• Construction Estimating Reference Book
  • 1. Estimating Basics
  • 2. Construction Estimating Tools
  • 3. General Estimating Guides and Aids
  • 4. Assignment Walkthroughs
  • 5. Construction Materials and Process Index
  • Who Hires Construction Estimators?
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  • Cost Data Manuals Walkthrough

    What are Cost Data Manuals?

    Estimating is an art that is honed through experience. A starting point is necessary when building your experience base. Cost data manuals are published resources that act as databases of information to help give estimators a starting point for estimating everything from material and labor costs to adjustments by project region.

    You will use the 2018 Edition of the National Construction Estimator.

    Cost Data Manuals Assignment Scope of Work

    • Know how to navigate the NCE and find information necessary for estimating tasks.
    • Study and understand the meaning of the abbreviations used in the NCE.
    • Study and understand the definitions of some key terms as they are used in the NCE.
    • Be able to complete the steps for basic cost estimating using the NCE.
    • Take a quiz over the content outlined above.

    National Construction Estimator Video Walkthrough

    NCE Walkthrough, 5:40 mins

    Navigating the NCE

    The manual has two sections, Residential and Industrial/Commercial. Use the correct section for the type of project you are estimating.

    Use the table of contents (p. 2, 2018 NCE) to find information related to the construction task you are estimating.

    If using the PDF version of the NCE, use the search function to find specific tasks you want to estimate. The method for doing so will depend on your computer and the program you are using to view the PDF. In general it is ctrl + f (PC) or command + f (Mac).

    NCE Abbreviations

    Abbreviations are vital knowledge to understanding how common construction materials, terms, and principles are referred to in the National Construction Estimator. See page 06 of the 2018 NCE for a list of abbreviations.

    NCE Key Terms

    List of Key Terms and Definitions used in the NCE
    Labor The work completed by workers (eg. installing material or completing tasks).
    Craft The type of work being completed (eg. carpentry, plumbing, masonry, etc.).
    Craft Code A two character designator that indicates who is doing the work (eg. B6 = 1 laborer and 1 cement mason).
    Base Wage Per Hour The craftsman’s hourly wage.
    Total Hourly Cost The cost per hour for an employer to pay an employee, including insurance and taxes.
    Manhours per Unit A number that represents the number of manhours required for a specific crew to complete one unit of the task (eg. Crew BL requires 1.10 manhours to complete concrete form excavation of 1 CY of light soil). It also appears as Craft@Hrs in the NCE.
    Cost Per Manhour The sum of hourly costs of all crew members divided by the number of crew members.
    Area Modification A list of locations and percentages by which to adjust the cost of materials, labor, and equipment from the costs listed in the NCE.
    Unit The measurement unit for labor. It depends on the construction task (eg. framing uses SF as the unit of measure).
    Material A number that represents the cost per unit of the material as specified in the cost manual.
    Total A number that represents the total cost of labor and materials per unit of work.

    Basic Cost Estimating Steps using the NCE

    1. Identify the Construction Task to be estimated.
    2. Identify the materials to be used in completing the construction task.
    3. Calculate the amount of work to be completed for the task, measured by the units for the task (eg. Framing is measured in square feet).
    4. Find the task in the NCE. Use the search function, if possible.
    5. Estimate the total cost to complete the task based on the figures for material and labor for the task.

    Estimating Example Using the NCE

    A residential project needs a complete framing estimate. It is a two story residence with a concrete slab foundation. The takeoff shows that the first floor dimensions are 35’ x 41’, and the second floor dimensions are 32’ x 38’. Standard materials will be used, so it is appropriate to use the Carpentry Rule of Thumb section of the Residential division of the NCE (2018).

    Step 01: Identify the Construction Task to be estimated

    • Framing of two stories with a concrete slab foundation.
    • Standard specifications for stud, joist, and rafter spacing (16” on center), riser count, backing, blocking and bracing.

    Step 02: Identify the materials to be used in completing the construction task

    • Framing Lumber: Conventional
    • Subfloor: 5/8" OSB
    • Rough Stairway: 15 Risers
    • Rafters, Braces, Collar Beams, Ridge Boards: 2” x 8”
    • Roof Sheathing: 7/16” OSB

    Step 03: Calculate the amount of work to be completed for the task, measured by the units for the task

    • Framing is measured in SF.
    • The SF for each floor must be calculated to measure the total amount of work to be done.
      • First Floor = 35’ x 41’ = 1,435 SF
      • Second Floor = 32’ x 38’ = 1,216 SF

    Step 04: Find the task in the NCE

    Keyword Search: Framing

    From 2018 NCE, p 33:

    Task Craft@Hrs Unit Material Labor Total
    Total framing, first of two floors, concrete foundation B1@.146 SF 2.45 4.88 7.33
    Total framing, second floor of a two-story residence B1@.191 SF 4.44 6.38 10.82

    Step 05: Estimate the total cost to complete the task based on the figures for material and labor for the task

    First Floor Total per SF $7.33
    First Floor SF 1,435 SF
    First Floor Cost Calculation 1,435 SF x $7.33 = $10,518.55
    Second Floor Total per SF $10.82
    Second Floor SF 1,216 SF
    Second Floor Cost Calculation $13,157.12
    Total Estimated Cost to Frame $23,675.67
    Previous Citation(s)
    (n.d.). Construction Estimating Quick Guides and Walkthroughs. BYU-I Books. https://books.byui.edu/-JxEq
    Construction Estimating Reference Book. https://books.byui.edu/-JkY

    This content is provided to you freely by BYU-I Books.

    Access it online or download it at https://books.byui.edu/construction_estimat/quick_guide_cost_dat.