Building Complex: What Does It Mean In Construction?

Discover the meaning of a building complex in construction and learn the different types of building complexes.
Togal AI
10 minutes

Building Complex: What Does It Mean In Construction?

In construction, a building complex is a complete structure consisting of interconnected or related structures. This building or group of buildings is constructed in a contiguous area for industrial, residential, institutional, and commercial purposes. They are usually built under ownership of various individuals or a cooperative group. In addition, a complex building may also be on lease and sold as offices, shops, or other spaces for commercial purposes. Often, they exceed 600 square meters in building area.

The cost to construct a building complex varies greatly depending on several factors. This includes the size of the building, materials used, location, type, and purpose of the structure. Depending on the project specifications, seasoned estimators and general contractors could spend up to 60% of their time only doing takeoffs and cost estimations. Fortunately, the use of AI estimating software has now led to a more streamlined takeoff process, helping major global construction leaders to become more efficient and profitable in estimating building complex projects.

In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of building complex projects and the cost to build them. 

Disclaimer: Pricing stated here is based on average data from third-party research. Prices may still vary due to differences in seasonality and supplier.

What Are The Types of Building Complexes? 

Complex buildings are buildings or groups of buildings that are used for various purposes including residential, industrial, institutional, and commercial use. Examples of building complexes include a multi-family dwelling with more than 5 units, or a university campus with buildings for sports, lecturing, administration, and residence. Read further below to discover the different types of building complexes. 

School Complex

School Complex

The cost to build a school typically ranges between $295 and $759 per square foot. But the final cost is always impacted by a wide variety of factors such as the type of school, location, and buildings present. A school complex typically has the following buildings: 

Types of School Buildings

The table below shows a summary of the different buildings found in a school complex along with their descriptions.

Type of School Building Definition
Classrooms Classrooms are a major component of a school complex. The size should depend on the number of students per class, typically 40 to 50 students. The space should have proper ventilation and enable students and teachers to sit, stand, and move freely. A classroom can cost $580 per square foot to build.
Subject Rooms These rooms are similar to classrooms, but with a more specific design to accommodate specific subjects like Mathematics, Science, Geography, and more. For example, a room specifically for teaching chemistry should include sinks, outlets, and other amenities for performing laboratory activities. A laboratory typically costs $756 per square foot to build.
Library Rooms Libraries contain books and other self-learning resources. It may also include reading rooms, discussion rooms, and computer rooms. Their design should enable ventilation and natural lighting for reading. They also have bookshelves, reading desks, tables, and chairs.
School Offices The teachers and individuals with administrative roles stay in school offices. These offices are often situated near the Headmaster's offices and are also accessible to the students. Aside from housing various office supplies and equipment such as computers, shelves, and more, they also have an attached bathroom and lavatory. Administration rooms typically cost $596 per square foot to build.
Sports Gymnasium This is the area of the school where students can play sports or exercise. Physical education subjects and other large school gatherings are often held in the sport gymnasium
School Hall The hall is an area where the assembly of the whole school is possible. It can be used for general meetings, exhibitions, lectures, and more. It is multi-purpose and can be used as a refreshment room, audio-visual room, gymnasium, or auditorium.
School Dormitory These are apartment-like structures that house students during the school year. They typically cost $322 per square foot to build.

Source: Levelset.

Depending on the type of school being built, they’ll require different buildings and facilities, which largely influences construction costs. For example, a lower-grade education building requires smaller classrooms and minimal facilities, which directly translates to lower costs. 

Types of School

The table below shows the different types of schools, their brief descriptions, and how they impact school complex construction costs. 

Type of School Description Cost To Build
Elementary School This is a facility that teaches lower grade levels, which means it will need minimal technological requirements and athletic spaces. Thus, it is the least expensive to build. $295 per square foot
Middle School This is a facility with better HVAC systems, improved technology, cafeteria kitchens, and even sporting facilities. $325 per square foot
High School As children grow, their need for space and amenities also increases. This is a facility with larger room spaces, more advanced technologies, athletic facilities, and more. $359 per square foot
University Buildings University building often caters to adults with different needs, especially because they're learning various specialized courses. As students reach adulthood, they are also more likely to travel for education and live on campus. Thus the school must also provide housing facilities. General Academic Buildings = $580 per square foot
Tech and Science Laboratories = 760 per square foot
Dorm Buildings = $322 per square foot

Source: Levelset.

Office Complex

An office complex is under the category of a commercial building, which means its construction cost can be as low as $350 per square foot, or as high as $450 per square foot in cities like New York. Apart from location, other factors like building type, number of floors, inflation rates, and materials used can impact the final price. 

Cost to Build an Office per Square Foot

The chart below shows three different types of office complexes and their typical low-end and high-end costs per square foot in USD. As shown below, single-story offices are the least expensive to build ranging from $289 - $437 per square foot compared to mid-rise offices costing $330 - $870 per square foot, and high-rise offices costing $430 - $1,001 per square foot.

Commercial Cost Per Square Foot

Source: Commercial Cost Per Square Foot by Proest 

Housing Complex

A housing complex is a large building or group of buildings designed for accommodation or residential use. Different types of housing complexes include hotels, apartments, villas, and townhouses. Read further to learn more about each type. 


Hotel Building

There are several types of hotels including simple motels, inns, and luxury mega hotels. The costs vary depending on the size, location, and presence of other associated costs such as special amenities and pools. According to Fixr, the average range for building a hotel is $13 million - $32 million. 

Low-End $7.5 million
National Average Cost $22.1 million
High-End $60 million
Average Range $13 million - $32 million

Source: How much does it cost to build the average hotel by Fixr


Apartment Building

An apartment complex is a large building or group of buildings with multiple residential suites. They’re often staffed with property managers and other on-site attendants and may be equipped with additional features such as a swimming pool, fitness center, clubhouse, and parking garages. These structures can either be filled with private apartments or condos. According to Levelset, an apartment complex typically costs $393 per square foot, which makes a 100 average-sized unit cost around $37 million to build. 



The meaning of a villa varies depending on the country. For example, in Europe, a villa refers to large luxury homes used for getaways. By contrast, in the U.S., villas are small, one-story, attached, semi-detached, or fully detached homes often built in clusters or communities. The typical size for a villa is 1,000 square feet but may range up to 2,000 square feet. According to Fixr, the average range to build a villa is $111,000 - $150,000.

Average Cost to Build a Villa

Low-End $80,000
National Average Cost $125,000
High-End $226,800
Average Range $111,000-$150,000

Source: How Much Does It Cost to Build a Villa by Fixr



Townhouses combine single-family living with a condominium design. They are not free-standing, single-family homes, and are often connected to another townhouse to complete a long row of homes. Due to the consistent design across all units, they are easier and faster to build. Because of this, townhouses offer the privacy of single-family living but with lower construction costs. 

Average Cost to Build a Townhouse Per Square Foot

The picture below shows the cost to build a townhouse per square foot as impacted by the building style. Due to the ready-built pieces of a modular townhome, it offers lower construction costs compared to a stick-built townhome. However, stick-built townhomes are more flexible in design.

Average Cost to Build a Townhouse Per Square Foot

Source: Cost to build a townhouse by Fixr.


Healthcare construction requires the integration of high-tech medical equipment, fire protection, medical gasses, and other advanced technology. General contractors and other construction professionals must also pay special attention to patient comfort, staff needs, and infection control procedures which makes hospital construction a complex project.

Average Cost to Build a Hospital Per Type

Factors like hospital type, size, and the number of beds can impact the cost to build a hospital. A hospital with less than 100 beds costs between $25 million and $150 million. Medium-sized hospitals with 100 to 499 beds cost between $75 million and $675 million. In contrast, large hospitals with more than 500 beds cost $250 million and above. 

Average Cost to Build a Hospital Per Type

Source: Cost to Build a Hospital by Fixr and Different Types of Hospitals by Gallagher.

Shopping Centers and Malls

Shopping centers and malls are large buildings or a series of connected buildings that consist of a variety of retail stores and restaurants. There are several types of shopping centers, including two-story malls, three-story strip malls, and large supercenters with large movie theaters and indoor amusement park rides. According to Fixr, the typical construction costs for shopping malls range between $25 million and $180 million.

Average Cost to Build a Shopping Mall

Low-end $2.5 million
National average cost $75 million
High-end $225 million
Average Range $25 million -$180 million

Source: Fixr

Want to Speed Up the Cost Estimation for a Building Complex Project?  

A building complex consists of a large building or series of interconnected buildings that fulfill a specific purpose, may it be industrial, residential, or commercial use. There are several types of building complex projects, such as school complexes, housing complexes, hospitals, and shopping centers. Costs vary depending on the type of complex building being built, the site location, and other associated costs.

To speed up the takeoff and cost-estimation process of your building complex project, leverage our AI estimating software, Togal.AI. With Togal.AI, you can complete takeoffs in seconds with 97% accuracy. 

Not only does it help you speed up the cost estimation process with reduced human error, but it also enables you and your team of estimators to focus on important tasks such as scoping and value engineering. 

Experience how Togal.AI can help finish takeoffs in seconds and increase the profitability of your building complex project by booking a free demo. A dedicated product manager will help you explore how easy it is to integrate Togal.AI into your workflow.

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