What is important in budgeting a design project?

That is a very tough question to answer. A complete technology design is a conglomerate of systems. There are no two designs that are the same, and there is not an exhaustive list of pricing factors. However, with these items defined, a fee can be developed.

Based on our experience, we typically see prices ranging from 3% to 20% of the project’s value.

Let’s talk specifics

Some factors that contribute to overall cost of the design.

Systems To Be Designed
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Structured Cabling
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Access Control
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Video Surveillance
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Sound Masking
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Audio Visual
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Point of Sale
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Distributed Antenna System
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Nurse Call
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Network Switches & Electronics
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Battery Backup
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Intrusion Detection System
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Unified Communications
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Digital Signage
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Wireless Networks
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Video Walls
Needs Analysis

Within each system listed, a needs analysis should be performed before the design starts. This refines the requirements and extent of each system. In addition, it helps produce a more accurate quote for design services.

System Density

What is the density of each system? In other words, is this a call center with two data drops every 40 square feet or is this a warehouse with one drop every 400 square feet?

Type of Structure

What type of structure is being built? A system in a manufacturing plant is developed completely different than a highrise office building. An apartment complex can reuse the same templates for each building, thus saving time and money.

Size of the Project

Economies of scale work with design projects. A very small project still requires the basics; specifications, drawings, meetings, conference calls and construction administration. Therefore, a small project would have a higher percentage of construction costs.

Design and Build Project

Is this a design and build project? If it is, then there could be substantial discounts on the design portion.

Design Output – 2D vs. 3D

Costs to produce drawings in 3D in programs like Revit will be higher than in 2D in AutoCAD.

Whether you need some rough numbers to reference in your next meeting or you want to sharpen pencils and talk specifics, one of our ASD® experts will be glad to help you with rapid ballpark estimates tailored to your needs or a detailed quote based on your exact specifications. Have any questions? Ask ASD®.

Common Cost Factors for Most Projects

Geographic Location

Where is the project located? Some parts of the country are more expensive than others. Some rural areas may require travel due to availability of the field resources which could increase cost.

Size & Type Environment

Type of environment will impact price. Class A Office, Distribution Center, Manufacturing, Retail, Indoor vs. Outdoor could all impact overall cost.

Labor Requirements

Projects being installed with a Union Labor requirement will be more expensive than projects without the requirement. Some projects require a prevailing wage to be paid to a technician which can also increase costs.


Pathways can contribute greatly to overall system costs. Costs of core holes sizing and cutting slab for conduits needs to be considered in your budgeting process.

Installation Hours

Normal working hours will be less expensive than afterhours or weekends.

New Construction vs. Renovation

New construction will typically be less expensive than renovation.

Local Codes & Standards

Local codes can drive cost as they vary in requirement. For instance, in some locations across the U.S. all overhead cable must run in conduit while others can be supported with J-Hooks in the ceiling.


Permitting varies from state to state and city to city. One city may not require anything more than an application form to receive a permit, while others may want full engineered drawings that go through a plan review process. The full set of engineered drawings carries a substantial price tag that elevates the overall system cost. Another consideration is the time required if the review process is a requirement.

Economies of Scale

What type of structure is being built? A system in a manufacturing plant is developed completely different than a highrise office building. An apartment complex can reuse the same templates for each building; this saves design time and costs.

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