The World's Most & Least Expensive Cities in Which to Build

May 17, 2017

The Turner & Townsend 2017 International Construction Market survey has been posted online, crowning New York City as the Most Expensive City in the world in which to build.

The survey details construction costs in 43 markets around the globe and offers analysis and predicted growth areas for those construction economies.

The survey averaged six different types of construction for its rankings:

  • apartment high-rise
  • office block prestige
  • large warehouse distribution centre
  • general hospital
  • primary and secondary school
  • shopping centre including mall

The most expensive locations according to their average cost of  six building types are;

  1. New York -  $3,806.92 per square meter
  2. San Francisco -  $3,549.17 per square meter
  3. Zurich -  $3,527.87 per square meter
  4. Hong Kong  -  $3,487.82 per square meter
  5. London.-  $3,213.99 per square meter

The least expensive places are:

  1. Dar es Salaam - $803.52 per square meter
  2. Warsaw - $782.05 per square meter
  3. Beijing - $724.64 per square meter
  4. Bangalore - $697.43 per square meter
  5. Nairobi  - $683.49 per square meter

Skilled labor costs and shortages factor significantly in the rankings and vary dramatically.

Construction workers in New York and Zurich are edging close to $100 per hour (including additional expenses such as insurance, pensions and other benefits), while construction wages in parts of Africa and India range from $1 to $3 per hour. More than half, 56 percent, of the markets analysed are suffering from a skills shortage.

The survey's forecasted cost escalation in 2017-2018 says Buenos Aires will see a 20 percent rise in costs, but the rest of the 43 markets are expected to increase 3.5 in 2017 after growing by 3.7 percent in 2016.

An interesting segment in the 2017 International Construction Market survey includes the impact political, retail, aging, and infrastructure elements in the 43 regions surveyed. The Turner & Townsend data includes trade rates for jobs such as excavating footings, painting, concrete work, for each region as well as labor costs and materials costs.

The 2017 International Construction Market survey is downloadable in a PDF format and is a fascinating read for the construction geeks among us.

Turner & Townsend is an independent professional services company specialising in programme management, project management, cost management and consulting across the property, infrastructure and natural resources sectors.