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D4COST Software

  DCD Archives: Real Project Data, Real-Time Cost Estimator
By Lynn Murray

It’s been said that there are no new ideas, just different versions of those ideas brought forth by new people.

From an architectural standpoint, that’s a gift of sorts. The ability to reference historical data about an actual project – and replicate it – generally ensures an end-result that is physically sound and commercially successful. But where this data becomes less relevant is estimating project costs.

The value of using historical project data to project costs is limited without the ability to modify and change the data to reflect time, place and other variables. And while a skilled estimator can modify an existing project to account for changes, it can be a tedious and time-consuming process that often results in a “best guess” projection.

DCD Archives, a new web-based estimating product recently launched by Design Cost Data™, the industry’s premier cost-estimating publication, puts a positive new spin on the usefulness of historical project data. DCD Archives combines the value of actual project data with the versatility of regional modifiers, cost escalators and other customized edits in a simple, easy-to-use tool that gives old projects new life.

Tools and Features
There are a number of estimating software products on the market that offer the ability to review or modify existing projects. What sets DCD Archives apart from similar products is its library of actual project data, direct from the pages of Design Cost Data magazine. Here you’ll find more than 1,200 actual projects, with complete cost data, as well as full-color photos and a detailed profile of each project. Profiles may be printed as PDFs and shared with clients to help them envision their future project. New projects are added continuously to the DCD Archives library.

The project database can be searched by project description, from churches to casinos to civic centers. It can be narrowed by variables including building components, such as foundation, roof, interior or exterior wall, or floor; or project type, such as new, addition, renovation or retrofit.

Then DCD Archives takes those projects to a higher level. Subscribers may update projects to reflect building costs in a different city and/or state. For example, a 138,000-square-foot retail center originally built in Scottsdale, Ariz., had a cost of $9.8 million. The same project, built today in Tampa, Fla., would have an estimated cost of $15.9 million. More than 500 regional modifiers are available, covering major metropolitan areas and cities across the country.

Projects also may be modified to estimate building costs at a future date, taking into consideration inflation and increases in material costs. A 35,000-square-foot elementary school built today in San Diego, Cal., would cost $6.9 million. The same plan, replicated in the same location in April 2012, would increase to $7.7 million. DCD Archives uses a cost escalation table with cost indices through 2014 to arrive at these estimates. Each archived project, regardless of completion date, is automatically quoted in today’s dollars, but may be modified backward or forward for pricing at another month or year.

While the archived project data is a great start for many projects, architects and contractors want the ability to customize. DCD Archives makes that possible. For example, a subscriber wants to model his school from a project in DCD Archives, but he doesn’t want to use skylights; he plans to upgrade door hardware; and he needs to factor in additional costs to transport materials. To do so, the subscriber simply edits or deletes any division or subdivision, or edits cost estimates as needed. He or she can then save the revised project, which automatically updates costs. New divisions and subdivisions also may be added if desired.

If a subscriber needs to build a smaller or larger structure, it’s no problem. Simply modify square footage for the project, and all costs will adjust proportionately.

The ability to review and edit square footage at the division and subdivision-level is particularly useful to chief estimator Christopher Nicholas of Diamond Drywall, a drywall, metal framing and glass subcontractor in Fort Myers, Fla.

“We are currently trying to deliver more accurate pricing than ever to our customers and are developing square-foot pricing models whenever possible to speed up the delivery. DCD Archives is a good check to verify that our assumptions are correct,” said Nicholas.

Cost estimator Steve Arden, LEED AP, owner of Arden Pre-Construction Services (www.ardenpreconstructionservices.com) in Columbus, Ohio, appreciates the versatility of DCD Archives and its ability to provide data quickly. As a 38-year industry veteran and a long-time subscriber of Design Cost Data magazine, Arden knew DCD Archives would provide quality background data, critical for his consulting venture.

“DCD Archives provides accurate costs and helps me interpret historical data. As a cost consultant for architects, quick turnaround on costs is essential in today’s competitive economy. With DCD Archives, accessing and modifying data is so easy. I was up and running in no time,” said Arden.

As a green building proponent, Arden also enjoys the opportunity to search for LEED-certified projects in DCD Archives. “I expect these archives of LEED projects to grow exponentially in the next few years.”

Subscriber Options
DCD Archives evolved from the desktop software, D4COST™; the new Web-based product was launched in March. Annual individual subscriptions are available at three levels, with functionality to meet a variety of user needs.

Gold subscribers have full access to all DCD Archives features, including the ability to browse projects, target projects with new date and location using cost escalators and regional modifiers, and change square footage. Users at the Gold level also have access to “My Saved Project,” where they can add, modify or delete a CSI MasterFormat™ division or subdivision, view expanded project data, save a project for later use, and print reports on new cost models or original projects, and print full-color PDFs of archived project profiles. A one-year Gold subscription costs $149, with a two-year subscription at this level available for $239.

For users desiring more simplified features, a Silver subscription is available for $94 for one year and $157 for two years. Silver subscribers may access archived projects, target projects with new date and location, change the square footage, print reports, and print archived project profiles.

A basic Bronze level subscription is available at no cost. It gives users the ability to browse archived projects and print project descriptions as they appeared in Design Cost Data magazine.

All subscriber levels also receive a free print subscription to Design Cost Data magazine and access to past digital issues on the DCD Archives.

“DCD Archives is based on the valuable project data found in Design Cost Data magazine, but it’s so much more,” said Barb Castelli, publisher, Design Cost Data.

“With the ability to target projects for time or location, modify square footage, edit divisions or subdivisions, and print archived project profiles and reports, DCD Archives delivers exceptional value to the audiences we’ve been serving for decades, in a format that meets today’s demands,” said Castelli.

To subscribe, go to www.dcd.com and click on the DCD Archives box, or call 800-533-5680 for additional information.

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