Murfreesboro is the county seat of Rutherford County and is located in the Nashville metropolitan area in Tennessee. It is the sixth-largest city in the state, as well as the largest suburb of Nashville. The city houses the largest undergraduate university in the state, the Middle Tennessee State University. Murfreesboro also holds several bodies of water, such as small wetlands and both natural and human-made lakes. Stones River passes through the city, with several hiking trails and parks lining it.
Despite the abundance of green spaces, the Trust for Public Land ParkScore reveals that only 3% of Murfreesboro’s total city land is dedicated to parks and recreation. Overall, only 14% of its residents live within a ten-minute walking distance from a park. When it comes to living conditions, ranking and review website Niche places the city in the 36th position of Best Cities to Buy a House in America. It is also in several top spots for Tennessee and the Nashville area, including the third Best Suburb for Young Professionals in Tennessee, the fifth Most Diverse Suburb in Tennessee, and the second Best Suburb for Young Professionals in Nashville Area. Given that the job market has become more competitive recently, young professionals may have a much better chance of fixing their finances since there is no income tax in Murfreesboro. Taxpayers are only required to pay two major tax requirements: local property taxes and state and local sales taxes. While nationally, the property taxes in the city are the lowest, its sales tax is one of the highest.
With that being said, prospective residents and developers ask: how much does it cost to build a home in Murfreesboro?
The Cost of Building a Home in Murfreesboro
Nationally, building a 2,000-square-foot home costs an average of around $300,000 according to Forbes. Homes of the same size in Tennessee would cost around $261,940. Home prices all over the country increased dramatically during the height of the pandemic. For example, from January 2020 to January 2021, the median home price in Murfreesboro was $304,000. This year, in 2022, the median home price rose to $372,400. The high housing costs also affected multi-family dwellings, where the average rent of high-quality apartments increased from $1,300 to $1,624. However, despite the said price hikes, the overall cost of living the Murfreesboro stays average, with an overall score of 100.6 while the national average cost of living is 100.
The price of a custom single family home in Murfreesboro varies with the materials, labor, and professional services required to complete it. New home construction usually includes factors that fluctuate independently from each other, such as framing, foundation, plumbing, interior, and exterior finishes. There may also be city-required documents to fill out before starting the construction. All of these can fall into either the hard or soft costs of building a home.
The hard costs are expenses that fund the physical structure and construction of the house. These include the materials, landscaping, labor, and even the total building value. In Murfreesboro, basic or standard construction homes start at $143 per square foot, while middle-range homes cost around $238 per square foot. Luxury or high-end homes in the city cost $320 per square foot or higher.
Starting with the foundation and exteriors, TriStar Concrete, a Brentwood-based contractor, shares that the cost of concrete slabs in Murfreesboro depends on the type and size of the slab. However, projects will generally be $5 to $8 per square foot. For roofing, Franklin-based contractor, Five Points Roofing, LLC shares that project owners in Middle Tennessee may spend around $15,000 for roof installation, which breaks down into 60% labor and 40% materials. This may also depend on several factors such as the square footage of the home, accessibility, and the material used.
The systems inside a home include plumbing, electrical, and the HVAC, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. Manta shares that the cost of plumbing in Murfreesboro ranges from $98 to $711, while homeowners pay an average of $404. For electrical, homeowners may pay around $895, but it may range from $740 to $1,050. Lastly, Murfreesboro-based company, Total Trans4mation Heating and Air Conditioning shares that the cost of an HVAC system depends on the size and type of the system, its efficiency rating, and the labor needed to install it. New installations start at $3,500.
Soft costs are the expenses that go beyond the actual construction of the home, such as architectural design, land development fees, building permit fees, engineering fees, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Cost of the Land
In constructing your new home, getting the best lot is crucial for the process. Generally, prices may vary due to proximity to metropolitan areas, views, amenities, and land topography. HowMuchly.com reports that lands in Tennessee cost an average of $14,400 per acre or approximately $0.33 per square foot. For Murfreesboro, land and real estate listing websites show that the average land cost in the city is $830,340, while the average cost per square foot is $4.87. This value may still increase depending on the development status of the lot since some of the listed properties may be undeveloped for residential construction.
As of May 2022, the cheapest land available in the area is a 13,939-square-foot property listed at $80,000. It includes a fire-damaged home so prospective buyers will have to demolish the structure before proceeding with construction. The current most expensive land in Murfreesboro is priced at $6,950,000 and consists of five parcels of land with some residential structures. The total property size is 111.35 acres and is mostly unimproved land. For the per square foot comparisons, the cheapest available in the city is a 31.79-acre unimproved property for $350,000 or $0.25 per square foot, while the most expensive is an undeveloped 2.78-acre parcel of leveled land for $25.42 per square foot.
Permits and Other Fees
Project owners have the option to submit their residential building permit applications either online, to Planning@murfreesborotn.gov, or in person, at the Murfreesboro City Hall at West Vine Street. The permit center will process the application, which may take around five to seven days, and will contact the applicant about the total fees and available payment options.
The new construction building permits of single family homes are calculated based on the total heated space, to be measured outside of the exterior walls, and one-third of the unheated space and areas under a roof. This includes garages, unfinished basements, and porches.
The Murfreesboro city government also requires permits for different fixtures and systems that a home may need, such as plumbing, electrical, gas, and mechanical. Mechanical permit fees for residential construction are fixed at $38, while the Gas permit starts at $20 for the base fee and an additional $5 per fixture. This will require a list of the fixtures that the project owner plans to install. For plumbing and electrical, the fees are indicated in the tables below.
Architecture and Design Fees
Architect and design fees depend on the size, scope, and complexity of the project. The client’s preferences, needs, and lifestyle are also taken into consideration when finalizing a design. While some projects may be simple, others may require extensive planning, attention to detail, and consultation with various industry professionals. The cost of architecture and design is usually taken as a percentage of the total project cost, but some professionals may charge a fixed hourly rate.
Nationally, architect rates range anywhere between 5 and 20% of the project cost. Architect fees in Murfreesboro typically cost around 9% of the total project cost according to ProMatcher. HomeYou also shares that plans are available online for $2,000, but it would be ideal to hire an architect to check the plans and specifications to ensure that the design is doable on the lot. Interior designers in Murfreesboro charge around $50 to $200 per hour, but some may charge by marking up the purchased items by 15 to 25%.
How do the custom home building costs in Murfreesboro compare to other nearby cities?
Nashville is the capital and most populous city of Tennessee. It is known for its music industry, which is said to provide over 50,000 jobs and contribute more than $30 billion to the U.S. economy. The “Southern Boomtown” is the third-fastest growing metropolitan area in terms of economic growth all over the country. The city is approximately 34 miles away from Murfreesboro. On average, construction projects in Nashville cost around $269,332, while the average cost per square foot is $96 per permits gathered through BuildZoom (BZ). New construction projects in the area are mostly residential, such as single family homes and apartments. Single family homes usually include one to two floors, a porch or deck, and a garage that is either attached or detached. Other projects also have basements.
Mount Juliet, the largest city in Wilson County, is regarded as the sixth fastest-growing city in Tennessee. It is a suburb of Nashville and is located 33.1 miles away from Murfreesboro. The city offers a lot of attractions and activity spaces, including Legacy Park, the Encore Theatre Company, Briggs Art Studio, Brookestone Playground and Park, and Charlie Daniels Park. According to permits pulled from BZ, the median cost of construction in Mount Juliet is $323,714. The price of existing homes in the area soared by 14.4% compared to 2021 on Redfin, with an average price of $497,500. Properties have a sale-to-list ratio of 104.1% for regular homes, while in-demand homes sell around 8% higher than the original listing price. The Mount Juliet market is considered very competitive especially since the estates only spend 12 days on the market before it gets sold.
What Leading Custom Home Builders and Architects that Serve the Murfreesboro Area Say
Lucas Neely of Boro Homes, LLC shares that there might be a huge shift in the construction industry given how skilled laborer wages are getting higher. Young people can enter in any trade, open their own business after mastering it, and then clear $100,000 in the first year or more depending on their capability for business. The massive labor shortage is easily giving skilled laborers the platform to negotiate a higher pay. In 10 years, they might be able to name their price unless the gap is fixed.
Given the current situation of the market, Neely advises project owners to research and work with licensed professionals. Having a good contract that protects both the contractor and the project owner is also advisable. With supply chain issues still rampant across the world, having most, if not all, the products onsite prior to a project will ensure a smoother construction process. Try to avoid missing a window with a trade professional, which can cause massive delays especially if they are handling a lot of projects. Neely adds that there are various things in the construction industry that the average person will not understand, such as the hidden portions that constitute a well-constructed home. However, since it is impossible for a perfect construction process, having trust in the contractor will help project owners in navigating through the processes. With the current high demand for construction services, it helps to be patient.
The Future of Murfreesboro’s Residential Construction Industry
Much of Rutherford County’s growth can be attributed to the number of job opportunities for both the residents and the people who are looking to settle in a more affordable area. Another factor is the county’s proximity to Nashville, whose job market is also growing exponentially. The boost in population in recent years pushed the demand for more housing, but with the supply barely catching up because of the pandemic, costs continue to rise. Nashville developers are even looking toward other cities for land. For Murfreesboro, it is on a different scale since out of the 10 most popular districts in the Nashville area, the districts labeled four and five are within the city.
To address the problems with the housing inventory, the Murfreesboro city council approved several zoning-related requests in recent months. Around December last year, an annexation and zoning request to improve the sewer capacity was approved. In addition, a street improvement project worth $11,000,000 was approved just this February, along with its plan of services, annexation, and even a residential zoning request to convert 19 acres of property along Florence Road for residential development. A similar proposal was approved for 25 acres along Salem Highway. While this may be good news to prospective property owners, current residents are having doubts about whether these changes will affect their dwellings positively or negatively. It is obvious that while a number of people may move in, it may disrupt the area. The large estate developments may also bring about depreciated property values, an increase in crime rates, and even negative impacts on the local wildlife. Some locals even expressed concerns over the possibility of flooding.
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