Time to Build an Apartment Building in 2016


The average length of time to complete construction of a multifamily building, after obtaining authorization, was 15 months according to the 2016 Survey of Construction (SOC) from the Census Bureau. The permit-to-completion time increased by approximately one month from 2015 to 2016, as per unit median square footage and share of multifamily for sale rose.

The average time to build multifamily housing varies with the number of units in the building. In 2016, buildings with 20 or more units took 17.5 months to complete from the time of obtaining permits, whereas properties with 10 to 19 units typically finished in 14.3 months, and 5 to 9 unit buildings came in at 14.0 months. Lastly, 2 to 4 unit buildings required 12.4 months.

The 2016 SOC data also shows a significant regional variation in the average construction duration of multifamily buildings. The Northeast had the longest time from authorization to completion, 17.1 months, followed by the South, 15.4 months, and the West, 14.0 months. The shortest permit-to-completion period happened in the Midwest with 12.4 months. The number of floors in the building influences the construction time. 72% of newly-built multifamily buildings in the Northeast have 4 or more floors, whereas this share is only 27% in the Midwest, 51% in the South and 56% in the West. Finally, regional variations based on property size are revealed in the chart below.

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