Examining Design Construction Data, D4COST: Design cost estimating made simpler and easier

By William Gati

After struggling to find a good source of comparable construction costs for a school addition I’m working on, I was referred to www.DCD.com (Design Construction Data).

Design Cost Data (DCD) was first published in 1958 to serve the building community with a means to simplify the problem of preliminary cost estimating. DCD’s philosophy is simple yet quite novel and sophisticated. DCD contends that one can take the actual cost of existing construction and that by applying cost-factors, such as up-to-date cost escalators and regional modifiers generate solid preliminary cost estimates for new construction projects. 

DCD is now one of the most respected magazines in the construction industry. DCD’s philosophy has worked so well, they released D4COST in the early 1990’s using the projects published as their framework. D4COST is easy-to-use, yet generates cost estimates quickly and accurately. Users can go further and with the handy import tool, import their own data to build the project database. Today, D4COST is one of the most popular preliminary cost-estimating software in the industry. 

As the Internet grew in power, DCD made the decision to house its project database online and give the subscribers of DCD access to it. Today, known as the DCD Archives, DCD subscribers have access to over 1,300 projects, cost escalators and regional modifiers in a powerful database for cost estimating. Not as powerful as the desktop version of D4COST, the DCD Archives works on the same principle that users can take the actual cost of existing construction and by apply up-to-date factors generate sound preliminary estimates. Subscribers select a project, change to the date, location, and square footage, and hit “target” and a new cost model is generated with an updated building cost. No other construction magazine gives its subscribers such power. 

Design Cost Data, D4COST Software and the DCD Archives is the professional’s choice to answer, “How much will this cost to build?”

Each issue of Design Cost Data includes actual projects and their cost to build. Architects and general contractors nationwide submit all projects featured in DCD.

Case Studies

Architects and general contractors submit projects to Design Cost Data as a showcase of their work. These projects, known as case studies, are part of the largest database of actual construction costs maintained by Design Cost Data magazine which is published six times a year. Case studies include the project’s actual cost to build by CSI MasterFormat, project write up with photos and plans, construction team, and building components.

 Some other features and services of Design Construction Data are:

 Building Products Revue

In most every construction project, there is a specific product that stands out. Whether the product saved the builder time, money or stress, the Builder Product Revue spotlights the product and how it made a project a success.

 Technical Articles

A wide range of valuable articles including AIA Contract Documents, LEED practices, construction law, codes, and more are included in Technical Articles.

S/f Cost Guides

Each issue of DCD magazine includes a square foot cost guide to assist professionals in accurate preliminary estimating. The guides are developed using the projects in the DCD Archives. Each issue focuses on certain building types and projects are cost escalated to what it will cost today to build.

Cost Trends

Contributed by BNi Building News and the U.S. Department of Labor, Producer Price Index as its source, Construction Cost Trends give DCD readers a handle on the cost trend of all important building materials.

 DCD Insights

Architects, contractors, designers and other industry professionals use DCD as their forum to present common problems to helpful solutions, to commentaries that are relevant to DCD readers.

DCD Archives

After publication all featured projects in DCD are housed in the DCD Archives online at DCD.COM. DCD subscribers can access the DCD Archives anytime with their subscription. Over 1,400 projects, their cost to build, cost factors and regional modifiers come together in a powerful database for preliminary cost estimating. Simple to use, DCD subscribers select a project, change date and location, and square footage to their needs and press “target.” Instantly a new cost model is created with an updated cost to build. Subscribers can go further and examine line item costs, add, change, or delete cost divisions, and save a project for later use. The DCD Archives is a powerful and valuable resource only available to DCD subscribers with their subscription.

 The standalone software, D4COST allows users to:

• View extended cost data (view subdivision costs)

• Add divisions or subdivisions costs

• Change divisions or subdivisions costs

• Modify divisions or subdivisions costs

• Save a project for later use

• Access to over 1,600 actual buildings–schools, hospitals, libraries, churches, etc.

• Adjust total square footage

• Use cost escalators through 2019

• Use over 600 regional modifiers

• Print cost reports

I was able to generate three different cost scenarios for my designs and have a very confident discussion with the board of directors of the school about construction costs for the various options. I did not have to bring in a cost estimator or a contractor. Finding DCD and D4COST was a life saver for me.

If you need help with your design project or cost estimating, please contact me.

William Gati, AIA, is the president of Architecture Studio, Kew Gardens, N.Y.

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