How much will my project cost?
There are many factors that affect the cost of design and construction projects. Labor demand, building site, real estate costs, complexity, and construction type are all variables that impact the final project cost. As such, design and construction costs are always project specific. The costs below will help give a general understanding of architecture and construction costs in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The first step in planning your project is determining scope and budget. When budgeting for your project you will need to plan for “hard” costs and “soft” costs. "Hard costs" refer to the costs of construction, including the contractor’s overhead and profit. "Soft costs" refer to design, engineering, permitting, insurance, and other governmental compliance costs.
The costs below are based on whole-house rebuilds or new construction and generally assume 1 kitchen and 1.5 bathrooms per 1000 square feet of living space.
Entry-level custom projects in San Francisco and certain other Bay Area markets are typically in the $500-$600 per square foot range. Entry-level custom projects have good quality, but value-conscious, finishes and fixtures. These projects are, in general, structurally straightforward with simple detailing.
Mid-range custom projects in San Francisco and certain other Bay Area markets typically range between $600 to $700 per square foot. The majority of projects will fall into this category. Mid-range custom projects have unique design features and custom details. In this budget range the client is able to choose from a broad range of high quality finishes and fixtures. These projects are generally more complex structurally and may include larger areas of glass and perhaps some structural steel.
The most distinctive projects can range upwards of $700 per square foot. These unique and noteworthy designs are generally structurally complex and often include large expanses of glass, structural steel, architectural concrete, or other technically advanced systems. These luxury projects often have artisan or boutique finishes, custom details throughout, and the highest quality fixtures.
Soft costs include architectural design, engineering, surveying, permit applications, title 24 compliance documents, insurance, and elective certifications such as LEED certification.
Architecture, engineering, and other design-related professional services are typically around 15% of the project hard cost. We also recommend setting aside an additional 5% for permits and other governmental compliance costs.
The cost approximations above are based on our recent experience as an architecture and construction firm in San Francisco. The San Francisco Bay Area market is one of the most expensive real estate and construction markets in the U.S. Please remember that the construction market varies and is nuanced like any other marketplace and that the information above is only intended to be used for informational purposes.