How to Estimate the Cost of an HVAC System for New Construction Projects

cost-of-an-hvac-system-for-new-construction

A commercial HVAC project is a major undertaking.

It involves a wide range of inputs, including ductwork, air handling units (AHU), filtrates, air diffusers, heat pumps, and way more. The installation process is also extensive — but that’s not the end of it.

“Even after completion, HVAC systems require testing, long-term maintenance, and servicing for optimal efficiency and indoor air quality” – Ferro

HVAC systems entail high upfront costs.

Granted, installing the right systems can result in a healthy return-on-investment in the long-term, but that’s down the line.

Today, you have a specified budget and timeline to deliver your HVAC system.


For More Information on HVAC Design and Implementation:


You can expect the following factors to escalate your upfront HVAC costs:

(Note: HVAC systems will also require plumbing, but we did not include that in this estimation as it is a separate essential system for a building).

  1. Heating Plant
    To correctly build the heating plant, you must identify the necessary boiler capacity as well as pumping scheme and sizes. You will need a water treatment plant. In addition, you may need expansion tanks, duty valves, gauges, and other parts.
  2. Cooling Plant
    To build the cooling plant, you must determine the required chiller type and its capacity. As with the heating plant, you will also need to select the pumping scheme and sizes. Additionally, you will need a water treatment system and, depending on the requirements, a number of specialty parts.
  3. Air Handling Unit
    You must determine the building’s air handling requirement in tons/cfm. Once you have determined the capacity, you must select various components to build an AHU system.
  4. Piping Mains
    In addition to the specific make/brand of the piping, the building’s size and desired air distribution access points will affect your final cost.
  5. Piping Branches
    The cost will be dependent on the type and size of your coils (e.g., large coils require more than one connection).
  6. Sheet Metal
    Several key components of your HVAC system will require sheet metal, including the ductwork, boxes for the air diffusers, exhaust fans, grilles, registers, and others.
    As you might imagine, the final cost is dependent on how many of these parts your specific HVAC system uses as well as the source of your sheet metal.
  7. Insulation
    You must also insulate the plumbing and ductwork so as to ensure the HVAC works in cold temperatures. You can estimate this based on the % of your piping and ductwork.
    One typical estimate is 6% to 12% of your total piping and ductwork, though this varies based on the environment of the building’s location and specific thermal use needs.
  8. Temperature Controls
    Building HVAC systems will require many such controls — from the occupant controls all the way through to controls managing the actual HVAC systems (e.g., AHU).
  9. Others
    Certain tasks, such as examining the HVAC system for a LEED certification, will also add to the final cost of your HVAC system.

Delivering a Reliable HVAC Doesn’t
Mean Risking a Delay


The Typical Cost of HVAC System in New Construction Work

Your actual cost will depend on your project’s specific requirements, but you can get a rough estimate from various industry sources.

According to the Builder’s Association, general costs can be broken down like this:

Recreational Buildings
For recreational buildings, HVAC systems can cost at least $17 to $22 per square foot.

Office Buildings
Office buildings using two-pipe HVAC systems will cost $15 to $23 per square foot, while large office buildings based on a four-pipe configuration cost $23 to $28 per square foot.

Residential Buildings
The HVAC installation costs for two-pipe systems is $15 to $18 per square foot, while a four-pipe system can cost $18 to $21 per square foot.

While the cost varies, the figures above demonstrate that HVAC systems are significant, long- -term investments. Moreover, engineers have the unenviable task of delivering these projects
on time and within budget, which is far from simple given the scope of what’s involved.

However, working with an HVAC design, integration, and installation specialist with proven experience will help reduce the complexity of your project.

Having successfully installed over 80 million square-feet of HVAC systems in more than 25 countries, AirFixture is a proven partner for delivering state-of-the-art HVAC systems on time and within budget. Speak to us today and start your HVAC project with the assurance that you will meet client expectations at every step of the process — and beyond.