A framework for estimating preconstruction service costs at the functional level for highway construction projects

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Craigie, Emily
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Douglas D. Gransberg
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Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Failing to budget an appropriate amount of funding for services rendered during the preconstruction phase of highway projects has been found to degrade the final quality of project construction documents, generating design errors, omissions, and ambiguities that must be remedied at additional cost during construction. The overall impact is to reduce cost certainty during the project development process. In other words, investment in the preconstruction process by developing an accurate estimate of preconstruction service (PCS) costs reaps a return measured in reduced cost growth during construction.

To deliver a high quality constructed product, the necessary resources must be allocated to the preconstruction process to permit planners and designers the time and funding to be able to solve technical, environmental, and constructability problems before the construction contract is advertised.

To ensure that the appropriate resources are made available during the preconstruction phase, an accurate estimation of PCS costs must first be developed. The preconstruction phase includes the delivery of many intermediate products and services such as environmental investigations, geotechnical studies, public involvement and permitting. The effort required to complete these tasks is project specific and influenced by location, resources impacted and regulations governing the project. Consequently, this research found the best way to quantify these services was to develop a scope of work for the effort required to complete each task. This is a ‘bottom-up’ estimating approach at the functional level.

This research develops a cost and scope breakdown structure (CSBS) to organize PCS work tasks. It then proposes a methodology that utilizes the CSBS with historical data to create estimates that are consistent and less reliant on the experience of senior staff. A framework is developed to better estimate PCS costs, improving the quality of final design documents and enhancing an agency’s ability to control cost and schedule growth during project delivery.

Finally, this research identified a need to assess the quality of the products used to disseminate highway research project findings. A vetting framework is proposed to ensure that new PCS estimating concepts and other highway research dissemination is rigorously evaluated to ensure its communicability with industry practitioners.

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Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2015