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
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
“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.”
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
“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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