From Architects to General Contractors: Why Cost Estimation Is All About Relationships

All construction efforts start with cost estimation—from estimating materials to estimating labor costs—a lot goes into the preliminary estimate of a project. However, despite the need for accurate information, the most important aspect of cost estimation is a quality relationship between the project team and the general contractor.

The more in sync contractors are with the team—owners/developers, project managers, project engineers, architects, subcontractors—you can expect a lower cost in you initial construction cost estimating and your final cost.

Conceptual budgeting can look vastly different to many different job roles. Architects analyze the project much differently than a general contractor. However despite the differences, positive communication throughout the entire build process saves all those involved both time and money.

Conceptual Budgeting Within Architecture

Architects are the “dreamers” of the project, and therefore more concerned with how their final idea manifests into a space than some of the pragmatic steps it takes to get there. Architects see things from the top down, and visualize a project in its conceptual totality far before anyone else does. This can lead to some very interesting ideas but may become difficult to implement without the input of engineers and construction front line pros.

The biggest challenge in a construction build for architects are underestimating costs for materials and time for structural engineering. This is often pain points for architects and general contractors.




Conceptual Budgeting Within Construction

Construction professionals are the front line soldiers of a building project. They see things from a ground-up perspective, and are much less concerned with concepts than actual physics and logistics. These real world costs can put a real damper on the ideas of a project architect. To alleviate this issue, both the architect and the general contractor must come up with compromises that engage their ideas fully, and in a functionally meaningful way.



How Relationships are the Key to Budgeting

It is up to the property owner to hire a general contractor who will consider communication and relationships a priority, and will lead the effort in making sure the project flows successfully. If a solid standard for communication is set at the beginning of the process, then everyone will be more likely to arrive at the best number sooner.

Cost estimates also have a great deal to do with timing, because each person is sourcing his or her labor, as well as, the materials that are being used. If an architect cannot make a move because the general contractor did not plan to purchase certain materials on time, then the cost estimate goes up for the time spent idling.

The Relationship Between the Dreamer and the Builder is Essential

As previously stated, architects are the project “dreamers” and as such may provide the builders with ideas that create logistical challenges. This gives an opportunity for general contractors to both educate and learn from architects, forming new ways to conceptualize a project build with practical restraints in mind. Both sides fully engaged with each other will reduce costs for the overall project and maximize the potential for success.




Estimating Construction Costs

Getting the right key stakeholders in the cost estimation process is essential. And getting everyone on the same page early with open communication not only speeds up the build process, but saves the client money down the road. South Bay Construction prides itself on “Relationships Built On Trust”, and with nearly 40 years of experience, working as a team to get the best cost for a project is second nature.  

Check out South Bay Construction’s Cost Reference Guide—the perfect tool for preliminary cost estimation. From analyzing hard costs and soft costs to getting the most up to date market data, the Cost Reference Guide is everything you need for a preliminary estimation.


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Cost reference guide

Cost Reference Guide

Our Bay Area Cost Reference Guide provides up-to-date construction pricing and market data; it's a critical budgeting tool that can deliver conceptual estimates and that can save you both time and money.