Preliminary Budget Estimates

One of the critical early steps in any facility project is the development of an estimated project budget. This is often done using early estimates andprojections of total gross square feet prepared during master planning and average cost of construction per square foot.

Construction Costs

Typically 2/3 of total budget

Construction costs represent the cost of construction materials and labor:

  • Foundations
  • Exterior facade
  • Roof
  • Finishes
  • HVAC
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Fire protection
  • Life safety systems

Design fees, site work, furniture and most equipment are provided under separate budgets. While construction costs can vary widely based on region of the country and other factors, cost per square foot for a representative sample of courthouse construction projects for 2001-2010 was $284 per square foot.

Non-Construction Costs

Typically the other costs or the non-construction costs of a project make up approximately one-third of the total project costs. Thus a project that is expected to cost $30 million for construction will typically have another $15 million in other costs, making for a total project budget of $45 million.

Typically 1/3 of total budget

Site Development and Utilities

These costs have more to do with the size, soil geology, and location (urban, suburban, and rural) of the site and less to do with the size of the building.

  • grading
  • utilities
  • storm water retention
  • parking
  • landscaping
Land Costs

Cost will vary greatly and is generally not part of the initial project budget. Until the size of the courthouse and potential sites have been identified it is impossible to begin developing a budget for land acquisition.

Design and Construction Contingency

Funds set aside to accommodate unanticipated changes and costs throughout the design and construction phases of the project. Renovation projects typically require greater contingency budgets than new construction because of the likelihood of finding unexpected problems during demolition.

Security Systems

Equipment needed to control building access and monitor activity within the building and surrounding area.

Technology/Audio Visual

Cost of special judicial and courtroom computer and A/V systems. The wiring network for office data and communication systems is included in the basic building construction costs.

Design Fees/Permits/Testing

Services provided by the architect and engineers for design preparation and construction administration. Also included are services provided by others such as construction testing, geotechnical services, land surveys, traffic studies, court planning, security consulting, technology design, etc.

Sustainable Design (LEED)

State-of-the-art strategies for high performance buildings aimed at energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. New buildings based on sustainable design principals will reduce operating costs, improve productivity and provide health and productivity benefits to occupants.

Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (FFE)

Owner-furnished items such as systems furniture, computers and other office machines, shelving, housekeeping equipment, etc. Furniture and equipment (especially computer equipment) should be upgraded at the same time that the facility is being upgraded.

Courts and governing bodies should view the planning and construction of a new facility as an opportunity to review the courts' total operations and seek to design a facility that takes advantage of both improved operations and the most recent technology. 

Sample Courthouse Project Budgets

*Based on information gathered from 55 state general jurisdiction trial court construction projects appearing in Retrospective of Courthouse Design.

Construction Costs by Region with Source.png
Construction Costs by Region with Source.png