cost to build

Cost to build

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Surprise! It costs money to build, thats probably not really a surprise but it probably costs more than you think it does. There are a lot of different cost and expenses that are involved in building. We hope to help you better understand the different costs that go into building a new building. When we first started in architecture, we thought that you just purchased the land, hired an architect (us), and then paid a contractor to build your structure, but it wasn’t long before we realized that there are many different stages in the building process and lots of different expenses.

We are going to break up the expenses into a few different categories. They are as follows.

  • Cost of land and site work
    • Lot, Site work, Excavation, etc.
  • Permits and Approval Costs
    • This includes all permits needed for construction
    • Plan review, fire department review and building inspector fees.
  • The cost of materials and labor
    • These costs are lumped into a rough estimate of cost depending on the type of building being constructed. These prices will also differ depending on the complexity of the desired building.
  • Architectural and Engineering Fees
    • The architectural fees are separate from the engineering fees.
  • Fire Review and Inspections
    • Inspections can differ greatly depending on the desired design and materials.
  • Connection Fees
    • There is a fee associated with all connection fees. ie. Sewer, water, power, internet, etc.

Where to start?

The very first place to start is deciding the type of building you are wanting. This is usually simple when it is going to be your new office space. Different types of buildings usually have an average cost per square foot. In our scenario, we are going to be building a 10,000-square foot medical clinic. A lower end cost for this would be about $150 per square foot amounting to 1.5 million.

Now this isn’t where we stop, this is the base cost that we use to figure out the expense of a lot of different factors. This base cost will determine the permit fees and usually the architectural fees as well.

In our scenario, we have all the different fees adding up to $14,306. This includes the building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing permits in addition to the building inspector fire department and plan review fees.

Architectural fees vary a lot depending on the complexity of a project. The national average usually varies between 3%-6% With a rate of 4.5% on this project the architectural fees will be about $67,500.

The site can sometimes be what catches people off guard. Most of us are aware that commercial land can be costly ranging from $100,000 to $300,000 depending on location and what’s located on the site. In addition to the cost of land, site work can range around $200,000. This cost includes the grading and sloping and making sure the structure will be stable and has the proper compaction rates. With about an acre lot, our land and site will cost about $303,000. Again, this price will greatly very. Before purchasing a piece of land that could have unforeseen complications, it could be wise to pay for some tests to be run on the site.

We broke the fire review and special inspection into their own section since these will take place during construction and can vary a lot depending on the project. Special inspections is the process of inspecting fabricated materials. This assures that anything manufactured is built properly and is safe. The number of fabricated items in a project can greatly impact the cost for special inspections. This can range anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000 (for this size of project).

For every service that is brought to your building there is always a connection fee that accompanies it in addition to the monthly bill. These rates also very greatly depending on the city and the services offered.

When these costs are added up, we find that the cost to build will be closer to 1.9 million dollars once all the additional fees and costs are added in.

Feel free to contact us for a free consultation on a rough estimate of how much your building might cost. (This estimate is purely for helping you better understand the price range of your building, not for actual construction cost estimates.)


*many of these rates are pulled from the city of Idaho Falls or from our previous experience.

*cost to build sample project

*This video walks you through the the different steps