THE number one question asked.
There are 3 major components to a fabric structure (steel, fabric and connections) and every decision made on the design and its install affects the cost as well. The more complex and steel there is on a project, the more it will cost to fabricate and install. The fabric and hardware chosen is just as important as the paint finish and the foundations. Location, site access and labor rates also play a major role.
My advice? Keep it simple.
Fabric Structures are mostly used as a cost effective solution to providing shade and shelter. The added bonus is that it is festive in nature and can be used for temporary or permanent applications. The beauty of these structures is in the details so keep them simple.
What to do?
The best way to understand the cost of a fabric structure is to request a Schedule of Value (SOV) or a breakdown of the major cost (design/engineering/project management, steel, fabric and hardware fabrication, installation and equipment and shipping). The percentage of the overall cost can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the design, the material chosen, the location and access of the site, the cost of labor and equipment and the amount of material needed to be shipped. Keep in mind, Fabric Structures are normally priced by surface area because of their unique shapes.
Here is a basic rule of thumb:
Plan Area (Length x Width) X Shape Factor (H) = Surface Area
Shape Factor is a number which varies depending on the form chosen and is used to estimate the amount of fabric including waste used on a proejct. Mast supported structures tend to have twice as much material as a hypar and barrel vault design. I normally use 1.5 for a shape factor.
Surface Area X Cost per SQFT= Budget
In 2010, use $100/sf to get started. That cost includes design, engineering, fabrications and installation (no Foundations).
If the total fits your budget, take the next step.