The 2012 data show that the direct costs of construction – consisting of construction payroll, costs of construction work subcontracted out to others, and costs for materials/supplies – vary from 65% of total revenue of specialty trade contractors to 87% of the business receipts of multifamily general contractors without land costs. For single-family general contractors (who build on land customers own), the direct costs of construction consume on average 81% of the total revenue.
For single-family general contractors, 7% of total business receipts go to pay wages of construction workers. Specialty trade contractors, who maintain larger construction payrolls and subcontract out a minimum amount of work, spend on average 19% of total revenue on construction payroll.
In sharp contrast, multifamily general contractors who subcontract out most of the work, spend only 3% on the construction payroll. Their biggest expenditure is the cost of construction work subcontracted out to others, 63% of the total revenue. This far exceeds the typical spending by single-family general contractors on subcontractors, which amounts to 36% of outlays.