For the sake of simplicity this article refers generically to all architectural design professionals as architects. This is by no means intended to discredit either Registered Architects or Building Designers, and their similarities or unique differences as practicing professionals. 


An architect must have a general understanding of the price of products, construction systems and trade services, in order to develop a design that closely aligns to their client's budget and expectations.
While quantity surveying connection cost publications can be used to determine price estimates, contractors have no obligation to follow these price guides. 
Therefore, it may be prudent to engage a Quantity Surveyor to give an independent estimate on the total project cost. Ultimately, until a tender process is completed, and prices submitted, you cannot guarantee construction costs. As a tendering process generally  requires the completion of all architectural, engineering & consultant documentation, before potential contractors organise contractor trade costs & pricing, it can be problematic to note obtain a reliable estimate earlier in the design process.
When an architect is engaged to undertake Contract Administration, the architect with need to negotiate the contents of the construction contract with the potential contractor on behalf of the client, negotiations on fixed costs, prime-cost items, provisional sums, and whether  items or allowances may need to included or removed from the contract requirements. 

Software resources

It is often unnecessary for architects to invest in Construction Estimating software, unless they wish to provide this service additional to their core architectural services. Estimating is generally a process that is easily outsourced, unless you specifically wish to have an in-house expert. While BIM software such as ArchiCAD and Revit provide the means of developing quantity schedules, they are not specifically designed with the in-built formulas and costing data to replace specialised QS software.

Besides using an excel spreadsheet for your company costing and contract system, there are over 100+ software programs on the market that can be used for construction estimating.  You can compare these products on Capterra. Some well known software packages include:   

  • Sigma Estimates
  • Cordell Estimator Platinum
  • Buildsoft
  • Bluebeam
  • Co-construct


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The information contained in the article and website are general in nature and are the opinions of the author, through his professional experience and study. This should not be substituted for seeking professional or legal advice in this area. Click here for more details of our content.