Building Costs Per Square Foot in the United States of America (USA) and Canada

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Building Costs Per Square Foot in the United States of America (USA) and Canada

New French style mansion with 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms under construction and nearing completion. Located on 375 Fordyce Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90049 in USA – Price $30 million – Source: Realtor

The building costs per square foot in the United States of America (USA) depend on a variety of factors. First, you have to keep in mind that building projects have their own unique aspects, thus if somebody in your neighbourhood built a house for $90,000, that doesn’t mean your newly built house will also cost the same amount. Environmental conditions such as the ground condition [soil type], terrain, access to site, weather, zoning requirements as well as the location and availability of services such as site drainage, water supply reticulation and electrification requirements will affect the cost of building your residential home or commercial property before we factor in costs such as the local construction index which includes the cost of labour and materials.


List of 50 US States – Percentage Deviation of the Regional Building Cost from the National Average ($X), in Ascending Order:

There are 50 states in the USA and the construction cost per square foot in each region will vary by a certain amount. Considering that ground conditions are normal, the regional building cost per square foot based on the local construction index, roughly follows the formula below. Please note that this is just a guideline.

If $X is the Average National Building Cost in the USA, then it will cost the following to build a residential or commercial property in each state:

National Average = $X

  1. Nebraska             -8% (8% less than X)
  2. New Mexico      -8% (8% less than X)
  3. Arkansas              -7% (7% less than X)
  4. Mississippi          -6% (6% less than X)
  5. South Dakota     -6% (6% less than X)
  6. Florida  -5% (5% less than X)
  7. Maine   -5% (5% less than X)
  8. Oklahoma           -5% (5% less than X)
  9. Vermont              -5% (5% less than X)
  10. West Virginia     -5% (5% less than X)
  11. Alabama              -4% (4% less than X)
  12. Arizona                 -4% (4% less than X)
  13. Georgia                                -4% (4% less than X)
  14. Kentucky             -4% (4% less than X)
  15. North Carolina   -4% (4% less than X)
  16. Virginia                 -4% (4% less than X)
  17. Indiana                 -3% (3% less than X)
  18. Iowa      -3% (5% less than X)
  19. Missouri               -3% (3% less than X)
  20. Montana             -3% (3% less than X)
  21. Oregon                 -3% (3% less than X)
  22. Utah      -3% (3% less than X)
  23. Tennessee          -2% (2% less than X)
  24. Minnesota          -1% (1% less than X)
  25. New Hampshire                               -1% (1% less than X)
  26. Pennsylvania     -1% (1% less than X)
  27. South Carolina   -1% (1% less than X)
  28. Wyoming             -1% (1% less than X)
  29. Kansas  – X
  30. Ohio – X
  31. Washington – X
  32. Wisconsin – X
  33. Colorado              1% (1% more than X)
  34. Michigan              1% (1% more than X)
  35. Nevada                                1% (1% more than X)
  36. Delaware             2% (1% more than X)
  37. Louisiana             2% (2% more than X)
  38. Maryland             2% (2% more than X)
  39. Illinois   4% (4% more than X)
  40. North Dakota     4% (4% more than X)
  41. Rhode Island      5% (5% more than X)
  42. Texas    5% (5% more than X)
  43. New York            6% (6% more than X)
  44. Connecticut        8% (8% more than X)
  45. California             9% (9% more than X)
  46. New Jersey        9% (9% more than X)
  47. District of Columbia         12% (12% more than X)
  48. Massachusetts  12% (12% more than X)
  49. Hawaii   20% (20% more than X)
  50. Alaska   23% (23% more than X)

Deviation of the State Regional Building Cost per Square Foot from the National Average – USA – Ascending Order

As you can see from Graphs and Regional Cost List, Alaska is the most expensive state to build in the USA, followed by Hawaii costing 23% and 20% more than the national average to undertake a construction project.

If anything from 4% and above is expensive, then the most expensive places to build a house or commercial property in the USA are Massachusetts (12%), District of Columbia (12%), New Jersey (9%), California (9%), Connecticut (8%), New York (6%), Texas (5%), Rhode Island (5%), North Dakota (4%) and Illinois (4%).

Nebraska and New Mexico are the cheapest places to build, at 8% less than the national average, followed by Arkansas (-7%), Mississippi and South Dakota at (-6%). Florida, Maine, Oklahoma, Vermont and West Virginia are the third cheapest places at (-5%). Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia come in at (-4%). There are 28 states whose building costs are lower than the national average.

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States with mid-range building costs closer to the national average include Kansas, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Delaware, Louisiana, Nevada and Washington.


 Variation of Building Costs with the Gross Floor Area

The cost of building a house and/or any type of building also depends on its gross floor area (square footage). The gross floor area (GFA) is the total area of the floor at all levels measured from the external side of the external walls. In calculating the gross floor area, adjustments (deductions) are made for open areas (e.g. car parks, roof terraces, canopies and shades), and covered open-sided spaces like patios, verandas, balconies and courtyards.

Building contractors will charge a higher profit mark-up for smaller houses, and lower mark-up for large houses. Thus, the construction cost per square foot will decrease as the floor size increases. The bigger your house, the smaller the building cost per square foot. This trend is illustrated by the graphs below.

The charts below depict the variation between the gross floor area and the building cost per square foot for single family residences in the United States of America:

All six classes of single family homes show the same pattern, that of a building cost rate which is declining smoothly with a decrease in gross floor area.

Class 1 – Luxury Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

Class 1 – Luxury Single Family Homes – 4 Corner House

MIN       $344.89 per sqft                                5,000+   square foot home

MAX      $528.70 per sqft                                700         square foot home

AV          $407.02 per sqft                                1800       square foot home

Class 2 – Semi Luxury Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

Class 2 – Semi Luxury Single Family Homes – 4 Corner House

MIN       $209.61 per sqft                                5,000+   square foot home

MAX      $321.30 per sqft                                700         square foot home

AV          $247.36 per sqft                                1800       square foot home

Class 3 – Best Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

 

Class 3 – Best Standard Single Family Homes – 4 Corner House

MIN       $135.50 per sqft                                5,000+   square foot home

MAX      $205.81 per sqft                                700.00   square foot home

AV          $158.64 per sqft                                1800       square foot home

 

Class 4 – Good Standard Single Family Homes – 4 Corner House

Class 4 – Good Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

MIN       $98.89 per sqft                  5,000+   square foot home

MAX      $151.65 per sqft                700         square foot home

AV          $116.71 per sqft                1800       square foot home

 

Class 5 – Average Standard Single Family Homes – 4 Corner House

Average Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

MIN       $80.27   per sqft                                5,000+   square foot home

MAX      $122.93 per sqft                               700         square foot home

AV          $94.65   per sqft                                1800       square foot home

 

Class 6 – Minimum Standard Single Family Homes – 4 Corner House

Class 6 – Minimum Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

MIN       $63.31   per sqft                                5,000+   square foot home

MAX      $97.04   per sqft                                700         square foot home

AV          $74.68   per sqft                                1800       square foot home


Equation of Trendline – Floor Area vs Building Cost Per Square Foot

From the line graphs of each of the six residential quality classes for single family homes, we can find the equation of a trendline that allows us to calculate the square foot cost of building a house of any size. Since the charts depict a remarkably similar curve, we can use any of the trendline equations to calculate the square foot cost of a random value of the floor area for each residential quality class. As you can see, this is essentially a set of six trendline equations with different slopes (gradient) or rate constant. The lines are 5th order polynomial equations plotted on an Excel chart. The 5th order provides the best match for the lines.

The trendline equation is quite reliable for estimating purposes because it covers a wide range of values of floor sizes, from 700 to 5000 square foot, with 25 milestones spaced at 100 ft² for the 700 to 1800 square foot range, and 200 ft² for the 2000 to 5000 square foot range.

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It’s quite safe to apply this trendline equation in estimating the construction cost rate for other types of residences such as the 6, 8 and 10 corner homes for single families.

Trendline Equations for Six Quality Classes of Single Family Homes:

y = 0.0009x4 – 0.0598x3 + 1.5743x2 – 23.968x + 548.86

y = 0.0005x4 – 0.0365x3 + 0.9582x2 – 14.572x + 333.57

y = 0.0004x4 – 0.0237x3 + 0.6138x2 – 9.3157x + 213.64

y = 0.0003x4 – 0.0171x3 + 0.4504x2 – 6.8747x + 157.41

y = 0.0002x4 – 0.0142x3 + 0.3703x2 – 5.5976x + 127.7

y = 0.0002x4 – 0.011x3 + 0.289x2 – 4.4045x + 100.74

Trendline Polynomial Equation Class 1 – Luxury Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

 

Trendline Polynomial Equation Class 2 – Semi Luxury Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

 

Trendline Polynomial Equation Class 3 – Best Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

 

Trendline Polynomial Equation Class 4 – Good Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

 

Trendline Polynomial Equation Class 5 – Average Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

Trendline Polynomial Equation Class 6 – Minimum Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

Trendline Gradient/Slope Equations for Six Quality Classes of Single Family Homes:

y = -6.5422x + 495.34

y = -3.9768x + 301.05

y = -2.5102x + 192.53

y = -1.8762x + 142.04

y = -1.5243x + 115.23

y = -1.2011x + 90.898

Trendline Gradient Equation Class 1 – Luxury Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

Trendline Gradient Equation Class 2 – Semi Luxury Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

 

Trendline Gradient Equation Class 3 – Best Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

 

Trendline Gradient Equation Class 4 – Good Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

 

Trendline Gradient Equation Class 5 – Average Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

 

Trendline Gradient Equation Class 6 – Minimum Standard Single Family Homes Floor Area vs Building Cost

In the equations above, Y is the building cost per square foot and X is the gross floor area (GFA). To find the building cost per ft² of a given house, you must first determine its quality class (i.e. whether it’s a luxury, semi-luxury, best standard, good standard, average standard or minimum standard house). After determining the quality class, calculate the gross floor area of the house at all levels (i.e. ground, first and second floors). Use the applicable equation above to substitute values for X and find Y, the building cost per ft².

Types of Buildings

Similar equations can be generated for other types of buildings and their quality classes if the cost data is available.

  1. Manufactured Housing,
  2. Multi-Family Residences,
  3. Motels,
  4. Conventional Recreational Dwellings
  5. And A-Frame Cabins,
  6. Elementary Schools,
  7. Secondary Schools,
  8. Libraries,
  9. Government Offices,
  10. Fire Stations,
  11. Urban Stores,
  12. Suburban Stores,
  13. Multi-Unit Buildings,
  14. Supermarkets,
  15. Small Food Stores,
  16. Discount Houses,
  17. Banks And Savings Offices,
  18. Department Stores,
  19. General Office Buildings,
  20. Medical-Dental Buildings,
  21. Convalescent Hospitals,
  22. Funeral Homes,
  23. Religious Buildings,
  24. Self-Service Restaurants,
  25. Coffee Shop Restaurants,
  26. Conventional Restaurants,
  27. A-Frame Restaurants,
  28. Theatres Without Balcony,
  29. Theatres,
  30. Service Stations,
  31. Service Garage,
  32. Auto Service Centres And
  33. Industrial Buildings

AECOM Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA

According to the AECOM annual construction survey 2014 (Blue Book), the building costs per square foot in the United States and Canada for residential, commercial, industrial, hotel, health, retail and educational properties are shown in the table below. Construction activity was measured in New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, St Louis, Miami and Seattle. In Canada, construction cost information was obtained in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

AECOM Building Costs Per Square Foot 2014 Market Survey_USA and Canada TABLE

To update the building costs to the current year and date, you have to use the formula given below that makes use of historical building cost indices and the known construction cost of a similar building in a particular year:

Cost in Year A (Future Cost) = [Index for Year A (Future)/Index for Year B (Past)] x Cost in Year B

The Index for Year B (Past) is known as the Index for the Base Year.

The updated building costs per square foot in the major cities of the USA are shown below in the AECOM based Construction Market Survey 2019 – 2020 chart:

AECOM Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020 Market Survey_USA and Canada TABLE

Construction activity was measured in nine major cities of the USA [New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, St Louis, Miami and Seattle]. The combined cost range and average costs are listed below:

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Residential Buildings

Low-rise multifamily residential units:  

Average – $219

Min – $179

Max – $262

Low-rise – high quality residential units:

Average – $343

Min – $276

Max – $416

High-rise – medium quality residential units:

Average – $341

Min – $273

Max – $405

High-rise – high quality residential

units:

Average – $413

Min – $330

Max – $496

Podium car parking:

Average – $140

Min – $114

Max – $169

Basement car parking:

Average – $250

Min – $204

Max – $300

Commercial Buildings

Average standard offices:

Low-rise offices

Average – $318

Min – $259

Max – $381

Medium-rise offices

Average – $344

Min – $280

Max – $413

High-rise offices

Average – $374

Min – $301

Max – $448

High standard offices:

Average – $424

Min – $340

Max – $505

Industrial Buildings

Light industrial – low bay, tilt-up

Average – $132

Min – $107

Max – $161

Heavy industrial – high bay, tilt-up

Average – $174

Min – $141

Max – $211

Attached offices

Average – $197

Min – $160

Max – $238

Hotels/Hospitality Buildings

Resorts

Average – $447

Min – $357

Max – $528

Three-star budget hotel*

Average – $210

Min – $168

Max – $253

Five-star/luxury hotel*

Average – $439

Min – $350

Max – $530

Suburban motel*

Average – $153

Min – $124

Max – $184

Health Facilities

District medical center

Average – $635

Min – $516

Max – $764

District hospital

Average – $661

Min – $535

Max – $791

Nursing home – *including a/c

Average – $341

Min – $277

Max – $410

Retail Buildings

District center

Average – $294

Min – $239

Max – $353

Regional center

Average – $231

Min – $188

Max – $278

Strip shopping

Average – $151

Min – $123

Max – $182

Educational Buildings

Primary schools

Average – $312

Min – $246

Max – $411

Secondary schools

Average – $347

Min – $282

Max – $417

AECOM Chart Cost Analysis:

From the AECOM charts below, it can be determined that for residential, commercial and hospitality properties, the building cost depends on the quality class and number of storeys. A high rise building is more expensive than a low rise building if the quality of materials used is the same. However, a low-rise building with high quality materials can be slightly more expensive than a high-rise building with medium quality materials.

Basement car parking is more expensive than a low-rise multi-family residential unit of medium quality material. Podium car parking is the cheapest.

Luxury resorts and 5-star hotels are in the same cost bracket, being more expensive to build than 3-star hotels. Suburban motels are cheaper than budget hotels.

District medical centers are more expensive to build than district hospitals. The cost of building a fully air-conditioned nursing home is about 55 to 60% the cost of a district hospital. An analysis of the charts shows that among the surveyed construction projects, a district medical center is the most expensive property to build in the USA. It is closely followed by a district hospital, which is the second-most expensive property to build in the survey. Luxury holiday resorts and 5-star hotels are the third most expensive properties to build in the USA.

Industrial buildings are the cheapest to build among the group of various building types in the survey. They are followed by retail / shopping centers.

Multi-storey residential properties and commercial office buildings share the same average cost. The cost of building primary and secondary schools is almost the same, and these two properties are in the same range as multi-storey residential and commercial buildings.

AECOM Atlanta Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020

AECOM Chicago Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020

AECOM Los Angeles DC Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020

AECOM Miami Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020

AECOM New York Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020

AECOM San Francisco Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020

AECOM Seattle Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020

AECOM St Louis Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020 USA

AECOM Montreal Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020 Canada

AECOM Ottawa Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020 Canada

AECOM Toronto Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020 Canada

AECOM Vancouver Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020 Canada

AECOM Winnipeg Building Costs Per Square Foot 2019 to 2020 Canada

 


Turner and Townsend Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA

The Turner and Townsend Construction Cost Market Survey for the year 2018 is shown below. It shows the building costs per square foot in eight major cities of the USA. These are New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix.

Table_Turner and Townsend – Chicago Indianapolis Houston Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

Table_Turner and Townsend – New York City and Atlanta Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

Table_Turner and Townsend – San Fransisco Seattle Phoenix Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

The updated building costs per square foot are shown below in the Turner and Townsend based Construction Market Survey 2019 – 2020 chart:

Table_Turner and Townsend – Chicago Indianapolis Houston Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2019 to 2020 Survey

Table_Turner and Townsend – New York City and Atlanta Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2019 to 2020 Survey

Table_Turner and Townsend – San Fransisco Seattle Phoenix Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2019 to 2020 Survey

Turner and Townsend Chart Cost Analysis:

The Turner and Townsend market survey shows that full service domestic airport terminals are the most expensive type of property to build in the United States. The second most expensive type of property to build includes prestige high-rise office buildings located in the CBD, city general hospitals and regional hospitals.

The third most expensive group of construction projects includes A-Grade medium rise office buildings up to 20 storeys, 5-star luxury hotels, high tech factories and laboratories. The cost of building universities, prestige detached houses, large shopping centres with malls is in the same range, whereas holiday resorts, prestige car showrooms and high-rise apartments are in their own slightly lower range.

A property developer is expected to pay comparable amounts in executing building contracts for office business parks, day-care centres with basic surgeries, 3-star budget hotels and medium standard detached terraced houses.

Multi-storey underground parks, primary schools, secondary schools and low-rise medium standard apartments are in the same cost bracket. Medium standard townhouses, old age nursing homes and neighbourhood supermarkets fall in the same cost range. Warehouses and distribution centers are the cheapest type of roofed property to build in the Turner and Townsend market survey for the United States.

Turner and Townsend - Atlanta City Building Costs Per Square Foot - USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend – Atlanta City Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend - Chicago City Building Costs Per Square Foot - USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend – Chicago City Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend - Houston City Building Costs Per Square Foot - USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend – Houston City Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend - Indianapolis City Building Costs Per Square Foot - USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend – Indianapolis City Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend - New York City Building Costs Per Square Foot - USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend – New York City Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend - Phoenix City Building Costs Per Square Foot - USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend – Phoenix City Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend - San Francisco City Building Costs Per Square Foot - USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend – San Francisco City Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend - Seattle City Building Costs Per Square Foot - USA 2018 Survey

Turner and Townsend – Seattle City Building Costs Per Square Foot – USA 2018 Survey


PDF Downloads

Turner and Townsend Building Costs 2019 – International

Turner and Townsend Building Costs USA – 2019 to 2020 [Provisional Update]

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Turner and Townsend Building Costs – New York and Atlanta

Turner and Townsend Building Costs – Chicago, Indianapolis and Houston

Turner and Townsend Building Costs – San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix

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Turner and Townsend Construction Material Rates – New York and Atlanta

Turner and Townsend Construction Material Rates – Chicago, Indianapolis and Houston

Turner and Townsend Construction Material Rates – San Francisco, Seattle and Phoenix

AECOM Building Costs 2014 – USA

AECOM Construction Material Rates 2014 – USA

AECOM Building Costs USA 2019 to 2020 [Provisional Update]


Useful Resources and References:

AECOM USA Report

Turner and Townsend International Construction Market Survey – Full Report 2019

Craftsman National Building Cost Manual USA

Census.Gov Residential Building Index

Bureau of Labour Statistics – Producer Price Index


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