Detailed cost estimation for landscape architecture: an indicator of final construction costs in the DFW metropolitan area
Shy, Charles L. Sr.
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This thesis uses quantitative research methods to study detailed cost estimating to determine how accurately this estimating procedure helps landscape architects forecast construction costs in the Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex. Specifically, this study seeks to determine the benefits for landscape architects in providing detailed cost estimates to their clients as a deliverable during the design process. Considering how accurate forecasts of construction costs could be used to meet clients' budget expectations more effectively, this is an important field of study for landscape architecture. By evaluating the construction documents costs for each of the study's landscapes, the research determines whether construction costs are in fact accurately forecasted by the cost estimation process. This research analyzes the responses from members of the construction development team. The teams are made up of project owners, landscape architects, and prime contractors who may have knowledge of detailed cost estimates. The research determines if these team members were more satisfied with the outcome of the project than clients who did not receive such estimates. Additionally, this research analyzed the construction cost estimation process and construction documents to understand how landscape architecture practitioners benefit from the implementation of detailed cost estimations into their design processes. Detailed cost estimates directly influences design, making the predictive process all the more important for landscape architects to accurately forecast construction costs. This research focuses primarily on the detailed cost estimating process as it was one of the several estimating methods used in determining the actual construction cost for the projects being studied. This research investigated the importance of detailed cost estimating by implementing an online survey strategy. Structured with trade specific question sets for project owners, landscape architects, and prime general contractors, the survey sought to collect data from individuals familiar with landscape construction work, as well as cost estimation. The principals and themes of this data addresses factors such as compliance with local government construction guidelines and building ordinances. Additional data collected from landscape construction specifications, landscape construction design notes, construction details, subcontractor notes and other factors related to estimating landscape construction costs were catalogued into a basic inventory which further organized these data into respective themes. In summary, the collection, inventory and analysis of the data from the study defined a process that contributes to understanding how detailed cost estimating verifies whether the cost of a project is indeed the actual construction cost. The analysis of these findings aided in determining detailed cost estimation is considered an accurate and valuable construction cost forecast tool by landscape architects. Comparisons and findings, in addition to the survey results, also suggested that adapting detailed cost estimating into the design process assists landscape architects deliver projects that accurately matches the construction budget expectations of the owner.