Tallahassee is the capital city of Florida with a student population that exceeds 70,000, making it a college town. As the capital city, Tallahassee is the site of the Florida State Capitol, Supreme Court of Florida, and nearly 30 state agency headquarters. It is known for being both an entertainment and education hub. Additionally, the city is the main trade and agricultural center for the Florida Big Bend and Southwest Georgia regions.
The Cost of Building a Home in Tallahassee
Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and several recovery programs, Tallahassee continues to struggle with the limited available labor. Sue Dick, Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce president, said that talent and workforce gaps were already an existing issue and have only worsened with new work-space structures and scheduling.
Experts are describing the current labor market as complex and impacted by several factors, including stimulus checks and public aid. Employees have been observed quitting their jobs or delaying their job search after receiving the benefits from federal stimulus checks.
For the construction industry, this labor shortage means remaining unable to meet the rising demand for housing. About nine out of 10 builders in a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey say they cannot find enough framers and carpenters to hire. Of that nine, 55% report a shortage in 16 trades. This struggle is exacerbated by the issues arising from the surging price of materials and the shortage of lots.
The labor shortage reached a record high of 76% in October 2021; the previous record high was 67% in the 1990s. This is also much higher than what was recorded in the mid-2000s when builders needed to finish 2 million homes a year to meet demand, which was at 45%.
Some firms have refrained from taking on more work to prevent missing project deadlines. Construction prices have gone up to make up for the loss of income.
The national average cost of new home construction is $207 per square foot, which is higher than Tallahassee’s average cost of $155 per square foot. Projects in the Tallahassee area will typically range between $100 to $210 per square foot for construction costs. Pricing will differ based on the project’s details and the firm’s expertise. Intricate and customized designs will usually cost more.
Construction costs are not the only things to consider during budgeting. Project owners will have to be aware of the different hard and soft costs that they may come across. Hard costs are associated with the facets of construction that are physically part of the project, including framing, foundation, plumbing, flooring, and roofing. Soft costs include land costs, permitting fees, and architectural and design costs. It should be noted that hard and soft costs will fluctuate independently of each other.
Most basic home construction projects in the Tallahassee area will usually be priced at $100 to $130 per square foot, while mid-value type homes are about $131 to $170 per square foot. High-end homes, which generally have customized features and higher-end finishes, will cost $171 to $210 per square foot and above. It should be noted, however, that these figures are estimates. Actual pricing may be more or less depending 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.
Flooring costs in Tallahassee will generally range between $727 and $5,461. Meanwhile, roofing costs can cost between $123.50 to $1,710 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 $1,768, while a plumbing system is $339, and electrical installation is $354.
Cost of the Land
Tallahassee has a growing population with an annual growth rate of 0.88%. Because of this, the plots of land for sale may experience price increases more than cities with stagnant or negative growth rates.
The land available for residential development in Tallahassee on Redfin have an average cost of $81,779.87. The cheapest lot is $16,900. It is about 4,791 square feet and is located along Holton Street. Meanwhile, the most expensive lot can be found along Lucy Street. It is being sold for $195,000 and is sized at about 26,136 square feet.
Permits and Other Fees
Information on the building permit process can be found on Tallahassee’s local government website. Most of the necessary forms can be obtained through the provided link, such as the ones for residential buildings, roofing, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and gas. Other additional checklists, application forms, and affidavits can otherwise be found on the Application and Forms section of the website.
The permitting fee schedule can be found in an online PDF file provided by the local government. Some of the fees for residential projects are provided in the table below:
Building permit applications will require the submission of detailed building plans, including structural, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems plans. Each system requires separate permits.
Architecture and Design Fees
Architects will typically charge based on the total construction value. Nationally, that would be about 5 to 20%, depending on the services rendered, project complexity, and architect experience.
Project owners may also come across firms that 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. The most common services are layered drawings, project management, concept development, consultation, and site visits.
Landscape architects, on the other hand, will cost $400 to $600 for small projects, $600 to $2,900 for mid-sized projects, and around $2,900 to $8,600 for large projects. Firms that charge by the hour provide their services for $80 to $120 per hour.
Meanwhile, interior designers in Tallahassee may charge $175 per hour for hourly consultations.
The Future of Tallahassee’s Residential Construction Industry
While Florida has experienced one of the highest workforce recoveries in America since the start of the pandemic, industries still experience a scarcity of skilled labor. According to Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), about 89% of construction firms are struggling to find workers for hourly craft positions, 86% cannot fill skilled salaried positions, and 72% expect the labor shortage to be the main issue for 2022.
Experts suspect that one of the reasons why there is a large gap in the workforce is because of the lack of enrollment in trade schools and vocational training. This has led to an aging construction workforce. Meanwhile, individuals that do undergo trade education do not have enough resources to go through apprenticeships and mentorships from seasoned workers. Half of the current workforce is retiring, which means newer employees cannot work under experienced mentors and fill up the skill gap in the labor force.
Firms are currently looking into identifying solutions to alleviate the burden of labor shortages, some of which are technological. Several firms have begun investing in equipment like drones and AI programs to meet the high demand for construction workers while maximizing the current workforce’s productivity.
The innovation of the construction industry may also draw interest from the younger generation who are more accustomed to digitized methods. Additionally, a more streamlined process allows more room to work remotely and look after projects in different locations.
On top of labor issues, firms also anticipate running into more supply chain disruptions. Builders reported being unable to acquire enough supplies to finish projects on time and within budget in 2021. For example, lumber prices per thousand board feet have gone down to $632 in late September of 2021 from the record high of $1,711 in May of 2021, but remain much higher than the $250 pricing from April fo 2020.
Alternative materials are expected to emerge as all this is happening. However, increased use of alternative materials is less about dealing with supply chain issues and more about material quality improvement. Some of the alternate materials seeing more use are cross-laminated timber—more fire-resistant than regular lumber—and bendable concrete, which has higher durability than regular concrete.
Construction firms will have to continue observing trends related to supply, labor, and financial uncertainties to stay afloat in 2022.