Building a House – Get a Construction Cost Estimate



After the Architect or Building Designer has produced drawings of your proposed house, you have to calculate the cost of construction. One of the mistakes that clients make is leaving building cost estimating in the hands of the contractor or an engineer who is working on the project. Let’s be honest, a building contractor or structural engineer are not the best estimators or cost managers. These two professionals might have done costing as part of the Construction Management and Structural Engineering curriculum respectively, but this does not make them specialists in estimating or quantity surveying. Quantity Surveying courses also include basic subjects in Engineering but this does not qualify a QS to be a Structural Engineer.

In order to get a high quality estimate that is accurate, complete and valuable, you should consult a Quantity Surveyor or certified Construction Estimator. There are a lot of essential details that contractors and engineers will miss when quantifying a plan and pricing the quantities. The type of estimate produced in this case does not follow the Standard System of Measurement used by Quantity Surveyors. Most of the times, it’s not clear if the rates are inclusive of labour, subcontractors and mark up. Items and trades are not organized or defined properly. More often, the estimate is based on construction activities, but there is no composite rate build up to take account of all constituent components in the activity. Since the engineer is not guided by standard QS guidelines, the estimate is more likely to be subjective, prepared according to the engineer’s view of costing elements. A lot of items that you would find in a BOQ would be missing including preliminaries, contingencies, escalation and provisional sums. Above all, an estimate prepared by an unqualified consultant will lack descriptive detail that is required for contractor pricing and purchasing items. If roof installation has been measured as an activity, which items have been included? Does the rate or sum include roof covering, insulation, trusses and brandering? Are the estimated quantities based on supplier quotes or have they been methodically calculated? Is it an estimate for purchasing materials or is it for bidding?

You can send the same house plan for estimating to different parties – the contractor, engineer, certified construction estimator, quantity surveyor (QS), project managers etc, and you will see a big difference between the estimates. The estimate by the QS and certified Estimator is far more reliable, accurate and complete.

Why Should You Get a Cost Estimate?


A building cost estimate allows you to budget enough money for the project. You will know in advance the anticipated cost of building your proposed house, enabling you to make critical decisions. When you approach a bank or financier for a loan you should furnish them with your cost estimate. Make sure that contingencies as well as price escalations are included in the bank. Escalation should be factored in when a contract is expected to run several months, at least 12 months duration.

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