Campus Renovation Services

Campus Renovation Services is responsible for the design and construction of non-capital projects on the UW-Madison campus and most adjunct properties. We are most frequently involved with projects constructed by Physical Plant in-house trades, but also utilize private contractors. Services we offer the campus community include:

  • Pre-construction project visualization and order-of-magnitude estimating.
  • Space planning.
  • Code analysis and interpretation.
  • Architectural design. Acoustics analysis and mediation, exiting and fire safety evaluations.
  • Engineering design. Metering, energy efficiency modeling, lighting level analysis, and upgrade studies.
  • Interior design. Furniture, color, lighting, finishes selection, and purchasing advising and assistance.

Questions and requests for further project-specific information can be directed to Physical Plant Customer Service (

Symbols and Abbreviations

Campus Renovation Services uses a standard set of abbreviations and symbols on project drawings.

How to Request a Project

To request a new project, complete the Request for Remodeling Form and send it to your College Representatives for approval. A single person with authority to approve funding expenditures must be assigned as the main point of contact. Authority can be delegated via delegated signatory form. 

General Project Process


A report on the existing site conditions and desired scope of work, and sometimes including a schematic design (when needed to define the scope of work). This assessment includes consultation as appropriate with UW Police Department (UWPD), Environment, Health & Safety (EHS), University Health Services (UHS), and the Division of Information Technology (DoIT), etc.


Design and construction documents can be produced either in the form of a worklist or drawings. Other items that may be part of the construction documents are furnishings orders, contracts for finishes, and specifications.


The construction phase does not begin and end with the actual swinging of tools, but also includes any or all of the following: pre-ordering of materials, pre-construction meeting, punch list walkthrough. Some work may be subcontracted to outside resources at the discretion of the Physical Plant.

Additional Information

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Project Prioritization

Summer Project Prioritization

  1. Accessibility.
  2. Research Labs if prioritized by a College representative.
  3. Large Instructional Labs & Classrooms (over 49 occupants).
  4. Small Instructional Labs & Classrooms (49 occupants and under).
  5. Projects received from FP&M Space Management Office.
  6. Public Spaces.
  7. All others–First come, first served with review. College prioritization is necessary.

*It is not encouraged to plan projects over the winter or spring breaks. However, when they can be accommodated these priorities will apply.

Academic Year Project Prioritization

  1. Accessibility.
  2. Research Labs if prioritized by a College representative.
  3. Projects received from FP&M Space Management Office.
  4. Instructional Spaces taken off-line for renovation purposes.
  5. All others–First come, first served with review. College prioritization is necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Timing is my highest priority. Is there any way to move through the process more quickly?
A. There are three inter-related factors that affect the perceived success of a renovation project (see below). If speed is the primary factor, it is possible to skip steps in the project development process. The preliminary estimate and shop estimate can be skipped, but only if budget is not a constraint. Skipping these steps also means the designers and trades spend less time with the project. This means the quality of the finished project could be compromised due to decisions made in haste. The project scope must be rather straightforward and there cannot be many changes to scope throughout the process if it is desired to “fast-track” a project.

Q. Can I work with a flooring vendor to add carpet?
A. Currently FP&M is working to set a standard protocol to expedite carpet requests. Although carpet installation or replacement initially may seem simple and quick, it may be more costly in the long run. Additionally, UW Purchasing Services Policy #PPP4, Item 4 requires review by FP&M staff for carpet and other building-related purchases. When Physical Plant is requested to look at adding carpet they review the existing conditions and may discover asbestos containing materials or issues with a subfloor that a carpet vendor may not be as familiar with on campus. Also, flooring products have different properties and thicknesses. The door to the room may be sized to swing over a smaller vinyl flooring profile and will need to be undercut to swing over the thicker carpet profile. Flooring can also be damaged by furniture glides or casters that are inappropriate for the flooring type. Finally, there are various levels of quality in any product. Is the room a private office or a classroom? Our staff would recommend different carpet options based on the room function. Carpeting projects should be submitted to our office by completing and submitting the request for remodeling form. These projects will follow an accelerated version of the assessment – design – bid – build process in order to expedite.

Q. What am I agreeing to when I sign and approve the service assessment?
A. You are agreeing that the scope of work described in the assessment represents your vision for the design of the subject space(s), and requesting the designers to begin design documents based on that information. You are also agreeing to pay a design fee for the creation of design construction documents whether or not you proceed with the construction of the project. The design fee is 4% of the total project cost estimated in the service assessment. If a project is cancelled mid-design, actual designer hours are reviewed and the amount is prorated. Please note, on occasion additional design fees have been required due to multiple revisions requested by the customer. Design fees have also been required after multiple revisions have been requested by the customer in the assessment phase. As a baseline, three assessment document revisions require additional design fees. Your project administrator will notify you if the number of changes is approaching the point that additional design fees will be required.

Q. What am I agreeing to when I sign and approve the design documents (drawings or worklist)?
A. You are agreeing that the information in the design documents meets your intended design scope, and requesting the construction manager to schedule a site visit for the trades to begin estimating your project based on those design documents. You can write notes on the documents and still approve the documents as noted. For example, you are reviewing a drawing set for your new office and are coordinating the furniture purchase independently. You had provided an earlier version of the desk layout to the design team and the desk is now being flipped to the other wall. Add this note to the design documents and sign to approve as noted.* The design team will receive those comments and update the documents before issuing the final construction documents for trade’s estimates.

*This desk layout change would require the power and data to be moved to the opposite wall and may affect clearances or the location of the door or lighting.

Q. What am I agreeing to when I sign and approve the construction service agreement?
A. You are approving the expenditure of funds for construction. The trades will order materials and schedule a construction start date. The construction service agreement is an estimate. It is not a fixed cost or not-to-exceed figure. You should consider this a more accurate budget than the initial estimate, and will be notified of any discoveries that may affect the total project cost as they occur. Any changes made to the design or budget of the project will be documented in change orders. Change orders, with implications to total cost will be sent for customer approval before the work is executed. (On occasion a change order may be time-sensitive and will be requested in person or on the phone to expedite, but a document of that verbal communication will follow in written form.) Request for additional information or change orders that do not change the design intent and have no cost implications will be documented in writing and sent for customer records.

Q. Why is the final cost not the same as what I received in the original estimate?
A. The “original estimate” is a rough scope-of-work estimate provided by the designers, usually based on an idea in their head and one or two early discussions with the customer. During the time between this estimate and the final cost, many changes to the scope of the project frequently occur that cause the cost of the project to change. Additionally, the construction of projects is billed on an actual time-and-materials basis. Therefore, site conditions, customer schedules, and unforeseen circumstances can also come into play.

Q. When can I expect all final charges to be processed?
A. There are several departments involved with the final billing processes. Billing is processed at the end of each month and is uploaded towards the beginning of the following month. Purchase orders are not billed to the project until auditing has reviewed and confirmed the work is satisfactorily complete. Final charges may occur several months after construction completion. Please contact your project administrator for project-specific billing inquiries.

Q. Can I receive a fixed cost estimate?
A. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer a fixed cost estimate. The department is not allowed to make a profit, and we are unable to fund shortfalls in the current budget climate. However, we will be resuming the practice of getting a trades estimate based on completed construction drawings immediately prior to construction. This estimate is generally more accurate than the architect/engineer estimate as many details and scope-of-work changes have been worked out interim.

Q. Who do I contact if I want to make a change during construction?
A. During construction, the construction manager should be the one and only point of contact for the customer. Your construction manager is introduced to you at the Preconstruction Meeting, held on-site and with all trades in attendance before construction begins. Individual tradespersons cannot/should not take instruction for additional work from you, the customer. If they do, it will not be considered part of the documented scope of work and may not be considered in the funding/budgeting.

Q. What are the standard hourly rates for labor on renovation projects?
A. Hourly rates vary by trade. For more information, consult the Renovation Rates sheet (NetID required).

Glossary of Architectural & Engineering Abbreviations

ACT or ATC Acoustic Ceiling Tile (standard suspended ceiling material)
ADA Americans with Disabilities Act
A/E, A&E, AE Architecture and Engineering, Architect or Engineer
AV Audio Visual
CMU Concrete Masonry Unit (concrete block)
FF&E Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment
GWB Gypsum Wall Board (drywall)
Haz Mat Hazardous Material
HM Hollow Metal (i.e. door frame)
LVT Luxury Vinyl Tile (flooring)
SC Solid Core (i.e. door)
VCT Vinyl Composition Tile (flooring)
A/C Air Conditioner
AHU Air Handling Unit
BOP Bottom of Pipe Elevation
CFM Cubic Feet per Minute
CHW Chilled Water
CV Control Valve
CW domestic Cold Water
CWR domestic Cold Water Return
dB decibel
FC or FCU Fan Coil or Fan Coil Unit
HVAC Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning
HW domestic Hot Water
HWR domestic Hot Water Return
psi pounds per square inch (pressure measure unit)
T-stats Thermostat
VAV Variable Air Volume (associated with temperature controls)
DC Direct Current
DS Daylight Sensor
FA Fire Alarm
K Kelvin (standard unit for temperature – color temperature)
LAN Local Area Network
LV Low Voltage
MV Medium Voltage
OS Occupancy Sensor
VoIP Voice over Internet Protocol
ACM Asbestos Containing Material
AFF Above Finished Floor
AMT Amount
BSMT Basement
CL Center Line
Demo Demolition
EA Each
EM Emergency
LBP Lead Based Paint
OC On-Center
P/I Purchase & Install, Provide & Install
STD Standard