Construction costs in Los Angeles

Here in Paris, I met a guy who works in real estate development in Los Angeles. Assuming that you’ve already got the land, what does it cost to build a McMansion-grade house? “$500 per square foot,” he responded. How about an apartment building for the middle class? “Closer to $400 per square foot,” was the answer (same as So the 2,500-square-foot house costs $1.25 million to build and the 1000-square-foot apartment will cost $400,000 to build… assuming that land is free.

“Rents have a long way to go up before they cover these kinds of costs for new construction, plus the land and all of the permitting,” he said.

I am not sure how California is going to house all of the migrants that it says it wants to welcome. How many folks who show up in the U.S. not speaking English will earn enough to pay $2 million for a house (construction plus land costs) or $600,000 for a condo (construction plus land costs)? At current interest rates, the nerdwallet calculator says that a Californian earning $200,000 per year can afford a $675,000 house ( says that median household income in California is less than $80,000 per year).

From these same folks, I learned that the cost of a suite in one of Paris’s nicer hotels is normally $2,800 per night, but they were paying $2,100.


  • City rebuilding costs from the Halifax explosion
  • the venue where the conversation happened, a house that would cost a lot more than $500/sf to replicate. Note the visitor using a cloth mask to protect him/her/zir/theirself against an aerosol virus in one of the world’s most crowded indoor environments whose ventilation system was put in by Louis XIV and got its last significant upgrade in 1698. Was the trip to Versailles actually necessary or could he/she/ze/they have stayed home and saved lives?
  • cloth masks again… outside in the bright French sunshine:
  • and, because I know Mike will want to see this, one last Warrior for Science in a hall depicting heroes in various French battles (note failure to shave beard while attempting to seal out aerosols with a mask):

8 thoughts on “Construction costs in Los Angeles

    • This refers to lady on the right, in the second to last picture.

      Regarding the astronomical construction costs, perhaps we need a depression to take care of them?

  1. So no selfie of GREENSPUN in the mirrors of the hall of mirrors. Always noted despite the combined wealth of the entire country, the mirrors couldn’t be flat & aligned. The largest pane of mirror in those days must have been those sizes.

    By the time the lion kingdom runs out of money & can no longer afford to have a job, it’s going to cost $1000/square ft to build a house.

  2. By the way Paris. As you are passionate about aviation or science in general, maybe you’d like to visit de Museum of Crafts (Musée des arts et métiers), Towards the end of the visit there’s an ex-church on the ceiling of which are hung some of the aircraft of French aviation pioneers. You can climb stairs and watch them from close-range.

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