Build Apartment Cost

How much does it cost to build an apartment building?

What does it cost to build an apartment building? There are a huge number of variables in such a question. For one thing, apartments come as low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise. For the purpose of this discussion we will look at the mid-rise buildings with five or more units in each. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the size of the average apartment is 861 square feet which assumes a "footprint" of approximately 24'x35'.

The building of single mid-rise complex would never be a "DIY" project and usually requires a knowledgeable contractor, an architect, a team of subcontractors, and cooperative owner to get the job done in a calendar year.

For the building of an apartment building with twelve units, the typical costs include:

  • With mid-range materials, a normal foundation with full basement, efficient doors and windows, all appliances, and "turnkey" finishing would run at an average of $64,575 to $86,100 per unit to complete. This does not include acquisition of the land, however.
  • The above figures place this construction at an $85 and $200 per square foot cost, though national average stands at $125 for most contractors. This pricing structure assumes that carpenters, masons and excavators charge an average of $70 per hour, electricians between $65 to $85 per hour, painters between $20 and $35 per hour and plumbers between $45 and $65 per hour.
  • This building, however, would not come in at a simple cost of $85 per square foot due simply to the excessive amount of construction required on the interior. A three-story unit of masonry construction with twelve apartments would run roughly $9.4 million in total costs. This excludes land acquisition and site improvements like parking, gardens and play areas. Materials would cost around $4.65 million, labor would cost roughly $4.51 million, machine costs would stand at roughly $232,000 and the contractor would take in over $1.3 million for the project.

Cost breakout

What is included:

The basic structure of this building would be best if left in an uncomplicated "four square" design. Most owners rely on both an architect and a contractor, and the architect will require approximately 10 - 17% of the total building budget;

  • An architect will:
    • Determine the scope of the project and establish a preliminary budget;
    • Draft list of proposed work, budget, and outline of plans;
    • Create the schematic design and draft floor plans with elevation drawings. Then work with any structural engineers and meet with planning agencies to verify any requirements;
    • Finalize drawings and incorporate all details about materials and finishes, any fixtures or equipment, and all systems in the structure;
    • Serve as the project manager and review the plans with any required local agencies while also obtaining necessary permits. (If contractors are to be used it is at this point that they must be selected);
    • Serve in an advisory capacity to select contractor and help the client through the bid review process as well;
    • Complete construction documents, obtain the building permit;
    • Administer the construction, ensure that contractor's requests for payments are accurate and that all "final" details are corrected or finished by the contractor; and
    • Based on figures given the architect on this project would receive from $940,000 to $1.6 million for their services.
  • A contractor will:
    • Provide the services and materials required for the entire job;
    • Hire subcontractors according to need;
    • Suggest plans and ideas to architect/owner to help them meet goals;
    • Deliver final cleanup of entire job site;
    • Pull all permits for work and utility installation; and
    • For doing all of the day to day management of the project the average contractor earns around $125 per square foot. They might also "mark up" supplies and services as well. For example, on the average home construction described here the average contractor would account for roughly $200,000 in markup and indirect fees.
  • A general apartment construction project will cover:
    • Bath fixtures
    • Built In Appliances
    • Cabinets
    • Carpeting
    • Countertops
    • Doors
    • Excavation
    • Exterior Finish
    • Exterior Trim
    • Final Cleanup
    • Finish Carpentry
    • Finish Hardware
    • Flooring
    • Foundation, Piers, Flatwork
    • Heating and Cooling Systems
    • Insulation
    • Insurance
    • Interior Wall Finish
    • Lighting Fixtures
    • Painting
    • Permits and Utilities
    • Plans and Specs
    • Plumbing Fixtures
    • Plumbing Rough-in and Connection
    • Roofing, Flashing, Fascia
    • Rough Carpentry
    • Rough Hardware
    • Unit Heating and Cooling
    • Windows
    • Wiring
    • and more