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How Much Does It Cost to Build an Apartment Complex? 2024 Guide

How Much Does It Cost to Build an Apartment Complex? 2024 Guide

Thinking of building an apartment complex? It's an exciting venture but understanding how much it costs to build an apartment complex is crucial for its success. This guide dives into the factors that influence the price tag of your project, helping you navigate the financial landscape of apartment construction in 2024. Whether you're a seasoned developer or embarking on your first multi-unit project, this guide equips you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and turn your vision into reality.

What Is the Average Cost To Build an Apartment Complex?

The national average cost to build a mid-rise (four to seven stories) or high-rise (eight or more stories) apartment complex typically ranges from $220 to $700 per square foot. Building a standard mid-rise apartment complex that is four to seven stories high costs $7.1 - $54.6 million, depending on project-specific factors and market conditions. This variability makes accurate cost estimation crucial for understanding how much it costs to build an apartment complex and for a developer’s success.

Building Type

Square Foot Range

Cost Per Square Foot

Total Cost

1-3 Story Apartment

6,800 - 41,400

$220 - 575

$1.5 - 23.8M

4-7 Story Apartment

34,000 - 115,000

$210 - 475

$7.1 - 54.6M

8-24 Story Apartment

80,750 - 690,000

$250 - $700

$20.1 - 483M

Economies Of Scale: Larger buildings often benefit from economies of scale, which means that the cost per unit of size decreases with increasing scale. They can also lead to diseconomies of scale as complexity increases. Buying materials in large quantities, improving how work is done and dividing fixed costs across more space can help reduce the cost for each square foot.

How much will your upcoming construction project cost? Find out now.

What Factors Affect the Cost of Building an Apartment?

Understanding the key components influencing the cost of constructing an apartment is essential for effective budget management. Here is a breakdown of how specific factors play a pivotal role in determining overall expenses and how much it costs to build an apartment complex:

  • Land: Before embarking on the construction of an apartment complex, securing the necessary land is a crucial initial step. Land prices can vary significantly per square acre, depending on aspects such as location and size.
  • Location: High-demand areas lead to a higher cost of building apartments due to increased competition for land. The closer the property is to desirable amenities, the more expensive the land gets, further impacting the overall building cost.
  • Design and Layout: Apartment buildings with basic designs and standard features are less expensive to construct than those boasting luxury materials and a wide range of amenities because they require fewer specialized materials and less labor-intensive installations.
  • Building Permits: Building permits also affect the cost by adding expenses for regulatory compliance, including fees for permit application, inspections and adherence to building codes. Be sure to research zoning permits to ensure the property aligns with intended construction plans and local regulations.
  • Financing: Financing impacts the cost of building an apartment by determining interest rates, loan terms and associated legal fees, which can affect the overall project budget. Different financing sources — such as bank loans, private investors or government grants — may have varying requirements and costs, influencing the total expense of the construction project.
  • Hard Costs vs Soft Costs: Hard costs like materials and labor directly affect how much it costs to build and usually make up 70% to 80% of the budget. Soft costs, such as design fees and permits, also impact costs but not as directly. They're usually around 20% to 30% of the budget.

Apartment Types and Construction Costs

When it comes to apartment complexes, one size does not fit all. Developers can cater to diverse market segments by offering a range of apartment types, each with its own unique features and price points depending on the number of units. Let's dive into some of the common types of apartments found in modern developments and the effects on how much it costs to build an apartment complex.

  • Luxury Apartments: High-end finishes, premium amenities (fitness centers, pools, etc.) and exclusive features come at a higher construction cost due to top-of-the-line building materials and services.
  • Mixed-Use Apartments: While offering a blend of residential living and commercial options, integrating these functions requires intricate planning and potentially unique construction methods. This complexity translates to higher construction costs compared to traditional apartment buildings.
  • Mid-Range Apartments: These complexes offer modern amenities (fitness centers, laundry facilities, common areas) that prioritize functionality over high-end finishes and facilities. This focus on practicality minimizes construction costs compared to luxury apartments.
  • Studio Apartments: Designed for simplicity, studio apartments combine the living area, bedroom and kitchen into a single open space. Their compact size translates to lower construction costs compared to larger units.
  • Affordable Housing Apartments: Affordable housing units aim to provide quality housing options at lower rental rates. To achieve this, developers use cost-effective construction methods and materials. This focus on affordability may limit the inclusion of certain amenities, but it also reduces construction costs.

Components of Apartment Construction: Exploring Building Elements and Options

Building an apartment complex, from initial vision to completion, is an intricate process. Understanding each element and its options is crucial for cost control and for knowing how much it costs to build an apartment complex.


The foundation is the groundwork for any successful apartment building, literally and figuratively. It's also a significant expense, so understanding foundation costs is essential for keeping your project on budget. Here's a breakdown of key factors that impact foundation costs for apartment buildings:

  • Foundation Type: The type of foundation chosen has a major cost impact. Here's a cost comparison of common options:
    • Slab: Slab-on-Grade: This is the most budget-friendly option for low-rise apartments built on stable soil. However, it may not be suitable for all building codes or soil conditions.
    • Mat Foundation: Offering superior stability for larger buildings, mat foundations come with a higher price tag than slab-on-grade due to the increased concrete volume required.
    • Pile Foundations: Essential for weak soil or high-water tables, pile foundations are the most expensive option due to the specialized materials and deep installation process.
  • Soil Conditions: Soil type significantly impacts foundation costs, with solid rock requiring specialized techniques and often translating to higher expenses, while unstable or expansive soils may require additional measures like soil reinforcement or deeper foundations, also driving up the overall cost.

Design and Services

Building an apartment involves many different construction professionals, each with their own way of charging for their services. Costs can vary depending on location, level of experience, the chosen billing method and other factors. For instance, they might charge by the hour, charge a percentage of the project's total cost or set a fixed rate. This means the overall cost of building can change quite a bit.

  • Architects: Typically charge based on a percentage of the total project cost or a fixed fee. Their fees can vary depending on their level of experience, reputation and the complexity of the project. Some architects may also charge hourly rates for consultation or additional services.
  • Contractors: Usually charge either a fixed price for the entire project or a cost-plus fee, where they bill for the actual cost of materials and labor plus a percentage markup for their profit. The fixed price may be negotiated based on the project's scope, timeline, and potential risks.
  • Engineers: Structural engineers, mechanical engineers and other specialized professionals may charge by the hour or based on the complexity of their work. They often provide detailed plans and calculations essential for the construction process.
  • Interior Designers: If the project includes interior design services, designers may charge a flat fee, an hourly rate or a percentage of the total project cost. Their fees may vary depending on the level of customization and materials chosen for the interior spaces.
  • Project Managers: Oversee the construction process, ensuring that everything runs smoothly and according to schedule. They may charge a flat fee, a percentage of the project cost or an hourly rate for their services.


Framing provides structural support for walls, floors and roofs. The choice of framing materials directly affects construction costs. Working with an expert can help you determine the most cost-effective and structurally sound framing for your project.

  • Wood Framing: Often the more cost-effective option. Wood framing is suitable for many low-rise apartment complexes. However, it may require additional fireproofing measures to meet building codes.  
  • Steel Framing: While pricier than wood, steel framing offers superior structural strength and fire resistance.  This quality is valuable not only for taller buildings and fire-prone areas but also for structures in regions susceptible to other weather events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and more.
  • Concrete Framing: Although this can be the most expensive framing upfront; its long-term durability and minimal maintenance requirements can offset these initial costs, making it the best choice for larger complexes with multiple stories and high occupancy rates.


Drywall serves as a fundamental component for interior walls and ceilings, representing a substantial portion of the total project budget. Its cost is impacted by various elements:

  • Material Costs: Drywall itself comes in various thicknesses, sizes, water and fire-resistant qualities, all impacting the cost of the material itself and the costs of installation.
  • Wall Height: Taller walls require more drywall panels to cover the same area, increasing the cost to build and potentially labor costs for installation on higher ceilings.
  • Design Complexity: Simple rectangular walls are less expensive to drywall compared to designs with curves, angles or multiple cutouts for electrical outlets or plumbing fixtures.  
  • Finishes: The desired level of finish also influences cost. A smooth finish ready for painting requires more labor for taping, sanding and mudding compared to a basic installation suitable for unfinished basements or garages.


The roofing system plays a key role in the longevity and functionality of your apartment complex. Costs vary depending on several aspects:

  • Material Selection: The selection of materials for construction can heavily influence the total cost of building an apartment.  
  • Design Complexity: More intricate roof designs typically require specialized labor and materials, increasing the cost.  
  • Local climate: The chosen roofing material should be suitable for the area's weather conditions.

Electrical, Plumbing and Insulation

In addition to foundational and structural considerations, essential utilities also play a part in the cost of building an apartment complex.

  • Electrical: Proper wiring and installations are essential for powering appliances, lighting and HVAC systems. Costs vary based on project scope and complexity.  
  • Plumbing: Essential for water supply and wastewater disposal, plumbing costs also vary depending on the complexity of the system.
  • Insulation: Crucial for energy efficiency and tenant comfort, insulation costs vary based on material and installation method.

From Knowledge To Impact: Optimizing Apartment Construction Costs

As a construction professional, you're at the forefront of shaping the real estate landscape. By leveraging cost expertise, you can optimize projects, deliver exceptional outcomes and leave a lasting impact on the communities you build.