Cost estimating charts to help develop order of magnitude estimates for various types and sizes of infrastructure to begin scoping overall funding strategies.

A general cost estimating tool and references to additional cost estimating guides and charts are presented in Appendix 2.2. These cost estimating guides provide tools for estimating “order of magnitude” costs also known as a “Class 5” cost estimate. This type of estimate can be conducted at a conceptual level of project development and is intended for screening of alternatives or use with preliminary funding applications.

How to Use the Toolbox Element

The general cost estimating tool and guides presented in Appendix 2.2 are based on cost summaries from similar projects and can be used for the relative comparison of alternatives. The cost estimates derived from the tool are best used for comparing the relative magnitude of costs of alternatives rather than for estimating actual anticipated costs of a finished project. This is because at a conceptual screening level of analysis, the project is not sufficiently defined to accurately estimate actual costs. The order of magnitude costs are useful for determining which alternative is less expensive to construct. This can be an aid in selecting which alternative to further develop and evaluate. However, the tool can also be used to develop cost information for preliminary funding applications. It is during the subsequent further development, that more detailed capital and operations and maintenance costs can be developed.

Up-front costs typically include planning, permitting, engineering, and construction. Land and other up front capital costs may be required as well. It is always important, when evaluating alternatives, that costs should be considered based on what is most economical rather than what may initially appear to be a bargain. Evaluating what is most economical should be determined based on one time up-front costs (capital costs) as well as ongoing operational and maintenance costs. The useful life of facilities should also be considered when evaluating lifecycle costs so that all costs paid over the life of the facility are evaluated when considering alternatives.