5 Most Expensive Cities to Build

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A new report by consulting firm Turner & Townsend highlights the cities with the highest construction costs in 2018

San Francisco construction costs soared in 2018, increasing by 5 percent and removing New York as the most expensive city to build, according to a new report by consulting firm Turner & Townsend. The 2019 International Construction Market Survey brings together data and experience from 64 global markets to provide insights into the current state and direction of the global construction industry.


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To identify the most expensive market to build, the survey identified the average build cost in USD of six different types of construction, including:

  • Apartment high-rise
  • Office block prestige
  • Large warehouse distribution center
  • General hospital
  • Primary and secondary school
  • Shopping center including mall

Following San Francisco and New York City were London ($352 per square foot), Zurich ($349) and Hong Kong ($348). In North America the next most expensive cities in which to build were Seattle ($338), Chicago ($296), Vancouver ($253), Indianapolis ($244), Phoenix ($241), Atlanta ($240), Houston ($237) and Toronto ($237).