Weitz Senior Living Construction Costs Brief (Winter 2018)

January 25, 2018  /  Market Reports,

This Special Issue Brief was prepared for the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) by Larry Graeve of The Weitz Company. For additional information, please contact:

  • Larry Graeve (West Region) 515.286.4822
  • Ben Bruns (Central Region) 515.240.5456
  • Tom Doyen (East Region) 404.307.4549

The market continues to be strong as the Architectural Billing Index (ABI) rose to 55.9 in December 2017, up from 50.6 the previous month. As a leading indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects a 9- to 12-month lead time before construction activity begins. We witnessed a 13 percent increase in lumber, primarily due to hurricane activity and concerns over the potential of tariffs imposed on Canadian lumber. The labor shortage will continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future, as this category is a large component of overall pricing increases. Though we see strong construction activity, we also see some leveling of inflation in many markets. Escalation rates vary across the country; some markets see a 3.5-5 percent annualized increase while the busiest markets see a 6-8 percent increase.


*Costs are full burden and include general conditions, insurance, tax, bond and fee, but do not include site costs. The above costs are based on a city index of 100. Each city carries a different index. For example: Savannah, Ga., has an index of 86.2, which translates to a cost range of $121-147 per square foot for Independent Living; Boston, Mass., has an Index of 115.2 which translates to a cost range of $162-197 per square foot for Independent Living. These indices, coupled with local market conditions, are essential when comparing overall pricing.
Mid-Level: Generally are of wood-framed construction with standard amenities and finishes, and typically target the more moderate income senior.
High-Level: Generally are of steel or concrete construction with high-end luxury amenities and finishes, and typically target the higher income senior.