Fort Collins is known for its recreational opportunities, cultural attractions, active nightlife scene, and family-oriented activities. The city is described as a picturesque downtown area with businesses in manufacturing, technology, bioscience, clean energy, agri-technology, and service-related industries. Along with the rest of Colorado, Fort Collins is recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, keynote speaker Rich Wobbekind from the 2022 Economic Forecast in Loveland noted that Colorado’s economic recovery for 2022 will be slightly slower than in 2021. Experts have mostly attributed the slowdown to unemployment and low workforce participation.
The Cost of Building a Home in Fort Collins
For the construction industry, the labor shortage has been an ongoing issue for several years. Many people, especially those from skilled trades, are retiring and there are not enough people to fill the gap left behind. The lack of labor has, in part, resulted in the construction industry limiting the number of projects taken on. Supply chain issues have also affected the industry’s ability to take advantage of the high demand for homes.
Many firms prefer to build fewer homes than be unable to finish the job within the contracted period, which is affecting the cost of homes.
The national average cost of new home construction is about $207 per square foot, whereas the average cost in Fort Collins is around $245 per square foot. Project owners can expect to see construction costs range between $217 to $274 per square foot, depending on the project’s details. The more intricate and customized the design, the higher the cost.
On top of the home building cost, project owners will also have to pay attention to fluctuations in their hard and soft costs. Hard costs are related to the parts of construction that are physically part of the house, including framing, foundation, plumbing, flooring, and roofing. Soft costs, on the other hand, are factors like land costs, permitting fees, and architectural and design costs. It should be noted that these costs are independent of each other; a shift in hard or soft costs will not affect the other.
Construction costs in Fort Collins will typically be priced at $217 to $245 per square foot for basic and simple homes. Projects with a little more detail—typically mid-value type homes—will go up to $246 to $273 per square foot. Homes that are built at $274 per square foot and above are usually high-end homes in the Fort Collins area. It should be noted that the provided figures are from the online contractor marketplace BuildZoom (BZ) and are based on bids from previous projects. Project owners may see firms charging at higher or lower prices based on details like square footage and additional features.
On top of construction costs, project owners need to take into account the costs incurred from foundation, roofing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and electrical installation.
Fort Collins’ Roofing costs can range anywhere from $126.69 to $1,754.10 per 100 square feet, depending on the roofing type. The following table provides price ranges that project owners can expect to see:
The cost for Major systems is a combination of HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. The following are the average costs for major systems: an HVAC system is about $11,000, while a plumbing system is $1,950, and electrical installation is $419.
Soft costs are composed of the intangible aspects of home construction. Some of the common ones are the cost of land, permit fees, and architectural and design fees.
Cost of the Land
Fort Collins is currently growing at an annual rate of 1.10%, which means the city is experiencing positive population growth. With more people living in Fort Collins, it is expected that land prices will increase more than in cities with stagnant or negative population growth.
The plots of land available for sale in Fort Collins on Zillow have an average price of $407,850. The cheapest lot is 3,920 square feet and is being sold for $92,000. It is located in Evensong Court. Meanwhile, the most expensive lot is 71,438 square feet. It is priced at $699,000 and can be found in South East Fort Collins.
Permits and Other Fees
Information for permit fees in Larmier County, which Fort Collins is part of, can be found on this website. The website provides several application forms, one of which is the residential building permit application form.
The following table contains information taken from the building permit fee schedule:
Details for plumbing and mechanical permit fees can also be found on the building permit fee schedule provided above. Additionally, there is a plan review fee of 50% of the building permit fee.
Architecture and Design Fees
Most architects will charge based on the total construction value. For Fort Collins, architecture firms typically charge about 9.75 to 10.23%, depending on the services rendered, project complexity, and architect experience.
Some architectural firms may also charge by the hour or by square footage. Pricing is dependent on the request, project location, and the architect’s position, experience, training, and reputation. Most new home construction project owners will avail of services like layered drawings, project management, concept development, consultation, and site visits.
The Future of Fort Collins’ Residential Construction Industry
According to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), about 650,000 additional workers are needed before the construction industry can meet the minimum demand for labor. The 2022 workforce shortage analysis by the ABC showed that the shortage has led to an even greater need for qualified and skilled professionals than in pre-pandemic years.
The workforce shortage was cited as the most critical challenge to be addressed even in the face of sluggish spending growth. In terms of the residential aspect of the construction industry, this means that there is less labor to meet the high demand for homes. Firms will be forced to accept a limited number of projects to meet deadlines, which will result in price increases. The labor shortage is also burdening firms in tandem with an aging and retiring workforce, material costs, and supply chain disruptions.
According to Bernard M. Markstein, a chief economist with Markstein Advisors, there is a “mismatch between job openings and available labor” because most people are not interested in the construction industry. Most of the next generation are applying for white-collar jobs.
Even if interest does grow, it will take a while for there to be enough skilled labor to become available because construction requires special training. The non-profit Colorado Homebuilding Academy is offering training to about 40 to 60 students a month. Training programs are also available for high school students. Most of the academy’s students are underemployed, unemployed, or career shifters.
Firms around Colorado are also offering apprenticeship programs, especially those in need of more workers. Some firms are working with the Construction Industry of Colorado Training Council to reach multiple schools and prospective employees.