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How Much Does it Cost to Build a House in Stamford, Connecticut?

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Stamford, Connecticut was once known as “The City that Works.” Before that, the city had changed its nickname every few years to names like “Lock City” and “Research City,” reflecting the industries that have the heaviest influence on the economy at the time. In 2019, Stamford employed more than 72,000 people and became among the top income earners in the country. 

Stamford’s name “The City that Works” is still accurate today. In 2021, Stamford was deemed home to three Fortune 500 companies, which include Charter Communications, Synchrony, and United Rentals. Four other companies with headquarters in the city are included on the Fortune 1000 list. Dominant sectors include financial services, information technology, telecommunications, and healthcare. The densely packed companies in the area offer plentiful jobs and career opportunities within the city limits. 

The Cost of Building a Home in Stamford

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Stamford is the state’s second-largest city with over 136,300 residents. It has a vibrant nightlife and a wide variety of recreational activities for families and young adults. Many people take up residence in Stamford due to its amenities and proximity to New York. Although the cost of living in the city is lower than that in the Big Apple, it is still higher than the national average. In 2019, the median household income increased by almost 5% to $93,059 from the year prior. 

Stamford’s location near business districts within the state and its neighboring cities have allowed it to flourish in the employment and housing sectors. The median property value in Stamford is $602,311, which is higher than the national average of $344,141. The average housing market rate in the U.S. is $207 per square foot. In Stamford, the average cost to build a house ranges from $200 to $300 per square foot. 

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

The cost to build a home varies from city to city. Many factors contribute to the total cost of building a home, and two of the most important are hard costs and soft costs. With the many opportunities in the area, whether it be scholarship, career, or housing, how much does it cost to build a house in Stamford?

Hard Costs

All the physical materials that are associated with the construction of the house are considered hard costs. This includes raw materials, construction equipment, and labor. In Stamford, a value-conscious build ranges from $150 to $200 per square foot. For a mid-range build, the cost ranges from $200 to $300 per square foot. For a high-end build, it could cost homeowners $300 to $600 per square foot. These ranges could increase depending on the complexity of the build. 

Installation of a four-inch reinforced slab in Stamford ranges from $9 to $15 per square foot. This cost may increase or decrease depending on the soil condition, location, and terrain of the project. For exterior walls, the most common siding in the U.S. is vinyl. The total cost of installing this type of siding ranges from $5,000 to $13,000 with an average of $2 to $7 per square foot. On the interior side of the project, the average cost for installing hardwood flooring in the city is from $8 to $10 per square foot. These estimates could increase in value to include labor and materials. 

Besides flooring, interior hard costs include heat, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units. In Stamford, the average cost of a brand new HVAC unit is around $1,845 to $2,186. The average installation cost is around $2,015.61. As for utilities, the average electrical installation costs $1,101 to $1,318. Plumbing contractors in the area have an average cost that ranges from $94.02 to $106.67 per hour plus parts and materials. 

Putting efforts into the final appearance of a project can increase its value. Careful consideration of materials contributes to the livability and durability of the build. It is in the best interest to check local contractors to have a better understanding of the industry. 

Soft Costs

Soft costs are all the expenses that do not directly affect the construction but are necessary for building to begin. Each city has its variation of permit fees and land costs. A more complicated structure or design of a project may increase the total soft costs. 

Figure 2. Soft cost percentage and average price range of additional fees, determined from the overall cost of custom home building in Stamford.

Cost of Land 

One of Stamford’s many names includes “Gateway to Connecticut.” This is because it has many connections to major cities from across nearby states. The Metro-North and Acela Amtrak train stations link Stamford from New York all the way to Washington D.C. Moreover, the city is also connected to other states through the I-95 interstate highway. These connections allow the city to become a prime location for employees who are working in the cities outside the state.   

On the website Redfin, the average land cost in the area is $41,884.46. In other words, homeowners would pay an average of $12.05 per square foot. The cheapest land on the site is $200,000 for 7,405 square feet of land located on Bridge Street beside Vincent Horan Park. On the other hand, the most expensive land on the listing is a $3,500,000 lot on Lancer Lane, near Merritt Parkway. 

Permits and Other Fees

According to Stamford’s BOR Resolution Number 3972, the fee for residential construction is $13 per each $1000 of estimated cost or fraction thereof. A minimum of $60 permit fee is implemented for the installation of the roof, siding, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC units. A review for a permit application has a $200 Base Application Fee (BAF) per submission. In addition to the base application fee, applicants also pay a $400 permit application fee for the construction of a new detached single-family dwelling. 

Architecture and Design Fees

Building a house almost always starts with planning. Fees for architects and designers vary on the method they charge. In Stamford, hourly cost varies depending on the build. For new home construction, the estimated hourly cost to hire a professional architect could be between $15,000 to $30,000. For the architect’s total fees, the cost is about 15% of the total building construction. The average rate of interior designers in Stamford costs around $50 to $200 per hour. The cost to hire a professional architect and designer may increase depending on the build’s complexity and level of expertise. 

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

Stamford residents have easy access to other major cities outside the state. Compared to New York and Boston, living in Connecticut can cost 14 to 48% less. Economically, the city has a healthy workforce that is further strengthened by the number of degree holders among its residents. Aside from this, there are over 40 parks and recreational areas including a 19-mile shoreline in the area. These amenities are among the things that contribute to the higher cost of living for residents in the city. 

Compared to other nearby cities, Greenwich and Darien have higher median property values as compared to Stamford. These two cities are located on either side of Stamford and have an over $1,700,000 median home value according to Zillow. Stamford has a median property value of $602,311, which has increased 11.9% over the past year. The rate of this increase is lower than both Greenwich’s and Darien’s, which are at 16% and 14% respectively. 

Norwalk, on the other hand, has a lower median property value than Stamford with $382,701. Although lower in value, the price of homes in Norwalk has gone up 15% compared to the year prior. Other cities with lower median home values are Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Danbury, and Waterbury.

What Leading Custom Home Builders and Architects that Serve the Stamford Area Say

According to Vince Colangelo, owner of Colangelo Associates Architects, there is an increase in new residential construction in the past years along with construction cost. “Our business, which is primarily residential, has ramped up during the past three years. So have construction costs due to the supply chain problems and companies raising prices arbitrarily.” Colangelo added that due to the surge in construction costs, homeowners are hesitant to continue with their plans or are scaling down their projects to avoid spending more. “I think it is for that reason we’re seeing no activity from specialty builders who are hesitating to take risks that they previously didn’t worry too much about. This is due to increased regulations, time for the approval process, and unpredictable materials costs.” He concluded that in contrast, most big companies were able to take calculated risks because of their political power and manpower. 

The Pratley Company owner Peter J. Pratley also mentioned the supply chain issues that are affecting the construction industry. “Recent supply chain issues have increased lead times and project completion times. The industry is still trying to absorb two years of pandemic demand hitting the market all at once.” Due to this, subcontractors are booked months in advance. With time being among the factors affecting the building process, Pratley is advising his clients to make their selection as early as possible. He also added that scheduling and meticulous time tracking have been one of their strategies in keeping up with the higher demand for new homes all the while giving allowances when the unexpected happens. 

The Future of Stamford’s Residential Construction Industry

A study on Stamford’s local housing needs shows that for a median home value of $540,000, a household would have to have an income of about $120,000 to afford it. In addition, a homeowner would have to earn $75,000 not to be cost-burdened. The average salary of a Stamford resident is 65% higher than the U.S. average. Although among the top income earners in the country, residents struggle with increased inflation and the cost of living. 

Homeownership in the city comes to almost 52%. This percentage is still lower than the national average of 64.1%. Accordingly, Stamford created several initiatives to help increase this percentage and allow its residents to become homeowners. The local government’s Below Market Rate Program (BMR) aims to support all income levels with affordable housing. Moreover, the city has recently published a 2022 housing affordability plan that aims to develop its needs and invest in the future of Stamford’s housing market. One of the key solutions in this plan is the development of multi-family units for more affordable housing.

Local architect Vince Colangelo mentioned the growth in the construction of multi-family units in the area. “We are also seeing an increase in multi-family units as the new generation prefers not to take on the maintenance costs of a house with the likelihood that they might be relocated.” He added that his son, who is now an architect, is involved in a project to build multi-family dwellings with up to 400 units along the east coast. With the local government’s focus on the development of multi-family buildings, Stamford’s industry in new home construction decreases.

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