FEMA E-74 Chapter 4.5 Cost Benchmarks—Examples

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4.5 Cost Benchmarks—Examples

4.5.1 Example 1—Manufacturing Facility

The nonstructural components throughout a 500,000 square foot manufacturing facility located in the heart of the New Madrid Seismic Zone were upgraded for improved seismic performance. The facility was originally built in the late 1970's with several periodic expansions constructed into the early 1990's. The project included anchorage and bracing of existing nonstructural components in both manufacturing and office space.

Following a structural evaluation confirming life safety structural performance, a facility-wide nonstructural earthquake risk assessment was conducted and concluded that many of the nonstructural components failed to satisfy the life safety performance objective defined in ASCE/SEI 41-06. A subsequent engineering design phase was performed to design bracing and anchorage for nonstructural components not meeting the performance objective. The strengthening measures included bracing for all natural gas piping and equipment, fire protection piping systems, and emergency power systems as well as items whose damage could pose a threat to the life safety or the egress of building occupants. This included restraints for overhead office lights, bracing of tall unreinforced masonry walls and equipment suspended overhead, and anchorage of floor mounted equipment whose overturning or sliding could block the emergency exit routes for the facility.

The design began in 2006 with an 8 month construction schedule completed in mid-2008. The facility was fully operational throughout construction. Regular communication between the owner, design team, and contractor were cited as key to the project success. Scheduling requirements such as night shifts and work sequencing were incorporated into the design documents and the construction schedule to give the entire construction team a clear understanding of the challenges of working in a 24/7 manufacturing facility.

The approximate cost breakdown for the project in 2007 dollars is summarized in Table 4.5.1-1.

Table 4.5.1-1 Approximate Cost Breakdown for Manufacturing Facility Upgrade Project
 Project Cost
Consultant Fees (Design & Construction)


Construction Costs


Inspection and Testing




Average Cost

$2/square foot


4.5.2 Example 2—School District

A pilot project was undertaken to determine the magnitude of costs associated with implementation of nonstructural damage mitigation measures in a California school district. The pilot project addressed contents and equipment, overhead components and hazardous materials. Nonstructural hazards were surveyed and prioritized in three groups. The highest priority category included those items judged to pose the greatest safety risk. Among the components included were tall bookshelves and filing cabinets, suspended lighting, heavy ceiling systems, and hazardous materials. Roughly half of the items at risk were judged to be in the highest priority category.

A total of seventeen schools were included in the pilot program. The current cost to address the highest priority items ranged from roughly $20,000 per school (primarily to address tall cabinets and files) to $400,000 per school in 2008 dollars (requiring work on suspended components as well as floor- and wall-mounted items).

4.5.3 Example 3—California Hospital

Seismic upgrading of nonstructural components was undertaken as a stand-alone project in response to SB 1953 regulations, which require California Hospitals to comply with specified nonstructural hazard reduction milestones by December 31, 2008 (see discussion in Section 4.1.1).

The subject hospital is a 228-bed acute care hospital of roughly 230,000 gross square feet, built in the 1970s. The project included anchoring and bracing nonstructural components in designated areas throughout the hospital including central and sterile supply, clinical laboratory service spaces, pharmacy, radiology, intensive care units, coronary care units, angiography laboratories, cardiac catheterization laboratories, delivery rooms, emergency rooms, operating rooms, and recovery rooms. Also included in the scope was the anchorage and bracing of mechanical and electrical equipment serving the designated areas.

Floor-mounted equipment, wall-mounted items weighing over 20 pounds, suspended equipment, piping, and ceilings were included among the items addressed in the project. Seismic anchorage was designed for compliance with 2001 California Building Code requirements.

The primary project challenge was to maintain uninterrupted hospital services 24/7 while accomplishing the mandated work. This required planning efforts by hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, the design team consisting of architects, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, contractors and subcontractors. Planning commenced in mid-2003; construction was completed at the end of 2007. The work was successfully completed by working in small areas at a time, often at nights for short durations. In order to complete the work in the intensive care unit, an available wing of the hospital was completely remodeled as "swing space" to enable patients to be relocated from the intensive care unit to the remodeled wing, thereby providing the contractor unrestricted access to complete nonstructural upgrading in the intensive care unit. Work throughout the hospital was complicated by the presence of asbestos in the fireproofing at the underside of the floors. Hazardous material abatement preceded all work.

The cost breakdown for the project in 2007 dollars is summarized in Table 4.5.3-1.

Table 4.5.3-1 Cost Breakdown for California Hospital Upgrade Project
 Base ProjectSwing SpaceTotal
Consultant Fees








HAZMAT Abatement




User Equipment




Permits, Inspection, Testing








Most of the project cost was attributable to the logistics of making improvements while maintaining uninterrupted hospital operations. The total construction cost of roughly $100 per square foot demonstrates that the most cost effective nonstructural mitigation is undertaken when space is unoccupied such as during planned renovations.

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Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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