Your building project is going to cost what it costs. The only question is do you want to know early in the project, when you can do something about it, or do you want to wait until the very end when the last invoice and the last application for payment has been submitted?
Being surprised by the final cost of a building project is usually the result of:
- An unrealistic belief that there is “secret sauce” for getting a bargain on a building project
- A lack of understanding about the complete and true cost of a building project
Bargain-seekers often use a contractor with “low-overhead.” This usually means the contractor doesn’t have the staff, procedures or experience to adequately manage the complexities of most commercial or institutional projects. This results in poor coordination of trades, failure to get timely decisions from the building owner and inadequate oversight of sub-contractors and vendors. The result is change orders at the end of the project.
Others are tempted to rationalize understating the scope of work on a building permit application to avoid meeting current standards for fire-alarms, sprinkler and handicapped accessibility.When inspectors discover the deception (and they will), the owner pays a premium for rushed work and lost time.
Three years into the Great Recession, many owners still believe the down economy means there are “hungry” contractors who will do work at steep discounts. The hungry contractors have either adjusted their business model or gone out of business. Those that remain have the same higher material costs and have to pay fair wages for skilled workers. Owners end up paying more and getting less when they employ people who will work for less than what they’re worth.
Unfortunately, all this wishful thinking is aided and abetted by building professionals who don’t educate owners about the true cost of a building project. The cost of the building itself is often only 2/3rds of the total cost. Site work, which can be 20% of a project’s cost, is often not included when contractors are talking about costs-per-square foot. Furnishings, signage, data cabling, and security are often costs excluded from construction contracts and can be 15% or more of the project cost.
Being realistic about what buildings cost at the onset of a building project will make the process much less stressful and give owners confidence, at the end of a project, that they received full value for their investment.
Blue Ridge Architects takes budgeting seriously and is available, at no charge, for a one-time consultation on what your project will cost. We deliver lasting value that exceeds the cost of our services.