Computer-integrated system for estimating the costs of building projects

Ahmad Jrade, Sabah Alkass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The cost estimate is considered one of the most important and critical phases of a construction project. Preparing reliable and accurate estimates to help decision makers is the most challenging assignment that cost engineers and estimators face. For decades, practitioners in the construction industry focused only on estimating the initial cost of a facility, neglecting costs associated with operating and maintaining it. Today, more interest lies in investigating the economics of facility management, which include the cost of owning and operating a building over its useful life. This paper presents a methodology that can be used for an integrated conceptual cost estimating and life-cycle cost analysis for construction projects during their initial phase. The methodology describes the development and implementation of a system that automates the preparation of parametric cost estimates and forecasts future running costs of building projects. The system integrates relational databases, a parametric cost estimate module, an AutoCAD module, a global module, a cost estimate forecasting and decision support system module, and a life cycle costing and sensitivity analysis module. The system will automatically generate a new parametric estimate upon any modification in building design. Once the capital costs are identified, the system forecasts the cost of running and maintaining the new building throughout its expected service life. After assigning the range of deviation, a sensitivity analysis is conducted, which identifies the most sensitive parameters for further consideration and analysis. Designing the system in a user-friendly environment allows owners and decision makers to envision the feasibility of new building projects within their anticipated life cycles. Moreover, it assists architects and cost engineers in generating parametric cost estimates in a dynamic environment. A numerical case example is presented to illustrate the usefulness and capabilities of the developed system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-223
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Architectural Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer aided drafting (CAD)
  • Cost estimates
  • Databases
  • Feasibility studies
  • Integrated systems
  • Life cycles
  • Sensitivity analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Building and Construction
  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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