Cost models for engineering services
This thesis describes the procedure and results from four years research undertaken through the IHD (Interdisciplinary Higher Degrees) Scheme at Aston University in Birmingham, sponsored by the SERC (Science and Engineering Research Council) and Monk Dunstone Associates, Chartered Quantity Surveyors. A stochastic networking technique VERT (Venture Evaluation and Review Technique) was used to model the pre-tender costs of public health, heating ventilating, air-conditioning, fire protection, lifts and electrical installations within office developments. The model enabled the quantity surveyor to analyse, manipulate and explore complex scenarios which previously had defied ready mathematical analysis. The process involved the examination of historical material costs, labour factors and design performance data. Components and installation types were defined and formatted. Data was updated and adjusted using mechanical and electrical pre-tender cost indices and location, selection of contractor, contract sum, height and site condition factors. Ranges of cost, time and performance data were represented by probability density functions and defined by constant, uniform, normal and beta distributions. These variables and a network of the interrelationships between services components provided the framework for analysis. The VERT program, in this particular study, relied upon Monte Carlo simulation to model the uncertainties associated with pre-tender estimates of all possible installations. The computer generated output in the form of relative and cumulative frequency distributions of current element and total services costs, critical path analyses and details of statistical parameters. From this data alternative design solutions were compared, the degree of risk associated with estimates was determined, heuristics were tested and redeveloped, and cost significant items were isolated for closer examination. The resultant models successfully combined cost, time and performance factors and provided the quantity surveyor with an appreciation of the cost ranges associated with the various engineering services design options.