In accordance with Iowa State University policy for facility modifications, construction projects for university facilities are to be accomplished through Facilities Planning and Management. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa defines a capital improvement project as the construction, repair or improvement of a building, utility system or grounds.

Construction projects can range in cost from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions of dollars. The project cost includes design, construction, project management, contract administration, construction management, equipment, furniture, and technology systems, regardless of the source of funds.

The process and required approvals per the university and Board of Regents to complete a project depends on the cost and characteristics.


The annual general fund budget for FPM includes limited dollars for the maintenance and repair of university general fund facilities, and limited in-house facilities planning. All other projects and planning require funding by the university unit requesting the project, or from other sources such as state appropriations or private giving.

FPM receives no general funds for project design, project management, contract solicitation and administration, or construction management. All projects must pay for design costs through FPM hourly rates for in-house design effort, or by contract with an architect-engineer firm. A project fee is also applied to all expenditures for the costs of project management, contract solicitation and administration, and construction management. The amount of the fee varies with the total project cost.

Construction projects under $100,000

Unless the project has a special review condition as outlined for university construction approvals, construction projects up to $100,000 in cost are initiated by a service request. As most projects will be accomplished by contract, Facilities Design and Construction will work with the university unit throughout the process.

Project Deadlines

As it is often the best time to complete projects, the campus construction workload can peak in the summer. To ensure adequate time to plan and complete projects desired in the summer, be aware of project deadlines.

Construction projects over $100,000

Board of Regents policies require specific approvals by the university, Board Office or Board of Regents for construction projects over $100,000. In addition, state of Iowa law requires formal competitive bidding for construction contracts over $100,000.

Project Planning

Projects for new facilities or alterations of existing facilities may require planning to determine or validate the space and facility requirements, assess the adequacy of existing facilities, and determine how to best to meet the program needs of the university unit.

Depending on the size and complexity of the project, planning can be accomplished by Planning Services, with either in-house staff or with the assistance of a consultant under contract and even establishment of a formal planning committee of stakeholders.

If the planning effort will require a consultant, a Project Initiation Request should be submitted to FPM. If the initial planning effort can be accomplished by FPM staff or no planning is required, the Project Initiation Request should be submitted when the unit is ready to start the project design. In either situation, review the required university and Board of Regent approvals to determine if the project first requires review by the Capital Project Advisory Committee (CPAC) and approval by the president.

Project Funding

If a specific state appropriation will be requested, the project must be planned in sufficient detail to provide a budget-quality project scope and estimate as part of the annual Five Year Capital Plan request. This request is submitted each summer to the Board of Regents for the budget submission by the Governor for the fiscal year two years out. The annual request is reviewed by CPAC and approved by the president.

If private gifts are contemplated, the project will require review by CPAC and approval by the president for the ISU Foundation to conduct a fundraising feasibility study.

If university debt financing (internal or by sale of bonds) is considered, the project will require review by CPAC and approval by the president, after consultation with the office of the Senior Vice President for Operations and Finance.

Project Execution

Large construction projects will be completed by contract. When a construction project has progressed beyond the planning phase and has the necessary initial approvals and funding, Capital Projects provides services through the University Architect, Project Management, Construction Management, and Contract Administration to university unit(s).