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Frequently Asked Questions


1. Where do you get your cost escalators and regional modifiers?
2. Where do you get your projects from?
3. How detailed is your data?
4. Why don't you have General Requirements and/or Bidding Requirements in all your projects?
5. How are you different than other estimating online services?
6. I’m only interested in projects that were built in my location, how do I sort by location?
7. How can your website possibly take into consideration major code/building changes from the past 15 years?
8. How accurate can my estimate be?
9. Can I use the Archives for budgeting purposes?
10. Where is the profit & overhead located in the projects?
11. Why haven’t I heard of your company?



1. Where do you get your cost escalators and regional modifiers?



The Cost Escalators and Regional Modifiers are provided by BNi® Building News.


2. Where do you get the projects featured in DCD from?


Architects, contractors and building professionals for publication in a nationally distributed magazine submit projects to Design Cost Data magazine.


3. How detailed is your data?


The detail varies by project. Some projects have extensive subdivision detail where other projects give a lump sum for each division with the detail broken out in the notes.


4. Why don’t you have General Requirements and/or Bidding Requirements in all of the projects?


When projects are submitted to DCD for publication, some professionals have chosen to include the Bidding Requirements and the General Requirements in the different CSI MasterFormat™ divisions, and not break out these costs.


It is suggested for users to take into account their local conditions and add 5 to 10% to the project if no costs are noted. Users should also note LEED® certification costs can have an impact on these divisions and to make the necessary addition of 5% or more.


5. How are you different than other estimating online services?


The projects in the DCD Archives are actual projects. Not national averages or simulations. Subscribers can view projects to select a similar project that is closest to what they conceptualizing to use as a benchmark for their new project.


6. I’m only interested in projects that were built in my location, how do I sort by location?


Projects in the DCD Archives are buildings that have were actually built. They do have a physical location, however, the location of where the building was built is irrelevant to cost estimating with the project because of the local adjusters included on the website. Any building can be moved to any location in the U.S. simply by ‘re-targeting’ the building to your state or locale. The actual location can be found in the PDF file of the original project as it appeared in DCD.


7. How can your website possibly take into consideration major code/building changes from the past 15 years?


This is where your knowledge as a construction professional would come into play. As a Gold Subscriber you can examine each building division and add, modify or delete it depending on what your project will include.


8. How accurate can my estimate be?


DCD was founded on the philosophy that there is no better benchmark for future construction costs than the cost of actual construction already built when applied with up-to-date cost escalators and regional modifiers. The projects in this database are actual projects. Assuming that the subscriber chooses a like-like model to estimate from, results can be very good in determining a new construction cost. It is important to remember you cannot make unrealistic assumptions. For example, it is unrealistic to use a single-story 5,000 sq. ft. building to model a five-story 25,000 sq.ft. office building (just because it looks like the building you want to cost). The 5,000 sq.ft. model will not have elevators and many other components necessary in building a five-story structure. You are better off to model from a 30,000 sq.ft., 5-story office building and adjust the square foot area down to 25,000 sq.ft. By choosing models of similar characteristics to the project users frequently create preliminary cost estimates within a 10% +/- tolerance range, even before plans are drawn. It is recommended to stay within 20% of the project size.


9. Can I use the Archives for budgeting purposes?


Yes. That is one of the main purposes of this database. Builders, designers, developers, architects and other professionals dealing with construction all need to know the cost impact on a project before plans have been drawn. Drawing plans for a project is an expensive proposition and a project’s feasibility must be carefully studied before this process is initiated.


10. Where is the profit & overhead located in the projects?


Profit and Overhead (unless noted) is spread within the project in each division. Profit and Overhead is not broken out. Architectural and Engineering Fees are not included in any of this data. Remember, this database is a pre-construction or preliminary estimating systems designed to answer ‘what if’ questions or to develop a starting cost.


11. Why haven’t I heard of your company?

Design Cost Data magazine was started in 1958 with a small circulation targeting preliminary architectural market. Since that time we have been expanding the circulation, cost data, and editorial to where we are today: Print and digital editions serving the construction profession nationwide.