RSMeans’ dollar-per-square-foot construction costs - 3 law enforcement bldgs and a post office

04/05/2013 by Alex Carrick

Accompanying this report are tables based on RSMeans’ measures of dollar-per-square-foot construction costs.

This month, the 25 major-city results are for three types of law enforcement buildings, plus a post office.

Comparisons with other types of structure

According to RSMeans, the cheapest types of structure to build, after extremely low-cost parking garages, are factories and warehouses.

A convenience store also belongs in this low-expense grouping.

Department stores and movie theatres are a little pricier. 

In the mid-range for construction costs are nursing homes, office buildings, hotels and high-rise apartment buildings.

In the latter three categories, heights above ten stories tend to lower the dollar-per-square-footage cost.

Also in the mid-range for construction costs are elementary and secondary schools, along with institutions of higher learning.

By far the most expensive types of structure to build are hospitals, jails/prisons, courthouses and police stations.

Some of the foregoing institutional building categories exceed $350 per square foot in the largest urban centers.

In New York, for example, the cost of a low-rise hospital exceeds $400 per square foot. 

U.S. dollars per square foot construction costs –
By type of structure – March 2013
    MAJOR CITIES
(alphabetically)
jail courthouse (2 to 3 stories)
2013 2012   % CHANGE 2013 2012   % CHANGE
1   ATLANTA $267.24 $261.96   2.0% $186.56 $186.34   0.1%
2   BALTIMORE 281.92 276.17   2.1% 196.81 196.44   0.2%
3   BOSTON 358.62 347.80   3.1% 250.35 247.40   1.2%
4   CHICAGO 355.63 345.14   3.0% 248.26 245.50   1.1%
5   CLEVELAND 301.10 292.15   3.1% 210.20 207.81   1.1%
6   DALLAS 257.66 251.60   2.4% 179.87 178.97   0.5%
7   DENVER 284.02 278.83   1.9% 198.27 198.34   0.0%
8   DETROIT 312.78 304.88   2.6% 218.35 216.87   0.7%
9   HOUSTON 260.65 255.15   2.2% 181.96 181.49   0.3%
10   KANSAS CITY 315.18 306.66   2.8% 220.03 218.13   0.9%
11   LOS ANGELES 324.47 316.42   2.5% 226.51 225.08   0.6%
12   MIAMI 270.54 265.22   2.0% 188.86 188.65   0.1%
13   MINNEAPOLIS 335.85 329.45   1.9% 234.46 234.34   0.0%
14   NEW ORLEANS 266.64 261.37   2.0% 186.14 185.92   0.1%
15   NEW YORK CITY 399.37 391.31   2.1% 278.80 278.35   0.2%
16   PHILADELPHIA 344.24 336.26   2.4% 240.31 239.18   0.5%
17   PHOENIX 268.14 261.96   2.4% 187.19 186.34   0.5%
18   PITTSBURGH 310.09 300.44   3.2% 216.47 213.71   1.3%
19   PORTLAND 301.10 294.52   2.2% 210.20 209.50   0.3%
20   ST. LOUIS 311.58 303.40   2.7% 217.52 215.81   0.8%
21   SAN DIEGO 312.78 304.88   2.6% 218.35 216.87   0.7%
22   SAN FRANCISCO 373.30 365.26   2.2% 260.60 259.82   0.3%
23   SEATTLE 314.58 308.43   2.0% 219.61 219.39   0.1%
24   WASHINGTON, DC 296.30 290.67   1.9% 206.85 206.76   0.0%
25   WINSTON-SALEM 236.98 224.66   5.5% 165.44 159.81   3.5%
MAJOR CITIES
(alphabetically)
police station post office
2013 2012   % CHANGE 2013 2012   % CHANGE
1   ATLANTA $217.74 $214.97   1.3% $125.10 $123.55   1.3%
2   BALTIMORE 229.70 226.63   1.4% 131.98 130.25   1.3%
3   BOSTON 292.19 285.41   2.4% 167.88 164.03   2.3%
4   CHICAGO 289.75 283.22   2.3% 166.48 162.77   2.3%
5   CLEVELAND 245.32 239.74   2.3% 140.95 137.79   2.3%
6   DALLAS 209.93 206.47   1.7% 120.62 118.66   1.6%
7   DENVER 231.41 228.81   1.1% 132.96 131.50   1.1%
8   DETROIT 254.84 250.19   1.9% 146.42 143.79   1.8%
9   HOUSTON 212.37 209.38   1.4% 122.02 120.34   1.4%
10   KANSAS CITY 256.79 251.64   2.0% 147.54 144.63   2.0%
11   LOS ANGELES 264.36 259.66   1.8% 151.89 149.23   1.8%
12   MIAMI 220.42 217.64   1.3% 126.65 125.08   1.3%
13   MINNEAPOLIS 273.64 270.35   1.2% 157.22 155.37   1.2%
14   NEW ORLEANS 217.25 214.48   1.3% 124.82 123.27   1.3%
15   NEW YORK CITY 325.39 321.11   1.3% 186.95 184.55   1.3%
16   PHILADELPHIA 280.47 275.93   1.6% 161.15 158.59   1.6%
17   PHOENIX 218.47 214.97   1.6% 125.52 123.55   1.6%
18   PITTSBURGH 252.64 246.54   2.5% 145.16 141.69   2.4%
19   PORTLAND 245.32 241.69   1.5% 140.95 138.90   1.5%
20   ST. LOUIS 253.86 248.97   2.0% 145.86 143.09   1.9%
21   SAN DIEGO 254.84 250.19   1.9% 146.42 143.79   1.8%
22   SAN FRANCISCO 304.15 299.74   1.5% 174.75 172.27   1.4%
23   SEATTLE 256.31 253.10   1.3% 147.26 145.46   1.2%
24   WASHINGTON, DC 241.41 238.53   1.2% 138.71 137.09   1.2%
25   WINSTON-SALEM 193.08 184.36   4.7% 110.94 105.96   4.7%
Data source: Tables were abstracted from RSMeans cost data publications for the A/E/C industry. For more information about RSMeans Square Foot Cost Guide and RSMeans CCI (Construction Cost Index), which indexes square foot costs for cities in the U.S. and Canada, visit the online bookstore at www.rsmeans.com and click on cost data publications (or call 1-800-448-8182).
Charts: Reed Construction Data – RS Means and CanaData.

Jail construction cost:
March 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Jail construction cost: March 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Courthouse (2 to 3 stories) construction cost:
March 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Courthouse construction cost: March 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Police station construction cost:
March 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Police station construction cost: March 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Post office construction cost:
March 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Post office construction cost: March 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
These charts and tables were abstracted from RSMeans cost data publications for the A/E/C industry. For more information about RSMeans Square Foot Cost Guide and RSMeans CCI (Construction Cost Index), which indexes square foot costs for cities in the U.S. and Canada, visit the online bookstore at www.rsmeans.com and click on cost data publications (or call 1-800-448-8182).
Data source: Reed Construction Data – RS Means (www.rsmeans.com).
Charts: Reed Construction Data – CanaData