Here are the questions we are often asked at Bacon Group Architecture. If there’s anything else you need to know, contact us!


1. What is the trade show schedule for Bacon Group Architecture?


2. How much does it cost to build a new animal shelter, boarding facility, or veterinary hospital?


3. Can I buy plans from Bacon Group Architecture?


4. What services are included in the architect’s design fee?


5. How do architects compute a design fee?


6. What are differences in design-bid-build, construction managment, and design/build methods of project delivery?


7. How are architects qualified?


8. How do I locate and work with an architect?



question: 1. What is the speaking and trade show schedule for Bacon Group Architecture?


answer:  Bacon Group Architecture representatives frequently attend, present design workshops, attend conferences, and/or staff our trade show exhibit at design, animal welfare, veterinary, animal boarding/day care conferences and trade shows. Check back occasionally for schedule updates or call us toll free at 1-800-961-1967.


2020 Attending, Speaking & Trade Show Schedule. Places you can meet with Rick Bacon, FAIA, and discuss your project.

  • February 20 – 22: Florida Animal Control Conference Trade Show, The Florida Hotel & Conference Center, Orlando, FL
  • May 6: Shelter Design Daylong Workshop, HSUS Animal Care Expo Conference, San Antonio, TX; Rick Bacon, FAIA, is speaking.
  • May 6 – 9: HSUS Animal Care Expo Conference Trade Show, San Antonio, TX
  • June 3 – 5: 2020 AAWA Spring Conference, Chicago, IL – pending
  • July 9 – 12: Florida AIA Annual Convention, Palm Beach, FL
  • Nov 15 – 17: 2020 AAWA Fall Conference, New Orleans, TX – pending


back to top


question: 2. How much does it cost to build a new animal shelter, boarding facility, or veterinary hospital?


answer: People outside the industry are usually surprised that animal housing facilities are an expensive building type. The cost per square foot can vary widely and is influenced by the quality of materials and systems selected. Generally speaking, the most expensive systems (in order from most to least expensive) in these building types are the HVAC, plumbing, kenneling and caging, interior floor and wall finishes, roof structure and finishes, and exterior wall finishes. Properly designed engineering systems (HVAC, plumbing, electrical) for an animal shelter may be 30% – 35% of the building’s total construction cost.

Be careful when comparing costs for construction gathered from different sources. What is included or excluded from the figures may vary widely. There are many variables involved and there is no standard across the design and construction industry for stating a construction cost. Depending on the source, there may be a breakdown of the project’s costs. Typically, a building’s construction cost does not include land purchase, design fees, permitting fees, Furniture Fixtures & Equipment, or non-installed equipment, among other things.

Site costs: Every site is different and every jurisdiction has its own requirements for development and permitting. For this reason, we separate much of the site preparation costs from the per square foot building costs below. The amount we include for site preparation would be for a site that already has roads and utilities available and does not have any unusual easements, legal entanglements, site topography, or environmental or water management requirements. Site construction costs can vary widely!

Animal Shelters: We currently recommend using between $350 and $400 per square foot (/SF) (the national average is about $475/SF) as the amount for construction of a new animal shelter building and $25 /SF for site construction when developing a very preliminary budget. The costs can vary widely due to local labor conditions, unusual site design needs, environmental concerns, type of mechanical and plumbing systems, kennel systems, and the quality of floor and wall finishes. It is common for us to see shelter construction cost planning based on as little as $100 to $150 /SF. These projects are seriously underfunded.

Boarding: For a boarding, day care, and grooming facility, we recommend approximately $225 /SF to construct a free-standing boarding facility and an additional $25 /SF for the site construction. The type and configuration of animal housing (kennels vs. suites, for example), the amount of plumbing, and finishes are two areas that affect costs for boarding facilities. Many boarding businesses are build-outs in existing buildings or store-fronts which tend to reduce the /SF cost further.

Veterinary Hospital: For planning purposes, we suggest using between $225 – $350 /SF for construction of free-standing veterinary hospitals. Adding the same $25 /SF for site construction, as discussed above, applies. As with boarding kennels, lots of veterinary hospitals are tenant finish-out projects where the cost to construct a free standing building is avoided.

Renovations: It is difficult to assign a per square foot cost to a renovation without having project specific information. Many buildings can be converted into animal care facilities. It is important to be aware that renovations and retrofits may cost as much, or more, than constructing a new building. Advantages, however, may be a prime location or a great deal on the property.  These structures must be brought-up to current building code requirements as well. Because renovations are not as predictable as new construction, it is difficult to estimate a common cost per square foot.

What’s not included in the cost per square foot? Other costs, called “soft costs,” are not included in the per square foot amount suggested previously. Examples of the project soft costs are: 

  • Land purchase costs
  • Site improvement, parking lots, landscapping, utilities
  • FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment)
  • Financing costs and construction loan fees
  • Government fees including (but not limited to) plans review and building permit fees, development fees, connection fees, environmental and water management fees
  • Non-typical site preparation needs such as bringing roads and utilities to your property
  • Topographic and utility surveys
  • Geotechnical soils testing
  • Environmental tests and studies, such as asbestos and lead-based paint
  • Contractor overhead and profit (10% – 12%)
  • Insurance costs
  • Inflation (1% – 2% per year, or more depending on location)
  • Contingency (5% – 10%)
  • A/E professional design fees (9% – 12%)

It is certainly possible to construct an animal housing facility, especially an animal shelter or boarding facility, for less than the amounts we suggest. In all likelihood you will have to sacrifice the quality or quantity of materials, finish systems and/or equipment. Remember that when you use a lesser quality material you will likely shorten the life of that building or system and/or increase your maintenance and replacement costs. These are the kinds of decisions your architect will help you make.

For additional information, please contact Bacon Group, Inc. at 727.725.0111.


 back to top


question: 3. Can I buy plans from Bacon Group Architecture?

answer: Almost all of the design work done by Bacon Group Architecture is custom design for a specific client and project site. Each set of construction documents must meet specific building codes and requirements for the location where the building will be built.

Bacon Group’s S3 Shelters designs, which are plans specifically developed for small animal shelters, are our design line for very budget conscious projects. Construction documents including plans and specifications are available and represent a savings over a total custom design. Some minor modifications are allowed and there are requirements and restrictions that will apply. Since animal shelters are considered commercial buildings, even the S3 Shelters construction documents must be signed and sealed by an architect and engineers who are licensed in the state where the project is located. The documents must be permitted through the local building department with jurisdiction over the project’s location. 

For additional information about the S3 Shelters, please contact our office at 800-961-1967


back to top


question: 4. What services are included in the architect’s design fee?


answer: Architectural services are based on a Scope of Services, which is a list of all the work the design team is responsible for accomplishing. If the project includes design and construction of a building, it is standard for the architect to coordinate the design team and hire the project’s engineers. Therefore, the fee would include the services of the architect and the structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection (MEPF) engineers. The civil engineer’s and landscape architect’s fees may be considered extended services. Discuss with your architect what other design services are included in the fee you are negotiating.

The architecture and engineering (A/E) fee covers basic services that include design, completion of construction documents (used for permitting), bidding and negotiation with contractors, and construction observation. For planning purposes, we suggest you allot 9% to 12% of your construction cost for A/E fees to cover basic design services for the architect, structural, and MEPF engineers. The civil engineer’s and landscape architect’s fees may average 5% of the site construction cost.

Several consultants / services are not included in the A/E fee for basic services. Those include the surveyor (you’ll need a boundary and topographical survey of the property), geotechnical and soils testing, traffic studies, acoustical consultants, environmental studies, color renderings, and permit expediter are a few of the other design professionals or services that may be required for the project.

Remember that design services are knowledge based professional services. Experience counts!


back to top


question: 5. How do architects compute a design fee?


answer: Architects use several methods to compute fees including a percentage of construction cost, a per square foot cost, or by the hour. Some other factors considered when computing a fee for design services include the complexity of the building, the scope of services to be provided, and the schedule for completion.

Fees can be affected by the type of architectural firm being considered. Established firms traditionally carry business and professional liability insurance, workers compensation insurance and provide benefits, such as health insurance, to the firm’s employees.


back to top


question: 6. What are differences in design-bid-build, construction managment, and design/build methods of project delivery?


answer: Design / bid / build project delivery method is when a project is designed by the design team and then “bid out” to contractors. The bids are reviewed and the lowest qualified bidder is selected to construct the project. The owner contracts with the design team and the construction company separately. The architect provides construction observation to monitor that the project is built according to the permitted plans. The architect provides guidance and responds to requests for clarification of the design intent but has no control over the means and methods of construction, which is the contractor’s responsibility. Design/bid/build is most often identified with a value price for construction; however, the bid price may include lesser quality or different systems than what is specified. Review the bids and oversee construction carefully.

Construction management is when a general contractor (GC) is hired early in the project and he/she participates as a team member along with the owner and A/E team during the design phases. Often the GC agrees with the owner to construct the project for a negotiated amount. Construction costs can be estimated earlier in the project and the GC may suggest alternative systems and finishes to save money or time. Competitive bidding can still occur among sub-contractors, and the architect still provides construction observation. The owner has separate contracts with the design team and the GC. An advantage of this method is the early cost estimating and a high degree of customer service from the contractor, which are included in the management fee.

Design / build project delivery is when a single entity is responsible for both the design and construction of the project for a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). An advantage of this method is there is a single point of contact for the owner and a feeling of greater predictability. A disadvantage is there are fewer checks and balances to assure that the design is being constructed according to permitted plans and design intent.


back to top


question: 7. How are architects qualified?


answer: Architects provide knowledge based professional services, like doctors, lawyers and CPAs, and are licensed individuals. They must know how to design buildings that are safe for people to occupy and inhabit. Their role is also one of coordination of other design professionals, such as mechanical or structural engineers, during the design process.

Advanced schooling for architects takes between 5 and 6 years followed by a minimum of 3 years internship working under the supervision of a registered architect. To become registered, they must pass an extensive Architectural Registration Exam in several parts and are then licensed by a state licensing board. The American Institute of Architects and many states require member, licensed architects to complete continuing education classes to maintain their licenses.

When hiring a professional services firm, it is important to consider if the firm’s experience matches the type of project. Ask for a list of previous projects and references.


back to top


question: 8. How do I locate and work with an architect?


answer: One way is through the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which has developed a website with specific information about the design process and how to find and work with an architect. http://howdesignworks.aia.org

Ask for a referral from other people and organizations that have done a project similar to the project you plan. Always ask for additional materials, ask about previous experience, and ask for references from architects and engineers you are considering.