Commercial Construction & Contracting Resources

Civil Construction Costs: How to Budget Before You Begin

Posted by Park Enterprise Construction on June 12, 2018

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As you prepare for your important project, it’s best to be as thorough in your planning as you want the construction company to be in executing your plan. Unfortunately, project stakeholders sometimes overlook fundamentals. Consequently, some project budgets do not fully account for all civil construction costs, creating a disaster down the line.

Luckily, this can all be avoided with a little careful planning.

Civil Construction Costs From the Ground Up

Let’s start at ground level: Whether building on, paving over, or digging into the ground, the integrity of the site’s earthen material must be determined in advance. Soil-testing gives engineers an understanding of the character of the supporting soil so they can recommend construction solutions to ensure long life for a finished product.

Several soil borings usually are required. In the case of a roadway rebuilding project, the borings occur directly under and adjacent to existing pavement. Borings reveal issues like:

  • Settling silt
  • Unstable slopes
  • Rock
  • Groundwater
  • Existing fill which was not properly compacted
  • Greater than typical topsoil depth
  • Contaminated or hazardous materials

Earth is tested with a pressuremeter to gauge the shear strength of cohesive soil and tested for permeability to determine how the soil allows water to flow through it. Engineers with local expertise in soil conditions have an advantage in interpreting survey data.

The bottom line: Until pre-construction engineering is complete, construction costs cannot be accurately projected.

Site Procurement

A sometimes-overlooked project overhead is the actual cost of procuring a site. Relying on an estimate of what a lot or right-of-way will cost can later surprise a stakeholder and upend a project. Realtors and property consultants can give ballpark figures, but only direct negotiations and legal documents nail down cost.

Other basic civil construction costs that should be clearly defined and accounted for include:

  • Fees for a professional survey to establish the perimeter of a work site
  • Building permits issued by jurisdiction authorities
  • Worker compensation allocations

Time Considerations

Starting dates for civil projects often hinge on decision-making by public officials. If a project repurposes a tract of land, it may need rezoning. The rezoning becomes subject to meeting times and work schedules of zoning authorities. If public funding is involved, a city commission or county board must approve the release of funds.

Of course you can never fully anticipate everything that will go wrong / delay your project, but you can try to solve some setbacks before they occur.

Weather Considerations

Not allowing sufficient working days to start or complete a project before the arrival of seasonal rains or winter freezing is a sure way to incur unbudgeted costs. Some types of work can continue in inclement weather, but other procedures—grading earth, laying asphalt—are weather-sensitive. Not all weather interruptions can be anticipated, but prudent planners factor in Mother Nature.

Ensure Project Success

You can help us deliver your project on time by accurately determining civil construction costs and otherwise preparing well before the project breaks ground. Then we will partner with you, bringing a rigorous work ethic and skilled professionalism you can trust. Let’s build together.

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Topics: site work, civil construction, regulations, rules, Ohio construction