Special Considerations

Circumstances unique to your institution may dictate special considerations when developing your project budget. It is not possible to anticipate all the inevitable changes that may be required as the project develops, because every building project is distinctive. By taking into consideration factors specific to your institution your budget will remain more accurate, and the potential for significant changes will diminish.

Cost Differences

The range of construction costs for science buildings that include a mix of wet and dry labs is in the general area of $140 and $250 per gross square foot. There are many factors that contribute to the differences in costs, and you should be aware when developing your budget that this variation does exist.

Contingencies and Escalation

It is critical to factor in contingencies, so you can respond to unforeseen conditions and for possible changes required by the passage of time. Contingencies must be based on previous experience and adjusted at each phase of the project's development.

Potential escalations are influenced by many factors, some of which you are in control of and others which you are not. For example unknown pricing and complexity during the planning of the budget might lead to project cost escalations, as well as unforeseen conditions and changes during construction.

Selection of the Construction Delivery Method

The method of contracting you use determines the selection process for the construction members of your project team, so you must consider which type you would like to use while in the initial stages of budgeting and planning. There are three contracting arrangements used to deliver construction projects:

  1. General Contracting (GC)
  2. Design/Build (DB)
  3. Construction Management (CM).

There are variations within each of these areas depending on the specific circumstances. Let us note here that entire books have been written on this topic, and that we will only share what we feel are some of the important factors to consider when deciding the method used on your project.

You should determine the range of allowable methods, as some construction delivery methods are not allowed due to statute or administrative precedent. You should analyze capabilities and project goals to determine the priorities of the people in your institution. You should then match your priorities with contracting methods.


Science facilities consume a large amount of energy and this must be considered as the project budget is developed, including the impact of the project on existing utilities and the capacity of the institution to meet the energy needs of the new facility. By establishing an overall building energy budget that accounts for energy used during building design and construction, equipment cost, and operating energy use over the expected life of the building, you are able to select building systems and materials in the context of broader goals for the project, rather than on a case-by-case determination.