Daily Archives: June 17, 2009

Okanogan P.U.D. Office Building

$50.00 per square foot? For a commercial office building? You have to be kidding. Didn’t these projects used to run under $10.00 per square foot?

My point here is that square foot costing can be a very dangerous way to bid projects these days. One reason is that material and labor costs continue to increase rapidly. Another is the number and complexity of systems being stuffed in new buildings today. Here are some of the reasons this building was so expensive.

  • A very expensive DALI lighting control system with daylight harvesting and dimming
  • Two sidewalk and pavement snow melting systems
  • A complete computer server room with two Liebert UPS systems
  • An extensive data and telephone network

Early in my career, I estimated and managed a high end office building on the corner of Wilshire & La Cienega in Beverly Hills. The shell was a little over $3.00 per square foot. Even though it was in a high rent district, the building had nothing special in it. California codes did not require anything special. If we constructed that building today, it would include additional scope such as a tele/data network, code required energy management systems, ADA compliant life/safety systems and a security system with CCTV. Technology systems and code changes continue to add new costs to these buildings every year. 

I suggest you keep a log of the square foot and per unit costs for every project you bid and construct. If you must use square foot pricing for a budget or (heaven forbid) a contract estimate, tread carefully. Make sure that you analyze the scope of work closely before committing to anything.