San Francisco construction prices soaring

Welder on High Steel - San Francisco
Welder on High Steel - San Francisco (Greg Younger/Flickr)

San Francisco construction prices soared across all four quarters in 2019, according to the UK-based consultants firm Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB).   A new cost report covering major U.S. markets for 2019 showed:

  • Depending on the type of construction, building in San Francisco cost between $280 and $725 per square foot last year. Retail construction was the cheapest, at around $400, while high-end offices cost up to $525.
  • While costs vary depending on the type of project, the report estimates that year-over-year the city’s building costs increased by the highest margins in the country. Compared to 2018, prices rose 7.79 percent. The next highest was in Chicago at 6.29 percent.
  • Most of the growth happened in the first half of last year, with prices moving up a combined 4.59 percent, after which things notably dipped, rising 2.98 percent in the last half.

The RLB report does not include residential construction in these assessments—but the same factors that drive up prices for every type of project apply to housing as well, especially the cost of labor, which has been short in the city relative to the demands of the building boom.


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