Improving early cost advice for mechanical and electrical services
Construction clients, particularly those with little or no previous experience of building projects, depend on the advice given by building professionals during the early design stages. Accurate advice regarding the estimated cost of the proposed project is fundamental, as this will determine the financial feasibility of the proposed project. All professionals give advice based on the information available to them at the time. Therefore, cost advisors need to have an accurate appreciation of the client's requirements from the building, before they can estimate the likely cost. Inexperienced building clients may have difficulty expressing their requirements, or understanding detailed technical information prepared by building professionals. This thesis addresses the problem of poor communication between clients and building professionals leading to mis-interpretation of mechanical and electrical (M&E) services requirements and inaccurate cost estimates. The research hypothesised that the cost of M&E services was related to the form and function of the building, and the quality of the M&E services required by the building client. It was believed that the required "quality" of the M&E services had a major cost implication, and therefore the production of an accurate cost estimate depended on an accurate understanding of the quality of M&E services required by the building client. The research examined existing method, of early cost estimating for M&E services, to establish how early cost estimates are prepared, and what type of information is considered. Detailed statistical analysis work was undertaken to examine relationships between various building form, parameters and M&E services costs, for buildings of different functions. M&E services quality was considered in relation to the function, performed by different systems, using the value engineering technique of function analyis and customer oriented function analysis system technique (FAST) diagrams method for improving early design stage communications developed, to improve the interpretation of M&E services quality requirements and lead to more accurate cost estimates. The method involved the introduction of a briefing workshop to consider functional requirements from the building, possible M&E services solutions, and interfaces between building structure and fabric and the M&E services. The proposed method was evaluated in the field. It was found to be a valid method of improving early design stage communications between clients and building professionals, that could lead to improved early cost advice for M&E services.