Apartment Construction Took Longer in 2019


The average length of time to complete construction of a multifamily building, after obtaining authorization, is 17.3 months, according to the 2019 Survey of Construction (SOC) from the Census Bureau. The authorization-to-completion time has been on an upward trend since 2013, as regulatory challenges expanded and the skilled labor shortage challenged the industry.

The average time to build multifamily homes varies with the number of units in the building. In 2019, buildings with 20 or more units took the longest time (19.0 months) to build after obtaining authorization. Properties with 10 to 19 units required 18.7 months. 5 to 9 unit buildings finished in 16.6 months, and, lastly, 2 to 4 unit buildings came in at 14.3 months. Compared to 2018, it took longer to complete multifamily buildings with more than 4 units in 2018. It took additional 2.8 months to finish 10 to 19 unit buildings, additional 2.2 months for 2 – 4 unit buildings. However, it was half month shorter to finish buildings with 20 or more units, and around 3 days less for buildings with 5 to 9 units in 2019 than in 2018.

The 2019 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, 20.3 months, followed by the West, 17 months, and the South – 15.3 months. The shortest permit-to-completion period happened in the Midwest with 12.9 months.


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