Building a Tower? Better get an Estimate
St Luke is not the Patron Saint of Surveyors (Doctors, surgeons, notaries and artists have that honour) but, perhaps, he should be:-
The first recorded reference to estimating, a cornerstone of the professional advice provided by quantity surveyors and the foundation on which any successful project is built, appears in St Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 14,
“Would any of you think of building a tower without first sitting down and calculating the cost, to see whether he could afford to finish it? Otherwise if he has laid its foundation and then is not able to complete it, all the onlookers will laugh at him.”
Its importance might seem obvious but, some two thousand years later and 5,000km from Galilee, at the High Court in London, Foster & Partners paid dearly for not heeding that advice. The multi award-winning architects had obtained planning permission for a luxury glass clad 5* hotel in Heathrow which was costed at £195m. A figure significantly more than double the original budget of £70m. This huge increase rendered the scheme unviable and the developers duly sued the architect for losses incurred, including finding a new team to design a hotel that could be built within budget. In October 2017 Foster & Partners lost the High Court judgement leaving them with a hefty £3.6m bill to pay. Hardly a laughing matter.
Stephen Homer of Ashfords LLP, who acted for the claimants, said “this case serves as a warning to designers that they cannot design in a vacuum. Cost and budget is a key constraint and should always be identified and considered when designing any project.”
Homer, is preaching to the converted here at Daniel Connal and we are very pleased to support so many of our architect colleagues with expert cost advice on their design schemes.
Science or Art?
The fundamentals of producing an estimate are based on measurement and data but we do consider this expertise as much an art (St Luke, again) as it is a science. Any estimate whether based on applying an accepted m² rate against the size of building or a more detailed measurement of approximate quantities and applying market rates for the various trades also relies on experience, skill and judgement; a careful consideration of the site and its constraints as well as the form of building and the proposed method of procurement.
Whether you are following the advice of St Luke or that of a High Court Judge, an estimate of costs by an experienced professional may well be your saving grace!