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Build Loft Cost

Build Loft Cost

National average
$250,000
(1,000 sq.ft. soft loft addition to an existing building)
Low: $10,000

(loft bedroom addition in an existing apartment)

High: $1,000,000

(two-story loft in a new building with roof access)

Cost to build a loft varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from builders in your city.

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Build Loft Cost

National average
$250,000
(1,000 sq.ft. soft loft addition to an existing building)
Low: $10,000

(loft bedroom addition in an existing apartment)

High: $1,000,000

(two-story loft in a new building with roof access)

Cost to build a loft varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from builders in your city.

The average cost of building a loft is $250,000.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Loft?

For those who like the idea of urban living, nothing is as iconic as the loft apartment. While the word “loft” has many meanings, most people agree this is a wide, open area with industrial overtones. Loft apartments can be single buildings, conversions within existing buildings, or additions onto existing buildings. Because there are so many variables in building a loft, there is a wide range of associated costs. The national loft apartment cost average is $85,000 to $400,000, with most people paying around $250,000 for a 1,000 sq.ft. soft loft addition to an existing building. The low end of the spectrum would be adding a loft bedroom to an existing apartment for around $10,000. The high end would be creating a two-story loft in a new building with roof access for $1,000,000.

Cost to Build a Loft

Loft Building Costs
National average cost$250,000
Average range$85,000-$400,000
Minimum cost$10,000
Maximum cost$1,000,000


What Is a Loft Apartment?

The word has several meanings in architecture. A true traditional loft apartment is a wide, open space in a converted warehouse or other industrial space once commercial but now residential. They are usually large - around 1,000 sq.ft. or larger - and the only enclosed room is the bathroom. Many original features from the space’s first use are still visible, including concrete floors and ceilings, brick walls, exhaust fans, pipes, wires, and exposed ductwork.

Loft apartments can also be new construction, rather than converted buildings. To differentiate these from the traditional lofts, they are often called “soft” lofts. They look similar to traditional lofts, being large, open spaces often with exposed utilities and concrete and brick surfaces. However, they lack the space’s original history. They often include more modern utilities and amenities than a traditional loft because they are designed for apartment living from the beginning, rather than being used for commercial space first and converted later.

What is the Difference Between a Loft and an Apartment?

Many lofts are apartments, but not all apartments are lofts. A loft apartment is a type of residence within a larger building. Lofts are large, wide-open spaces without walls, and they often have exposed utilities and features from the building’s original use.

Apartments come in all shapes and sizes, including small one-room studios to enormous three or four-bedroom residences. So, some apartments can be lofts but not all.


Modern open-space loft interior design


Loft Cost By Type

There are essentially two loft apartments, the traditional loft, which may also be known as a hard loft, and the soft loft. Hard lofts are always converted from older industrial buildings with a previous use. Soft lofts are built to resemble hard lofts but may be new construction. Or, they may be converted from other residences or added onto existing residences, rather than being formed from an industrial space.

Both types of lofts have a very wide range of associated costs, including many overlaps in cost totals. Both types of loft apartments include a wide range of building and finishing materials, impacting the cost.

Hard lofts are always converted from existing buildings, so their total cost to build is usually lower. Soft lofts can be built from an existing building or added to an existing building and built from the ground up. They have a higher cost to build per square foot because there is more involved in the process.

In addition, soft lofts can also have more amenities and communal living spaces within the buildings, which increases their cost to build. This includes rooftop access, fitness centers, lobbies, and gardens. Hard lofts do not usually include these amenities because there is not space within the original building, making them less costly overall to build.



Cost to Build a Loft


Loft TypeCost to Build per Sq.Ft.
Hard loft$85 - $200/sq.ft.
Soft loft$175 - $400/sq.ft.
Two-Level Loft$225 - $500/sq.ft.


Hard Loft

Many costs in a hard loft come from the finishing costs. Most of the original flooring, walls, ceilings, and utilities are preserved whenever possible, which cuts down on the building and completing costs. Costs come from insulating, adding kitchens and bathrooms, and upgrades like energy-efficient glass for windows, restoring original floors or woodwork, or updating plumbing and electrical work. Older buildings and more run-down buildings cost more to restore than buildings in better condition, and high-end materials cost more to install than lower end and middle of the road materials. This leads to a total cost per square foot of between $85 and $200 on average.

Soft Loft

Soft lofts are newer apartments made to look like industrial traditional lofts. They are also open spaces and have exposed utilities, brickwork, woodwork, and concrete, but they are built from newer materials. They are often more energy-efficient and comfortable because they can be insulated better. They usually have lower ceilings as well. When converting a newer building or adding onto an existing building, costs start closer to $175 a square foot, while building from the ground up can have costs that approach $400 a square foot, depending on the materials used. Many of the costs in a soft loft come with some amenities, such as roof access, lobbies, fitness rooms, and better efficiency.

Two-Level Loft with Mezzanine

Some lofts - both hard and soft - may have a partial second story. In this case, the main area of the loft is still a wide-open room. At one end, there is usually a vertical staircase that takes you to the mezzanine, or a partial second story. This may be a bedroom or office or an open space or enclosed for privacy. In some cases, it may have varying ceiling heights. It is not uncommon for this type of loft to have little standing room on the second story, while easily accommodating a bed. This style of loft is sometimes known as a California Loft. Because of the added logistics in building the added level and the building and finishing of the original loft area, there is usually a higher cost per square foot for the total loft of $225 to $500.

Cost to Build a Loft

Hard lofts are created from existing buildings, which have foundations, walls, and roofs already, and some plumbing, heating, and electrical work. Therefore, their costs are more about remodeling the space than building a new one, and because every building is different, they have different cost breakdowns for where the money goes.

Soft lofts, which are new construction and are not being built from an existing apartment or residence, have similar cost breakdowns to apartment buildings. While every project is different, the following percentages can help you estimate approximately how much of your budget should go to each area.

  • Architect fees - 8.9% - 10% of the total cost (additional)
  • Structural engineer - $500 - $2,000 as needed (additional)
  • Contractor or builder fees - 25% of total cost (additional)
  • Foundation - 9%
  • Floor structure - 12%
  • Exterior walls (wood) and finish - 6% - 10%
  • Roof - 10%
  • Windows and doors - 5%
  • Interior finish - 6% - 10%
  • Floor finish - 3% - 5%
  • Interior features - 3% - 5%
  • Bathroom - 4%
  • Kitchen - 8%
  • Electrical - 10%
  • Plumbing - 12%
  • Masonry Exterior walls (if used in place of wood) 9% - 12%

Loft Conversion Cost

In many homes and apartments, you may have a “loft space.” This area is located at one end of a room that may be converted into a second-level “loft.” This loft is not a full second floor or level, and some may not even have enough headroom for standing. Instead, it can be a bed or sleeping area, office area, or reading nook. Some homes and apartments may already have an unfinished floor or platform, usually leading to attic space, which can be finished to create a small loft. In other homes or apartments, you may have the space and ceiling height needed to build one.

These types of spaces tend to be small - no more than 200 or 300 sq.ft. at their largest. So, they do not tend to be expensive to build. If you have an existing platform, such as the entrance to an attic, finishing it costs as little as $1,000.

Building this platform, adding a simple set of stairs, and finishing the entire area usually costs around $10,000 for most loft space conversions. Still, it is possible to create larger and more elaborate spaces that cost more.

When building or creating these spaces, keep in mind they are open to the floor below, so a railing of some kind is necessary for safety. You also need to consider how to access the space. Some small lofts for reading or guest sleeping spaces may use permanent ladders, while more frequently used spaces use vertical or spiral staircases. The more elaborate and larger the stairway you build to access the space, the higher your costs.


Loft apartment with living room and kitchen


Loft Addition Cost

If you have an existing building and want to add a loft apartment, this addition costs similar to building a soft loft. Loft apartments are large, so regardless of where you make this addition, this is a significant undertaking with an average cost of around $250 a square foot. Adding a loft to an existing building can sometimes be done by opening up existing spaces and stripping them down to create the open area and industrial style that are so well known with lofts, which lowers costs. In this case, you are not adding a new space but rather recreating or remodeling existing spaces. This makes the project cost closer to $125 to $150 a square foot, rather than $250 a square foot for a loft addition.

Pros and Cons of Living in a Loft

Loft living is a unique experience, particularly for those who opt for a hard loft. Lofts have completely open floor plans, with only walls enclosing the bathroom. This makes the area hard to heat and cool and sometimes noisy, depending on the materials it was built with.

Lofts are unique, and many have a lot of character and history that can lend a specific urban feel to your home. They are also large, especially for the urban areas that they tend to be located in. Finding non-loft apartments in the same size can often be a challenge. Many lofts also have large windows, which can be both a pro and con because they can provide fantastic views and lots of light, but older and original windows make the apartment drafty and hard to heat. They can also be difficult to fit with window treatments if you want to block out light or cold.

Studio Apartment vs Loft

Both lofts and studio apartments are one-room apartments with a bathroom. The difference between them is that lofts tend to be large spaces, typically with industrial accents and exposed utilities. Studio apartments are smaller, sometimes as small as just 100 or 200 square feet, compared to 1,000 square feet.

Studios are cozier and are generally easier to heat and cool. They also have many different styles, including industrial looks, but they can also be traditional and contemporary. Lofts retain some of the warehouses’ features they were converted from, giving them a distinct appearance from other apartments.

How Much Would the Loft in New Girl Cost?

In the TV show New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel, “new girl” Jess lives in a 4-bedroom apartment frequently referred to as a “loft.” While it is not a true loft, having 4 bedrooms while a loft would have none, it does have many loft features, including brick walls, original hardwood floors, industrial doors, and some exposed woodwork. It also features floor-to-ceiling windows, which automatically increase the cost.

The price to rent a loft of this size is near $7,000 to $8,000 a month - probably out of reach for teacher Jess and bartender Nick, although perhaps Schmidt and Winston could afford their shares.

To build a loft or apartment like this, expect costs to be about $1,200,000 just for the apartment. That does not include their rooftop access or the building’s other amenities like the elevator, wide hallways, and shared living spaces.

Enhancements and Improvement Costs

Vertical Staircase

If you have a loft conversion or a second story loft, you likely want to include a staircase in the design. While ladders can be used, staircases make a better and more permanent addition. The average spiral staircase costs range from $1,000 to $20,000, depending on the materials and size.

Interior Design

Lofts are wide open spaces, so to make the most of the interior and your furnishings, you may want to hire an interior designer. Interior designers help with space planning and layout so that you can better utilize the open space. They charge between $75 and $450 an hour.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Lofts tend to have a lot of exposed brick, concrete, and beams. You can coordinate this with industrial furnishings or by relying on modern and minimalist styles.
  • Lofts can be found anywhere, with the loft market being particularly hot and fast-growing in Manhattan.
  • Lofts are so popular that there are laws, such as the Loft Law, that dictate what a building owner can rent out as a loft space. These laws help make the property safer by stipulating fire safety requirements and ensuring that each loft has at least one window facing the streets, a yard, courtyard, or garden.
  • Lofts were first popularized by artists who worked and lived in the large, open spaces. This eventually led to the conversion of lofts into apartments, and the eventual laws making them safe places to live.

FAQs

  • Are lofts cheaper than apartments?

Lofts are considered a subtype of apartments. They are subject to the same real estate codes and laws of the area they are located in. Some may be cheaper, while others may be more expensive.

  • How much is a loft apartment?

Lofts have a range of costs for renting, purchasing, and building, depending on the location, type, and age. Rents typically start around $1,200 a month and go as high as $10,000. Building a loft has an average cost of $250,000 for a soft loft.

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Cost to build a loft varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Modern and Bright Attic Loft with High Ceiling

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Anchorage, AK
+35%
Ashland, NH
+22%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Austin, TX
+13%
Bakersfield, CA
-6%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Coldwater, MI
-21%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Corpus Christi, TX
+4%
Dallas, TX
+10%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Fontana, CA
+6%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Greensboro, NC
-9%
Hartford, CT
+23%
Hollywood, FL
0%
Houston, TX
+24%
Huntsville, AL
-17%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Irving, TX
+10%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Laredo, TX
-31%
Laurel, MT
-12%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Manhattan, KS
-11%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Nashville, TN
+21%
Newark, NJ
+27%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Pensacola, FL
-19%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Reno, NV
0%
Riverside, CA
+13%
Sacramento, CA
+8%
Saint Louis, MO
+16%
Saint Paul, MN
+20%
San Antonio, TX
-4%
Labor cost in your zip code
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