One of the most common questions we get asked by new business owners is how much should I budget for my sign. On its face, this question may seem simple, but the answer is relatively complicated.
A big part of our business involves walking our clients through the process to help them determine an accurate budget based on their needs. The initial numbers might give you a little sticker shock if you’re unaware of what goes into the cost of business signage. However, once you learn about the administrative, production, and installation costs; you’ll quickly understand how to weigh the price of your signage against its ultimate value to your business.
This article will take you through many of the factors impacting your sign budge, including:
- Project Administration Costs
- Signage Cost Factors Based on Location
- Installation Costs
Remember, signage is an entirely custom solution, so we will give you a broad range of pricing possibilities as we progress through the article. These ranges will change with the particular products you are buying.
Project Administration Costs
Project administration is a critical element in the deployment of a successful sign project and one that, unfortunately, often goes overlooked. Depending on your project's scope, project administrative fees will impact the overall cost of your project. But do keep in mind, that skipping over some of these elements of administration can result in even higher costs down the road (i.e. fines for failure to comply with local sign code, signage repairs due to engineering failures, etc.). As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Project Management Costs
Project management is billed by the hour, based on the project's perceived scope. Single sign projects will require coordination between the landlord, general contractor, electrician, architect, and painter.
The cost of managing these scopes of work will vary by company, but for a sign project with one scope of work like a single wall sign, you should expect to spend $250 to $500 per project.
For a project with multiple wall signs and ground-based signs, the cost to manage the project can run from $1000 to $3000, which equates to 10 to 30 hours of project management time.
Permit Procurement Costs
When a sign is placed on the outside of a building, visible from any adjacent zone lot, then you are going to be required to pull permits. Depending upon the county, state, or municipality you reside in, the costs of acquiring your permits may vary.
Some cities only require a sign company to submit one permit, while others may require a sign permit, building permit, and separate electrical permit for each sign on your project.
This administrative function's cost is usually provided as an initial fee, with a contingency for additional hours past the standard price.
The average cost nationwide for a base permit procurement fee is between $200 to $500. Hourly charges for additional administrative hours ran
ge from $75 to $100 per hour.
Each building and planning department will require you to pay several fees depending upon your project's complexity and the organization's fee structure. Permit fees can vary wildly from one part of the country to the other.
There are two categories of permit fees for signs. It is not unusual to see $1000 or more for these fees.
Zoning Review Costs
The planning department will charge a fee for verifying the project's zoning, combined with a sign code review to make sure the submitted plans are within code. This fee can typically be between $100 and $300 and higher.
Building Code Review Cost
Sign schematics are reviewed by a building inspector to ensure they comply with building code. These fees are generally charged with a minimum fee or assessed from the project's valuation. Fees can range from as little as $50 to as much as $10,00, depending on the project's complexity.
We see a typical building code review fee for an average sign project is $500. Check with your local building department before you start your project to be confident about the cost.
Every sign project will not require engineering, but all projecting/blade signs, awnings, and ground signs will require engineering.
Engineering is the process where a licensed engineer will perform the necessary calculations for wind load and snow loads for signs and awnings. Each type of ground sign or projecting signs will require its own engineering charge.
If you have two monument signs, and one is higher or larger than the other, each one will need its own set of engineering calculations and stamped drawings.
Engineering drawings and calculations are submitted to the building department to illustrate our compliance with building code.
Engineering costs can range from $700 for a single wall sign to $1500 to $2000 for larger, more complex ground signs. The average price of a set of engineering drawings is $700.
The average cost of a sign design done by a local sign company is between $150 to $300. If you do not see a line item on a quote for design, you can assume it is being rolled into the total price somehow. The typical sign design can take between 1 to 5 hours, depending on the total number of signs needing individual designs.
Signage Cost Factors Driven by Location
The single largest factor impacting your sign budget will be your establishment location. Your site can affect your budget in many ways. One of the primary factors that will impact your sign budget will be your local sign code. Sign code will determine how many signs and how large those signs can be. We recommend reading our article on sign code to understand better how sign code affects your sign project.
Stand Alone Buildings
If you are looking at taking a stand-alone building that has the opportunity for 3 or more signs plus a ground sign, your sign budget will need to be considerable. You will need to work with your sign company to determine the number and location of the signs required to sign your facility for maximum benefit.
A good initial budget number for a stand-alone location with 3 channel letter signs is between $18,000 to $25,000. If you are looking to add a monument sign, a reasonable starting budget should be around $20,000 to $35,000. Your specific design, materials, and local requirements can impact this number.
It's not unusual to get a total project budget for a stand-alone location to $65,000 with larger signs and a monument/pole sign.