Elemental Method of Estimating – Advantages and Disadvantages [Building Construction]

House Under Construction Walls and Roof


When compared to the Unit and Superficial Area method, the Elemental Estimate or elemental method of estimating is a more detailed method of calculating the cost of a construction project. This estimate is easily understood by the client or any party involved in the design consultation because it shows separate elements of the building that have to be priced. It is good for cost planning (budgeting) because the summary shows the cost of each element. Just by looking at the summary, the Quantity Surveyor can identify elements which are taking up too much cost, and an investigation can be launched. This is done by analyzing the elemental items, for example the type of floor finishes used in the building. If the floor finishes are too expensive, alternative materials should be suggested by the Architect. The aim is to allocate money on essential components of the building first, and non-essential parts afterwards.

If you want to get useful information from an Elemental Estimate for cost advice purposes, then you should use an estimating program like QSPlus. QSPlus has a specialized Elemental Estimating module that shows you the percentage of the total cost for each element as well as the cost per m2.

Layout of an Elemental Estimate

Depending on the scope of your building project and specifications, an Elemental Analysis (Summary) will have the following elements:

ElementUnitQuantityUnit RateCostCost/m2Percentage of Total Cost
2Ground Floor ConstructionM2
3Structural FrameM2
4External EnvelopeM2
6Internal DivisionsM2
7Floor FinishesM2
8Internal Wall FinishesM2
9Ceilings and SoffitsM2
11Electrical InstallationM2
12Internal PlumbingNo.
13Fire ServicesNo.
14Balustrading, Etc.m
15Air ConditioningM2
16Soil Drainagem
17Water Suppliesm
18Connection Fees, EtcNo.
19Boundary, Screen and Retaining Walls, Etc.M2
20Roads, Paving, Etc.M2
22Building Contract ContingenciesM2
23Cost Per M2 of Construction AreaM2    100%


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