor as phases of the construction are completed), then the mortgage when it's built. New construction in CA is going to cost at least $125 per square foot: look online or call around for a better estimate. CA is expensive so it could be significantly more. Renovating an existing home will cost as much or more as building new. Multiply the per-square-foot construction amount by the number of square feet for the total cost, and then add 15% -- you can count on additional costs somewhere. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms, so if you have a lot of those, the price per square foot will be higher than with fewer ones. High-end finishes like granite, custom cabinetry, extensive pricey tile increase the cost compared to less expensive alternatives. Remember the cost of land under a new house; and if you must run water/sewer pipes or electrical lines to the property, they're additional expenses. Your best bet is to talk to a few contractors with some fairly detailed information about what you want in a house (and check them out very thoroughly before hiring any to do the work). If that house you like cost X amount, making it a 2-story could be more expensive than just doubling its price because more support is needed for a taller building. The house you like probably looks larger than it actually is because of its shape. You can do a similar thing for an impressive-looking house without that much square footage. Just some things to think about; I hope they're helpful.