How Long Did it Take to Plan that Building? by UCLA, the Federal Reserve Board and Wellesley College

File Type: Free Content, Article
Release Date: February 2013
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Construction employees looking at plans

Research conducted by Stephen Oliner of UCLA, Jonathan Millar of the Federal Reserve Board and Daniel Sichel of Wellesley College, has resulted in estimates of planning times for commercial construction across the United States.  The researchers found that the average planning time nationally is approximately 17 months.  

The nationwide dataset includes roughly 82,000 projects (office buildings, retail, warehouses and hotels) for which planning was initiated between 1999 and 2010. 

The planning period was defined as the time between the hiring of an architect to draw up preliminary plans and the start of construction. 

The median project in the dataset is a single-story building with an estimated construction cost of approximately $1.5 million. 

About 13 percent of the projects in the dataset were deferred at some point, with the deferral adding roughly two years to the planning period.

Planning times tend to be longest on the coasts, have trended up over time, and are influenced by the local regulatory environment.