Creating Accurate Conceptual Construction Estimates

For any construction project, several estimates can be prepared during planning that ensure stakeholders have a clear understanding of the projected scope, cost and timeline. In general, the initial ones are intended to be created quickly and economically. As planning proceeds and the project nears kickoff, there comes a need for more accurate and more time intensive estimate types. In this blog post we’ll discuss the first type – the conceptual construction estimate.

Conceptual Construction Estimates Help Make Crucial Decisions

Before starting projects, leaders and executives are often faced with several options for how to achieve their business goals and meet their communities’ needs. At the initial stages of planning, they have to decide what projects to do and when to do them. And in order to make these decisions, it is always best to have as much information as possible, as soon as possible. This is when conceptual construction estimates, also called rough order of magnitude or preliminary estimates, can come into play.

Read more about how different estimate types are used at various stages of project planning.

What is a Conceptual Construction Estimate?

Conceptual estimates account for the most basic factors of a project. Factors like location and size of the project are often enough to begin preparing a conceptual estimate. From there, estimators can roughly determine the cost and time required to complete the project. Conceptual estimates are not as detailed as other estimate types, so they don’t account for details like the exact number of doors, sinks or fixtures. They are simply an estimate of what a project of a general size might cost in the project location. Conceptual estimates predict a project’s cost with as much accuracy as possible within a constrained timeframe and are usually accurate within around 25% of the total project cost.

Estimators and preconstruction professionals can prepare conceptual estimates within minutes and at a relatively low cost because the bar for research and accuracy is not very high. This speed is important because they may need to create several conceptual estimates for a particular project.

See how RSMeans data can help you quickly and reliably estimate the costs of your projects with accurate, location-specific data.

Although efficiency is often the priority, conceptual estimates are still reliable enough to confidently inform decisions, especially at the early stages of project planning. They get decision makers the information they need, when they need it.

Conceptual Estimates Help Reconnect Communities

Sometimes, conceptual estimates can help start crucial projects fast. When the Sea Ray Drive Bridge in Merritt Island, Florida was damaged during Hurricane Irma, the bridge was immediately closed to traffic. In order to restore the vital connection between the communities of Cocoa, Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral, Brevard County looked to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance.

In order to decide whether the bridge should be either repaired or replaced, FEMA tasked Gordian with estimating the total cost of two different options: repair the bridge or to replace it. In just seconds, Gordian’s engineers performed calculations that would usually take hours. Using RSMeans Data Online, our estimating software platform, they prepared two conceptual estimates for repairing and replacing the bridge, and presented the estimates to FEMA. Because they were able to leverage accurate, location-specific data, the engineers were able to help FEMA make the crucial decision to repair the bridge, reconnecting the Brevard County communities.

Creating Estimates Backed by Trusted Data

For any construction project, having more information sooner leads to better outcomes. And when decisionmakers need to quickly assess how to proceed with their projects, having accurate, localized cost data can give them the confidence to make decisions. That’s where RSMeans Data Online can help. With the power to search more than 92,000 validated line items covering more than 970 locations, RSMeans Data Online gives users the power and flexibility of cloud-based access from anywhere, anytime. For conceptual estimates, where speed is key, a powerful online platform like RSMeans Data Online enhances productivity.

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About Gordian

Gordian is the leader in facility and construction cost data, software and services for all phases of the building lifecycle. A pioneer of Job Order Contracting, Gordian’s solutions also include proprietary RSMeans data construction costs and Facility Intelligence Solutions. From planning to design, to procurement, construction and operations, Gordian’s solutions help clients maximize efficiency, optimize cost savings and increase building quality.