Accurate cost data: A crucial tool for finding value

Architects and designers have a few different options for sourcing their cost data.

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July 24, 2019 |

Every construction project comes with its own different set of requirements, deadlines, variables and budgets. Sometimes, the budget is not enough, and design professionals have to find opportunities for value engineering. To effectively value engineer, you must have current and reliable cost information. After all, you cannot be sure you are even adding value unless you know exactly where your costs lie.

Architects and designers have a few different options for sourcing their cost data. Some rely on industry experts, others use quotes from vendors or suppliers, some get their cost data from a third party and some simply use old estimates. Old estimates combine historical and internal data, whereas third-party cost data is often used to validate those costs and fill in any gaps. No matter where you source your data, you want to be sure it is both up-to-date and comprehensive.

A published cost database can fill in knowledge gaps and account for details the design team may not even consider. RSMeans data from Gordian, for example, includes more than 85,000 labor, material and equipment costs. All the components and labor can be found in this type of cost database as well—even for complex jobs. Such a resource is extremely useful for anyone practicing value engineering because it contains thousands of alternatives for creating value in the short term or the long term.

There is another benefit to using published cost data during value engineering as well. Accurate cost information demonstrates the impact of design decisions and shows project owners the team has exhausted all options in pursuit of creating the best possible design within budget parameters.

A successful design project is dependent on a reliable cost data source. Additionally, accurate cost data is a crucial component to anyone practicing value engineering because you are certain to maximize the budget while providing cost-effective alternatives that will, as a result, add significant value to the entire project. For more information on Value Engineering, check out our eBook.

Rory Woolsey has worked in Management and Engineering in the construction industry for 40 years. He started as a construction laborer and superintendent and has experience in just about every construction profession from designer to estimator to project manager to field engineer and, most recently, a senior owner’s representative for many large public agencies. For 20 years he was the lead estimator and president of The Wool-Zee Company, Inc. working for architects, engineers and facility managers to accurately budget their construction projects at all stages of design. Rory has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil/ Structural Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in construction project management.

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