Slightly Longer Time to Build Apartments in 2021

The average length of time to complete construction of a multifamily building, after obtaining authorization, is 17.5 months, according to the 2021 Survey of Construction (SOC) from the Census Bureau. The authorization-to-completion time in 2021 inched up from 2020, decelerating the upward trend since 2013.


The average time to build multifamily homes varies with the number of units in the building. In 2021, buildings with 20 or more units took the longest time (19.2 months) to build after obtaining authorization. Properties with 5 to 9 units required 17.9 months,10 to 19 unit buildings finished in 17.4 months, and, lastly, 2 to 4 unit buildings came in at 14.2 months. Compared to 2020, it took less time (around 15 days less) to complete multifamily buildings with 2 to 4 units, 5 to 9 units, and 20 or more units in 2021. However, it was 1.7 months longer to finish buildings with 10 to 19 units in 2021 than in 2020.


The 2021 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, 19.8 months, followed by the West, 18.1 months, and the South – 16.7 months. The shortest permit-to-completion period happened in the Midwest with 15.3 months.

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