RSMeans’ dollar-per-square-foot construction costs for four small commercial types of structure

08/07/2013 by Alex Carrick

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

This month’s results are for four small commercial types of structure – a one-story office building, a day care center, a convenience store and a fast food restaurant.

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 – July 2013
    MAJOR CITIES
(alphabetically)
one-story office building day care center
2013 2012   % CHANGE 2013 2012   % CHANGE
1   ATLANTA $159.89 $159.04   0.5% $151.73 $150.29   1.0%
2   BALTIMORE 169.39 168.48   0.5% 160.74 159.21   1.0%
3   BOSTON 215.64 213.54   1.0% 204.63 201.79   1.4%
4   CHICAGO 213.13 210.69   1.2% 202.25 199.10   1.6%
5   CLEVELAND 181.22 178.28   1.7% 171.97 168.47   2.1%
6   DALLAS 155.41 153.88   1.0% 147.48 145.41   1.4%
7   DENVER 170.29 169.73   0.3% 161.60 160.39   0.8%
8   DETROIT 187.50 186.47   0.5% 177.92 176.21   1.0%
9   HOUSTON 157.38 156.37   0.6% 149.35 147.77   1.1%
10   KANSAS CITY 189.65 187.01   1.4% 179.97 176.72   1.8%
11   LOS ANGELES 195.38 192.88   1.3% 185.41 182.27   1.7%
12   MIAMI 161.86 161.71   0.1% 153.26 152.82   0.3%
13   MINNEAPOLIS 200.04 200.01   0.0% 189.49 189.00   0.3%
14   NEW ORLEANS 160.43 159.93   0.3% 152.24 151.13   0.7%
15   NEW YORK CITY 239.66 238.65   0.4% 227.42 225.52   0.8%
16   PHILADELPHIA 207.03 206.60   0.2% 196.47 195.23   0.6%
17   PHOENIX 161.50 160.29   0.8% 153.26 151.47   1.2%
18   PITTSBURGH 185.88 183.26   1.4% 176.39 173.18   1.9%
19   PORTLAND 182.30 178.63   2.1% 172.99 168.80   2.5%
20   ST. LOUIS 188.93 184.33   2.5% 179.29 174.19   2.9%
21   SAN DIEGO 188.57 185.22   1.8% 178.95 175.03   2.2%
22   SAN FRANCISCO 222.45 221.20   0.6% 211.09 209.03   1.0%
23   SEATTLE 188.21 188.07   0.1% 178.61 177.72   0.5%
24   WASHINGTON, DC 177.46 176.50   0.5% 168.40 166.79   1.0%
25   WINSTON-SALEM 141.79 140.70   0.8% 134.55 132.96   1.2%
MAJOR CITIES
(alphabetically)
convenience store fast food restaurant
2013 2012   % CHANGE 2013 2012   % CHANGE
1   ATLANTA $100.80 $100.11   0.7% $195.88 $191.33   2.4%
2   BALTIMORE 106.79 106.05   0.7% 207.52 202.68   2.4%
3   BOSTON 135.94 134.41   1.1% 264.18 256.89   2.8%
4   CHICAGO 134.36 132.61   1.3% 261.10 253.46   3.0%
5   CLEVELAND 114.24 112.21   1.8% 222.02 214.46   3.5%
6   DALLAS 97.97 96.85   1.2% 190.39 185.11   2.9%
7   DENVER 107.35 106.83   0.5% 208.62 204.18   2.2%
8   DETROIT 118.20 117.37   0.7% 229.70 224.32   2.4%
9   HOUSTON 99.21 98.42   0.8% 192.81 188.11   2.5%
10   KANSAS CITY 119.55 117.71   1.6% 232.34 224.96   3.3%
11   LOS ANGELES 123.17 121.40   1.5% 239.36 232.03   3.2%
12   MIAMI 101.81 101.79   0.0% 197.86 194.54   1.7%
13   MINNEAPOLIS 125.88 125.89   0.0% 244.63 240.60   1.7%
14   NEW ORLEANS 101.14 100.67   0.5% 196.54 192.40   2.2%
15   NEW YORK CITY 151.08 150.21   0.6% 293.61 287.10   2.3%
16   PHILADELPHIA 130.52 130.04   0.4% 253.64 248.53   2.1%
17   PHOENIX 101.81 100.89   0.9% 197.86 192.83   2.6%
18   PITTSBURGH 117.18 115.35   1.6% 227.73 220.46   3.3%
19   PORTLAND 114.92 112.44   2.2% 223.33 214.89   3.9%
20   ST. LOUIS 119.10 116.02   2.7% 231.46 221.75   4.4%
21   SAN DIEGO 118.88 116.58   2.0% 231.02 222.82   3.7%
22   SAN FRANCISCO 140.23 139.23   0.7% 272.52 266.10   2.4%
23   SEATTLE 118.65 118.38   0.2% 230.58 226.25   1.9%
24   WASHINGTON, DC 111.87 111.09   0.7% 217.40 212.32   2.4%
25   WINSTON-SALEM 89.38 88.56   0.9% 173.70 169.26   2.6%
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.

One-story office building construction cost:
July 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
One-story office building construction cost: July 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Day care center construction cost:
July 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Day care center construction cost: July 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Convenience store construction cost:
July 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Convenience store construction cost: July 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Fast food restaurant construction cost:
July 2013 ranking of major U.S. cities
Fast food construction cost: July 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