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2022 Construction Estimating Trends: RSMeans Data Online Year in Review

RSMeans Data Online has a well-earned reputation as North America’s most trusted cloud-based construction estimating platform. Built on Gordian’s proprietary RSMeans data construction costs and enhanced with robust and innovative estimating tools, it’s the go-to platform for estimators, designers, architects and project owners.

The popularity of RSMeans Data Online provides us with a window into the state of the construction industry. By examining the types and locations of estimates created and digging into the specific line items searched for, we can spot trends and use them to make educated insights.

Let’s dive into the data and take a look at 2022 construction estimating trends.

Estimate Counts and Project Types

RSMeans Data Online users created a grand total of 165,697 estimates over the course of 2022. That number represents a huge jump over the 2021 total of 151,363. This spike in estimation creation could be an indication that the construction industry is rebounding after a few lean years, a topic we discussed in our annual construction cost trends webinar. From a dollars and cents perspective, RSMeans Data Online users estimated more than $320 billion in construction work in 2022. Bear in mind, this is only the volume work estimated, not the volume of work awarded or completed.

Estimates Graph

144,726 of the estimates developed in RSMeans Data Online were line item estimates, a jaw-dropping 87% of the total. This staggering use speaks to the breadth and depth of construction costs in the platform, with over 91,000 line items in total. In all, users conducted more than 1.4 million searches in 2022.

The remaining estimates were built using the software’s Square Foot Estimator tool. With over 40 popular building models available, these square foot models provide an accurate snapshot of costs and give preconstruction professionals the power to quickly consider options for maximizing project budgets.

The most popular square foot model for the second year running was the 1-3 story apartment building, which was used more than 3,600 times. Rounding out the top five most popular models were warehouse (2,086), 4-7 story apartment building (1,024), 1 story office (1,010) and 2-4 story office (969).

Building Graphic

Searches for warehouses were up significantly, with over 400 more searches in 2022 than in 2021. This trend could reflect an industry-wide need to increase material storage in the face of supply chain constraints and long material lead times. Another potential reason for this warehouse boom is e-commerce growth, according to an article from the American Institute of Architects. Goods sold online must be stored in the physical world, resulting in the widespread construction of distribution facilities.

Estimate Locations

It’s been said that everything is bigger in Texas. That adage certainly holds true when you consider 2022 construction estimating trends, as the top two locations for estimate production came from the Lone Star State. The top city, Houston, accounted for 3,455 estimates, while San Antonio came in second with 3,159. Rounding out the top five locations were San Juan, Puerto Rico (2,808), Miami, Florida (2,459) and Atlanta, Georgia (2,321).

Location Graph

Line Item Trends

The most searched line item for 2022 was HVAC, with over 32,000 searches for the second consecutive year. That’s more than five times the second-most searched line item, excavation, which netted 6,280 searches. The dominance of HVAC-related line items points to a continued focus on air circulation, filtration and quality in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

HVAC Graphic

A staple of horizontal construction, concrete line items came in third with 6,209 searches, followed by demolition and paint with 5,077 and 5,073 respectively. This top five reflects the versatility of RSMeans Data Online, as they represent the full gamut of construction work, from new builds to renovations and maintenance.

Looking Ahead: What 2022 Construction Estimating Trends Could Mean for 2023

Zooming out from these 2022 construction estimating trends, we see an industry bouncing back. RSMeans Data Online search volume is up. Estimate values are up. While cost volatility persists and the future is impossible to foresee, there is cause for optimism. After a shaky few years, the construction world appears to be stabilizing.

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About Gordian

Gordian is the leading provider of Building Intelligence™ Solutions, delivering unrivaled insights, robust technology and expert services to fuel customers’ success through all phases of the building lifecycle. Gordian created Job Order Contracting (JOC) and the industry-standard RSMeans Data. We empower organizations to optimize capital investments, improve project performance and minimize long-term operating expenses.