# Cost Estimate

Article bySourav Sinha
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

## What is the Cost Estimate?

Cost Estimate is the preliminary stage for any project, operation, or program wherein a reasonable calculation of all the project costs is done and, therefore, involves precise judgment, experience and accuracy.

### Explanation

• Cost Estimation is often done by separate individuals trained to estimate costs accurately. It is a challenge considering the ever-changing economic environment. If a project is significant, then companies need to pass the Tender. Once the Tender is accepted, the particular company gets the project and starts working.
• So to pass the Tender, the company will have to estimate all the costs related to the project. If the project is going to take a long time, then the company will have to determine the inflation and other changes that may occur. So the cost estimation for big projects is complicated and needs to be performed accurately.

For eg:
Source: Cost Estimate (wallstreetmojo.com)

### Characteristics

• There are several ways by which cost estimates can be prepared. The most important characteristic is the preparation of cost estimates. Companies often use models to precisely estimate the cost.
• Quality is directly proportional to cost, so options for different deliveries involving different costs are set up. So the project manager has to choose the quality he wants, considering the cost.
• The budget for the overall project or operation is set. Since the scariest thing is the capital, acceptance of a project depends on the budget set for the project.
•  Another essential characteristic is keeping the whole operation within the budget mentioned.

### Types of Cost Estimate

The three most important types of cost estimate are:

For eg:
Source: Cost Estimate (wallstreetmojo.com)

#### #1 – Historical Estimating

So when a method is being set up using historical cost, it is not so accurate but can be used during the initial stage of a project. It doesn’t involve lots of judgment. So it is quick and not so accurate. Under this similar past, projects are being searched, and costs are adjusted considering inflation and other economic changes.

#### #2 – Parametric Estimating

Parametric estimation is an estimation done based on parameters. So recent ongoing projects are taken, and it is used as a parameter. Say a similar project is being constructed somewhere, and the cost per square foot of the project is known. So multiplying the total space you will create in your project can help you get the total cost. This process helps to get costs more accurately as it is recent, and all current are already incorporated.

#### #3 – Bottom-Up Estimating

This process is hugely time-consuming but accurate. It involves a thorough analysis of all the labor and raw materials included in the project. So granular cost estimation is done first, and then after adding everything, you get the total cost.

### Methods of Cost Estimate

#### #1 – Least Square Regression

of statistics is used to find the best fit line for variable and fixed costs. So this method helps to build a model which shows that for a particular production level, this much should be the variable cost, and this much should be the . So once a model is set, this method becomes easy as new data can be incorporated easily.

#### #2 – High-Low Method

shows you the highest and lowest level of cost that you may incur. So it doesn’t throw the possibility of the cost that lies in the middle. This method is generally easy to compute and helps to have a preliminary idea regarding the cost.

#### #3 – Statistical Modelling

This method is the most sophisticated. It involves estimating several economic factors that may lead to a change in cost estimation. Statistical models are extremely accurate as several factors are considered to set up costs. These models are costly to set up, making it difficult for small businesses to build statistical models.

### Process

Optimally how much productivity can be obtained given a certain amount of cost is the main objective of Cost Estimation. This process can involve determining the total cost required to accomplish a project in a given time. It is not an accurate measure; it is an approximation. Correct estimation of labor and raw material cost is also required.

### Importance

Cost Estimation is the most critical step for project management. Without proper estimation, it will be complicated to make a budget for the project. Incorrect estimation may lead to losses. A project’s and are decided based on the cost that is estimated. So inaccurate estimation of the cost may lead to acceptance of a wrong project or rejection of a profitable project.

### Cost Estimate vs. Budget

Cost Estimation is the preliminary stage, so the cost is first projected, then the budget is fixed accordingly. The budget is decided based on the cost that is estimated. So the budget is the total money allocated for a particular project. The budget can be set more than the cost to be safe in case of an incorrect cost projection.

• It helps in deciding how much funds and resources are needed to carry out a particular project. Without cost estimation, it will be challenging to decide on a budget.
• It helps to teach discipline in project handling. Once a project manager knows the cost estimation, he will not spend unnecessarily and will try to finish the project within the estimate.
• Cost estimation breakup helps stakeholders to challenge in case of discrepancies. So if they feel that the estimation is wrong or manipulated, they may not provide funds.