Building Cost Models – Uniformat II

Building cost models are based upon major buildings systems as defined by the Uniformat II classification system.

Building and/or system models are experience-based and useful for conceptual cost estimating and/or capital renewal and/or life-cycle capital planning.

Building and/or system models are generally based upon the input of parameter values for each major Uniformat category as expressed in square feet, linear feet, ceiling height, number of floors, building type/use, quality, security, productivity, exterior finish, duty use, % heated/cooled, numb er of corners,  and location.

Typical building types include office, laboratory, education, assembly, stadium, warehouse, police, fire, etc.

job order contracting



UNIFORMAT Estimated Cost Cost per Sq.Ft. % of Total Cost
Foundations $92,096.00 $1.84 2.3
Substructures $65,053.00 $1.30 1.63
Superstructures $328,565.00 $6.57 8.21
Exterior Closures $286,536.00 $5.73 7.16
Roofing $151,015.00 $3.02 3.77
Interior Construction $1,046,939.00 $20.94 26.16
Elevators $190,482.00 $3.81 4.76
Mechanical $879,146.00 $17.58 21.97
Electrical $566,561.00 $11.33 14.16
Specialties $72,128.00 $1.44 1.8
Architect/Design Fee $323,570.00 $6.47 8.09
TOTAL: $4,002,091.00 $80.04 100
( Click here to visit )
Level I Level II Level III
A  Substructure A10  Foundations A1010  Standard Foundations
A1020  Special Foundations
A1030  Slab on Grade
A20  Basement Construction A2010  Basement Excavation
A2020  Basement Walls
B  Shell B10  Superstructure B1010  Floor Construction
B1020  Roof Construction
B20  Exterior Enclosure B2010  Exterior Walls
B2020  Exterior Windows
B2030  Exterior Doors
B30  Roofing B3010  Roof Coverings
B3020  Roof Openings
C  Interiors C10  Interior Construction C1010  Partitions
C1020  Interior Doors
C1030  Fittings
C20  Stairs C2010  Stair Construction
C2020  Stair Finishes
C30  Interior Finishes C3010  Wall Finishes
C3020  Floor Finishes
C3030  Ceiling Finishes
D  Services D10  Conveying D1010  Elevators & Lifts
D1020  Escalators & Moving Walks
D1090  Other Conveying Systems
D20  Plumbing D2010  Plumbing Fixtures
D2020  Domestic Water Distribution
D2030  Sanitary Waste
D2040  Rain Water Drainage
D2090  Other Plumbing Systems
D30  HVAC D3010  Energy Supply
D3020  Heat Generating Systems
D3030  Cooling Generating Systems
D3040  Distribution Systems
D3050  Terminal & Package Units
D3060  Controls & Instrumentation
D3070  System Testing & Balancing
D3090  Other HVAC Systems & Equipment
D40  Fire Protection D4010  Sprinklers
D4020  Standpipes
D4030  Fire Protection Specialties
D4090  Other Fire Protection Systems
D50  Electrical D5010  Electrical Service & Distribution
D5020  Lighting and Branch Wiring
D5030  Communications & Security
D5090  Other Electrical Systems
E  Equipment & Furnishings E10  Equipment E1010  Commercial Equipment
E1020  Institutional Equipment
E1030  Vehicular Equipment
E1090  Other Equipment
E20  Furnishings E2010  Fixed Furnishings
E2020  Movable Furnishings
F  Special Construction & Demolition F10  Special Construction F1010  Special Structures
F1020  Integrated Construction
F1030  Special Construction Systems
F1040  Special Facilities
F1050  Special Controls and Instrumentation
F20  Selective Building Demolition F2010  Building Elements Demolition
F2020  Hazardous Components Abatement
G  Sitework & Utilities G10  Site Preparation G1010  Site Clearing
G1020  Site Demolition and Relocations
G1030  Site Earthwork
G1040  Hazardous Waste Removal
G20  Site Improvements G2010  Roadways
G2020  Parking Lots
G2030  Pedestrian Paving
G2040  Site Development
G2050  Landscaping
G30  Site Mechanical Utilities G3010  Water Supply
G3020  Sanitary Sewer
G3030  Storm Sewer
G3040  Heating Distribution
G3050  Cooling Distribution
G3060  Fuel Distribution
G3090  Other Site Mechanical Utilities
G40  Site Electrical Utilities G4010  Electrical Distribution
G4020  Site Lighting
G4030  Site Communications & Security
G4090  Other Site Electrical Utilities
G90  Other Site Construction G9010  Services and Pedestrian Tunnels
G9090  Other Site Systems & Equipment
Z  Gen’l. Cond. / OH&P Z  Gen’l. Cond. / OH&P Z0000  General Conditions / Gen’l Requirements, OH & P
The last entry above is not part of the referenced ASTM Uniformat II classification standard.

JOC Study Announced – Value of Job Order Contracting and Integrated Project Delivery

Industry-wide JOB ORDER CONTRACTING Study Announced – JOC

4Clicks has been in recent communications with Arizona State University’s (ASU) Performance Based Studies Research Group (PBSRG) about a planned JOC Research Study.  We are excited about the potential to document the value associated with JOC vs. traditional construction deliver methods.

Study areas will include cost and time savings and increased flexibility among others.  Publication of the final report is targeted for January 2016.

While we are in the early stages of learning more about the study, we are encouraged by the capabilities of the researchers and the potential value of this study.

Owners, Contractors, and Service Providers experienced with JOC will be encouraged to share their knowledge and experiences.  The initial announcement and additional information  are included below for your review.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

About PRBSRG:  The Performance Based Studies Research Group (PBSRG) is a group of researchers and educators at Arizona State University that focus upon “Best Value Models” consisting of three main phases: Selection, Pre-Planning & Quality Control, and Management by Risk Minimization.

via – 4Clicks Solutions develops and delivers a comprehensive suite of construction cost estimating and project management software to connect people, information and processes – anytime, anywhere.

Date: 11/20/2014 Subject: JOC Industry Research

The Performance Based Studies Research Group (PBSRG) out of Arizona State University (ASU) is currently conducting an industry wide study evaluating the Job Order Contracting (JOC) delivery system. The finalized study, anticipated to be released in January 2016, will document the value that comes from JOC as a procurement method, regardless of system utilized.

PBSRG is requesting participation and support from Owners, Contractors, and Service Providers by providing project information collected while using the JOC system. Time commitment is expected to be minimal for participants.

If you are interested in participating in this study please email ( or call (480-

577-3726) Jacob Kashiwagi.

Performance Based Studies Research Group (PBSRG)

P.O. Box 870204 Tempe, AZ 85287-0204           Ph: (480) 965-4372  Fax: (480) 965-4371

Objective of Research:   To evaluate the value (in terms of time, cost, and customer satisfaction) achieved when utilizing JOC over other traditional methods to complete projects. Previous JOC studies have been unable to identify the savings JOC brings to an owner through administration costs, time savings, and increased flexibility to achieve organizational objectives. They have also failed to identify why contractors under the JOC system are able to deliver construction for a lower cost and why they are motivated to deliver high quality to the owner. The aim of this study is to work with JOC users to identify this. The study also hopes to identify characteristics and practices of successful JOC implementations. At the conclusion of this study a report will be published through Arizona State University identifying the findings of the JOC system.

The PBSRG out of ASU will be collecting and analyzing all JOC performance information. PBSRG will keep all data collected confidential unless given permission to share with other parties.

Participation:  The JOC contractor and owner community is highly encouraged to participate in this study. Owner’s that participate in this study will be kept abreast of developments and be offered education on the findings of the study. Contractors who participate will be able to use the performance information and the education that comes from this research.

Milestone Schedule:  The expected duration of this study will be 1 year (Jan 2015 – Jan 2016). The following are major activities that will be performed along with estimated completion dates and time frames:

  1. JOC Conference (to be held in Phoenix) (Organizations will also be given the option of participating by WebEx) 1/9/2015
  2. Finalization of JOC Research Strategic Plan 1/26/2015
  3. Survey and data collection (from all stakeholders)  4/3/2015 – 9/18/2015
  1. Analysis of Data and Draft JOC Report  11/20/20015
  2. Final JOC Report 1/25/2016

Distribution of Research:  The results of this research will be distributed to all participants. It will also be made available to the public at no fee.

JOC Process

What is Job Order Contracting / JOC?
What is Job Order Contracting / JOC?

A Comparison of Construction Cost Estimating Software Tools 2015

A Comparison of Construction Cost Estimating Tools

    1. Spreadsheets – Microsoft Excel®
    2. Electronic Cost Books and Calculators – RSMeans CostWorks RSMeans Online
    3. Cost Estimating/Project Management Software – 4Clicks Project Estimator
    4. Cloud Cost Estimating – Ceasel

Accurate, timely, and transparent cost estimating is critical to the success of any renovation, repair, sustainability, or new construction project. While most construction cost estimators continue to rely primarily upon hardcopy documents and electronic spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel, many are beginning to leverage electronic cost books and associated calculator software tools. Both of these approaches have merit and are well suited for certain types of users.

Growing numbers of cost estimators, however, need to work with multiple projects and multiple estimates simultaneously, securely share information on active projects, gain access to localized cost information, and easily locate and reuse historical data. These Owners, Contractors, and AEs are moving to advanced cost estimating and management systems. They are discovering that significantly higher productivity can be gained – as much as 50 percent or more. Furthermore, the collaborative aspects of these sophisticated software systems are aligned with integrated project delivery methods and construction sector movement toward Building Information Modeling (BIM). Cloud computing, a further advancement enabling even higher levels of collaboration and simplified deployment, are also now becoming available.

This paper addresses each of these primary approaches to construction cost estimating and discusses their application. For clarity, products are referenced within each category as follows:

      • Spreadsheets – Microsoft Excel
      • Electronic Cost Books and Calculators – RSMeans CostWorks
      • Cost Estimating and Project Management Software – e4Clicks Project Estimator
      • Cloud Cost Estimating – Ceasel

The image below portrays a graphical representation of the increase in accuracy, collaboration, productivity, and project completeness for various cost estimating methods.


Construction estimating involves the estimating of material, labor, equipment, overhead, and contingencies. Spreadsheets, most commonly Microsoft Excel, are used by more estimators for this purpose than any other tool. Spreadsheets have significantly improved cost estimation capabilities and accuracy since the 1980s. Relatively easy to master, spreadsheets provide a means to create and report a construction cost estimate. Cost construction models can also be built within spreadsheets. Productivity improvements result from the ability of Excel to easily handle more of the mundane calculations required.

One problem with spreadsheets, however, is their inherent vulnerability to errors due to data entry, a problem that only increases along with the complexity of an estimate. As the formulae within the spreadsheets become more numerous and complex, errors became exponentially more frequent and costly. [2]

Spreadsheets also do not account for dynamic cost information and associated uncertainties or historical information – all of which have proven to be important variables for many construction projects.

Lastly, and in part due to the issues noted above, collaboration using spreadsheets is problematic, as are transparency and accurate monitoring and reporting. Having multiple people working on the same spreadsheet is not efficient or even workable for larger projects. Thus estimates tend to be created and stored in different locations, making information difficult to accurately retrieve and changes extremely costly to execute. As a result, old data errors are perpetuated, copied over and over again.

Electronic Cost Books and Calculators

As it became apparent that more localized and historical data would be critical to improving the accuracy of construction cost estimates and cost models, organizations instituted a formal process for collecting and storing this information. Individual Owners, Contractors, AEs, and other third parties began to collect this information. RSMeans Cost Data has become North America’s standard for commercial construction cost data including materials, equipment, and labor line items, productivity factors, and assembly and square foot cost information. Localized cost indexes, referred to as the City Cost Index (CCI), are also available.

Based upon the size and type of construction project, estimators soon found that they could improve their productivity and accuracy even further by using standardized reference cost information in combination with spreadsheets. Such reference cost information included RSMeans Cost Data or other reference cost sources, along with cost data architectures such as Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat and UniFormat. However, manually entering in tens, hundreds, or even thousands of cost line items from hardcopy cost books remained tedious and prone to data input errors and errors of omission.

Integration of electronic cost book information directly with a cost calculator was the next logical step. An example of this approach is RSMeans CostWorks product. CostWorks can best be described as an electronic version of RSMeans Cost Books where line items can easily be copied and pasted into spreadsheets. CostWorks also incorporates some limited cost calculation tools moving it even closer to the needs of construction cost estimators. Many inherent data input errors associated with spreadsheets appeared to be mitigated. Other issues remained largely unsolved including: collaboration, data reuse, document management, integration and maintenance of alternative cost data sources, reporting, and the integration of robust construction delivery workflows. To provide easier Internet access to RSMeans Cost Books, RSMeans Online is now being offered in addition to the CostWorks CD-ROM. RSMeans Online enables simplified deployment and a somewhat updated user interface.

Collaborative Cost Estimating Software Solutions

Spreadsheets have proven valuable for single, static estimates of a certain project size, as well as for a media to gather and transfer data sets. Similarly, the integration of electronic cost books with spreadsheets and electronic cost calculators (such as CostWorks/RSMeans Online) are equally valuable for individuals performing a small number of relatively straight forward construction, repair, or renovation estimates (three to five per year).

However, both spreadsheets and electronic cost calculators do not meet the need for collaboration, transparency, document management, and maximized productivity. They also do not provide a capacity to adhere to and report upon specific construction delivery methods and/or contracts such as Job Order Contracting (JOC), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements (SABER), and Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ). Collaborative cost estimating and project management solutions also support today’s need for Adaptive Project Delivery (APD)ä. APD enables Owners, Contactors, and AEs to modify and constantly improve upon construction project delivery processes to meet their individual and changing requirements.

Integrated cost estimating, project management, contract management, and document management software systems have become very popular over the past decade and are exemplified by e4Clicks Project Estimator.  e4Clicks Project Estimator incorporates this type of cohesive management in a single application.

e4Clicks Project Estimator allows users to create estimates and manage multiple types of projects and contract methods: JOC, SABER, IPD, Single Award Task Order Contracting (SATOC), Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC), Multiple Award Construction Contract (MACC), Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ), Performance Oriented Construction Activities (POCA), and Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA). Users can select from enhanced RSMeans electronic cost data, including an exclusive 400,000 line item database with full descriptions and modifiers as well as graphics, diagrams, and specifications, and/or custom/internal cost information or other standard/custom unit price cost books.

Visual estimating and quantity take-off (QTO) are also core components of this type of advanced software. eTakeoffä, included within e4Clicks Project Estimator, stands head and shoulders above other visual estimating solutions, enabling estimators to quickly and precisely visualize requirements and trace electronic drawings to determine quantities for line items within estimates. Drawings can be shared in various formats include Adobe Systems Portable Document Format (PDF). The eTakeoff/4Clicks integration enables users to quickly transfer to e4Clicks Project Estimator.

Visual estimating allows the user to:

      • Estimate and pre-bid processes without paper plans.
      • Create measurements by tracing upon electronic drawings.
      • View plans with powerful zooming and scrolling capabilities.
      • Display measurements in an infinite variety of colors and patterns to identify the type of construction and the materials used.
      • Total measurements from multiple plan sheets.

Cloud Cost Estimating

Cloud computing enables the next level of collaboration and real-time work with virtually unlimited processing power and storage. Cloud computing applications, such as 4Clicks’ Ceasel, connect people, information, and processes – anytime, anywhere.

Ceasel allows the user to do more with fewer resources, while also improving cost estimating and project delivery outcomes.  This is made possible by Ceasel’s ability to enable higher levels of service, economies of scale through shared but secure resources, rapid and flexible deployment, standardization, and the ability for cost estimators, project managers, and procurement professionals to connect and share previously incompatible information.

With Ceasel, the user logs in through a web browser and can immediately build estimates with the best representation of RSMeans Cost Data available, custom data, or a combination of both. Cloud computing technology stores data permanently, keeping a detailed history of changes so work is never lost. Unlike spreadsheets, Ceasel and similar products provide the flexibility for teams to work simultaneously with large databases from any location around the world.

From a deployment perspective, cost estimating software solutions and true cloud cost estimating solutions address the creation of custom parameters, multiple “knowledge bases,” and easily support client-server network or stand-alone system environments.

These powerful tools yield superior productivity, accuracy, transparency, collaboration, and information reuse. They are best suited for anyone using RSMeans Cost Data and/or custom cost data for renovation, repair, and sustainability projects, as well as estimators managing tens to hundreds of projects per year. The chart below shows the capabilities deployed by each estimating tool.

Evolution Graphic V2


Over the past forty years, there have been many initiatives to improve cost estimating to facilitate the delivery of construction projects on time and on budget. Owners, Contractors, and AEs now have multiple methods to select from based upon their needs.


Spreadsheets were a major improvement in the 1980s, followed by formal processes for collecting and harnessing historical information to more accurately project and control costs. Over the past decade, a powerful new capability has been added, collaborative cost estimating and project management software. Within the past two to three years, cloud computing offers yet another advancement in terms of ease of deployment, scalability, and real-time collaboration.

Over the past forty years, there have been many initiatives to improve cost estimating to facilitate the delivery of construction projects on time and on budget. Owners, Contractors, and AEs now have multiple methods to select from based upon their needs.

Spreadsheets were a major improvement in the 1980s, followed by formal processes for collecting and harnessing historical information to more accurately project and control costs. Over the past decade, a powerful new capability has been added, collaborative cost estimating and project management software. Within the past two to three years, cloud computing offers yet another advancement in terms of ease of deployment, scalability, and real-time collaboration.




[1] Christofferson, Jay. “Estimating with Microsoft Excel”, Brigham Young University. Nickols, Robert Duane. “Construction Estimating Using Excel” Lexington Technical Institute, University of Kentucky.

2 Caulkins, Jonathan P., et al. “Do Spreadsheet Errors Lead to Bad Decisions” Carnegie Mellon University.

Improving Cost Estimating and Project Delivery in the Public Sector – Today.

It’s all about the data, processes, metrics, and supporting technologies.

Cost Data:  What value is your construction cost data to you?  Are you able to easily and rapidly copy/paste, update, share, and reuse your cost estimates?

The answer for most cost estimators, contractors, and owner is “No”.  The result is poor productivity, rampant waste, excessive numbers of change orders, and even legal disputes.   Leveraging a standard cost database, such as RSMeans, is critical from multiple perspective.  First is the common format and data architecture, meaning Masterformat2012.  Now, image RSMeans with line items spelled out consistently in plain English, as well as individual line item modifiers which expand available RSMeans cost line items from approximatley 70,000 to well over 400,000.  Also imagine all this within a true cost estimating tool that included Contract, Project, and Document management… all withing a collaborative environment.

Technology:  First, and foremost, while we all use spreadsheets daily, they are NOT for collaborative cost estimating and sharing information with Owners, Contractors, AEs, etc.   I challenge who exclusively uses spreadsheets for doing a significant amount of R.S. Means line item estimating anytime.  Appropriate cost estimating tools can and do make the process more efficient and less costly to all parties.   Visual estimating/QTO, line item cost estimating, powerful search tools, integrated contract/project/document management and the ability to host RSMeans and custom cost data… all are available within a single software program, such as e4Clicks Project Estimator.

Time for you to provide more detailed cost estimates more productively?

Improve your Job Order Contracting Program – JOC, SABER, IDIQ …

We can significantly reduce the time it takes you to complete RSMeans line item estimates, improve accuracy, and provide you with a single program allowing your entire team to collaboratively manage multiple contracts.

We can help your team estimate not only faster, but more accurately.

  • Create Estimates in Minutes vs. Hours and Hours vs. Days:  Easily reuse and Share Estimates with our Estimate Clipboard (copy, paste, and update estimates and line items within a collaborative platform).
  • Exclusive 400,000+ RSMeans Line Item Database: Full Descriptions, Modifiers, References, and Images
  • Manage Multiple Contracts and Projects in One Application: JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, Etc.
  • Export to DOD Forms:  AF66, AF3000, AF3052, AF3064-3065, Army 4025, DOD Form 1354, FORSCOM Form 59-R, and more
  • Support for Multiple Price Guides: Integrate Any Pricing Book/Database (GSA, IDIQ’s, VA), Even Custom Data
  • Project Specifications: Automatically Link Estimates to Specifications
  • Document Management:  Stop Reinventing the Wheel with Every Estimate.  Store all of your Active and Inactive Estimates within a Single Program.  Use your Previous Estimate as a Template for your Next.
  • Approved for Government Network Installation:  Army and Air Force
  • Visual Cost Estimating:  Electronic Quantity Takeoff (QTO), Trace and Measure Digital Drawings
  • Truly Extraordinary Training Classes: Led by Former DOD Estimators and Project Managers with Decades of Experience Estimating with RSMeans.
  • Reuse an Old Estimate: Copy and Paste Old Estimates to a Project, Update the Estimate to the Newest RSMeans Data, and Remove Quantities, Notes and Calculations, All in Seconds

4Clicks Solutions, LLC is a certified veteran-owned small business that develops and markets the leading DOD construction cost estimating and project management software product.  e4Clicks Project Estimator is used by over 85% of United States Air Force Bases, a rapidly growing number of Army, USACE Districts, and other Facility Owners.  We also support thousands of Contractors, Subcontractors, AEs, and Consultants.

We have great packages starting at $895.00 for e4Clicks Basic Project Estimator with the RSMeans Building Construction Cost Database, while many of our clients upgrade to e4Clicks Professional Project Estimator, eTakeoff Professional, and the 2014 RSMeans Facilities for $2,430.00.

Job Order Contracting Process Diagram
Job Order Contracting Process Diagram

Efficient, Accurate RSMeans Line Item Construction Cost Estimating

With a new year, comes a new round of 4Clicks training courses, and I have some new options this year.  I want to share a quick overview of our upcoming classes.  Our goal is to give you the tools and training necessary to navigate and make full use of e4Clicks.  I hope you will enjoy the tweaks our team has made to better serve you.  Keep an eye on our website for additional new classes as they become available.

 NEW THIS YEAR: ESTIMATING CLASSES!  4Clicks is developing and offering multiple line item cost estimating classes.  You know how to use e4Clicks.  Now master the art of estimating.  These classes will challenge the young intern or even the seasoned estimator and will include areas such as:

  • Architectural
  • Electrical
  • Civil
  • Mechanical

If you’ve enjoyed our other courses, you will benefit greatly from these estimating trainings in a traditional classroom environment designed to provide you with hands-on, real-life exercises.  The first of these courses is Introduction to Architectural Estimating and will take place in February.   Sign up today at

I am excited to offer a virtual e4Clicks Getting Started training course.  This is a 6 (six) hour online training course perfect for anyone who doesn’t have time to make it to one of our 2-Day Introductory regional training classes but could use some help getting started.  Designed to get you up and going with e4Clicks Project Estimator or RSMeans JOCWorks, this course will give you the confidence to start knocking out some estimates.

See below for our February trainings.  Visit our website for a complete list of training offerings at   We offer the perfect mix of virtual, regional, and onsite locations for our classes.  Join us for one of our upcoming trainings;  look forward to seeing you!

19 February:  4Clicks Introduction to RSMeans Estimating – Online Course

20 February:  e4Clicks Getting Started – Online Course

24 – 25 February:  e4Clicks Introductory – San Antonio, TX

26 – 27 February:  4Clicks Introduction to Architectural Estimating – San Antonio, TX

ABOUT 4CLICKS:  We are the premier provider of cost estimating and efficient project delivery management software and services.  Our tools are By Estimators for Estimators.  We help Owners, Contractors, Subcontractors, and AE’s increase productivity through the use of collaborative, transparent, accurate, and proven processes as well as robust cost information.

Using RSMeans Cost Data for Job Order Contracting – JOC – October 2013

The follow are excerpts from a RSMeans White Paper.


“Traditional construction delivery methods are fraught with problems. Architects and engineers spend countless hours attempting to design and specify their projects completely. Owners have reams of rules and regulations to follow in order to put a project out for bid fairly. Contractors spend millions of dollars attempting to be a low bidder. Our courts are tied up with case after case of “whose fault is it?” Job Order Contracting offers an alternative to traditional bidding processes. Based on industry-standard cost data and predefined processes that promote streamlining of project development, early contractor involvement, fewer change orders and higher quality construction, JOC is a refreshing change.”g

An innovative method of contract management is being used more and more by owners who desire quick service and reasonable cost.

“JOC is  a proven, but innovative method of contract management being used more and more by owners who desire quick service and reasonable cost for the maintenance and repair of their facilities. The job order contracting method has found inroads with those owners who have multiple facilities to care for in multiple locations.”

The Origins of JOC

Job order contracting found its genesis in the complex facilities world of the United States military. Tasked with maintaining and repairing thousands of buildings nationally and internationally, military facilities managers found the normal route of federal acquisition regulations much too slow and bureaucratic. Out of the need to solve this problem was born the idea of having an agreed-upon database of construction costs for both owner and contractor. This database would be referenced for estimating, negotiating, project control and closeout.

Job order contracts, also known as Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements (SABER), are types of Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts used in the United States and internationally since 1985. Billions of dollars worth of construction have been completed under JOC contracts since that time.
The primary concern in JOC contracts is time. Federal acquisition regulations require a lengthy process of design, bidding and award for all contracts above a certain dollar amount. If, for example, a roof were leaking, the process of having it replaced could take anywhere from six to nine months. By using a JOC contract, the amount of time could be reduced to as little as six to nine weeks. The use of this type of contract has been authorized by the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA)1 for just this reason.
Secondary to time is price and quality. Goals for JOC contracts are increasing the quality level of work performed, as well as keeping costs down. Secondary goal attainment is enhanced due to the nature of the contract. The contractor is motivated to perform quality work at a reasonable cost by the promise of continued work orders and potential extension of the contract to option years.

Advantages and Disadvantages of JOC

Independent studies have shown that the use of JOC will decrease the amount of time from job order identification to completion. The decrease in time is largely due to reduced design and procurement time. Most JOC job orders can be executed with streamlined design documents. This combination of limited design and decreased time has resulted in cost savings to the owner over traditional methods of contracting.
The actual work performed in a JOC contract is often subcontracted, enhancing opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses and allowing some small companies to get their first opportunity to do government work.
Long term dependable relationships between owners and contractors can be developed. The contractor is motivated by the contractual arrangement to perform at a high level, so more work will be made available. This enables the contractor to earn a profit over many jobs rather than one at a time and incentivizes a contractor to serve the customer effectively with high quality work in order to win additional job orders. These factors have led to increased quality in construction.4
The primary disadvantage of Job Order Contracting is the learning curve for both owners and contractors implementing JOC for the first time. Learning the project development process and line item estimating methodology is a necessary investment for a successful JOC program, and appropriate training and support such as that provided by consultants like RSMeans is critical. Some owners can also encounter resistance from the contracting community when JOC is perceived as reducing the quantity of contract opportunities. This challenge can be addressed through appropriate contractor outreach and education and through the careful structuring of a JOC program to maximize opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses, whether as prime or subcontractors.

JOC Cost Savings JOC Time SavingsJOC Time SavingsWhere JOC FitsBIMF FRAMEWORK









via – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring an exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating/automatic quantity take off ( QTO),  and collaborative contract/project/document management, all in one application.   Our technology is currently serving over 85% of United States Air Force bases and rapidly growing numbers of other DOD and non-DOD (United States Army Corps of Engineers,  Army, GSA, Homeland Security, VA..) federal departments/agencies, as well as state/county/local governments, colleges/universities, healthcare,  and airports/transportation.  RSMeans JOC ProcessStrategic Partner

2013 Global Construction Survey

In 2013, KPMG interviewed executives from 165 engineering and construction companies around the world, serving a range of markets including energy, power, industrial, healthcare/pharmaceutical, manufacturing, mining, education and government.

Key findings:

1. “66 percent feel that national governments’  infrastructure plans are the single biggest driver of market growth”

2. Slow recovery / growth continuing with “stable or higher margins”

3. “budget deficits and public funding is the biggest barrier to growth”

4. Growth areas: “power and energy top the list by a significant distance, other target sectors include water, rail, mining, and roads and bridges”

5. Standardization is critical to improving “project and risk management”.  “Whenever new people start on a project, they bring with them different processes. To spread good practices,  contractors can increase their use of… ” cost estimating and …. “project management software and step up training…. consolidate project delivery, and tighten
all leakages as much as possible.”

6. “Become a strategic partner to clients’ businesses By working more closely with clients from all sectors….”

via – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring an exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating/automatic quantity take off ( QTO),  and collaborative contract/project/document management, all in one application.   Our technology is currently serving over 85% of United States Air Force bases and rapidly growing numbers of other DOD and non-DOD (United States Army Corps of Engineers,  Army, GSA, Homeland Security, VA..) federal departments/agencies, as well as state/county/local governments, colleges/universities, healthcare,  and airports/transportation.  RSMeans Strategic Partner.



5 Steps to a Successful Construction Cost Estimate

1.Collaboration – To paraphrase, “no successful cost estimator is an island”.  It is critical to understand the full scope of any project.   Collaboration spans discussions with Owners, Contractors, Subs/Trade, site visits, sharing estimates and jointly reviewing/refining and negotiating estimates, and more!

2. Transparency – Despite what you may hear, there is no “secret sauce” involved in cost estimating, and no “black magic” either.  It’s all about experience and the application of robust business process and appropriate use/re-use of available cost data, including so called “reference cost data” such as RSMeans.  All stakeholders must be able to understand the cost estimate thus transparency is a requirement.

3. Technology – Collaboration, transparency, accuracy, productivity and other factors are directly impacted by technology.  Using the appropriate tools for the job is just as important for cost estimating as it is for a  construction project.  The exclusive use of spreadsheets for multiple concurrent projects and/or larger projects is typically unproductive and error prone.  Don’t fall into the “spreadsheets can do anything” trap.  That said, there is no cost estimating software application that can do everything (residential, commercial, government, …) well.  So look for ‘best of breed’ applications that are built for your needs!

4. Information – Extensive  detailed line time cost databases, such as those from RSMeans, as well as historical costs and other third party sources are extremely important relative to productivity and accuracy.  They enable information re-use, data validation, and more.   That said, proper attention must be paid to the data architecture (how information is categorized, updated, and stored).

5. Localization – Every construction job, while sharing many similarities, is different.  Each cost estimate must be localized for physical site conditions, physical location, as well as local labor and material availability.

4. Granularity – A big word, I know… but understanding the inter-relationships and variability associated with material, equipment, and labor for each activity or task is critical.   Are you using union, open shop, Davis-Bacon…  what is the source of your information, what sample size are you using,  what could affect productivity, ….
5.  Parallel Approach – Top down or bottom up?  The answer is both!   Clearly one must understand the overall value associated with a certain project.  That said, detailed line items with associated labor, materials, and equipment, and an associated bill of materials (BOM) are requirements for transparency and to mitigate errors and omissions.

via – Premier cost estimating and project management software for efficient project delivery – JOC, SABER, IDIQ, SATOC, MATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, ….

BIM Objects, Data, and Information – More than a 3D Pretty Picture – Soooo Much More!

A picture paints a thousand words,

but never underestimate the power of text

(Adapted from Source:

Stefan Mordue, Technical Author and Architect

BIM objects are much more than just graphical representations. Using them as placeholder to connect to a wider source of information provides for a powerful and rich source of information. 

‘Author it once, and in the right place; report it many times’

Information in the Building Information Model (BIM) comes from a variety of sources, such as 3D visualization tools ( Autodesk Revit or Nemetschek Vectorworks, Archicad, Bentley Systems …) as well as cost estimating, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), capital planning and management systems (CPMS), geographical information systems (GIS), building automation systems (GIS),  model checkers and specification software.

All BIM objects have properties, and most also have geometries (although some do not, for example a paint finish). To avoid duplication, information should be both structured and coordinated. 

Some information is more appropriately located in the ‘geometrical’ part of the BIM object while other information is more suited to the ‘properties’ part, such as the specification. The specification is part of the project BIM, and objects live in the specification.   In traditional documentation we would ‘say it once, and in the right place’, however with BIM, we want to ‘author it once, and in the right place, to be able to report it many times’.

Figure 1: Appropriate location of information

Figure 1: Appropriate location of information

‘A picture paints a thousand words, but never underestimate the power of text’

Let’s take an analogy of a BIM object representing a simple cavity wall. The object will tell us the width of the brickwork and height of the wall. However at a certain point in the project cycle it is the written word that is needed to take us to a deeper level of information. It is within a textual context that we describe the length, height and depth of the brick. It is words that are used to describe the mortar joint and wall ties.

BIM objects are as much about the embedded data and information as they are about the spaces and dimensions that they represent graphically.

It is this connection to a wider source of information that really empowers the object, making it a rich source of information. Think of BIM objects if you will as a ‘place holder’ – not only a physical representation of the real life physical properties of the said object but also a home for non-graphical information such as performance criteria, physical and functional condition data, life-cycle data, detailed and current cost data (materials, equipment, and labor),  and operational information.

‘A new generation of specifiers is being empowered by BIM. We can begin to specify at a much earlier stage in the process’

Specifications were once undertaken by the specification expert, often once the detail design was completed. A new generation of specifiers is being empowered by BIM. We can begin to specify at a much earlier stage in the process.

In reality “specifiers” are now a team of stakeholders – Owners, Contactors, Subs, AE’s, Oversight Groups ….

By connecting the BIM object to an NBS Create specification, a direct link can be made to NBS technical guidance and standards, at the point where the designer most needs them. For example,  if the designer is a subscriber to the Construction Information Service (CIS), then any technical documents cited in the specification that are available can be downloaded instantly.

Figure 2: NBS Revit tool bar

Figure 2: NBS Revit tool bar

‘We have recently integrated geometric BIM objects with the corresponding NBS Create specification clauses to achieve a greater connection between the two’

BIM and BIM workflows are consistently being refined and updated as they become more commonplace and as standards and protocols emerge.   While we can never solve all coordination issues, we hope to improve coordination by linking databases, objects and eventually coordinate key property sets.

Traditionally, a value that was represented on a drawing may not correctly corresponded with the value within the specification simply due to a ‘typo’. An example being where a ’60 minute fire door’ has been recorded on the drawing but has been recorded as ’90 minutes fire rating’ within the specification. Aside from this coordination debate, practices will also need to decide and establish office policies on where information is recorded. While the specification system has detailed guidance and links to standards, regulations and suggested values, geometric BIM software has great visualization analysis and instance scheduling functionality.

Figure 3: Connection to a wider source of information empowers the object

Figure 3: Connection to a wider source of information empowers the object

At present, the NBS National BIM Library objects are classified using both the draft Uniclass 2 Work result code and the System name to give a deeper link between the object and specification. The NBS National BIM Library contains a number of objects that connect at a ‘product’ level (e.g. hand driers, baths, individual doorsets) while others work at a ‘system’ level (e.g. cubicle, partition, door and signage systems). Yet other objects are at an ‘element’ level (i.e. made up of a number of systems) such as external walls.

Following a period of industry consultation, Uniclass 2 is now being finalized for publication during 2013. Classification of content in the National BIM Library and NBS Create will then be updated.

National BIM Library Parameters

NBSReference NBS section/clause number 45-35-72/334
NBSDescription The full description of an object Hand driers
NBSNote Where a second system which is related to the BIM object can be described =[Blank]
NBSTypeID A reference to the object for the user if one or more is used with the project
Help URL of a website where additional help notes are available
Uniclass2 Uniclass2 Product Pr-31-76-36
IssueDate The issue date of the object 2012-12-06
Version The version of the object 1.1

A hand drier is an example of an object that links nicely to an associated product clause (NBSReference=45-35-72/334). Using tools such as NBS Create and the NBS Revit plug in tool, the corresponding product will automatically be captured; it can then be used to enrich the object with information such as power rating and noise levels.

A doorset is an example of an object that maps beautifully to an NBS Create System outline clause. For example using WR 25-50-20/120 Doorset System, we can then specify system performance, component and accessory products (e.g. glazing type, fasteners and threshold strips) as well as execution.

Certain NBS National BIM Library objects are at an ‘element level’ where they comprise a number of systems. In this situation we give a primary work results classification, the NBSReference. In addition, to help the user, we add the Uniclass 2 element code in an extra parameter field.

The following example is a Unit wall element comprising 100 mm thick stone, 100 mm mineral wool insulation batts and 100 mm concrete block, lined with 12.5 mm gypsum plasterboard on 25 mm dabs.

WR 25-10-55/123 ‘External multiple leaf wall above damp proof course masonry system’ has been used for the primary reference. From this System outline we can specify the stone facing, insulation and concrete block, together with DPC, lintels, mortar, cavity closers (which all in turn have product codes). A further system outline, WR 25-85-45/140 Gypsum board wall lining system, is given, from which the lining can be specified.

‘This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of NBS and we are now seeing project information being coordinated through intelligent objects’

An object could potentially relate to two different systems. An example of this would be a rainscreen cladding object. The following example is an aluminium cassette panel rainscreen system with metal frame, weather barrier, insulation, concrete block and plasterboard lining. This particular system could be either a ‘Drained and back ventilated rain screen cladding system’ 25-80-70/120 or a ‘Pressure equalized rain screen cladding system’ 25-80-70/160. The detail which would differentiate between the two is not shown in the geometric object itself but rather in the detail that would be found within the specification. When used in conjunction with the NBS plug-in tool, you are presented with the option to select the most appropriate system, and then to specify it to the appropriate level of detail.

Figure 4: Technology is enabling better processes and connection

Figure 4: Technology is enabling better processes and connection

We are now beginning to see project information being coordinated through intelligent objects.  The classification system, structure of data and technology are enabling better processes and will allow us to move a step closer towards full collaborative BIM.

via – Leading cost estimating and efficient project delivery software  solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring and exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating / automatic quantity take off ( QTO), contract, project, and document management, all in one application.