International Infrastructure Project Cost Estimating Work Breakdown Paul Hewitt, International Project Estimating Limited Introduction Construction Cost Estimating Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) The term WBS has become a common term in all fields related to Cost Engineering including Construction Cost Estimating, Scheduling and Project Cost Control. A well defined WBS is the backbone of good Construction Estimating Software and can take several forms including the breakdown of items within an estimate, the layout of groups within a schedule or the rollup of accounts within a cost report. It usually starts with a client’s desire to breakdown a tender into definable pay items, followed by the project manager’s wish to schedule activities of work in a logically and efficient manner and the contract cost control engineer’s goal to track and forecast costs. In each case a properly organized WBS is required. The Phases of a Civil & Infrastructure Project The cycle of developing, designing, constructing and maintaining Civil & Infrastructure projects includes many phases and participants. The projects usually originate with a developer or government body who formulate a concept design and budget. If the project is approved it then moves on to preliminary design and a more detailed budget is estimated. Depending on the financing options available, the project may go out as a traditional Detailed Design and Bid Build project or proposals may be solicited for Design Build or Design Build and Finance options. Participants within the Project Cycle The life of a major international infrastructure project can involve many participants and span across many years. These projects involve developers, government agencies, engineers, contractors, operators, environmentalists and community stake holders. It is essential for the success of a project that all participants within the project cycle communicate and transfer data efficiently and consistently. Lack of a Standard Industry Wide Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) The dilemma that the international construction industry faces today is that there has been no common work breakdown upon which to communicate and transfer data between project participants. Traditional agencies like state and provincial highway authorities have all developed their own tender breakdowns, many of which that have been around long before the creation of electronic data transfer. Construction estimators have tended to follow the layout of the bids as provided by the government agencies. The scheduler commonly ignores the estimate breakdown because it does not logically adapt well to the
sequence of work activities. The cost control engineer has to rollup the project costs into a corporate chart of accounts that even creates more inconsistency. Current Standard Work Breakdown Structures Many standard project work breakdown structures have been created over the years. The CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) format in North America and the SMM7 (Standard Method of Measurement) format in Great Britain are the most common and have been in existence for over 40 years. These originated as breakdowns for commercial building construction and quantity survey but both have evolved over the years to include other forms of construction. The State of California USA (DOT) Department of Transportation and the Province of Ontario Canada (MTO) Ministry of Transportation are examples of transportation government agencies whom have standardized tender breakdowns. The CSI (Construction Specifications Institute), the most popular Work Breakdown in North America, recently introduced an expanded version of their MasterFormat ™ in 2004 . This work breakdown was expanded from the tradition 16 divisions of work covering building construction to include 50 divisions of work covering civil site work as well as process equipment. A Proposed Standard for an International Infrastructure Project Work Breakdown None of the current...
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