For matters relevant to estimating and costs, the best source of information is your historical data. These figures allow for the pricing of the project to match how the company actually performs its construction.

This information takes into account the talent and training of the craft personnel and the management abilities of the field staff personnel. In addition, it integrates the construction companies’ practices and methodologies.

This is why a careful, accurate accounting system combined with accuracy in field reports is so important. If all of the information relating to the job is tracked and analyzed, it will be available for future reference.

Computerized cost accounting systems are very helpful in gathering this information and making it readily available for future reference. See Construction Accounting and Financial Management by Steven J. Peterson for more information on managing construction accounting systems.

There are several “guides to construction cost” manuals available; however, a word of extreme caution is offered regarding the use of these manuals. They are only guides; the figures should rarely be used to prepare an actual estimate.

The manuals may be used as a guide in checking current prices and should enable the estimator to follow a more uniform system and save valuable time. The actual pricing in the manuals is most appropriately used in helping architects check approximate current prices and facilitate their preliminary estimate.

In addition to these printed guides, many of these companies provide electronic databases that can be utilized by estimating software packages. However, the same caution needs to be observed as with the printed version.

These databases represent an average of the methodologies of a few contractors. There is no simple way to convert this generalized information to match the specifics of the construction companies’ methodologies.

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