If you’ve ever been in any sort of budget planning or project cost estimation meeting at a large corporation, you know how completely silly they can be (especially so for software and IT infrastructure projects).  Wildly optimistic or bloated numbers get thrown around that usually have less to do with hard facts than they do with internal political bullshit.  Sometimes when I hear these massive numbers I start to wonder, “How would the cost and time estimate for this project stack up against, say, the cost and time it took to build the Golden Gate Bridge?”

So I finally sat down and did a little research on five major historic construction projects, with costs adjusted to 2012 dollars (see below).  So the next time someone at the mega corporation where you work says, “We estimate upgrading to Windows 7  will cost $42 Million and take three years”, you can indignantly howl, “We could build the friggin’ Eiffel Tower in that time, and for less money!”



Cost: $144 Million ($17 Million in 1954)

Time to Complete: 1 year 0 months 1 day


Golden Gate Bridge

Cost: $557 Million ($35 Million in 1937)

Time to Complete: 4 years 3 months 14 days


Empire State Building

Cost: $618 Million ($41 Million in 1931)

Time to Complete: 1 year 1 month 15 days


Eiffel Tower

Cost: $36 Million ($1.5 Million in 1887)

Time to Complete: 2 years 2 months 30 days

(A TV show called “Pricing the Priceless” apparently claims the true 2011 cost to build the tower would actually be $480 Million.  I have no idea why that’s so high, other than that they’re baking in not just inflation but regulatory, union and comprehensive planning costs.)


RMS Titanic

Cost: $174 Million ($7.5 Million in 1909)

Time to Complete: 3 years 0 months 2 days

(You may not want to compare your project to this one.) :)