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How Much Does it Cost to Build a House in Saint Louis?

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Saint Louis, named after Louis the IX of France, is the second largest city in the state of Missouri. The city sits at the meeting point of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and serves as the cultural and economic hub in the state. It is home to eight Fortune 500 companies and serves as the headquarters of several major conglomerates. The Gateway Arch, one of the most prominent landmarks in the United States, can be found in Saint Louis. It symbolizes Saint Louis’ reputation in history as The Gateway to the West. The famous structure is the largest man-made arch in the world and the tallest monument in the United States.

As of 2022, Saint Louis has a total population of 300,432 — making it the second most populated city in the state of Missouri. However, the city is plagued with crime. It’s ranked the fifth most dangerous city in the United states and first among the most violent cities in the country.

Saint Louis possesses several French cultural markers, seen in the architecture in historic districts of the city and featured in the city’s museums. The second largest celebration of Mardi Gras (second only to New Orleans) is held in Saint Louis. Attractions are abundant in the Gateway to the West. One can soak in some culture from the many museums and historic landmarks scattered throughout the city, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Forest Park, The Saint Louis Science Center and the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art. Homeowners are also free to explore nature in the popular Saint Louis Museum and RYZE Adventure Park. One of the United States’ most loved breweries, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery can be found in Saint Louis — so homeowners and tourists alike can indulge and have a taste of premium beers.

The Cost of Building a Home in Saint Louis

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The Gateway to the West is also home to several entertainment venues. Live shows are frequently held at the famous Fox Theater, the Stages of Saint Louis, and the Opera Theater of Saint Louis. Saint Louis is also home to a number of jazz and blues bistros and clubs for those who wish to spend the night enjoying live music or low-key performances. Folks in Saint Louis share a fiery passion for baseball. The Saint Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful baseball teams in the MLB, calls this city home — and residents can easily catch a game at Busch Stadium.

The average size of a home in Saint Louis is 1,650 square feet and the average value of a home is $163,639. Home prices naturally vary depending on several factors including the cost of materials and the cost to construct the individual segments of a house such as its roofing, flooring, framing and foundation. Utilities installation also plays a role in the cost to build a home — these include electrical, plumbing and heating and ventilation services. It is also important to note that underlying expenses contribute to the overall cost of a home—which includes permit fees, inspection fees, taxes and land costs.

Figure 1. Typical cost breakdown of a single-family home constructed using the conventional method, according to Home Builder Digest. Image Source: National Cost Guide.

Hard Costs

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All fees associated with the construction of the physical home fall under hard costs. These expenses include labor fees, contractor service fees and materials needed to complete the project. Installation of utilities such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), electrical wiring and plumbing also fall under hard costs. 

Homes in Saint Louis normally cost $90 to $200 per square foot to build depending on the quality or grade of construction homeowners opt for. Standard-grade construction usually comes with a price tag of $90 to $130 per square foot; while premium-grade construction. It’s also worth noting that it’s more expensive to construct a home in the Saint Louis metro area. Metro area homes typically run from $122 for low-end homes and up to $280 and beyond for high-end homes.

Installing a concrete foundation in the state of Missouri normally comes with a price of $4.85 to $5.41 per square foot for 4-inch reinforced concrete slabs on grade. Home additions in the Greater Saint Louis area run at $250 to $600 per square foot depending on the size and complexity of the addition.

Shingle roof costs in Saint Louis can go up to a total cost of $6.06 per square foot. Shingle roofing installation comes with a cost of $4.153 per square foot. In addition, there are labor fees that normally run at $47.2 per hour. Materials and supplies can cost up to $0.23 per square foot. Contractors also normally set an equipment allowance of $69.47.

Carpentry framing costs in the St. Louis City county fall between $1,103 and $9,920, and averages at $5,516. This figure already includes average labor costs for installing the framing, the average cost of materials and equipment, and all other project costs and cleanup fees. These do not yet include any permit and inspection fees or sales taxes.

Typical flooring expenses fall between $2,560 and $3,688 depending on the type of flooring preferred by homeowners. Carpet flooring usually ranges between $2 and $6 per square foot. Hardwood flooring on the other hand can set homeowners back by $2 per square foot to as much as $30 per square foot. Tile floorings can also come in cheaper or high-end varieties; with cheap tiles costing about $1 and premium tiles costing up to $25 per square foot. Laminate flooring and vinyl floorings are also options for homeowners and usually come with cost of $5 and $2 to $3 per square foot, respectively.

The cost of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) installation in Saint Louis normally falls between $1,759 and $2,092 and has an average cost of $1,925. These include the following—material and equipment expenses, labor fees and other project costs as well as clean-up fees. Some furnaces in Saint Louis cost anywhere between $2,800 to $6,300 as well.

Plumbing fixture installation also cost anywhere between $185 and $700. Plumbers normally charge a fee of $45 per hour, plus parts; some have a fixed fee that typically range between $185 to $700. In 2022, the average cost homeowners paid for plumbing services averaged at $456. This already includes the labor costs of the plumber and the average cost of materials and other services.

Electrical services in Saint Louis fall between $846 and $1,210 in 2022. The average cost homeowners can expect to pay is around $1,025. The figure already includes labor costs, materials and parts as well as other project costs, including cleanup fees. In addition, 120 volt outlet installations normally come with an  expense of $125.66 per outlet. There can be an increase in installation costs if rewiring is needed, emergency installations and, for some, travel charges.

Soft Costs

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Fees not directly associated with building the physical structure of the house are considered soft costs. These include underlying costs such as the cost of the plot of land, architect and design fees and permits required by the local government and their accompanying fees.

Cost of the Land

Land in Saint Louis based on listings found on Redfin fall between $1.91 up to $104.35 per square feet. The cheapest land listed on the website is $15,000 at full cost, while the more expensive lots can cost up to as much as $350,000.

Permits and Other Fees 

Building and construction permit applications in the city of Saint Louis are submitted to the city government’s Building Division. All applications are made in the permits office in the city hall and are reviewed by a professional Plan Reviewer—normally a licensed engineer or architect. In some districts of Saint Louis, a building permit for historic preservation is required through the Cultural Resources Office.

Residential construction permit fees are computed based on the total estimated project cost of a home, plus a $25 application fee. The table below summarizes the residential construction permit costs in Saint Louis: 

Architecture and Design Fees

Homeowners typically pay architects a fee between $1,358 and $13,584 in Saint Louis. This already includes the architect’s labor fee, materials and all other project costs. It does not yet include permits required for the architect and any sales taxes for the city of Saint Louis. Interior design services on the other hand cost homeowners an additional $906 to $13,607. Interior designers in Saint Louis typically charge anywhere from $50 to $200 per hour. Some designers charge clients based on the value of decorations, furniture, accessories and artwork with a markup of 15% to 25% of the goods purchased.

How do the custom home building costs in Saint Louis compare to other nearby cities?

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The typical home in Saint Louis is normally valued at $163,639, which is an increase in the previous year’s value by 12.9%. Homes in New Orleans come by cheaper compared to its neighboring cities. Homes in Clayton come at a significantly higher price tag of $756,352. Following Saint Louis, the most affordable place for a custom home is University City, with homes valued at $229,473. Richmond Heights and Webster Groves have very similar home values. Richmond homes are valued at $334,760 and Webster homes at $367,326.

What Leading Custom Home Builders and Architects that Serve Saint Louis Say

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Saint Louis-based high end custom home builder, Stockell Custom Homes, prides itself with their ability to build unique, quality custom homes. They mention that their work is superior in style and complexity to most subdivision homes. The firm believes high-performance custom homes deliver superior quality and complexity in style, better quality materials and superior utilities. On average, the firm estimates value-conscious homes for $270 per square foot; mid-range homes for $350 and high-end custom homes for $400+. The firm determines cost using cost-per-square-foot estimates since there are several variables at play that can affect house costs. These estimates are determined based on similar homes recently built.

Tyler Stephens of CORE10 Architecture suggests that aspiring homeowners should be mindful and consider their budget when purchasing or building their homes. Not unless they have a very healthy budget, he states that owners are better off purchasing and renovating one of the many old houses in Saint Louis. Saint Louis has a very unique market. Construction costs in the city are some of the highest in the United states; but housing costs are very low compared to other urban areas. So CORE10 often suggests that homeowners simply take one of the older shell houses in the city and customize it to their desires. This is a wise move for them both economically and in terms of sustainability.

CORE10 mentions that the city is ripe with many available house shells. So why use up valuable energy to construct an entire custom home when it’s cheaper and more sustainable to simply renovate one of the ones available already? Prices in construction and raw materials have been driving up due to COVID, so the firm anticipates that new home construction projects will decrease, paving the way for homeowners to reuse these old buildings instead.

The Future of Saint Louis’ Residential Construction Industry

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No city in the United States has been spared from the effects of COVID-19 on the cost of goods and services. The market is suffering from high volatility, and the lack of available laborers is forcing contractors to outsource, thereby increasing labor costs. The cost of materials such as lumber has also been subject to inflation. All of these factors affect the price of custom homes nationwide. Specialists from Stockell Custom Homes expect prices to continue to rise through the summer, but these may possibly stabilize once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and most residents are permitted to return to work. However, lumber prices may remain unstable unless Canadian lumber tariffs are reduced.

Several commercial developments are being made in the city of Saint Louis, Missouri in order to revitalize the city’s economy. Many districts in the city have focused on building leasable office spaces, commercial areas, and hotels. The Midtown area of the city has also seen developments in residential construction. In the coming years, New and Found Development, a local contractor, will be focusing on the development of hundreds of retail spaces, residential spaces, and apartment buildings for residents. Neighbors and Great Rivers Greenway are investing in the growth of the area and making amenities in the area more accessible through the construction of walk and bikeways and the revitalization of the railway system.

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