Building Survey (As-Built) - How much to charge?

May 23 '13 18 Last Comment
Brendan LeadbeaterBrendan Leadbeater
May 23, 13 5:32 pm

So I have slowly been trying to develop my own small design/render/draft business and I had someone contact me needing an as-built (survey) set produced.  While I have produced sets such as these in the past, they were for firms that I worked for.

What do you guys thinks?  Below is the scope:

The condo is three floors, about 2600 sq ft, three bedrooms, 2.5 baths.
The space needs to be measured and drawn on autocad.  

The floorplans and rcp and specific elevations.

Living room/ dining room - 3 elevations (east, south, west)
Master bedroom - All four elevations
Master closet - three elevations
Master bath - four elevations
Home office and small corridor adjacent to home office
Stairwell. (For artwork layout, lighting etc.)
Entry corridor
Entry closet.
Powder bathroom  elevations.


What do  you guys think?  Is there a standard hourly or sq ft rate you use?


Any input would be greatly appreciated!


vado retro
May 23, 13 5:38 pm

As-built drawings: As-built drawings are prepared by the contractor. They show, in red ink, on-site changes to the original construction documents.

Measured drawings: Measured drawings are prepared in the process of measuring a building for future renovation or as historic documentation. They are created from on-site measurements.

Record drawings: Record drawings are prepared by the architect and reflect on-site changes the contractor noted in the as-built drawings. They are often compiled as a set of on-site changes made for the owner per the owner-architect contract.

Brendan LeadbeaterBrendan Leadbeater
May 23, 13 5:52 pm

Vado, thanks for the correction in terminology.  I didn't realize these terms were so tightly used. May I ask what your source is as I would love to have this sort of information at my disposal.  Based on the above definitions, these drawings would be considered "measured drawings".

Brendan LeadbeaterBrendan Leadbeater
May 23, 13 8:09 pm

Thanks QUIZZICAL... will check it out.

Brendan LeadbeaterBrendan Leadbeater
May 23, 13 8:10 pm

Does anyone have any input regarding a fee for a project of this type/scale?  Thanks!

May 24, 13 8:40 am

I say 6 hours to field measure and 8 hours to draw! 

Why do they need interior elevations?

wurdan freo
May 24, 13 10:26 pm

6-8hrs. Should be done in a day. Bring your laptop. Model in revit while you measure. Export to cad if you have to. I would probably charge $600-$800 depending on the level of detail required. I don't live in NY however, so that price is probably irrelevant.

What would someone charge in New York? Call a local AE temp staffing company. Tell them you have your own drafting business and are sometimes looking for part time help. They should give you an hourly rate and you can break it down. Ask your friends who do similar work. Ask draftsmen at firms how much they are paid and add a multiplier 2.5-3. At the end of the day, what's it worth to you? That's what you have to decide. 

Establishing a rate, like all other things, takes practice. Simple equation to start with

Labor+Materials+Overhead+Profit = rate.

Once you figure out a rate, you try it. If it doesn't work? Change it. 

I prefer a lump sum to an hourly rate. I would get this done in a day and charge for three days worth of my hourly time for it. Why?  Because the client doesn't know it only takes me eight hours to complete and if they did, then they would argue my hourly rate down to something that becomes a loser for me. What they don't realize is that it's taken me 10 years plus the eight hours to get to the point where I can provide this deliverable. 

the going rate for drafting in my area is about $35/hr. $35x8 = $280. Far cry from what I want to do this job. 

Brendan LeadbeaterBrendan Leadbeater
May 25, 13 3:36 pm

POOP, they need interior elevations for millwork design.  

Wurdan, unfortunately I am not Revit savvy as my background is more inline with Graphisoft's ArchiCAD which is a software Revit basically mimics. 

This will definitely take me longer than a day given the amount of detail wants included in it.  I am going to be charging $50/hr and she is very much okay with it.  

Ernest MillerErnest Miller
May 25, 13 9:05 pm

I have been in my own for the past 7 years in the LA area. A measured set of drawings like you described usually brings me around 3k. I use Archicad also and find it perfect for any type of project. You have to charge for your experience along with overhead and you will do fine.


Brendan LeadbeaterBrendan Leadbeater
May 26, 13 4:38 pm


Thanks so much for your input.  I gave the firm a breakdown of required drawings, sheet set count, required drawings @ $50/hr.  I estimated it would take me about 40 hours or so to complete the set and they seem to be okay with it. 

They are also interested in having me generate 3d views/rednerings for the project as well.

I would like to produce the drawings in ArchiCAD but they specifically requested I do the drawings in Autocad.  I don't want to deal with the hassle of producing in ArchiCad, then exporting to Autocad and having to edit the linetypes, layers, etc....always a big headache.

Have you run into any snags or shortcomings when producing drawings for clients using Archicad?

Steven WardSteven Ward
May 26, 13 6:11 pm

I would never input data in the field. You need a hard copy to which you can refer - preferably with lots of notes all over it. Redundancy is good, in this case. Can often save you from a trip back.

Ernest MillerErnest Miller
May 27, 13 5:30 pm

I always build the model in Archicad and produce my working drawings from the model. That way I have all options available. Then I save all my dwg files from the working drawings and send to consultants. Archicad allows you to save all drawings in autocad format. I have never had an issue with it. Everything you need is in the program you have. The problem is that if you end up having to look for a job with another firm your basically screwed if you don't know autocad. But it sounds like you don't want to be a cad monkey anymore so just kick ass in Archicad and work for yourself.

Brendan LeadbeaterBrendan Leadbeater
May 27, 13 6:38 pm

I have had issues with exporting out to DWGs in the past.   It makes it more difficult for the drawings to be edited in the future within AutoCAD especially if you have used filles or zones within ArchiCad, but it seems this has never been an issue for you.

Do you have your own business?  Do you consult for firms?  How do you find yourself getting projects?  What type of projects do you generally get?

May 28, 13 8:59 pm

I do alot of this work in NYC for a living now.  6hrs to measure, 8 to draw sounds about right to me for this space but you have to know what you're doing to get it done correctly and efficiently.  Use a laser measure and old-fashioned pen and paper if you're expecting a complex space with funky angles and lots of wall projections and fiddly details.  Do it on computer if the space is clean, relatively new and simple. 

Be sure you factor in time spent getting to and from the site, time/money spent making plots and the costs of all the ancillaries (including a meal during your site visit) into your fee.  Consider the opportunity costs of the job relative to other work you could be doing. 

Ernest MillerErnest Miller
May 28, 13 10:19 pm

Hey Brendan

Seems like your getting some great input. The last guy said it well. I have been out on my own since 06. I have made it through these brutal last 4 years. I also contract to other firms because of my ability to use Archicad. There are lots of firms who don't have a clue about modeling and it's potential. Seek out a couple of good contractors (with integrity), you can work together to bring more work in also. I can always help a contractor with enlarging his scope of work because I can better help his clients visualize the project and help educate them on the possibilities of their potential project. All my projects are referal based. Doing quality work for clients and contractors gets all the projects I need. Archicad and it's modeling ability allow me to really work one on one with the client. They get exactly what we model. True success come from communication. ALWAYS have all meetings with clients involved. It may be time consuming but if everything is on the table (owning my own mistakes) shows that you are an honest person with only your clients well being in mind. Never let a contractor pull you to the side to discuss a problem with the design. That shows that he doesn't have the clients best interest in mind. My main business is relatively small custom homes, remodels (large and small), and commercial tenant improvements.

Brendan LeadbeaterBrendan Leadbeater
May 31, 13 6:32 pm

Thanks so much for everyone's opinions and advice!!! This has been a very informative and interesting discussion that has helped me out greatly.

Now I just hope I can continue to pull in work and not have to rely on working for a firm, which is something I am currently trying to avoid while I study for my exams.  I am also very hopeful that I can grow my network to a point where I can sustain myself without having to rely on working for someone else.


Goodluck to all!

Feb 25, 14 10:36 am

Dear quizzical,

Thank you for posting the link. uUnfortunately I can`t download it, if you email it to me I would really appreciate. I need to give a proposal for a client for suveying a 24 story building in NYC. 

For the others, I also I would appreciate it you have anything helpfull, the purpose of my survey is to privide a layouts for the installation of a fire alarm system for the entire building, including the cellar,


thank you all 

Jan 21, 15 5:15 pm

I am doing shop drawings from architectural drawings for an aluminum company for all doors and windows on a project.

can anyone give me an idea of how much I should charge... I am doing this as a side job.

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