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  • Writer's pictureHannah Skidmore, MBA

How to Create a Preliminary Budget for a Construction Project

Opinion of Probable Construction Cost vs. a Cost Estimate

One of the first questions clients ask us when discussing their animal shelter or veterinary clinic is “How much will this project cost?”. It is a fair and understandable question. There are two ways to discuss budgeting for projects:

  1. Opinions of Probable Construction Cost

  2. Cost Estimates

Both are unique from each other and serve slightly different purposes. Below are the main differences between the two.


Opinion of Probable Construction Cost

The main purposes of the Opinion of Probable Construction Cost are to provide an idea of cost for the overall project for budgeting purposes and to see if the project is feasible early in the design phase. The Opinion of Probable Construction Cost provides budgeting insights for the client to consider before they have expended a lot of time, money, or resources into the project.


Quick Facts on Probable Construction Cost

  • Typically provided by the design professional

  • Based on historical project information, NOT based on current pricing or drawings

  • Can be provided once a project size is determined which is very early in the project

  • Usually has a range of costs

  • Depending on market, may not be as reliable in all cases

  • Does not require drawings


Cost Estimate

The purpose of a Cost Estimate is to provide a cost for the project based on specific design information provided for that particular project.


Quick Facts on Cost Estimate

  • Typically provided by a Contractor or Cost Estimator

  • Uses real time pricing and reaches out to subcontractors for material and labor costs

  • Can be provided at varying levels of design (note that the earlier this is completed, the lower degree of accuracy exists)

  • Uses drawings, narratives, specifications, and information provided by the design team to determine actual costs


Budgeting Tools for Construction Projects

As revealed above, there are many benefits to both types of budgeting tools but each has their limitations.

  • Note that Design Learned can provide Opinions of Probable Construction Costs early in conceptual design. Another noteworthy aspect of the Opinion of Probable Construction Cost, important for nonprofits, is that it is often used as a basis for fundraising and understanding of the overall budget. Design Learned’s approach to our Opinions of Probable Construction Cost analyzes all of our past animal care projects of similar size, scope, and location. Again, it serves a critical role in the design process; however, it is not a cost estimate.

  • A cost estimate is completed further into design by a cost estimator or contractor who prices the job based on the design and current market.

At Design Learned, we always encourage our clients to understand the difference between these two terms.


Contact Design Learned for your Opinion of Probable Construction Cost

Are you interested in an Opinion of Probable Construction Cost from Design Learned for your animal care building project that is in the early phase of design? Do you want help getting your project to the point of obtaining a cost estimate and finding a good cost estimator? Call us at 860-889-7078 or schedule a consultation online.








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