Budgeting for your Project
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Architectural projects are unique, and it is difficult to generalize or make cost assumptions. We understand, however, that in order to get started on a project, you will need to figure out how much it might cost. So, here are some things to consider.
From a financial perspective, a lender would consider a commercial construction loan to include four types of costs—the land cost, the hard costs, the soft costs and a contingency reserve. These categories can help to organize the budget for your project. For simplicity, we will define soft construction costs as anything related to the project that you cannot visibly see and these costs are usually incurred prior to construction.
Soft costs include design, engineering, consultants, and government permits and fees. Hard costs include the labor and materials for the actual construction (the contractor’s bid price). A contingency reserve should be included (usually around 10% of the hard costs) to cover unforeseen site conditions and change orders.
For a typical commercial or public project, the soft costs will usually range from 6 to 10% of the hard costs.
For a typical residential project, the soft costs will usually range from 10 to 16% of the hard costs.
Differences in percentage are affected by many factors, including:
• new construction vs. remodel
• the age of the building to be remodeled
• the location (especially the governmental jurisdiction)
• site issues (slope, soil conditions, landscaping needs, parking requirements, etc.)
• unique features (historic, LEED-certified, etc.)
• public input (hearings, Environmental Impact Reports, etc.)
In order to start an actual budget for your project, it would be helpful to call a local general contractor (builder) who handles your type of project and ask what construction prices are running per square foot. Then make an approximation of how many square feet you intend to impact for your project. Then call your local City (or County) Planning Department for a list of fees in your jurisdiction.
(Cost per Square Foot) X (Number of Square Feet Under Construction) = Hard Cost Estimate
(Hard Cost Estimate) X (Soft Cost Percentage) = Soft Cost Estimate
(Hard Cost Estimate) X (10%) = Contingency Reserve
Hard Cost Estimate + Soft Cost Estimate + Contingency Reserve + Government Fees = Overall Project Budget
Soft Costs (partial list—a project may include some or all of the following):
Title-24 Energy Analysis
Green Point Rater or LEED Consultant
Preliminary Cost Estimator
Building/Fire Review & Permit
Plan Check Fee
Property Tax Assessment