When considering a new project or renovation at CU Boulder it is critical to understand how the existing building’s systems, code criteria, and State and University requirements will help determine the feasibility of a building or space for its proposed use.

The project feasibility information presented here is intended to help facility users and space managers determine the viability of existing spaces for modified or alternate uses. This information will help users identify and communicate the critical project requirements and space use outcomes to Planning, Design & Construction (PD&C).

Why is this important? 

Early identification of the critical scope by building managers and users will help PD&C develop realistic cost, schedule, and project delivery expectations. PD&C will help identify potential opportunities or limitations of a proposed project, or space, to ensure the scope is compatible with existing facility uses and services.  PD&C will work with you to direct project resources in the most appropriate manner to minimize, or eliminate, unnecessary work efforts.

Please use this information help you prepare for your project and your interactions with PD&C. The information included here covers many different project types and may not apply to your specific project but will help you identify many of your project needs.

We are here to help you

PD&C staff are Architects, Planners, Engineers and Builders that guide you through every phase of your project. We listen to your project requirements and help determine the best-value option based on departmental priorities, suitable design concepts, and cost and schedule analysis. Please allow us to help find the most efficient and cost-effective methods to create your new space.

Are you ready to get started with a project? Please reach out to PD&C through the Questions and Contacts section below.

  • Have the minimum requirements needed for the space to meet the intended use been determined?
  • Has the project been submitted and approved by Department Chair and/or Dean?
  • Has the Building Proctor or Building Manager been notified of the potential project?
  • Who is the primary point of contact/project sponsor/principal investigator?
  • Who makes the final scope decisions, cost decisions, go/no-go decision?
  • Who is funding the project?
  • If the project is funded:
    • What is the funding source (department, grant, RII, Federal or State recovery funds, other)?
    • Does funding source require specific project occupancy dates?
    • Does funding source require funds to be spent by a specific date?
  • Has the proctor, or primary project point of contact, discussed the project with adjacent users?
  • What department or school is the space allocated to?
  • Is the proposed space available?
  • Is the proposed use of the space compatible with occupants or research in surrounding spaces (including adjacent, above, and below)?
  • Are there adjacent building uses that might be impacted by the proposed new use of the space (noise, vibration, etc.)?

  • Is the use of the space changing (lab to office, classroom to lab, etc.)?
  • Will the proposed number of occupants increase or decrease?
  • What type of equipment is required?
  • What type of furniture is required?
  • Will there be chemicals or hazardous materials, specialty finishes or specialty systems?
    • Chemical or acid resistant?
    • Lasers?
    • Bio-safety?
    • Acoustic control?
    • Low or high temperature?
    • Humidity?
    • Electro Magnetic Interference?
    • Rotating equipment protection?
    • Fire-resistant separation or enclosure?
    • Spill containment?
    • Lighting?
    • Clean room?
    • Vibration control?
    • Chilled Water/Steam/Compressed Air/Vacuum?
    • Will chemicals or hazardous materials be used? Type/Quantity?
    • Fume Hoods?
    • Static Control?
    • Lab or Industrial Gasses?
    • Waste systems?
    • Refrigeration?
    • Specialty fire suppression systems?
    • Camera/Video Recording?
    • Other?
  • Does the client anticipate any specialty design, engineering or equipment vendors?
  • What are the audio/visual requirements for the space?
  • What are the WIFI and data requirements for the space?
  • Door access requirements – keyed, card reader?
  • When will space be ready for construction?
    • Is the space currently occupied or unoccupied?
    • Will existing tenant(s) be relocated (temporary/permanent)? To where?
    • What will happen with any existing furniture/equipment in the project space?  Moved or stored?
  • Does the client have a list of equipment or furnishings for the anticipated space?
  • Who will be purchasing, delivering, moving and installing equipment/furniture (owner, vendor, contractor)?
    • Has equipment been selected?
    • Has equipment been ordered?
    • When will equipment be delivered?
    • Will temporary storage be required?
  • Will any existing equipment/furniture be re-used and relocated to the new project?
  • Does the client/building manager have existing building stock that they would like to use?


  • If Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements are not current in the space the proposed project is responsible for meeting current codes.
  • In general, when an existing space is modified that does not meet current CU Boulder Building Code requirements, the project is responsible for meeting current codes.


  • Pre-construction electrical load study is required to verify existing panel loads and spare capacity
  • Lighting calculations are needed when replacing/modifying existing lights, also when changing use of space


  • HVAC System pre- and post-construction airflow readings are required
  • Fume Hood – decontamination, certification or re-certification is required for new, relocated or modified systems
  • Existing building systems that serve the proposed project need to be evaluated for capacity and effectiveness to meet project requirements.  Some projects/buildings may require a new dedicated system to meet the project requirements for occupant load and equipment.

EHS/Hazardous Materials

  • Has a hazardous materials survey been completed? EHS should assess the extent, if any, hazardous materials are existing in the proposed project building or space.
  • In general, when an existing space is modified that contains Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) or other hazardous materials, the project is responsible for the cost of abatement and mitigation. ACM can be found in floor tile, flooring adhesives, caulking and sealants, pipe/duct insulation, countertops, chalkboards, concrete block fill material, and many other construction materials and components.

  • All project costs should be generated by Planning, Design & Construction staff (PD&C).
  • A well-defined scope of work is critical for an accurate estimate or budget.
  • If project costs were created prior to the pandemic the costs will need to be validated against current market conditions.
  • If client is considering a project and only has a set amount of funds available please let PD&C staff help you assess your requirements to validate the project cost feasibility.
  • Costs associated with construction (or a General Contractor) are only a portion of the total cost to complete a project. Total project costs can include:
    • Cost escalation due to when the project will be built (this year? next year?) and market changes.
    • Design – most projects will require some level of design to verify CU Boulder code compliance. This can include ADA requirements, allowable use of space per code, number of occupants, and emergency exiting capacity.
    • Life Safety systems – These systems include fire detection and alarm, fire suppression, and smoke exhaust systems.
    • Work performed by internal CU departments.  These can include OIT (data), AV (monitors, audio systems), Access Services (door card readers)
    • Existing systems verification.  This includes assessing mechanical/HVAC capacity and electrical availability for the project requirements.
    • Hazardous material assessment, testing and removal.
    • Furnishings – This can include classroom, office, conference room, laboratory, library, and other department specific requirements.
    • Equipment/furniture relocation and storage.
    • PD&C project management costs.
    • City of Boulder use tax.

Definition of cost types:

  • Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) – A high level cost assessment based on recent projects with a similar scope of work.  This cost is usually used as a quick determination as to whether or not a project is within the cost range a client can spend.  ROM should not be used to request funding.

  • Estimate – A detailed cost assessment based on a partially defined scope of work, conceptual design, or detailed scope narrative.  This cost is based on an anticipated project start date and project duration. This cost is usually used to verify a ROM and further develop anticipated project costs.  An estimate can be used to request funding with cost contingencies as agreed to by the client and PD&C.
  • Budget – A complete cost analysis based on a fully developed scope of work, schematic design, well defined HVAC/Plumbing/electrical/life safety systems,  and a high level of certainty on furniture/equipment requirements.  This cost is based on a defined project start date and set project duration.  A budget is the most complete analysis and provides the highest level of cost certainty for clients.

For more information, or if you are ready to get started, please email fmpdc@colorado.edu. This is email is checked daily. We will get your message and a representative of PD&C will contact you.