One thing we hear often is that people think RuskinARC is just too expensive. This always surprises us since our clients see RuskinARC as extremely cheap compared to the current practice of doing repeated architectural surveys. In order to find some common ground, we’d like to explain a little better.
The Traditional Architectural Survey
Let’s talk about costs for architectural survey work and how our clients have used RuskinARC to save money while providing a better long-term base for preservation planning. Long story short: RuskinARC dramatically cuts the time it takes for reporting, mapping, analysis, and other survey work, resulting in huge cost savings.
For example, let’s say your organization needs a historic architectural survey done of 200 buildings in your downtown. Average costs for survey work are hard to pin down, but our professional experience has shown that in Kentucky you can expect it to cost up to $50 per site. In Kansas, Illinois, and Tennessee we’ve worked at $90-$100 per site. In other places, $68-75 per site. It varies based on the project scope and geographic area you are working in.
So let’s say it’s $70 per site. For bid or estimating purposes, that means a whole project to survey, map, analyze, and report on those 200 downtown buildings will cost about $14,000. You send out your bid, hire a firm, and architectural surveyors hit the field. In the end, you receive a nice report, photos, and a binder of survey forms.
But now what? You get a paper report and a stack of survey forms and paper maps. You might also get a spreadsheet or database file and a DVD of photos. Armed with this material you will know where you stand for about a year before the catalog is out of date and stops being useful. Eventually the information, survey forms, and report get filed away in a closet or basement or other “archival location” and itself becomes a historical artifact.
For $14,000, you have produced something that is inaccessible to most people and very rigid in its potential to be used for any other purpose.
Rinse and repeat when you need to do another survey.
The Same Project with RuskinARC
Let’s do the same project with RuskinARC. A RuskinARC account is $2,988 a year for the Premium version or $1,788 for the Pro version. Let’s say you’re a small team and don’t need features like unlimited images and just go with the Pro version at $1,788.
A rule of thumb for survey work is that about half the cost of the job is field work, and the other half is reporting and analysis. RuskinARC has powerful reporting and mapping built in that will generate all the text descriptions and survey forms and map data for you. At the same time, it also creates spreadsheet data that can be exported for GIS purposes or imported into any other computer system you might need to use.
In other words, RuskinARC does half the work for you. No need to pay someone else.
RuskinARC works wherever you are; field or office or even home. This makes RuskinARC accessible to everyone so as the project director, you can enlist knowledgeable volunteers or students to do the initial field work and research, the way Miami Beach has done for its Art Deco District.
“RuskinARC makes [surveys] much easier. We have [members of our preservation league] take field notes and photos with their own equipment and then they upload the info at home. I don’t have to find limited office space. I have had residents ask if they can just survey their own home or building. Without RuskinARC, it would not be cost or time efficient to train someone to do just one site.”
— Judith Frankel, Miami Design Preservation League
This is great experience for college students learning their way into preservation and planning practice and they’re savvy enough to know how to do it all with an iPad. Then, mix in a professional for review the way Oak Park has. In some cases, you can get the field survey for free (although, you might want to buy the volunteers lunch). You can even let the folks at the historical society put information in, as well as information from city planning or local experts.
And local volunteers and experts often do a better job because they’re more familiar with the area and able to add their special local knowledge as they do the work.
Depending on the project, you can get professional results using RuskinARC without having to hire professionals. RuskinARC has built-in oversight tools that ensure accurate information and consistency while capitalizing on non-professional sources of labor.
The Clear Advantage
Remember, you paid $1,788 for a RuskinARC account. The survey data flows in. Your survey can be reviewed by you or a professional and you can organize it, direct it, and watch all of the information grow from your office. As we’ve shown, RuskinARC can reduce costs by as much as 50% and probably more. Now your estimated $14,000 survey project has been reduced to less than $7,000. And once the information is in RuskinARC it doesn’t get less valuable over time, it gets more valuable as information is added, updated, and kept current with the changing environment.
You could do just one survey job this way and at $1,788 a year, RuskinARC won’t cost what the traditional survey job costs for several years.
With RuskinARC, you’ll be able to do this with all your surveys and correlate them to learn even more about your community and its resources. Growing your inventory, surveying larger areas, building a secure inventory, easily managing all of your information and producing sharp output on demand for less than what you’re paying now.
How many surveys would you normally do over three, four, or more years? How many do you wish you could do?
We think you’ll agree; RuskinARC is a less expensive way to do surveys. Instead of spending your budget on expensive survey work, spend it on activities that will actually save historic buildings and on preservation projects in your community.