"Budget Busters" on Construction
and/or Relocation Projects
Aside from fundamental mistakes in per square
foot costs for construction, which are not addressed here, there are numerous
items that commonly escape notice by the Facilities and/or IT groups which can
terrorize your construction and relocation budgets. Often times, the
budgeting is correct but it is the change orders caused by poor IT planning or
failure to meet document deadlines that creates the "budget
busters". Our top 16 "budget busters" are listed here.
- Not fully understanding the different budget
categories that can be used by IT in a data center move and planning the
funding for each. The following are examples of activities that need
funding as part of the move:
a. Design and installation of the communications cabling
system. Includes complex design of computer rooms and labs.
These later activities can be seriously expensive. A flat dollar cost
per square foot for the entire project is often inadequate. Many
projects wait until after construction is underway to finalize the cabling
design. This is a serious mistake.
b. Acquisition of new
and/or "seed" equipment that is necessary to provide the initial
startup of the new premises prior to the move. This would include
routers, firewalls, data switches, PBX equipment, new data circuits, etc.
It could also include fiber facilities from outside carriers. Is this
activity budgeted under "construction", or does the IT group have
to budget separately for these items? One giant hint here.
Never, never believe that you can move everything as is and provide no new
or seed equipment. Extremely high risk of one or more major components
and/or critical data circuits not coming up properly.
c. Upgrading or
replacement of computer, network or other IT equipment as part of the move
event. It is common for upgrades and replacements to take place during
a move event. The question is, who budgets for it? A classic
battle here. As a former VP of Systems, we tried very hard to have the
construction budget cover as many of our upgrades as possible. It was
common for Facilities to push back and refuse. Bottom line, management
on both sides must understand how much new acquisition will take place and,
which budget must seek the funding.
- Not fully developing the architectural and
environmental program requirements before preparing the budget. Later
design surprises such as total flooding FM 200, dry sprinkler pipe over the
data center, or increased sizing of the environmental sizing will hurt your
budget. Additionally, today's communications cabling systems are much
more expensive that 5 years ago; it is often under-budgeted.
- Not clearly understanding the types of electrical and
telecommunications entrance facilities (conduits and vaults) that will be
required. Will dual entrances be required for your design? A
second entrance with trench, conduits and vault can add $15K-$40K depending
on number of conduits and distance. In today's design, one cannot
assume that two 4" conduits are enough. Information here would
include the size and quantity of vaults, the number of conduits in the
trenches, and most importantly, the length of the trench. Telecom
entrance facilities are often overlooked or undersized for the intended
purpose by the Electrical Engineers. Make sure that the telecom
entrance facilities are included in the Electrical Engineer's scope of work.
The Telecom or IT group must submit their requirements for conduits and
vaults during the schematic design phase to avoid costly changes later.
- Not developing full electrical requirements
for the large IT spaces such as computer rooms, server rooms, PBX rooms,
NOCs, etc.. This includes conduit work by the electricians for telecom
cabling. Without specific requirements and drawings from the IT
group, the Electrical Engineers will simply assign a "watts per square
foot" formula, estimate the number of receptacles, distribution panels,
breakers, etc. and proceed. Finalizing these requirements, especially
after a bid has been accepted and work is underway, can be
- Not fully budgeting for telecom and network
designers and project managers. This group of professionals is no
different from architects, engineers and contractors; they are a significant
part of the project. Use of these professionals has been increasing
over the past decade and its difficult to move a large organization without
some assistance, especially organizations with large computer rooms, server
rooms and/or complex data network organizations. This is what we do
for a living so pardon us for our shameful promotion. However, we can
tell you that many organizations do not budget for our type of work and have
to increase their budgets to permit our participation on the project.
On some projects, we can have (and have had) up to six team members on large
projects. To be practical, a one-year participation on a project where
we design the cabling system, design the IT spaces and manage the equipment
move can range from $20,000 for a 150 person firm to $60,000 for a
1,500-2,000 person firm. A large variable is the size and extent of
the computer rooms, labs and other IT spaces. At one hi-tech firm in
the Silicon Valley, we were badged in for 7 years and our team planned the
re-cabling, staff relocations and equipment relocation for 4,000 people and
two major data centers. The firm simply outsourced the entire
- Furniture design, selection and drawings are
not ready by the sign-off on Construction Drawings. Ensure that the
furniture design and the communications cabling design is complete for the
Construction Drawings. Proceeding without either being complete can be
costly. One particular costly problem that can develop is to proceed
to bid with no final furniture selection or drawings only to find that the
selected furniture, with panels, will cover the electrical and telecom
outlets - often after they are already in place.
- Not understanding the backbone cabling
requirements on either new buildings or on tenant retro-fits. Again,
trying to cover this with a flat per square foot cost is often inadequate.
- Grounding. Telecommunications and
network grounding in IT spaces is a serious affair. Grounding
estimates are often not enough. Again, this is an area that is often
not specified by the Electrical Engineer. On some projects, this isn't
discovered in time and results in a costly change order.
- Planning for the ordering and cutting over
voice and data circuits. Normally up to $1,200 per circuit.
- Numerous change orders due to an incomplete
telecommunications and/or IT design. Contractors will bid your project
exactly as described in your RFP knowing full well that what is missing or
could be designed more completely. The objective is getting the
contract - not improving the RFP. Once they get the contract, the
change orders will follow.
- Redesigning an IT space after bids are in and
the contract has been signed. Bad news ahead here. Changing
racks and cabinets around in a IT space also has a direct impact on the
electrical design. Their change orders are larger than the ones from
the Telecom folks.
- Providing funding for the planning and
relocation of staff. This is different from Item #4 above. This
involves staff and contents only. Normally, it takes a team of 2-3
professionals to plan the entire relocation of 150-500 staff.
- Providing funding for the physical relocation
of IT equipment. Plan for $75 for each desktop PC and laser
printer. Plan $40 for each fax. For computer and server rooms,
plan $90 for each rack mounted server. For IBM, DEC, EMC and other
large equipment, you will want a quote from the equipment
manufacturers. Do not let organizations other that the manufacturer or
manufacturer's authorized representative relocate these large and important
- If project includes a raised floor, budget
$30 per tile cut. A safe estimate on quantities is 25 cuts per 1,000
sq.ft. of raised floor.
$4 sq.ft. for initial cleaning of underfloor
area of the computer room. $4 sq.ft. to clean under the floor a second
time. The General Contractor usually does this the first time just as
the raised floor is complete. By the time the racks and cabling and
final electrical changes are installed, the underfloor area is filthy again.
- Labor and materials to replace all computer
room A/C filters with 48 hours of startup (unless you cleaned the floor a
second time). If you don't, it is common to get a 'change filter'
alarm on most or all units within 24-48 hours.
Contact us at www.abrconsulting.com
Phone: 925.872.5523 Fax: 916.478.2814