December 20, 2023 in Condominium Complex Design, Multi-Family Complex

Hard Costs and Soft Costs in Multifamily Construction

Multifamily Construction

Multifamily construction is a complex process involving diverse elements that collectively contribute to project costs. Two crucial components in this financial equation are hard and soft costs, each playing a distinct role in constructing multifamily properties.


Hard Costs in Multifamily Construction

Hard costs, often called direct costs, are the tangible and measurable expenses associated with the physical construction of a multifamily project. These costs encompass materials, labor, equipment, and other costs directly related to the physical structure of the building.

Materials Matter 

One of the primary elements contributing to hard costs is the materials used in construction. Each component, from concrete and steel to roofing materials, shapes the project’s financial landscape.

Labor Expenses

Labor is a substantial part of the hard costs. Construction workers, including carpenters, electricians, plumbers, masons, and other professionals involved in the building process, contribute directly to the project’s budget.

Equipment Costs 

Heavy machinery and specialized equipment required for construction operations fall under hard costs. These expenses are essential for the execution of the project but can significantly impact the overall budget.

Hard costs are typically fixed and easily quantifiable. They form the baseline expenses essential for the physical realization of a multifamily construction project. Understanding and managing hard costs is crucial for a project’s financial success.


Multifamily Construction

Soft Costs in Multifamily Construction

Soft or indirect costs are less tangible but equally crucial expenses associated with multifamily construction. These costs are often related to professional services, permits, and other non-construction aspects of the project.

Professional Services

Architectural and engineering fees, legal services, and project management fall into soft costs. These services are vital for the planning and execution of the project but don’t involve physical construction.

Permitting and Approval Costs 

Getting necessary permits and approvals from local authorities is a soft cost. These bureaucratic processes are integral to ensuring compliance with regulations and standards.

Financing and Insurance 

Soft costs also encompass financing charges and insurance premiums. Securing funds and protecting the project through insurance are indirect yet necessary components of multifamily construction.

Unlike hard costs, soft costs are often variable and fluctuate throughout the project. Managing and controlling soft costs requires different skills, focusing on efficient planning and strategic decision-making.

Multifamily Construction

Percentage Breakdown

Typically, hard costs account for most of the total project costs, ranging from 60% to 80%. Soft costs, on the other hand, typically represent the remaining 20% to 40% of the overall cost. This percentage breakdown can vary depending on the project’s complexity, location, and specific building design and specifications.

Multifamily Construction

Striking the Balance: Managing Both Hard and Soft Costs

Effectively managing hard and soft costs is essential for the success of a multifamily construction project. Balancing these expenses requires a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies involved in both categories.

Successful projects find harmony between hard and soft costs. While hard costs provide the foundation for the physical structure, soft costs ensure the project’s overall viability and compliance with regulations.

Multifamily Construction


While hard costs are typically considered fixed, unforeseen circumstances such as changes in material prices or unexpected construction challenges can lead to adjustments in the budget. However, these fluctuations are usually minimal and require careful management to maintain the project’s financial integrity.

Soft costs are inherently variable and can fluctuate based on project size, location-specific requirements, and regulation changes. Project stakeholders must anticipate these variations and incorporate flexibility into their budgeting and planning processes.

Effective project management is crucial in optimizing resource allocation, minimizing delays, and preventing cost overruns. By fostering clear communication, anticipating potential issues, and implementing efficient workflows, project managers can enhance overall cost-effectiveness, addressing both hard and soft cost considerations.

Soft costs, including legal and permitting fees, are essential for navigating the complex landscape of regulatory requirements. These expenses ensure that the multifamily construction project complies with local laws, building codes, and environmental regulations, mitigating potential legal challenges.

Yes, strategic planning and effective risk management are key strategies for minimizing costs without sacrificing construction quality. By identifying cost-saving opportunities, leveraging technology, and focusing on efficiency, stakeholders can achieve a balance that optimizes financial outcomes and project quality.


In conclusion, comprehending the distinctions between hard and soft costs is pivotal for anyone involved in multifamily construction. By recognizing the role of each in the overall financial landscape, project stakeholders can make informed decisions, ensuring the success and sustainability of their endeavors.

At Varisco Design Build Group, we are committed to providing exceptional value and service throughout the entire multifamily construction process. If you are considering a multifamily construction project, we encourage you to contact Varisco Design Build Group for a consultation. We would be happy to discuss your project goals and provide you with a customized solution that aligns with your budget and vision.

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