During development of a project the client normally looks to the architect for construction cost estimates. It is advisable to provide a probable cost of construction at completion of the schematic design, design development, and construction document phases. A design contingency is usually carried in cost estimates. It can be reduced as the documents are further developed. At completion of the construction documents, the architect prepares, or has a consultant prepare, a final and most accurate estimate of construction cost, which can be used for comparison with the bids submitted to perform the work.
Value engineering may be performed by consultants and construction managers during the development of the construction documents. (This is a misnomer for cost-reduction engineering, since value engineering should occur before a design has been finalized and construction documents have started. To be effective, value engineering should be undertaken prior to design of any building system.
Value engineering should address operating and maintenance costs as well as first costs, to provide true life-cycle cost estimates for comparative analysis. This can be accomplished as early as the conceptual design phase of the project and should use the expertise of cost consultants, if such service is not offered directly by the architect or engineer.
Cost analysis should be performed concurrently with technical evaluation of the systems proposed by the architects or engineers, to provide the client with proper information to make an informed decision. The architect and engineer should address cost without compromising the building program, building safety, or desired design and performance of the facility and respond to the client in a professional manner regarding cost estimating and value engineering.