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How Much Does it Cost to Build a House in St. Petersburg?

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With 361 sunny days a year, St. Petersburg is dubbed as Florida’s “Sunshine City.” It is located in Pinellas County, Florida, and is part of the Tampa Bay area. The city offers locations that may be enjoyable for art lovers, including over 400 murals and numerous museums. One of these is the Dali Museum, which is the only collection exhibit dedicated to the artist Salvador Dali outside of Europe. The museum permanently houses his painting The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. St. Petersburg is further divided into seven art districts, namely: the Waterfront Museum District, the Central Arts District, the Grand Central District, the Edge District, the Warehouse Arts District, the Deuces Live District, and the M.L. King North District. 

St. Petersburg is home to two Fortune 500 companies: Jabil, which provides logistics and supply chain services, and Raymond James Financial, a multinational independent and investment financial services company. Around October 2021, another Fortune 500 company was reported to have plans of establishing its global headquarters in the area and was codenamed Project Athena. In early 2022, Niche ranked St. Petersburg as the fourth-best city in America to retire and the 47th best city to live in America. The city is also in the Trust in Public Land’s 2021 ParkScore ranking at the 14th place, with around 75% of its residents living within a ten-minute walk of at least one park out of 168. 

With this growth, prospective homeowners and developers may ask: how much does it cost to build a home in Sunshine City?

The Cost of Building a Home in St. Petersburg

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Nationally, building a 2,000-square-foot home costs an average of around $300,000 according to Forbes, which in Florida would cost $263,640 to construct. In St. Petersburg, data compiled from BuildZoom (BZ) contractor bids show that constructing a single family home 1,500 square feet in size may cost anywhere between $351,000 to $566,000. If including landscaping and pool construction, it can cost project owners an average of $600 per square foot when divided by the total air-conditioned area. With the COVID-19 pandemic, housing costs have gone up drastically. In the previous year, the housing market became competitive, with prospective homeowners and new homebuyers joining bidding wars. In Pinellas County, some homes over $1,000,000 received at least four bids.

Housing affordability is a consistent problem that has become even more evident in the past two years. With remote work becoming more popular, people are moving out of expensive states and into cheaper cities. This includes St. Petersburg and is making the real estate market difficult to catch up to when the median home appraisal is at least 9% higher than Tampa. Even in other areas, there have been demands for more affordable housing, to which some city governments like St. Petersburg responded by offering incentives to assist first-time homebuyers and to boost home sales. 

The cost of building a custom single family home in St. Petersburg depends on the labor, professional service, and materials it requires. Some of the other components fluctuate independently from each other, including the foundation, framing, exterior, and interior finishing. There are also various fees associated with building a home that would have to be settled before starting the actual construction. This includes, but is not limited to, architecture and design, building permits, land and zoning, plumbing, electrical, and home additions. 

Hard Costs

The hard costs are the various expenses that help construct the physical structure of the home. These include the materials, labor, and even the total building value, and these costs may vary with the quality or even the waiting time. The cost to build a new home in St. Petersburg depends on the type of materials used and the complexity of the project. BZ bids state that the cost of building a new home in the area ranges from $234 to $377 per square foot. Budget or basic homes cost around $234 per square foot, while middle-range or market price homes are around $285 per square footLuxury or high-end homes cost at least $377 per square foot.

Figure 1. Typical cost breakdown of a single-family home constructed using the conventional method, according to Home Builder Digest.

For materials and installation services, HomeBlue states that drywalls in St. Petersburg cost around $1.40 to $2 per square foot. This already includes the labor and a half-inch sheet of drywall. Blown insulation for attics ranges from $1 to $1.30 per square foot. For framing, HomeYou reports that labor starts at $6 per square foot, and the materials could cost around $3 to $12 per square foot depending on the price of lumber and the size of the structure. 

When it comes to home systems and interiors, Manta reports that homeowners paid an average of $377 for electrical wiring in St. Petersburg. HowMuchly adds that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems cost anywhere from $1,500 to $13,000 depending on the home size and systems brand, while plumbing ranges from $7,000 to $15,000.

Between 2020 and 2021, construction materials have increased a total of 17.5%, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau is the largest year-over-year increase since 1970. Lumber prices even reached 180% around May 2021, which added around $21,000 to the total construction cost of a single family home. While values may deviate slightly from St. Petersburg, framing, which typically uses lumber, and exteriors consume around 33% of the project cost in Florida. 

Soft Costs

Soft costs are expenses beyond the physical construction of the home, such as architectural design, pre-construction, land development, and permit fees like building, plumbing, water, and others.

Cost of the Land

Finding the perfect lot is vital in the process of home construction since one might need to make adjustments in the design to accommodate a certain land feature. Prices may vary with several factors, such as view, amenities, land topography, and even its distance from metropolitan or commercial areas. For St. Petersburg, the average cost of land is $907,273, or around $62.41 per square foot according to Zillow. Prices may go around $100,000 for a 6,098-square-foot property, or roughly $16.40 per square foot, and can go as high as $3,150,000.00 for 10,890 square feet, which is around $289.26 per square foot. 

In general, land values may still increase depending on its development status, or if it is fit for residential construction since some properties listed on websites may be undeveloped. LaBram Homes shares that if ever prospective homeowners choose to build on an existing property, demolishing it may cost around $8,000 to $15,000.

Permits and Other Fees 

As of January 1, 2022, St. Petersburg has adopted the Electronic Plan Review (ePlan) for both residential and commercial construction. The city government has also created a checklist to make the permitting process smoother for project owners. For St. Petersburg, the permit fees generally depend on the project valuations, including the labor and material costs. For example, projects less than $1,000 in value have a flat fee of $50Single family homes with a habitable space of less than or equal to 1,400 square feet in size have a flat fee of $250. For projects $1,000 and up, a corresponding value is given, which can be seen in the table below. 

In addition, a property owner surcharge of $20 is issued for each project worth more than $2,000. There are other building-related permit fees, like demolition, which costs around $125 for up to 5,000 square feet, and $250 if larger than 5,000 square feet. Lastly, a driveway permit costs $45 and covers the construction of up to two driveways and/or curb cuts and construction of the sidewalk. 

Architecture and Design Fees

Architecture and design fees depend on the size, scope, and complexity of the project. The final design will also vary with the client’s needs and preferences. While some projects may be simple and straightforward, others may require extensive research, attention to detail, and further consultation with other industry professionals. Nationally, the architect and design rates range anywhere between 5 and 20% of the total construction cost. For St. Petersburg, HomeYou shares that hiring an architect in the area may cost around 2 to 15% of the total construction cost. While home plans are available online, these may cost roughly $2,000.

How do the custom home building costs in St. Petersburg compare to other nearby cities?

According to Redfin, the median home price in St. Petersburg as of February 2022 is around $351,000. Home prices increased by 20.6% year-over-year and with an average list time of eight days before it gets sold, it is considered a very competitive market. Homes can sell around 1% above the listing price, while more in-demand homes can sell for 5% higher than the original listing price. Compared to other cities like Tampa and Clearwater, existing homes listed for St. Petersburg is somewhat affordable. 

In Tampa, a 2,400-square-foot home may cost $293,000 to build, with basic construction costing around $121.81 per square footBudget homes start at $129 per square foot, while average or middle-range homes cost around $188 per square foot. Lastly, high-end or luxury homes start at $219 per square foot. Realtor adds that the median price of existing homes in the area is $375,000 or $241 per square foot, with a year-over-year of 17.6% as of February 2022. Tampa has a sale-to-list price ratio of 100%, which indicates that the city is a seller’s market. For Clearwater, the median home price is $330,000 or $244 per square foot. Its sale-to-list price ratio is also at 100%, which means that homes are sold at approximately the asking price.

What Leading Custom Home Builders and Architects that Serve the St. Petersburg Area Say

EDAD Studio principal Elizabeth Hallock shares that unless another recession happens, cost trends will not slow down in the Tampa Bay area. Major factors affecting this constant increase include the shortage in skilled labor, material costs, and the application of hurricane-resistant methods.

The Future of St. Petersburg’s Residential Construction Industry

The transition of businesses from on-site to remote or hybrid work due to the COVID-19 pandemic helped companies realize that their employees can still finish work outside of the workplace. As remote work is encouraged, employees are looking for cheaper cities to live more comfortably. Central Florida’s Gulf Coast is said to be one of the best relocation spots, with people preferring sunny and relatively affordable metros according to Redfin. Several businesses are also aiming for the Tampa Bay area, such as a Microsoft and Accenture joint venture, for its big potential as a rising tech city. Project Athena is currently located in New York, the unknown company is said to be earning around $7.5 billion in revenue with stores in over 20 countries around the globe. The company was rumored to lease at least 100,000 square feet and bring in 300 job positions with an annual salary of at least $120,000. For St. Petersburg, this calls for more housing units. 

Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area residents are still struggling with the drastic increase in housing costs. In 2022, the average rent for single family homes, condominium units, and multi-unit buildings was topped by at least 28% since February 2021. Government officials in Pinellas County have already approved the construction of more than a hundred affordable housing units, with several developments expected to be completed by 2023 in St. Petersburg. These include apartment complexes, hotel expansions, condominiums, and mixed-income housing. There are also redevelopment plans approved just last March that also focus on housing, especially on rental units, but the housing and affordability crisis will remain until the said units are completed.

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