Construction Time for Multifamily Buildings Increases, Continuing Upward Trend

September 14, 2020
Apartment building mid-construction
By Richard Johnson

Continuing the upward trend from the past seven years, the average length of time for multifamily construction to conclude in 2019 was 17.3 months. According to NABH, this trend results from regulatory challenges and the skilled labor shortage. For buildings with 20 units or more, it took 19 months to complete from the date of authorization. Buildings with 10 to 19 units took 18.7 months, five to nine unit building construction took 16.6 months, and two to four unit construction finished in an average of 14.3 months. These times range depending on the region, with the Northeast taking the longest and midwest the shortest.

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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