Frequently Asked Questions

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Land development is the process of altering a site to better meet residential, commercial, industrial, or recreational needs. It’s a detailed and complex process that requires much planning and varies from project to project. The process includes a thorough site assessment, zoning review, conceptual site design, town planning/development approval, and construction. A professional engineer is generally hired to handle land development. DESCCO has engineers on staff and has partnerships with engineering firms with vast experience in land development.

While the stages may not seem too complex at first glance, each stage breaks down into a series of more detailed steps that require the knowledge, experience, and skill of multiple professionals. During the land development process, project managers and engineering professionals perform many services listed below:

  • Site planning, design, and layout
  • Site feasibility studies
  • Stormwater management, analysis, and design
  • Streetscape design
  • Exterior lighting
  • Recreational sites and trail design
  • Parking design
  • Utility coordination
  • Sewage facility planning
  • Floodplain analysis
  • Grading and earthwork
  • Erosion control
  • Public Highway access
In Pennsylvania, a typical land development project can take anywhere from six months to several years to get approvals to begin construction. DESCCO will help with all permit applications to ensure the process goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. The land development process involves strict rules and regulations and requires the acquisition of local and county government approvals before the physical development can begin.

While a civil engineer’s involvement is not always required by law for every project, any project that disturbs a land site should involve a qualified and experienced civil engineer since their involvement could save you significant time and money.

DESCCO can help select the right civil engineer for your project and work closely with them to ensure that unnecessary features are not included in the plans and costs are controlled. Our site construction experience brings a working knowledge of issues and practical efficiency.

The approvals you will need for any given project will largely depend on the type and scope of your project as well as the area you intend to build in. Zoning permits are building permits are typically a must at the very least. DESCCO’s team of professionals has the experience and skillset to walk you through these project requirements.

Before starting a renovation construction project, you must consider the challenges of your current space and make a list of possible solutions that would fit into your budget and timeframe. If you’re looking for inspiration or guidance on an upcoming project, call DESCCO Design & Construction.

Before starting an addition or new construction project, you should consider the following:

  • Land Development
  • Architectural design and development
  • Color Renderings/3-D Modeling
  • Structural plans
  • Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing plans
  • Permitting and Code Review with Municipality
  • Inspection, Permit, and Surveying Fees
  • Site Work
  • Building Construction
  • Building commissioning


Hiring a Design/Build firm, such as DESCCO Design & Construction, Inc. eliminates the need to seek individual professionals to accomplish permitted plans for submission for code review and permitting with Township and County officials. DESCCO will coordinate and collaborate with all professionals needed for a complete project. This consolidation of effort will expedite the process and allow your project to progress timely as design and project budgeting take place simultaneously.

We get this question a lot. Every project is different and has many variables, as you might imagine. A construction project can be estimated based on square footage and experience with similar projects, also known as budgetary pricing. DESCCO provides services for conceptual planning to determine square footage for your project and associated budgetary pricing at a reasonable cost. A final contract price is based on sealed drawings approved for permitting after the design development process is completed.
To receive financing, you are likely to need a clean credit record, a physical proof of concept, including a floor plan, cost and profit projections, a timeline of anticipated project, a qualified, reputable, and licensed Builder, a minimum down payment of 20% and proof of your ability to repay the loan. There are various types of loans, and each Financial institution will generally have its own guidelines and requirements for lending.
When projecting a “reasonable” timeline for your construction project, it is best to discuss with your construction team as every project differs due to size and difficulty. Schedules can be shortened and work accelerated; this, however, increases project cost. At DESCCO Design & Construction, we will work with you to find the best balance between your timeline and budget. If remaining open during construction is essential, we can implement scheduling and construction methods to minimize your business’s disruption. It is also important to allocate extra time for any possible unknown delays you may encounter along the way.

The construction process is as follows:

  1. Initiation: The stage in which you evaluate the feasibility of your project and hire a construction team.
  2. Planning: The stage in which you identify your project’s scope and identify the resources and strategy needed to accomplish it.
  3. Implementation/Execution: The stage in which you physically begin construction on the project.
  4. Performance and Monitoring: Coinciding with the implementation/execution stage, this is the stage in which you evaluate and ensure that everything is going according to the plan, address any issues, and work to resolve them.
  5. Closing: This is the stage in which deliverables are finally offered to the client. This is where you evaluate and ensure you’ve met all agreed-upon goals and successfully completed the project.

Design-build is a contracting system in which one entity manages the architecture, engineering, and construction under one contract. By having a single point of responsibility contract, the project owner’s risk is minimized. The delivery schedule is reduced by overlapping the design phase and construction phase of a project. In the design-build system, the architect, engineers, and contractor work together as a team to design the project and establish the budget. Each brings unique strengths and expertise to the team to deliver to the project owner the best value. Competitive bid projects make you responsible for finding an architect to draw your plans and a contractor to build it. You end up with multiple contracts and assume the responsibility for all coordination and communication. There is less collaboration or attention to designing the project within a set budget. On the surface, this may seem to be how you can get the best price for a project, but you are only getting the best price for a set of plans produced with little or no focus on construction methods or materials. These items can drastically influence the cost. With a competitive bid, if the price is over budget on bid day, you get to start over and do a costly complete redesign.

Call DESCCO Design & Construction to discuss which method will work best for your project. We prefer the collaboration and partnering of the Design-build but are equally comfortable with competitive bid projects. We have good people and efficient construction processes that make us very competitive. This provides good value in whatever procurement method you choose.

With design/build delivery, the Contractor and Architect work collaboratively at the project’s onset to maintain better control of the construction costs, therefore streamlining both the design and construction process, resulting in quicker project completion and a lower total cost.

DESCCO can offer you the advantage of planning, designing, and having your project constructed while dealing with a single company. We take responsibility to collaborate with other professionals, so you don’t have to.

The National Building Code (NBC) is a document that provides guidelines for the construction of structures – residential, mercantile, institutional, educational, commercial, assembly, storage spaces, or even hazardous buildings. Initially, NBCI was a voluntary code. Later, it was made a part of the local building by-laws in most states, which have made it mandatory and enforceable. The code is extensive, complex, and sometimes open to interpretation. During the design phase, licensed professionals determine how to best apply the code requirements to your project

When plans are submitted to your local municipality or county, they will administer a code review or hire a certified third party to administer a code review to ensure that the building and mechanical plans meet their interpretation of the code requirements.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law designed to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities like those provided to individuals based on race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. When considering an ADA-compliant construction build, you must be sure to include handicap accessibility elements such as designated parking spaces, wheelchair ramps, wider doors and hallways, elevators, etc. Our team has the knowledge to help you plan for ADA considerations in your build.
Just as Property insurance protects a structure that has already been built, Builder’s risk insurance protects new construction, renovations, or additions while the work is in process. It covers various situations that may arise during construction, including fire, wind, theft, vandalism, and negligence. Without this insurance, your financial investment is not protected from these situations before the building is occupied.
A general contractor has a range of responsibilities, including planning a project from the beginning idea stage to occupancy, preparing a budget estimate and managing cost, coordinating with the Architect/Engineer for drawings of plans and/or code compliance, and communicating with the customer throughout the entire project. They are responsible for quality and safety management, as well as soliciting and organizing all subcontractor bids and scheduling jobs. Should unforeseen site conditions arise, they will collaborate with other professionals to provide solutions. Contact us today about your future project needs! 1-610-426-1442 or visit us at
A “budget quotation” is a rough estimate of the construction costs, which is prepared without a lot of detailed information on the quality or type of materials. A “contract bid” is a price for which the contractor is prepared to build and is usually based on a complete set of drawings and/or outlined specifications
If you are interested in building new, expanding a building, or renovating space, a budgetary quotation can help you to decide if you should proceed with the project.
  1. Assess if you can finance the expansion.
  2. Determine the additional carrying costs and taxes to be more than offset by the additional business that can be booked.
  3. Avoid bearing the cost of a full set of architectural drawings before understanding the scope of the project.
A budgetary quotation is based upon experience and average square foot approximations for similar construction. A budgetary quote is developed by trade based upon assumptions and associated costs, i.e., amount of demolition involved, lineal footage of new sheetrock, number of interior and exterior doors, and level of finish for carpet, wall coverings, ceiling, etc. Depending on the project’s size, it can take considerable time to compile data to prepare a reasonably accurate budget. It is not just guesswork.

(In partnership with Professional Architects, DESCCO offers Master Planning services).

  1. Evaluate the existing conditions and get feedback from the church team
  2. A CADD plan can be created to reflect current conditions and uses
  3. Welcomes input from various departments, committees, and congregation
  4. A facility utilization form is provided to collect important usage for each space which helps to identify groups that may have too much space allotted for their area of ministry and which ministries need more space
  5. Surveys can be completed by various ministries and teams to help prioritize needs and wants
  6. A spreadsheet document can be generated using compiled information showing reasonable areas for various functions/li>
  7. Block plans or conceptual plans of spaces can be provided to show proposed additions to accommodate new program uses
  8. Adapt the conceptual plan with church leadership team input
  9. A high-resolution 3D exterior rendering can be created for a capital campaign or promotional purposes
Master Planning allows a church to assess the facility’s needs, determine priorities, plan for growth, evaluate alternatives, and provides firm direction without inhibiting future growth. Thousands of dollars can be saved by going through this process. Early in the process, we consider local codes, preliminary site, and space use, discover limitations due to existing site conditions, and provide realistic and accurate cost projections for the complete project. The planning process gives complete and thorough information enabling informed decisions at a reasonable cost before spending larger dollars for a full design. A long-term plan considers all the elements of an existing facility and a congregation. Our team can offer construction phasing if applicable.
  • General Contractors can bring peace of mind as they allow you to manage your business while the professionals handle your project. They know industry standards and project management expertise and know which subcontractors are reputable and reliable. They’re aware of building codes, appropriate materials, proper construction methods, and safety.
  • General contractors are responsible for the quality of all the work he or she oversees as part of the contract, and if something goes wrong during the construction, it is up to the general contractor to get it fixed.
  • Hiring a professionally licensed and insured General Contractor takes the worry and stress out of the job. A general contractor will provide turnkey service from project conception to completion. If you act as the general contractor yourself, you assume liability for injuries and property damage.
Call DESCCO Design & Construction at 1-610-426-1442 or visit us at
DESCCO provides the necessary services required to take a project from its conception through design development, and construction, including design, planning, budgeting, cost management, soliciting and organizing bids, coordination and scheduling, quality and safety management, insurances, and regular maintenance if desired.

A preliminary estimate based on a cost per square foot for commercial construction projects can give you a high-level view of your potential project cost to evaluate your capability of proceeding before you spend money on conceptual planning and a more detailed budgetary price.

We have provided a cost per square foot guide to give you a general range or preliminary estimate to get you started.

General Ranges:

Commercial Interior Build-Out

  • Low $50-$80 / SF
  • Mid $81-$135 / SF
  • High $136-$200 / SF


Commercial New Construction

  • Low $150-$200 / SF
  • Mid $201-$315 / SF
  • High $316-$450 / SF

A final contract price is based on sealed drawings approved for permitting after the design development process is completed. Customers approve the design during the process to stay within acceptable budget requirements.

Hard costs, which may also be called “tangible costs” and include all costs involved with physical building construction. Hard costs include:

  • Construction labor and materials: Wages for workers physically doing work on the property, overhead and profit for the contractor, and purchase costs for all relevant materials, including concrete, wood, steel, insulation, glass windows, and more.
  • Landscaping costs: Typically includes costs for trees, grass, mulch, fertilizer, flowers, bushes, and any other landscaping elements.
  • Site improvements: Land acquisition, demolition costs, paving/walkways, gazebos, permanent/fixed benches/outdoor furniture, and other exterior improvements.
  • Utility installation: Electrical installation, plumbing, water/sewer hookup, etc.
  • Interior finishes: Wallpaper, paint, trim, flooring, etc.
  • HVAC: Full installation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
  • Life safety systems: Fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, fire escapes, and other related systems.


Contingencies: At the final estimation, these usually come out to around 5-10% of total costs (for new construction), or between 15-20% (for renovations).

Soft costs are “intangible”, and are typically associated with the planning, permitting, and financing of a construction project.

  • Civil engineering fees: Land development plans and storm water management requirements.
  • Architectural and engineering fees: Conceptual plans, design development, final plans for permitting and construction, color renderings, 3-D modeling, structural plans, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing plans, fire alarm plans, and sprinkler plans, landscape designer, interior decorator. Fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, fire escapes, and other related systems.
  • Property and construction insurance
  • Movable furniture and building equipment
  • Legal fees
  • Permits and taxes
  • Code review
  • Inspection fees
  • Site Analysis: Surveying fees and geotechnical reports
  • Accounting: Administrative expenses
  • Financing fees: Including application fees, loan origination fees, interest payments, and appraisals
  • Fundraising
  • Décor including window treatments
  • Incidental interior and exterior signage