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  • Cost of Building per square foot

    Does anyone know the standard for figuring costs per square feet when building out a veterinary hospital?  I noticed  there are figures listed on the information for the Hospitals of the Year but I just can't seem to figure out exactly what that figure entails.  Is it just the cost of what the contractor builds (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, drywall and cabinetry) or does it also include the cages, surgical tables, treament tables, computers, phones, etc. 

    Any help on how to find this out would be greatly appreciated.

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  • New veterinary hospital cost per square foot

    Thanks for the great question, and apologies for my tardy reply.

    I've asked a couple of Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board members who are architects to chime in, I can answer your question about what SHOULD be included in numbers for a Hospital Design Contest entrant.

    Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Contest entrants give numbers for the total square footage of their building as well as the "Construction" cost, which excludes land purchase, landscaping, parking lot, etc., BUT would DEFINITELY include electrical, plumbing, HVAC, drywall, and permanent cabinetry. Cost per square foot is calculated from that.

    Cages, surgical tables, treatment tables, and phones would be included in "Equipment." And we have a whole separate category for "Computers." Neither of these is calculated in the cost per square foot for the contest.

    Have a great weekend! And don't hesitate to contact me directly with further questions.

    Brendan Howard

    Editor, Firstline and Veterinary Economics

    bhoward@advanstar.com

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  • Re: Cost of building per square foot

    I just got an answer, by email, from Veterinary Economics architect Mark Hafen, AIA.

    Hope this helps!

    "First of all, the question of how much it should cost varies by the type of project, be it renovation, leasehold or free standing. It also varies according to quality and location.

    "For some quick rules of thumb, I would expect a build out of a leasehold to run approximately $125 to $135 per square foot. For a free-standing clinic, the cost is nearly double, or about $200 to $250. There is some logic to this in that veterinary clinics are so intensive in their interior finishes (the number of rooms, cabinetry, plumbing, HVAC, electrical) that probably 60% of a free-standing veterinary clinic cost is inside the shell of the building.

    "In terms of renovation costs, obviously this varies, but I would expect a significant remodel to land in the $85 to $100 range.

    "Cost also varies by 'quality.' Most of the projects we build are state-of-the-art, and as such the prices are pretty significant. If you do some of the work yourself or hire your brother-in-law, for example, you can drive the costs down a bit. But I would be very wary of anything that was dramatically less then the numbers quoted here.

    "Costs also vary by region. In the Southeast and in more rural locations, costs can easily be 85% of the norm. In California, the Northeast, and the North, costs can be more then the average. And of course if you're in an urban inner city, a location where trade unions are strong, or Hawaii or Alaska, then the costs can be 30% higher.

    "I would encourage you to begin working with a local contractor even as your architect is starting to do the design work. If you can find a contractor that has done a veterinary clinic in your region then he or she should have a pretty good idea of what it should cost. If you are working with a contractor that hasn’t built a clinic before I would add in a “fudge” factor, because we have found that inexperienced contractors will underestimate costs by as much as 25%, particularly HVAC costs. On most of our projects we actually work with a locally selected contractor during the design process to cross-check our costs and to keep us tuned into regional building technologies.

    "Working with a veterinary-specific architect will also help you better forecast costs, because most of us have a library of project costs from previous projects to draw from.

    "Lastly, another way to help predict costs on a project is to retain a contractor/architect that offers 'design-and-build' services. Because the contractor is also the architect, you can 'lock in' costs. The only downside is that because the architect and contractor are the same, there's no cross-check of quality or quantities.

    "The best way to know what a project costs is to do your homework—talk to other veterinarians in your region and talk to architects or contractors who've built veterinary clinics.

    "Lastly, be aware that there are very few 'free lunches' in construction. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. And it usually means something important has been left out of the estimate."

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  • Cost of Building per square foot

    I agree with Mark Hafen's comments and per square foot costs.  I did have a few additional thoughts...........

    How much does it cost to build a new animal hospital per square foot?  This is usually one of the first questions a veterinarian asks me at a design conference.  It is understandable as everybody is looking for a starting point to determine the feasibility of building a hospital, but a square foot price should be used with caution. 

    A Mercedes and a Kia are about the same size, right?  Why does the Mercedes cost five times as much as the Kia?  People don’t ask this question.  They understand the Mercedes has forty two airbags and plush leather seats.  It will last longer and hold its value better.  A new hospital isn’t much different but clients often get fixated on the cost per square foot number.  Make sure when you talk to a contractor or an architect that you are clear whether you are looking for a Kia, a Mercedes or something in between.  A one size fits all cost per square foot estimate is impossible for a contractor or architect to provide. 

    Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when you get per square foot estimates for comparison.  Are run gates or medical equipment included?  Does the cost per square foot include the cost of permits, water fees and sewer fees or does it just include the structure itself?  Does it include landscaping?  What is included can greatly affect the cost per square foot.  The beautiful cabinets, large covered entry portico and elaborate reception desk that one contractor assumed in his guesstimate might have added $50,000 to his figure.  That $50,000 just added $10 per square foot to the price of the hospital. 

    You certainly can use square foot pricing as a planning guide.  Square foot figures are discussed in Veterinary Economics articles, on dvm360.com and at every Hospital Design Conference.  It’s a valid method of determining what approximate size hospital might be built within an budget figure.  But remember to be realistic with the numbers that contractors or architects give you.  Remember that square foot pricing is at best a guideline and not a true bid price.  It’s much like quoting a cost for veterinary treatment without examining the pet and only hearing half of the symptoms described by telephone.

    Additionally, don’t fall into this trap, “I talked to three builders and their estimates ranged from $195-225 per square foot, but I’m convinced it will cost $150 per square foot.”  If you keep hearing the same amount per square foot from several sources, don’t hold out hope that you’re going to find the contractor that is somehow considerably less expensive than others.  Keep in mind that most competent builders should be fairly close in price.  Their contactor fees and profit numbers might vary, but their cost of materials and labor should be very similar. 

    I do think that cost per square foot is a necessary evil in the early stages of planning a new veterinary facility. 

    In summary, if you are looking for an up-front building cost at an early stage in the design or building process it’s alright and even good practice to utilize a per square foot price.  You must however realize that per square foot estimates are based on vague parameters and without a complete set of plans.  Once you have more complete design development drawings or better yet final architectural and engineering plans, you can obtain more accurate bids from general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers.

     

     

    Edited by Brendan_Howard, 2 years ago

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