What is the cost of architectural as builts per square foot?
A common question when a prospective client calls
Our phone rings quite a bit throughout the day and usually Christine will be the person to answer and often times she hears the question “how much do your services cost per square foot for just floor plans and RCP or just BOMA calculations?” or something of that nature. She then explains to them that it depends on several variables including the size, type, location and complexity of the project as well as the deliverables. They are then directed to our Quick Quote form on our website and told it only takes a few minutes. Shortly after they fill out the form I am looking at the project particulars the prospective client was referring to.
So what do your typical as builts cost?
This is a great question and the simple answer is our fees in the last year for as builts ranges from 4 cents a square foot to over 6 dollars a square foot!
Can’t you just give me and estimate over the phone?
After 25 years in the business we certainly should know how to give a quick estimate over the phone right? The answer is no and heres why. The Quick Quote gives me a chance to look at the project site in Google Earth Pro and get an idea of the complexity of the structure. I then review your requested services that can range from a simple floor plan to a complete facility documentation and site plan including 3D photos, aerial photos, MEP, RCP, exterior elevations, building sections, roof plans, 3D BIM (Building Information Model) etc.. the list goes on and is unique to the clients needs. I then look at your desired deliverables and any special project information or requests you have included in the Quick Quote and apply all the information to our pricing matrix.
What are the variables in your pricing matrix?
There are many variables that affect the price of a project as well as its duration. After applying all of the factors listed below we end up with a price and timeline to perform your project.
- Location of the project. Although we are nationwide some locations simply create different mobility expenses such as busy cities and remote locations. Taking this into account the same project with the same scope of work but a different location can have a different price per square foot due to the cost of mobility expenses.
- The hours and days we can perform the work have an affect on the amount of time we will spend in the field for data acquisition. Case and point: A busy restaurant we just completed allowed (and preferred) us to run our lasers and photo equipment after hours. This was helpful because we weren’t picking up people that might be covering up data we need, therefore it reduced the amount of scans necessary to acquire the data. Not to mention in a restaurant environment having a person with a laptop and a crazy looking laser raises a lot of eyebrows and questions and certainly takes away from the dining experience. People are curious by nature as you know and this is usually their first encounter with this type of technology therefore they often want to talk to the field technician. We never give project specific details to anyone other than the person that ordered the services but we are also courteous and professional. It is simply a more efficient environment if we have less in the way and don’t have to chat with patrons and employees. Our most common field question is what exactly are you doing and why? Our standard answer is “we are documenting the building so it can be drawn to scale but we have no idea why the documentation was ordered”. In a warehouse, typical business or even typical home environment this usually doesn’t affect the time to complete the data acquisition but in some cases such as restaurants or busy assembly occupations it most certainly can.
- The season the work will be performed. Last winter we performed over 3 million square feet of architectural as builts in Chicago alone. The bitter cold not to mention the snow we had to dig to find the bottom of exterior walls was a contributing factor to the data acquisition time therefore the price. Another building we documented last winter in Philadelphia was 7 floors and a basement and 3 of the levels were open to the elements and had a one inch layer of ice covering the floor. This was obviously a rare and unique challenge for a building measuring over 1/2 a million square feet.
- Type and use of the existing structure. We recently performed as builts for a ninety thousand square foot country club in Palm Beach. The reflected ceiling plans alone were extremely complex and unique, comparing the clubhouse to a warehouse of the same size is not even approaching the same ball park to say the least. In another example a Ranch style home will be pretty cut and dry when compared to a Victorian style, there is simply more to locate and document for the Victorian project.
- Economy of scale. The larger a project is the less it costs per square foot for services do to the reduction of mobility costs and the efficiency gained in our office for the CAD and administrative work.
- Is there any existing documentation? Sometimes a client will furnish us with an old set of drawings that is out of date and inaccurate but it further helps us determine the complexity of the structure. Also if a site plan is part of the scope of work an existing land survey even if its old is helpful especially if we cant see the property from satellite due to vegetation. We often use a survey along with a drone overhead picture and photogrammetry software to verify our work completeness as part of our checklist prior to uploading a completed project to the client side server.
Hence the Quick Quote!
We developed the Quick Quote form on our website years ago to get all the information we need to give a prospective client and even existing clients with new work a way to get a price very fast, usually the same day and sometimes within an hour or two depending on our workload. It takes about five minutes to fill it out and will yield an accurate price and timeline for your project.
After applying the factors listed above to a database of similar projects with a similar scope and location we come up with a real price based on actual experience. We then divide the price by the amount of gross square feet to be included and come up with a “price per square foot” fee. Sounds backwards right? I assure you It is still the only way to accurately price a project after 25 years of being in the business. Obviously repetitive work in many locations can easily be adjusted to an average price per foot once you have all the information but you must still do all the front end work on the first project to get a fair and accurate fee for services.
So there you have it, the long answer to the most sought after question Christine fields on a daily basis.
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