Construction Cost per Square Foot for Multifamily Apartments 2012

EVstudio has been involved in a significant number of multifamily projects, both for architectural design as well as engineering. All of these projects start with a pro forma and a fundamental question: How much does it cost to build a Multifamily Apartment building?

Because this is time sensitive data, we try to post as much information as we can on a regular basis in order to inform our clients’ programs. This post is relevant for 2012 and the data below is excerpted courtesy of RSMeans, the industry leader in construction cost estimating. These costs are for the construction of the buildings themselves, and do not include land costs, soft costs, financing costs or FF&E costs.

The Apartment buildings that we are studying in this post are 4-7 stories. Above is a chart, representing the construction cost per square foot for these projects, classified by region. Note, there are wide differences in cost depending on location, and New York City tops the chart at $232.14 per square foot while Winston-Salem is on the low end at $133.28 per square foot. The median falls around $178 per square foot.

It is important to note, however, that every project is unique, and index pricing cannot be relied upon solely for outlining your project budget. Many factors must be considered – not only geographic location. Building complexity, program, amenities and level of finish all serve to inform the estimated cost of the project and a qualified full service design firm like EVstudio can help design to your budget. If you would like to discuss your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we can help you with any phase from entitlements to architecture and engineering to final punchlist.


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101 thoughts on “Construction Cost per Square Foot for Multifamily Apartments 2012”

  1. Hi Kurt,
    Thanks for your question. It has actually not been our experience that prefabricated units result in a cost decrease. There are of course many variables that are involved, but in general, pre-fabrication requires a good deal more structure in the building because of the requirements for transport. Labor for assembly can be fairly specialized and invariably, you still need all the trades on site at some point, though to lesser degree for taking care of things that occur in transport and assembly. Constraints on unit geometry based on shipping limitations typically lead to having to stitch component parts together in the field, and all of the utility connections still must be made in the field as well. Now, with that said, pre-fabricated units can help tremendously with schedule and in areas with a short construction season, is typically the primary reason for going that route. No doubt that carrying costs are direct costs to the project as well, so while it may not be a measurable reduction in hard costs, that faster construction period would yield a savings on finance costs. I hope that helps!

  2. Hello. Have you had the chance to work with prefabricated units? If so, is it your experience that the construction cost can be 10-15% less than typical stick built? Any sort of response would be appreciated. Thank you.

  3. Eric,
    Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, the RSMeans information we have doesn’t provide information on any areas outside the US. Additionally, you’re asking about a specific trade for that cost, as well as hard and soft costs… and the data isn’t broken down that way. My suggestion is for you to confer with local electrical contractors to review the project and outline the scope for an estimate of hard costs. For soft costs, there really isn’t a resource to follow as every design scope is so different, especially in foreign countries that have varied codes and requirements. A % of construction cost may be appropriate, however, you’d need to confer with other professionals in the area to understand what is typical for the scope required in that jurisdiction. A much better way is simply to estimate your time for the design scope and multiply by your hourly rate. I hope that helps even though I don’t have any concrete numbers for you. Best of luck with the project!

  4. Hi Dean,
    Please, how do I give a realistic cost of the electrical services for 3 story building – hospital facility in Accra – Ghana?

    I am an electrical services design engineer, but I always find it difficult to give the accurate and precise cost for both services design (including power circuits and lighting circuits) as well as the actual execution of the wiring project itself. Can you please, give me some guidelines so as to be competitive? Thank you.

  5. Paul,
    Thanks for reaching out. In order to answer your question, I’d need to know more about the site and product you have in mind. If you have enough land to surface park the project, then the cost would be much lower than if you have to support structured parking or a podium building of some kind. Please see the following link for these distinctions:
    We do have an office in Texas and would love to help you with your project. Let’s plan to discuss further and we can assist you in your site selection as well so you know you can get a density and product that you’re looking for and aligns with your Pro Forma. I will email you separately so we can continue the conversation. Thanks!

  6. Hi,
    I am looking at some land in Harris County, Texas to develop into Multifamily (80-100) units after acquisition of said land. Since this is my first major construction project, I was interested in the current per square foot cost of building an apartment complex (B or C class).

  7. Hi Rachal, thank you for your question. I have written another post that might shed more light on construction cost for varying types of multi family buildings:

    We design a great deal of multi-family projects, and have worked on projects of all shapes and sizes. For a small 10 to 20 unit complex with low end finishes in your location, I would expect to be somewhere around $160 a square foot plus or minus 10%-15%. The actual floor area of the building is going to depend entirely on your unit mix – 10 studio apartments or 20 two bedroom units result in significantly different building sizes. From your description, I would not expect any amenities (gym, lounge, rooftop deck, etc.) to be considered, however that would also be part of the program that could dictate size and overall cost.

    I hope that is helpful. If you would like to discuss your project in more detail, please let us know and we would be happy to help you navigate the steps through design and construction. Thanks!

  8. I’m looking to build a small apartment complex on the outskirts of genesee county, in michigan. Cost of land and permits, etc. aside, what would be a realistic estimate for building costs on a 10-20 unit complex with low-end finishes? I want to provide safe, affordable housing that will provide tenants with a good standard of living, without high end finishes to jack up rental rates.

  9. Suzann,
    I’m not clear if you are looking for a total construction cost or a contractor fee. Total construction cost is going to depend on additional parameters like number of levels, construction type, level of finish, etc., so I’d need more information before I could advise on that. Construction management fees for the project will then be based on that scope of work. These fees can vary quite a bit depending on the contractor and structure of the contract, but as a % of the overall construction cost, can represent anywhere from 18% to 25% or more. Especially for an addition to an existing property where there will be efforts involved with the existing structure and site to accommodate the additional units. Our office is very close to Thornton – I’ll contact you by email and we can discuss more specifics so you can get a better understanding of your estimated project costs. We’ve designed thousands of units in the Denver Metro area, so we have a very good handle on the expected costs as long as we have enough information to start with. Thanks!

  10. We are adding 90 units to an existing property in Thornton, CO. What would be a competitive rate to pay a construction management company?

  11. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your comment. We are very familiar with what you are describing. Essentially, any time a for lease product converts to a for sale product, several things in the design and construction must be considered. As such, its critical to design for this strategy in the beginning so you don’t have to endure a costly (time and money) remodel in the future. The same goes for a strategy where you may want to make minor modifications to the units to recombine the unit mix or bedroom count for each unit. We do this often in resort development where the for lease units could have different combinations of lock off bedrooms for better rentability. The extension of this is if/when they convert to condos, simply replacing doors with walls enables the unit configuration to change. This, of course all must be considered in the original design in order to minimize downstream costs.

    Also note, Apartments are NOT designed and built the same way as Condominiums. If you build a condo like an apartment, you expose yourself to all kinds of risk of future homeowner lawsuits. Condos require an elevated level of design from unit separation to acoustics as well as level of finish. A back of the envelope estimate comparing the two would result in approximately a 15%-20% premium in construction costs for condos over apartments. We know both products well, so if you are in need of a design team that can help you navigate the hurdles of cost and risk with a stunning design that sells, let us know and we’d be happy to discuss further. Thanks and best of luck on your project!

  12. I have acquired 13 continuous 15′ by 90′ lots for up to 48 units, mostly one bedrooms that we are considering Passive House efficiency leaving the world a little better than most sadly. The sq. Footage is 17,550 ft. With 20% having to remain open space. The current zoning allows for 38 ft in height plus rooftop dog park and organic gardening. My strategy is buy and hold for at least 10 years zoned condo from the beginning allowing to sell pieces at any time if opportunity knocks. My due diligence has shown the majority of developers are building 2 bed 2 bath in the hottest section of Philadelphia and my gut feeling is that recent college grads and youth all don’t want to have a roommate. I realize if and when it’s time to liquidate and market conditions are favorable the marketability is much greater for the 2 Bend 2 bath model. Is it possible too sleeve the units( meaning during the buildout have all infrastructures in place for best use when combining units allowing for best design for rental time and by having the foresight for best use when combining units in sale mode. Are you familiar with any of this potential process?

  13. David,
    It sounds like you are preparing a line item budget for a bid. This data is inappropriate for that and does not get into that level of granularity. I highly suggest you go to and you will find specific information on every trade, material and labor unit pricing based on construction and project type. It is a paid service that they provide, but it is very valuable – especially for preparing estimates. If you need Architecture or Engineering support, we have deep experience with senior living all over the country and would be happy to help you out there. Thanks and good luck!

  14. We are looking to bid on 200,000 sqft senior living apartment 187 units 3 story wood framing how much should we charge for subcontractor labor cost lancaster pa

  15. Jeff,
    Based on the RSMeans data, with escalations since this article was written, you should plan for a range of $170 to $190 a square foot in your location. Many factors will influence construction costs for a building, however given the level of detail in your comment, it sounds like you have a complete design in place. This of course would mitigate those uncertainties. Provided that is the case, you should have no problem having any number of contractors provide actual bids for the project. That is the only way to have certainty on what your construction cost will be for a specific project. I hope that helps – if you are in need of architecture or engineering design services for this project or any others, please let us know as our expert team can work with you to get the product that you need in a budget that you require. Thank you.

  16. We’re looking to build a 5-story apartment building outside of Baltimore. The building is 62′ wide by 271′ long with full parking below (54 parking pads or 16,802 SF) on 1st floor. 2nd floor has 1750 SF retail space, with additional 29 parking spots (10,044 SF) and 2 apartment units. Floors 3-5 have (14) apartments on each floor. There are (19) 1-bedroom apartment (758 SF) and (26) 2-bedroom apartments (1277 SF) for a total (45) apartments (47,604 SF). Any idea on a ballpark construction costs? We’re trying to decide whether or not to build this (1) unit. Thanks!

  17. Michael,
    It is important to note that these are indexed costs for new construction buildings. They won’t have any relevance to trying to assess the value or replacement cost of an existing building for a great number of reasons. If you were to build a new apartment building, you could expect the cost to be in the range of $170-$190 per square foot. But this would not include land costs, site improvements, finance costs, FF&E costs, soft costs and fees. I don’t know if this helps you in your objectives, but if you need any more specific information about design or construction, we’re happy to help.

  18. My foundation is attempting to purchase a 36 unit apartment building. What is the square footage cost for St. Louis, Mo. ?

  19. Enrique – thanks for your question. While 2017 construction costs won’t be known until later in the year, I did compile some 2016 data in a separate article that you may find useful. From a regional index point of view, Miami is only slightly behind Denver, where this study was focused, so looking forward, would probably be a good starting point for you in your location in 2017.

    We have an expert A/E team that specializes in MultiFamily projects all over the US and in Canada. We know the product, market and costs extremely well and excel at the delicate balance of great design within a stated budget. Let us know if you would like to meet or discuss on the phone and we can set that up. I will reach out separately by email as well. Thanks!

  20. We are an asset management fund seeking to buy multifamily land in Miami, Florida. For buildings low to middle rise what is the estimated construction cost with parking ( above grade) and without parking, for 2017. The buildings are for medium income families (no luxury finishes or detailing,but with high Building security features including impact windows).
    Thank you.

  21. Thanks Elizabeth for your question. Based on the indexed data, you should plan for $150-$175 per square foot for your project, depending on a number of factors such as level of finish and amenities. We design a great deal of apartments across the country and can help you zero in on detailed costs through a rigorous A/E design process that can get you the product you envision for the budget that you need. If you would like to discuss further in more detail, please call us at 303-670-7242 or email

  22. I am planning to build a 200 unit apartment in buford Georgia, can you tell me what the average cost per square feet will be

  23. Thanks for your input Colum. Yes, the RSMeans data is based on gross figures. With % increases applied, it lands in the low end of your range based on your direct experience. The years immediately following the recession had some dramatic effects on the index, so the numbers get more difficult to validate. Direct experience is far more valuable and useful, so thank you for providing your information!

  24. The reality of the Bay Area is 250 to 350 on the Gross BA for Mid-rise market rate apartments in the bay. Are these graphs based on Gross? Escalation is between 4 and 8 percent which if you apply to SF at $216 year on year you get $262 in 2016.

  25. Taha,
    A number of factors will affect the number of units one can fit on a particular lot. Desired parking ratios, amenities, unit mix and unit sizes just to name a few. We provide site fit analyses free of charge for our clients and our team in our Texas office would be happy to gather a bit more information on the lot and the program and study this for you. Jim Salyer, our Regional Director in our Texas office will be reaching out to you separately and hopefully we can be a powerful resource you can provide to your client. Thanks for reaching out and expect to hear from Jim soon.

  26. Hi, I’m with champions real estate group, and have a client that might buy a 2.3 acres in Houston TX 77057 galleria area.
    He would like to build 2 or 3 stories. He would like to know how many apartments can he build and what would be the average cost per unit assuming good finish and excellent area and how many possible parking spaces. Thanks. Taha.

  27. Myron,
    Thanks for your question. You should expect between $160 and $200 per square foot with a median right around $180. I’m unclear what your unit mix is and there’s no information on level of finish. I assume by the size of the garage that it’s below grade and multiple levels, though I would question the proportions of the garage space to number of units for an affordable senior apartment building (you could fit over 400 parking spaces in 120,000sq.ft.!). If you would like to discuss further, please call us at 303-674-7242 and we would be happy to talk through your program and make sure the design elements all align with your objectives. Consultations of this nature are free of charge and if you need design services, we could propose on them after we learn more about the project specifics. Thanks!

  28. Raj,
    Thank you for reaching out. You should expect between $130 and $180 per square foot for a typical range of quality of apartments in that location. Our regional Director, Jim Salyer, will reach out to you separately and he can help you get much closer with a little additional information. There are many factors that will affect construction cost and starting with a simple study for the project, you can get very close on cost forecasting. We provide that initial consultation at no cost to you so we can learn more about the project and your objectives. Then, if you decide to move forward, we can prepare a full scope proposal to get you all of the design services you need. Thanks!

  29. Hi,

    I am planning to develop an small apartment single building with 12 units of total 10,500 sq ft in small town near Dallas Texas, what would be the cost per square foot?

  30. I’m planning to build a 37unit4 story affordable senior apt bldg. on top of a 120,000 ad basement garage. also 2000sf common indoor room. everything lines up, common floor plans of 650 ad average. Est const cost?

  31. Joel,
    For that product type, I would expect a range of $150-$200 per square foot, with a median of $175. The range depends on many factors from site conditions to level of finish. The data we have does not differentiate between Seattle and Tacoma, so I would expect minor variations there based on availability of local labor and materials. These costs do not include land or entitlements, so you’re more likely to see differences in those line items based on specific location. Hope that helps!

  32. I’m trying to figure out how much it would cost to build a 4-8 unit townhouse structure with one car garages for each unit in Seattle vs Tacoma. Each home would be in the 1,200-1,500 square foot range.

  33. Firas,
    Thank you for your inquiry. For construction costs, you should expect between $210-$240 per square foot, depending on level of finish and level of complexity. I won’t be much assistance with permit fees and utilities costs as I am not local to your area. However, we do have an affiliate of EVstudio who is not far from you, so if you would like assistance with your project or information in any more detail, please let me know and we would be happy to help. Thanks again!

  34. we are studying a project in Oakland, CA 21 unit apartment building on a flat lot
    one level of parking semi- sunk 5 ft below grade parking + 5 stories living space above
    total living area of 23000 sf
    based on average what would be the range of the total cost for
    1.City permits
    2. utilities
    3. construction

  35. Josh,
    RSMeans doesn’t explicitly state how parking is handled in their data, though the numbers are an aggregate of all building costs. So if a building has above or below grade parking, the cost would be included in the overall numbers. We have more sophisticated methods for determining construction costs based on actual design program, so if you have a specific design program, we could assess costs that are more specific to your project. That’s a part of our full-scope multidisciplinary design services. Our job is to make your life easier, so just let us know how we can help. Thanks!

  36. Dean,

    Do you know if the cost estimates per foot in the chart include sub or above ground parking or this simply just base building and parking is extra?


  37. Thanks for your question – The scope of this study does not get into specific unit costs for trades, but I’ll leave it to the forum to reply.
    RSMeans would also have that specific trade information – it is a paid service, but they would have what you’re looking for and more. Good luck!

  38. My Question is:

    Does Anyone know how much it cost to do wood framing for Multi-Family In Washington state and other areas of the West Coast?
    I was invited to Frame Several Multi-Family In Washington State and California.

    Also does anyone know about how much it would cost to frame a Hotel In the West Coast?
    I was also invited to frame hotels in these regions.

    Most projects are ranging from 100,000 sq/ft to over 400,000 sq/ft.

    Does anyone know how much the GC or Sub gets in these regions at 2016 current rates per sq/ft per GC or Sub rates with just labor only?

  39. Doug,
    I think I generally follow your program. The numbers for the retail by square foot are quite similar to those for the multifamily piece. The additional loads for vehicles on the podium do not add much cost or concern, so I think they would still be relevant. For the retail and the multifamily finished space, you should budget between $180 and $200 per square foot. Then, for under-building/podium parking, we generally use $25k per parking space. So, if you add up the components of your project, that should give you a good starting point for a conceptual budget. For mixed-use projects, I highly recommend doing a level of Schematic Design in order to quantify measurable spaces that you can price much tighter. We have a team of expert Architects and Engineers that design mixed use projects all over the country and in Canada. We would be happy to discuss your project with you and learn more about it. Please let us know how we can help. Thanks!

  40. I’m trying to price out a mixed use development on 85,000 sqft. A 27,000 sqft at grade retail with 102 at same grade parking(58,000sqft)all with 17′ ceiling height. Above that will be a 70,000 sqft concrete podium which will have 50 townhouses each with their own 2 car parking garage and allies so the podium will need to handle the live and dead loads. I’m looking to determine the general and specific costs to construct. I’m in the Washington DC area.

  41. Ivril,
    Thanks for your question. According to RSMeans, the national average for restaurant construction is $275 per square foot, including A/E fees and contractor fees. The national average for Apartment construction is closer to $150 per square foot. For a mixed use building you described, those numbers, in proportion to the areas by floor would result in a $1.04M cost for a national average. While I don’t have an index specifically for Portland Maine, I would err on the conservative side and add another 10% for regional premium. That would give you a starting budget of $1.15M. At that point, it would be up to your design team to design to that budget. EVstudio has a team of Architects and Engineers who are experts in mixed use buildings all over the country. If you would like to discuss how we can help you with your project, please let us know. Thanks!

  42. Hi Dean, I am interested in purchasing a lot in Portland Maine which is zoned for business and residential use. The buildout would be for a mixed use 3 floor building which includes 2 apartments and 1 commercial (restaurant) unit. We’re looking at about 5400 square feet total not including a basement. Can you give me an idea on what the cost per square footage would be for construction?

  43. Nicholas,
    I would expect these to fall between $180 and $200 per square foot – depending of course on the level of complexity and finish.

  44. Hi Nicholas,
    Is this a bid solicitation for A/E design or for construction? If for design, we’d certainly be interested in discussing it with you. If for construction, I’d leave it to the blog forum and readership to respond.

  45. We are excepting quotes now for a 26 unit complex of 3 bed 2.5 bath 2300 GLA SF Town Homes in Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia PA 19123.

    Anyone care to bid?

  46. Terrance,
    Thanks for your inquiry. Winston Salem is among the least expensive regions in the country for construction cost across the board. The price per square foot would likely range between $120 and $150 per square foot, depending on level of finish and amenity. We design a great number of townhomes across the country and your program is very popular. In fact, we have a 28 unit project under construction right now in Denver that has a very similar program to what you described (see You would average approximately 1,200 sq.ft.-1,800 sq.ft. per unit and I assume you would want enclosed garages on the first floor. This standard program results in 42,000 total finished sq.ft., so at the average price per square foot, you would approach a total project construction cost of between $5M and $6M. Beyond that, we would really need to know more about the program and level of finish. I hope that helps. We would love to work with you on your project, so please let me know if you would like to arrange a conversation and we can discuss how we can help you with the architectural design and engineering that will make your pro forma look great!

  47. Terrance Merck

    I am looking to develop 28 unit town home complex on 2.5 acres of land near Winston Salem, NC. The site is zoned for town homes. This would be my first project of this magnitude and as well as my first development project. It is my intent to build 2 and 3 beds 2 bath multi levels. What numbers can I expect in terms of construction cost?

  48. Thank you Ali, that is much appreciated! To answer your question, all of the data you see here is strictly finished building construction costs. It is exclusive of land, entitlement, finance, soft and FF&E costs.

  49. Hi Dean

    Just came across this site while browsing generally on construction cost estimates. Must recommend your firm for taking the time to answer the above, some very generic questions with so much detail!

    My question is that the estimates per location you have provided for 2012, are they exclusive or inclusive of land cost?


  50. Ranjna, Thank you for your inquiry. There are a lot of variables that would inform your project, but for the basis of creating a starting point, we would determine the square footage per unit in order to use the data we have available. Your unit description for a 2 bedroom, 1 bath and one kitchen may be as little as 800 square feet or as much as 1,200 square feet. If we took the median and figured 1,000 square feet per unit, then a 4-plex would be approximately $800,000 in construction cost for the building, using $200/sq.ft. from the data. A 20 plex would correspondingly be a 4 million dollar cost for the building. These costs are exclusive of land costs, entitlements costs, site improvement costs, finance costs and soft costs, so you would have to factor those in separately.

    Your question about how much capital to put in will depend entirely on your financing options. Based on your circumstances, you may be able to secure a 20% down and 80% loan to value, which would be great in this market. The more you can leverage, the less capital you will personally require. There are a myriad of terms and conditions that go with conventional loans and there are other capital sources to consider as well, like hard money lenders or private equity partners.

    We have a team of multifamily specialists that design projects all over the US and Canada. Our focus is on a successful pro forma and designing to minimize construction costs in order to maximize your return on investment. We would be happy to discuss your project in greater detail and help you with your architecture and engineering services moving forward. Just let us know how we can help. Thanks!

  51. Hello,
    I live in Hanover, Pennsylvania. I’m planning on starting a rental business in future. I was researching and found this website and hope to find some answers from a real experienced person. I’ve been doing some research on buying land and building either a multi unit house (4 or 8 , depending on single story or double) or Building an apartment building. Could you please help me a little bit. How much would it cost to build 4 unit single story house and how much would it cost to build an apartment building with 20 units. I’m thinking about 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, I kitchen per unit. Also kindly suggest how much capital I should be looking at to put in. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

  52. Viet,
    Thank you for your question. We would need a bit more information about your unit size and amenities before we could inform your budget better because I am concerned that your $3M budget would fall substantially short of your objectives.

    For example, if your buildable footprint is 9,000 sq.ft. and you have three 3,000 sq.ft. condos per floor and you have five floors of units, then your costs (not including the parking structure below) would be: 9,000 X 5 X $187/sq.ft. = $8.4M.

    So, unless your building footprint is much smaller, say 1/3 of the buildable area of the lot, which would result in 1,000 sq.ft. units or less, you’re $3M budget won’t go much further in that location with the local cost of construction.

    EVstudio has an affiliate in L.A. and would love to work with you on this project because it is in our specific area of expertise. I will email you separately with our L.A. affiliate, Kate Svoboda-Spanbock as well as our multifamily head of design, Rich Muller. If you have an electronic copy of the site that you can send us, or even a site address, we can look into it in more detail for you.

    Please let us know your thoughts about unit size and what your next steps are for your project and we can go from there. Thanks!

  53. Hi we want to build A five story condo on a 9000sq lot in Los Angeles CA , we want to build about 15 condo medium end
    With parking structure in basement. Our budget around 3mil please advice

  54. Samantha, thanks for your question. Fortunately, your instincts are correct – those numbers are way too high. Our Texas principal, Gene Dane, will email you separately to help you zero in on the hard and soft costs for a mid rise multifamily project. We have a multifamily studio with specialists that have designed thousands of units and we would be happy to help you with a site feasibility study and conceptual pro forma budgeting to validate a successful project.

  55. How much is the average price to build a 3 to 4 story mid rise in Texas with medium grade interiors, high level of sound insulation per floor. It will have a pool, gym, business center and some will have retail below.
    About how much would that be? I am hearing 150 to 350 psf which as an investor that is way too much to me. I do have the ability to purchase the interior items such as tiles, floors, cabin, appliances etc. ourselves if it is cheaper. I was also told an architect could be 8-10% of construction costs and then Id have to pay 3 diff engineers 6-8% of construction costs also. In my opinion that is WAYYY too much. What is average or expected and I still make money for my investors off of it?

  56. Manish,
    Thanks for your question! Depending on your level of amenity space and quality of product (boutique apartments or lower end), you should be in the ballpark of $130-$150 per square foot. We will have our Texas team reach out to you directly and help you with more specifics.

  57. Hi
    We want to build 25-30 units apartment in Dallas.
    Area: Plano, Frisco OR Allen
    Number of stories :- 2
    it will be good if you provide generic estimate.


  58. Robert,
    Thanks for your question. It is certainly relevant for time sensitive data like this. While we did not see an appreciable jump in costs on our multifamily projects regionally in 2013, we are now starting to see that shift due to the strong demand for labor and materials in all construction markets. So, for a better starting point with a ballpark budget, it would be wise to add roughly 5%-10% to these numbers to conservatively adjust.
    If you would like to discuss your project further, we are experts in multifamily design with projects across the US and Canada, and would be happy to help you take the next steps on your project.

  59. Hey im just wondering if the construction cost for detroit has changed per sf since 2012 and if so do you know what it is. Im very interested building a multifamily also using sustainable construction.

  60. Stephen, The best approach would then be to assess the value of what is there – perhaps a raw core and shell cost. Then subtract that from a finished building cost to get a delta that would be close to the mark. With that said, the core and shell may represent approximately $80-$100 per square foot. With new construction being around $150/sq.ft. in Houston, you would be looking at around $50-$70 per square foot for the renovation/finish out. We do have a Texas office that does a fair amount of work in Houston and we have an expert team of multifamily project designers and would be happy to discuss this project in greater detail with you. I will have our Texas principal, Gene Dane contact you separately and we can go from there. Thanks!

  61. Sure Dean,
    Houston Texas, the windows, siding and roof are in good condition. Structurally it is sound but there is no electrical up. There is no abestos, or hazardous materials

    It is as if the previous owner decided to gut the exisiting structure and ran out of money right after he/she rebuilt the roof.

  62. Stephen, Any chance you can disclose your location? Tough to provide an opinion of construction cost without that information. What you’re describing is not new construction, so it would take quite a bit more in depth look in order to assess a ballpark per square foot figure. Salvage-ability of systems like Mechanical, Electrical, Structural etc. all play a major role in construction cost. Exterior siding, windows, roof – all in good shape or not? Any hazardous material mitigation required (lead paint, asbestos materials)? Any site improvements required? More questions than answers, but you’ll find that a project like this is an onion peel. We’re happy to help, but we’d need a lot more information to develop a cost basis.

  63. Hey Dean,
    I recently purchased a bare-bones income property. It has 3 1×1 upstairs and 5 1 car garages downstairs. Total square feet of the building is 2,900 so the 3 units are ~500sqft each. By bare-bones I mean the only thing that is there is the wood and outside paint. In the future I would like to convert 2 of the garages into another unit but for now, approx how much would it cost me to make the 3 units livable with regular finishes?

  64. Hi Connie, Thanks for your question. While we do work all over the country, we do not have an office in the region surrounding the Detroit area and so I won’t be much help on a local financial institution there in your area. Among national banks that do have a good history with this type of project, I would suggest reaching out to Wells Fargo, however, be prepared for very conservative response given the slower economic recovery that you are experiencing in that region. USBank also finances these types of projects in the Western region and I believe they also have a presence there in Detroit as well. For difficult deals (labeled as “high risk” for a conventional bank loan), you would need to move to funding sources that are more flexible than a bank. A good resource would be a capital firm like Northmarq Capital ( They have access to other capital streams that you won’t find at a bank.

    As far as design and construction documents for Architecture and Engineering (Structural, Mechanical, Electrical and Civil), you can expect anywhere from 4%-9% of estimated construction costs, depending on a wide variety of variables that influence the scope of work. If we know more about the project like specific site information, level of finish, number of stories, number of bedrooms in each unit and type of construction, we can prepare a detailed scope of work for you. That scope would include everything you need for permitting and constructing the project. The costs for the experience and expertise of design professionals not only will yield lower construction costs, higher quality design and fewer schedule delays during construction (due to the quality and coordination of the documents), the jurisdiction likely requires a licensed professional in each of the major disciplines to prepare the design and construction documents anyway.

    Let me know if you would like us to assist you on your project and we can make arrangements for a brief programming discussion that would be the basis of the scope of work described above. Thanks!


  65. Hello,

    we are in the process to build a 4 unit Multi Family house also in Detroit and we have right now a very hard time to find a mortgage bank who is familiar and willing and able to give us a construction loan.

    Because you are in this field with many projects, do you know a bank or can referral a broker for construction loans who are REALLY knowledgeable???

    And another question, what are the costs for an architect to finalize our plans??And what is normally included in the whole package what an architect is doing for us???

    Thank you very much,

    Connie from beautiful Detroit 🙂

  66. Hi Venkatesh,

    The answer to your question will be found in the entitlements that run with the property. Assuming that multifamily is a use-by-right in your zoning, the number of units allowed will be a function of the allowable Dwelling Units per acre that is written in the zoning code for your property. 10 DU/acre, for example would allow 150 units and 20 DU/acre would be double that. This information is specific to each property and regulated by the local planning and zoning department having jurisdiction over your property. Also, building setbacks and height restrictions will also influence the size of the buildings you can construct, which will directly influence your number of units.

    If your property is not a use by right, or you desire higher densities than currently allowed, then you have the option to rezone the property. That process is time consuming and can be costly, but would be necessary in order to get the entitlements you need for your development.

    Finally, it is also important to understand that regardless of the entitlements, your property may also have other constraints to the number of units you wish to build. For example, topography or natural features like lakes or streams can constrain the buildable area on the property. Also, required parking is also often a major constraint, and can force decisions to go to structured parking in order to achieve a higher density of units. Garden style apartments, for example, require the most land vs a podium or wrap style product that provides more parking in less area.

    I hope that helps. We are happy to help you in front end feasibility or entitlement work, as well as design for your project once you are ready to move forward. Just contact us any time and we can make all the arrangements.


  67. Hi,
    Please let me know how many SFT we are able to build in 15 acres? The property is in Detroit, MI.
    How many units we can consider?

  68. Fariba,
    It’s not uncommon for multifamily projects to be built in phases, in order to ensure the building leases up appropriately before advancing construction. However, for a smaller project like yours, I would recommend building the entire complex at one time in order to capture the cost savings of a single construction operation.

    Cost per square foot will depend on many variables – for initial projections, I would start with between $160 and $190 per square foot.

    We have an architect in LA and we would be happy to discuss your project with you further. I will contact you directly by email and we can continue the conversation. Thanks!

  69. Hi Dean
    I want to build a multifamily apartment in LosAngeles ,land is 28000sf and I was told I could build 45 units 1-2-and3bedroom units total of tthree stories.The land is three connected parcels.
    Do you recommend to build in three stages each stage fifteen unit or to build it all at once.
    Also do you have any number for mid town LosAngeles ,how much it would cost?

  70. Hi John,
    Based on a similar description, you would have a 12,000 sq.ft. building. At the RSMeans rates for your location, you would be looking at about the same ballpark of $2.5M-$3.0M cost for the building. We have a specialty studio in our firm that works exclusively on multifamily projects, so if you are in need of a design team, we would be happy to discuss your project with you in more detail and see how we can tailor our full service team to help you realize your vision. Please let me know how we can help. Thanks!

  71. Hello Dean,
    I also have a question about estimate price which is pretty much the same as Adam Chambers ‘s as follows, except for I need it in Jersey city NJ, and without the the lower level of garages so it’s 3 levels in total with the same sizes, it’s just grass on the lot right now:

    Hi Dean, I’m building a 4 story apartment block in San Fran, it’s a fairly level lot about 5000sqft. I can build 6 units in total, 2 per floor with a six car garage on the ground floor. Each unit internally will be about 1200sqft and the finish quality will be on the lower end. Each unit will have heat and air and the construction will be a very simple and straight forward. What would you estimate the total/turn key construction costs to be, including all finishes. Assume engineered hard wood flooring, low end appliances, Caesar stone countertops, simple bathrooms, windows and doors etc?

  72. Chris,

    Please see this post for construction costs relevant to a project closer in nature to yours: For your DC location, around $210/ square foot is the place to start.

    As far as the lot size, there are many factors to consider, not the least of which would be parking and site amenities. If this is a school project, chances are that’s what they want you to be thinking about and determine specific to your project. Best of luck!

  73. Hi Dean,

    I am currently working on a school project where we are designing an 11-story apartment complex in the College Park/ DC area. I’ve decided to make floors 2-10 into 5 units at 800 sq ft each, the top floor into 2 “penthouse” units at 2000 sq ft, and the first floor as a lobby. I am currently working on a budget for the project and was wondering if you could give me an estimate for building cost? Also, I need to procure a plot for this building and was wondering what size I would need for a building of this magnitude.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

  74. Hi Clara,
    The question would be if your internal circulation is included in that 25,000 sq.ft.. Your description of 30 units at approximately 800 sq.ft. each leads to 24,000 sq.ft. of units alone. If the building is, say, 80% efficient, then the size of the building would actually be about 30,000 sq.ft. in order to include hallways, stairs, elevator core, mechanical and storage rooms, etc.. Will there be parking under the building or is that offsite? Assuming you won’t have additional building expense for structured parking, your project will be in the ballpark of $7 million. There are plenty of unknowns in that ballpark, so it would be a good idea to get a more detailed program put together for the project and identify any other needs for the project (like parking, amenity space, outdoor features, more details for level of finish, etc.). We would be happy to talk to you about the Pre-Design services that you would need to take the next steps – just let us know. Thanks and best of luck with your project!

  75. HI Dean, I’m planning to build a small condo building in Queens, NYC. Land is vacant with area 8500SF, build about 25000SF with around 30 units. Each unit internally will be about 800sqft and the finish quality will be on the mid-high end. What would you estimate the total/turn key construction costs to be, including all finishes. Thanks a lot!

  76. Hi Patricia,
    RSMeans publishes this data on an annual basis, typically. So I expect the new information to come out very soon. In the meantime, this is the most current cost information we have available to us. I would not expect considerable changes to the average construction cost in any category in any region unless some major shift driving the local economy has occurred. In fact, we haven’t found that the cost information shifted significantly during the economic swings in the recession as these are averages and tend to be fairly stable in the analysis. If you have a specific project you would like to discuss in more detail, please let us know so we can arrange a meeting with our Texas team. Thanks!

  77. Dean,

    Great information on your site! We are a CM/GC in Atlanta,Georgia covering the southeast and the construction costs that you have listed are pretty right on. There are obviously many differences that can drive the cost up and down based on parking decks, levels of podium, etc… but all in all great information.

    Kind Regards

  78. Hi Mr. Dalvit,
    The numbers shown on the chart in the article above are from May 2012. I assume the construction cost has increased considerably to September 2013. Do you have a current number for Houston Texas?
    Thank you in advance for the information!

  79. Hi Mike,
    We’d be happy to help. Do you by chance have any as-builts of the existing building? Even photos? Site information would also be helpful – surveys or even aerial images. That would definitely help to inform how much work would be necessary to re-purpose the building for apartments. You can email that information to and we will follow up right away. Thanks!

  80. I have a 9000 sq ft commercial space in New Haven CT that I would like to make into 6 3BR apartments. I am just in the preliminary stages but am trying to put together a per sq ft price. I am trying to keep the apartments affordable as they will be rental units. What do you think a low end price per sq ft could be and is this something your firm can help with?

  81. Joe, Thanks for your question. I am assuming that you have an idea on the unit mix for those 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units so that you can arrive at total square footage per building. Typically, these projects are all master planned for all of the units, but built out in phases and leased up as you go, so I would recommend that approach. Obviously, you will need your amenities in with your first phase (club house, etc.). So, based on the RSMeans data, you can gauge your costs based on your total building square footage based on the unit mix you have in mind, assuming of course that these are garden style apartments. If you plan to have interior corridors and amenity space enclosed within the residential buildings, then you will need to add that to your square footage.

    We have a specialty design studio that is focused only on multifamily projects and we would be happy to speak with you further about your project if you are seeking a full scope Architecture and Engineering team. You can read more on our website as well at: We would love to help you with your project! 303.670.7242, Extension 2.

  82. I’m looking at building an apartment complex in Columbia, SC. It would be 3 stories ranging from 1-3 bedroom apartments. One bedroom approximately 890 sqft. Two bedroom approximately 1200 sqft. Three bedroom approximately 1500 sqft. How much would it cost to build a 50 unit complex and 100 unit complex? Would it be more economically to build 50 unit complex at once, then add anothr 50 or build in phases, i.e., phase 1 – 25 units, phase 2 – 25 units, phase 3 – 25 units, etc. Also, a club house willl be built, which includes office space.

  83. Hi Adam,
    Based on your description, it appears that the building footprint would be fairly small, and not occupying the entire lot. At 2 units per floor, you would have 2400 sq.ft. of apartment space, but the additional required circulation space would take you to about 3,000 sq.ft. per floor. Four floors results in a 12,000 sq.ft. building. At the RSMeans rates for San Francisco, you would be looking at about a $2.6M cost for the building. We have a specialty studio in our firm that works exclusively on multifamily projects and we do have licensure in California as well, so if you are in need of a design team, we would be happy to propose on your project. Please let me know how we can help. Thanks!

  84. Hi Dean, I’m building a 4 story apartment block in San Fran, it’s a fairly level lot about 5000sqft. I can build 6 units in total, 2 per floor with a six car garage on the ground floor. Each unit internally will be about 1200sqft and the finish quality will be on the lower end. Each unit will have heat and air and the construction will be a very simple and straight forward. What would you estimate the total/turn key construction costs to be, including all finishes. Assume engineered hard wood flooring, low end appliances, Caesar stone countertops, simple bathrooms, windows and doors etc?

  85. Jamie, we are having our Texas studio principal, Gene Dane, contact you directly to discuss your projects. Multifamily is a specialty of ours and we can help you take the next steps and beyond with your projects.

  86. Dorel, the proportion of HVAC construction costs for multi-family projects is 4%-7% on average. Multifamily projects tend to run on the lower end of the cost spectrum for HVAC because of the relatively simpler systems. Multifamily work is a specialty within EVstudio, so if you would like to discuss MEP engineering or any other design services, we would be happy to discuss that with you. Thanks!

  87. I am looking to do a multi family community with apartments, Townhomes and other miscellaneous buildings in Killeen Texas. What is a reasonable square footage cost?

  88. Sam,
    I am having our principal of architecture in our Texas studio contact you directly. There are a number of variables that will play into an informed response and there is no good answer without discussing unit mix, amenities, building type, site parameters, level of finish, etc.. Look for an email from Gene and you can go from there. Thanks!

  89. we are exploring options to develop condo in Dallas Tx. Any idea what would be a safe price to consider for construction gross.

    what is the gross to net area percentage?

  90. Ashleigh,

    The RSMeans numbers are for the buildings themselves, which would include any improvements to within 5′ of the structure (underground utilities or adjacent sidewalks for example). Site improvements vary considerably from one location to the next, and are not included in these numbers. So, exclusions to these figures would include site excavation, parking lot pavement, curb and gutter, on-site detention, site landscaping or outdoor amenities (pools, pavilions, gardens, etc.), underground utilities, fencing and offsite improvements to traffic control or access which is common to larger campus projects and higher densities. These costs should certainly be in a project’s pro forma, however, they’re not appropriate in a basic cost per square foot analysis such as this for the buildings because of the wide number of variables that would influence costs and skew the data away from the building costs as a function of their size alone. I hope that helps to answer your question. EVstudio specializes in multi-family projects and we would be happy to discuss a specific project in greater detail if you are looking for a design team. Thanks!

  91. On multi-family projects, what trades do you consider to be land development or off-sites, that wouldn’t be typical of SFD? Trades such as flatwork, fencing, landscaping, utility trenching, etc? What budget are they included in and why?

  92. Dominic,

    Thanks for your inquiry. While a detailed response to your question would require much more information (unit mix, type, amenities, level of finish, etc), the simplest analysis would put your average unit size at 800-1000 sq.ft. including common space, yielding approximately 20,000 sq.ft. of building. A $3M budget would leave $150 per square foot for that, and you could get pretty nice units for that. Townhomes would not be as efficient in construction, but obviously, that is a different product for a different market, so may or may not look as good in your pro forma. But $3M for 10 Townhomes is a very generous budget. Let me know if you are working with a design team and we would be happy to discuss further. Multifamily projects is a specific strength within our team and we are licensed in most of North America. Thanks!

  93. I’m looking into building an apartment complex in NC. How much would it cost to build a 20 unit complex? Would it be more efficient to build 10 townhouses instead? And if I had a 3 million dollar budget, on average how many units could that generate? This is including the office and parking pavement.

  94. Connie,
    Thanks for your question. The RSMeans numbers for Downtown Detroit hover around $180 per square foot for this type of building. You have fewer stories than the index data, which would tend to put upwards pressure on the construction cost per square foot, however your description of the project is that it would be simple, which could lower the cost expectations to some degree. With that said, I think you would fall somewhere between $160-$190 per square foot, or for 8,000 square feet, $1.3M-$1.5M project. Let us know how we might be able to help you move forward on the project. EVstudio has a multifamily studio which designs apartments across the country and in Canada, and would be happy to discuss this project further with you. Thanks!

  95. Hello Dean,

    we are planning to build a Multi Family house in downtown Detroit. It will have 3 stories with 4 x 1-2 bedroom appartments for rent and one penthouse where we like to live.

    All together the house will be around 8000 sq ft. The house is rectangular and will have a pitch metal roof. All in all it will be a very simple design.

    What do you think will be the cost per sq ft???

    Thanks and hve Happy Easter,


  96. John,
    These figures are direct building costs and do not include land, financing, site improvements, soft costs or FF&E (for furnished apartments). The data does not consider rental rate as that is a variable that doesn’t affect cost of construction. Also, locale and type of product will considerably influence both construction costs (as you can see in the chart) as well as rental rates. We would be happy to discuss your project further with you and see how we might be able to serve your design needs.Just let me know how we can help!

  97. Does this include land costs? Also, you give costs per foot. What is the assumption on rental rate per foot?

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